While we regard Palawan as the last frontier, Southern Leyte may be the undiscovered dive frontier. Yet, the province is not as remote as one might think. Barely two hours from Cebu City via Supercat, the capital town of Maasin is a growing commercial center with hotels, pension houses, banks, restaurants, supermarts and internet cafes. From there, it’s just a short jeep or bus ride to the dive sites only a few have come to know.
Herrera, about the forthcoming encounter which should not be missed. He understands me and as the ray passes to our right, he soon realizes that diving in this undiscovered underwater world is worth the trip. The current is pretty strong but we manage to locate the wall and focus our attention on a crevice full of large sweetlips, groupers, snappers and angelfishes about 120 feet below the surface. The wall is adorned with black corals, sea fans, sponges and soft corals of every conceivable color and hue. We drift and find ourselves staring at a green turtle grazing on the reef as thousands of fusiliers and other reef fishes go about their daily routine. For just one short dive, such an encounter with large marine animals is certainly a bonus – aided simply because we are on uncharted, less explored waters – we are in Southern Leyte in Eastern Visayas.
Most of these dive sites are located in Sogod Bay where whalesharks, dolphins, rays and sharks feel completely at home. Fishing is regulated and fish sanctuaries are established in most of its coastal towns.
One prime dive area is Tangkaan Point in Padre Burgos, a half-hour ride from Maasin. This elongated landmass with limestone walls and rock formations hosts some of the most diverse coral and fish species in Southern Leyte, making a dive into this area an underwater tour into coral wonderland.
Among the recently discovered sites is Barrel Sponge Garden, a short drop-off whose huge barrel sponges and table corals never fail to amaze even the most traveled bubble-guzzler.
Or try the west side and discover the Clinic, where schools of surgeonfishes beckon every visitor to their hideout.
Or Turtle Rock, where, green turtles, eagle rays, groupers and batfish usually hangout in an excellently-preserved coral backdrop. Because of its long shoreline, Tangkaan Point offers almost unlimited diving into a maze of rich marine life and prolific fish population.
For more boat dives, Limasawa Island, site of the first Christian mass in the Far East, is just thirty minutes away from Padre Burgos. This six-kilometer long island offers wall and drift dives in virginal coral gardens frequented by large pelagics,including barracuda, mackerel, tuna and jack.
However, what makes Southern Leyte unique is its diversified diving. For some world–class shoredives, a tricycle or pick-up comes in handy. Just a few meters from the shores of Lungsodaan, Padre Burgos lie Max Climax Wall and Baluarte. These walls plunge from forty feet to a hundred and thirty feet or more, where black corals, sea fans and soft corals dominate the scene. Along these walls are cracks and crevices where diver-friendly reef residents such as napoleons, angelfish, snapper, sweetlips and grouper exude a warm welcome to underwater visitors. Because of its pristine state and rich bio-diversity, schools of barracuda, jacks, and other pelagics frequent the walls and reefs of Lungsodaan.
Southern Leyte remains largely unexplored; other dive sites can be found in and around in Sogod Bay and Panaon Island. Many await discovery.
Many topside attractions, such as waterfalls, virgin forests, caves, beaches and historical landmarks sum up Southern Leyte as an interesting, enjoyable and unforgettable experience with nature in its purest form.
The beauty of Southern Leyte lies in discovering its splendor and the knowledge that you are one of the first to explore this undiscovered frontier.
“Discovered” Dive Sites In Southern Leyte
- Max Climax Wall, Lungsodaan, Padre Burgos
- Voltaire’s Rock, Lungsodaan, Padre Burgos
- Baluarte, Lungsodaan, Padre Burgos
- Tangkaan Point, Padre Burgos
- The Clinic, Buenavista, Padre Burgos
- Adrian’s Cove, Limasawa Island
- Rio’s Point, Limasawa Island
- Zach’s Cove, Limasawa Island
- Dag’s Hole, Limasawa Island
- Limasawa SouthendTurtle Rock, Tangkaan Point
- Barrel Sponge Garden, Tangkaan Point
- Buenavista Fish Sanctuary
- Ampo Coral Garden, Tangkaan Point
- Eve’s Cove, Son-ok, Pintuyan
- Son-ok Fish Sanctuary
- Otikon Fish Sanctuary, Libagon
- Biasong Fish Sanctuary
- Rosetta’s Stone, Lipanto, St. Bernard
- Tony’s Reef, Ilijan Point, Sn. Francisco
- Napantaw Fish Sanctuary, Sn. Francisco
DIVE OPERATORS IN SOUTHERN LEYTE
- Blue Depth Dive Center
- Cantutang, Padre Burgos
- Lungsodaan, Padre Burgos
- Davliz Scuba Dive Center
- Peter’s Dive Center
Special Marine Attractions
- Whaleshark watching at Tagbak Marine Park and Tabugon Fish Sanctuary in Liloan fron November to June every year.
- Dolphin watching in Sogod Bay.
Topside Attractions and Activities
- Beachcombing, Spelunking at Cagnitoan Cave and Guinsohotan Falls, Maasin
- Jungle trek at Patag Daku, Libagon
- Pilgrimage at Limasawa First Mass Shrine and Museum, Limasawa Island
- Camping at Taglinaw Falls, San Francisco
- Swimming/Sunbathing at Punta Beach, Macrohon
How to get to Southern Leyte
Southern Leyte can be reached via Cebu City.
SUPERCAT leaves Cebu (Port 4) for Maasin, capital town of Southern Leyte every morning at 8:30
Travel time: Approximately 2 hours 15 minutes