Subic

Subic is a seaside area on the west side of Luzon Island in Zambales Province in the Subic Bay region. Subic Bay is a former US naval base that was converted into a beach town in the greater proximity of Manila. The main industry is the free port and the airport which is used by transport companies.

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Scuba diving

The tourism office for the area calls Subic Bay the "Pearl of the Orient" and much like a pearl inside an oyster, its true value is hidden unless you know where to look.

Subic Bay offers some of the world's best shipwrecks, all within recreational diving depths, as well as tranquil coral and artificial reefs that explode with marine life. Unlike Coron, and other wreck diving locations, where you ride for hours to get to a wreck site, the majority of Subic Bay dive sites are a quick 15 minutes trip from the dive centres.

The bay is a unique "wreck heaven" because its sheltered waters allow calm year-round diving (except in the strongest typhoons), with short duration transits to the dive sites and a fantastic collection of exceptionally well-preserved historical wrecks.

Just how many wrecks are there in Subic Bay? That is a difficult question. Unlike Coron or Truk, whose wrecks occurred over a relatively short period, Subic’s WWII wrecks covered almost the entire war period. No fewer than 25 Japanese ships were reported sunk during the war years. Some of these may have been removed in the late fifties as salvage operations were conducted to open up the bay for shipping. Additional ships were sunk after the war either as targets or victims of mother nature. It is widely believed that an additional ten large ships may lie within the bay. The area is not limited to WWII wrecks. At the entrance to the bay alongside Grande Island, are the remains of the Spanish–American War wreck San Quintin. Outside the bay in deep water lie the remains of a Spanish galleon as well as a 16th-century Chinese junk (beyond diving range).

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 did an enormous amount of damage to Luzon and the Zambales/Subic Bay area was hard hit. A meter of ash covered the area, including homes and businesses. Within days, a typhoon entered the area turning the ash into mud. Many homes and businesses collapsed under the weight. One resident stated that the river looked just like the cement coming out of a cement mixer. A large percentage of coral was killed lying under the ash.

When the navy occupied the naval base at Subic, many of the wrecks were closed to diving. Divers however had the advantage of diving in water that was crystal clear with 40m or more of visibility on the wrecks that were open. The bay was the home of different varieties of sharks, dolphins, and turtles. While a few turtles still nest on the beaches, sharks and dolphins are no longer here. The visibility is returning slowly and the coral is recovering. Perhaps the turtles, sharks and dolphins will return in abundance also, but this is not likely. More turtles and rays have been seen this year than last and the number of sharks just outside the bay also seems to be on the rise.

In recent years, there have been increasingly more common sightings of bull sharks around the deeper wreck sites, along with Eagle Ray around the USS New York, LST, and El Capitan, and black tip reef sharks around the outside of Grande Island.

Underwater photographers have been reporting success with macro critters, such as harlequin ghost pipe fish and many species of nudibranch.

The past few years have seen a dramatic growth in the number of dive operators in the bay area. In 1998 there was only one fledgling full-time operator at Subic. Today there are more than 10. These dive operators serve a variety of scuba training agencies, including PADI, SSI, ANDI, PSAI, BSAC and DSAT. They provide a collection of entry-level and specialist scuba training courses, including (of course!) basic and advanced/technical wreck diver training.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, October 10, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.