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DiverWire Destination: Atlantis Found! The Philippines deliver a true diver’s paradise

(DiverWire) It’s not easy to get there, but once you’ve arrived at the Atlantis Resort on Puerto Galera Philippines, all of the troubles and challenges in getting to this unforgettable place become a distant memory.

After an 18-hour flight, a two-hour van ride to Batangas Bay, and a “short” one hour boat trip to the scuba diving village of Sabang, I was anticipating something special. The Atlantis Resort DID NOT disappoint.

The “skeptic” in me was immediately banished when I saw this dedicated diver’s resort nestled off the beach and main “path” of the island. The diver and ‘explorer’ in me had discovered a truly magical place. Sabang Beach, near the city of Puerto Galera , is actually a diving ‘village’ with a high concentration of dive shops, stores and charter operations. It’s no wonder, since there are dive sites literally five minutes from the shore.

Our first dive set a very positive tone. “Monkey Beach” was one of the best “orientation” dives I’ve ever done. Once we hit the water, you could tell this place was different. Instant images of healthy corals and large sea fans provided a spectacular complement to the strong contingent of clownfish and anemones that greeted our group’s smiling faces. One of the trademarks of South Pacific diving is the vivid colors and clear water. In this setting, you could do just this one dive over and over again. But there was much more to see here.

Each dive was a bit different. From the hard corals and critters at “Coral Cove” to the diverse and “micro” marine life found in the muck near “Giant Clam”, the Atlantis dive team took exceptional care of us – even setting up and cleaning our gear. In many ways, diving at Atlantis Resorts was a lot like a “live-aboard on land” – we got up, ate, dove, then ate again, dove some more and then talked about doing a night dive. Some in our group dive five dives each day. I’m a more conservative dive traveler who had no problem relaxing and enjoying the unique island atmosphere at Atlantis Puerto Galera.

The Atlantis owners know they have something special, and work hard to make sure their product delivers. “It isn’t easy to get here and we recognize that,” says  Andy Pope, one of the two Atlantis owners. “That means everything has to be perfect for each and every guest.” It certainly was for our group. When we weren’t diving, many members of the group were relaxing by the pool or getting a spa treatment.

  • Gourmet Dining AND Diving…..

To say the food options at Atlantis Puerto Galera  were great would be an understatement. With a trio of three-course meal options at lunch and dinner, custom or off-the-menu selections for breakfast, the staff at Atlantis know how to give divers what they want after a morning or afternoon of relaxing dives.

Divers used to the standard American fare will be pleasantly satisfied with creative dishes that include chicken, beef or fish with virtually every meal, along with a vegetarian option. If you would like something done to your special taste, the chef(s) are more than accommodating; sometimes coming out to the table to make sure the dish is to your liking.

The attention to detail and guest satisfaction isn’t any different on the dive boats. Usually limited to just six divers, the divemasters and staff take care of everything – just get on the boat, enjoy the often 5-10 minute ride to the dive site, put on your gear and back-roll into the warm water. It’s that simple.

  • A resort where everyone knows your name…..

Everyone likes to hear their name. Divers are no different. One of the lasting memories from my time at Atlantis Resort in Puerto Galera  was how often just about every staff member greeted me by name, with a smile and usually something to eat. I’m not used to such personal attention, but that’s part of what makes Atlantis a special place.

“It does make guests feel important and special when they hear their name,” Pope explains. “We encourage all of our staff to get to know the guests and what better way than to call them by name.”

No wonder so many Atlantis guests come back multiple times. Our stay at the Atlantis Puerto Galera was all too brief. That resort is one of two Atlantis locations. The second resort is in Dumaguete, an hour’s flight from Manila to the South. Atlantis also has a live-aboard, the Azores, which provides the same high caliber service found at the resorts in a different setting.

Not sure when I will have the chance to travel back to the Philippines, but when and if I do, you can count on my returning to Atlantis for another incredible experience.