Puerto Galera has so much to offer, which is why it is one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines. This harbor city was established in 1574 by the Spaniards. It is one of the oldest remaining forts set up by the colonizing Europeans to protect the shores from invading forces. “Puerto Galera” is Spanish for “harbor of galleons.” Ancient Spanish ships used to seek refuge here from any coming storms and typhoons. In other words, a number of ships and sails have parked here for centuries, and so there are wrecks and ruins scattered under the surrounding sea. This provides a perfect setting for treasure hunting in Puerto Galera.
To the untrained ear, “treasure hunting” is a party game where participants look under seats for tips and clues. Usually, the ultimate price is a bag of candies or chocolates. To the ear of an expert scuba diver, treasure hunting means scouring deeps in search of bigger booty… like, say, sunken Spanish galleons.
Stories from antiquity say that sunken ships and those that may have passed these waters centuries ago might have carried treasures and antiques that are now resting on the ocean floor and probably covered with ocean debris and marine wildlife. These stories are more than legends, because several ancient items have indeed been found resting on the ocean floor.
History attests that in the 17th and 18th Centuries Spanish galleons regularly sailed back and forth from the Philippines to Mexico. They transported treasures from both continents, which included silk, ceramics, spices, ivory, jade and gold. As is still true today, storms and strong typhoons regularly batter the Philippine islands, and many centuries ago, in past storms, the galleons sought refuge at the “harbor of galleons” or Puerto Galera. So there is a great deal of evidence to say that treasure hunters of today at Puerto Galera are not just throwing punches in the air. Theirs is a legitimate hunt backed by historical records.
But if divers cannot find a single piece of gold or jade deep under the calm blue waters of Puerto Galera, it doesn’t mean they will not see any treasure. The sea here is filled with candy-colored reefs and home to more than 2500 aquatic species. These are the real and obvious gems for scuba divers to enjoy and cherish.
In a way, when you hear someone talk of treasure hunting in Puerto Galera, chances are that person meant scuba diving. There are many dive centers along the beaches of Puerto Galera, specifically along Sabang Beach, White Beach, Big La Laguna Beach, and Small La Laguna Beach. A typical treasure hunting package costs about Php1200 (approx. USD28) per diver. This includes tanks, weights, guides, and the boat ride to the spot. Most dive centers offer to rent out underwater cameras to document your experience. The most popular diving spot for ancient wrecks is in Verde Island between Batangas City and Puerto Galera. There are also a few wrecks off the shore of Sabang Beach.