Down to the Dive Site: West Escarceo
Dive site name: West Escarceo
Dive type: wall dive, reef dive, drift dive
Depth: 5m – 25m
Viz: 10m to 30m
Skill level: beginner and up
Getting there: five minutes by boat
A classic Puerto Galera dive site, West Escarceo has a split personality depending on the moon and the tides.
Will you be whipped along weightlessly, flying past boulders, critters, and schools of fish, or will you enjoy a sedate and gentle exploration of the minutiae of the Verde Island Passage’s incredible underwater life? Only the current will tell!
We jump on a speedboat from Lalaguna Villas (enjoying as always the shady canopy, the helpful staff, the supplies of shampoo to clear our masks, and the powerful engines which make the trip so quick) and in four minutes we’re across Sabang Bay, a few hundred metres up the Sinandigan headland, and ready to backroll in at West Escarceo.
This is one of the continuous run of dive sites from Sabang Point to the Canyons which run northward off the coast of the headland.
The first thing you will notice upon beginning your descent is the sheer abundance of fish teeming above the gently sloping reef which starts at about five metres.
Redtooth triggerfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish, damselfish and even schools of jacks and baby barracudas zip and swish past, dancing and chasing one another over and through the corals.
As you swim downwards, you will notice the variety of hard and soft corals which are beset by beautiful feather stars in striking reds, greens, and yellows.
Many of the boulder corals here are also adorned with beautiful christmas tree tubeworms, entirely deserving of their festive name, which spiral out of their protective casings, venturing upwards into the water in ever decreasing concentric spirals of orange, blue-tipped white, red, black, or multiple colours, looking like tiny stylised christmas trees no more than an inch high.
Watch them retract instantaneously into the protection of the coral if your wash passes too near – or bide your time and wait for them to start to peak back out.
Further down, the reef features large coral boulders, before levelling out at a sandy area at about 25 meters, where if you’re lucky you’ll spy a blue spotted stingray.
West Escarceo is also blessed with unusual delights including scorpionfish, stonefish, and octopus, all experts at camoflage and deception, so you will need to keep your eyes keenly peeled to spot these critters on their shelves or in their dens.
Large puffer fish, including several species with beautiful radial markings around the eyes, are spotted here on nearly every dive, and big groupers including some extremely colourful varieties often make an appearance.
Schools become more common as we approach Escarceo point with stronger currents, so look out for big mouth mackerels, juvenile tunas, trevallies and emperor fish .
While you’re lower on the reef you’re also likely to see pipefish, damselfish, sergeant majors and Moorish idols, as well as the several species of sea cucumber which call this area home.
If the tide is flooding and the current is running fast this makes for an epic drift dive, with the water taking you out northward as far as “Hole in the Wall”, an interesting dive site in its own right, with a picturesque three-metre long tunnel about one metre in diameter through a reef wall.
If you’re opted to dive on Nitrox you’ll probably have enough bottom time to head on to briefly explore The Canyons, another of Puerto Galera’s most beautiful dive sites.
Come and join us!