The large Philippines island of Leyte and its capital Tacloban have been much in the news during the past 18 months primarily due to the destruction of Typhoon Yolanda one of the strongest ever storms to hit land.
Some 120km south of Tacloban our featured Resort is based in Padre Burgos in Sogod Bay the main destination for diving in Southern Leyte. Miraculously Padre Burgos was relatively unaffected by the typhoon and its after-effects with building and transport infrastructure intact and critically with no damage to the reefs or marine systems.
Southern Leyte is a quiet coastal region with a small amount of tourism that continues to grow slowly but the journey times to get there mean that, for now, it primarily rewards those prepared to spend a little extra time on the road looking for a unique diving destination.
Most of the resorts and dive centers in this area are based close to Padre Burgos a small and sleepy rural town that hugs the coastline. An unspoilt area of hidden beaches and coves overlooked by craggy hill and virgin forest Sogod Bay reflects a quiet rural life style that is fast disappearing from other Asian regions.
For guests much of the focus is on the sea and many come here for the high quality muck and critter diving and snorkeling on the established marine sanctuaries. It is also now one of the best places in the Philippines to see whale sharks in a natural setting away from the crowds and stage managed 'interactions'.
On land there are numerous activities to enjoy including light trekking and caving, canyon adventures and fishing. For those with a more historical interest there are several WW2 based tours and of course Limasawa Island where Magellan came ashore and is said to be the site of the first Catholic Mass in the Philippines.
There are several daily flights from both Manila and Cebu into Tacloban the provincial capital of Leyte. From there we provide a three hour road transfer through fascinating scenery to our featured Resort at Padre Burgos.
Southyern Leyte is a year round diving destination. April - August is usually the ideal time for best visibility and calmest seas however the gentle winds from September to March bring plankton into the area which in turn attract whales sharks, dolphins and other larger pelagics.
Sogod Bay has over 25 dive sites many of them located on long established protected marine sanctuaries. These stunning marine ecosystems are little visited, are in pristine condition and are rich in a huge array of species that make for some of the very best diving in the southern Philippines.
From soft sandy slopes to huge table corals and steep walls there is literally something for all levels of dive experience. Perhaps the main attraction for many guest and especially photographers is the world quality muck diving and shear range of macro-life. There are though many larger species to be found here including larger pelagics in the deeper water along some of the walls and of course Whale sharks in season.
There are five dive sites right in front of the Resort and very easy to access. Including Voltaire's Rock and Bulawarte these sites range from 5m - 40m deep and consist of both sandy slopes and steep walls. Corals are hugely impressive with a host of hard and soft corals including table tops, fans and sea whips. Lots of macro-life here and larger marine species are pulled in with the stronger currents.
North of the Resort, and just 20-30 minutes by boat are a series of dives that are especially popular with photographers and rare macro enthusiasts: seahorses, mantis shrimps, blue ringed octopus, frog fish and unusual nudibranch can all be found at Bunga Bend, Whip City and Cantamac.
Zach's Cove and Adrian's Cove are two superb wall dives on the famous Limasawa Island Sanctuary. There are incredible coral formations along the shallow reef tops and then the walls plunge down deep into the blue. Rich with marine life and sometimes visited by large pelagics - these dives are an unforgettable experience!
Arguably the best diving in the area is across the Bay at Panoan Island on the marine sanctuary of Napantao. This is semi-circular shaped wall that pushes out into the cooler currents which attract large schools of snappers, fusiliers and parrot fish to the fan and coral rich wall sides. If the waters are particularly strong then tuna, rays and sharks can make a visit as well.
Whale Sharks are regularly seen across Sogod Bay as they follow the plankton and jelly fish. Sogod Bay Scuba Resort have a near perfect success rate with interactions and currently they say that Sunok close to the Resort is a great location to see these beautiful creatures.