Subic Bay, The Philippines, 2014 – Subic Bay is known for having one of the highest concentrations of war-wrecks within reach for recreational divers worldwide. Located about 2-3 hours (by road) northwest from Metro Manila, or via air through Clark International Airport, the bay is an amazing destination for wreck diving, with various fascinating shipwrecks in close proximity to many of the well-established dive centers within the area.
The bay is home for more than twelve wreck sites, most of which are results of either the Spanish-American war back in 1898 or of World War II. According to the Subic Bay Historical Museum 19 shipwrecks has been identified so far within the bay waters. A number of these wrecks are Japanese vessels sunk by American aircrafts during World War II but the waters also shelters American Landing Ships, a Battle Cruiser, Cargo vessels and a sunken F4-Phantom fighter-jet.
Mockingly most of these wreck sites only recently opened up to the public due to previous American military presence within the bay. The area was considered the largest US overseas military installation up to its closure back in 1992 but later transformed into Subic Bay Freeport Zone now opened to the public.
Amongst shipwrecks found in Subic Bay, USS New York is perhaps the most dived one given her fascinating history and somewhat shallow depth of between 16-32 meters. Dive-shops in Subic Bay welcomes anyone interested in wreck diving, and it doesn’t take more than an Open Water Diver certification to dive on some of the shipwrecks. As shown on below chart there are dive sites available for all different skill levels and apart from wreck sites, certified divers also have access to beautiful reefs, walls and canyons.
According to many recreational divers who visit The Philippines frequently “Subic Bay is ranked the second best dive spot for wreck diving in all of The Philippines”. Each wreck site offers diverse marine life and scuba divers are likely to see species such as; blue-spotted stingray, octopus, sea turtle, sweetlips, lion fish, scorpion fish, remora, stone fish, eagle ray as well as schools of both jackfish and tuna amongst many others.
Dive conditions are generally fair throughout the bay with currents ranging from mild to none existent. The best time to dive in Subic is between November and May, yet it’s possible to dive all year around due to the naturally sheltered waters. A dive costs between USD $20 to 30 depending on equipment requirements and many of the dive operator’s visits 3-4 different sites daily during high season. It’s highly recommended for divers to visit each wreck site more than once in order to truly explore it’s full potential.
Certain airlines allow divers to bring dive equipment (up to 20kg) free of charge when traveling to The Philippines, others charge approximately USD $10/kg and it’s therefor advisable to check with relevant airline beforehand. Apart from scuba diving Subic Bay offers a wide range of other activities for all members of the family. Buses from Metro Manila towards Subic depart every half hour from early morning to late night.
The best way to learn more about Subic Bay, the dive sites and dive conditions in general is to visit any of the established dive operators online. There are various dive centers, freelance instructors and resorts operating throughout the bay area. One of the better-established dive operators; El Coral Reef Dive Center is located in close proximity to all the dive sites with a very well-established beach resort right next-door.