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This eco-tourism hotspot was once home to the US naval forces in the pacific and is a now a wreck diving haven. The USS New York, which saw service in both WWI and WWII, is a highlight as well as numerous other ship and plane wrecks which have come to rest here, now home to a range of marine life.

Diving in Subic Bay

Quick facts

Bordered on three sides by mountainous peaks, Subic Bay combines tropical waters with lush tropical rain forest. Once the home base of the US naval forces in the Pacific, it is now a hotspot for eco-tourism and incredible wreck diving. The area is steeped in history and is a must for any wreck diving enthusiast. If you want to do more than just dive however, the trekking here is spectacular. Nature lovers will be impressed by the collection of centuries-old trees, crystal clear brooks, colourful birds, butterflies, monkeys and lizards.

When to go

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USS New York – Built in the 1890’s and used in both WWI and WWII, this is one of Subic Bay’s most iconic wrecks. She lays at between 17-27 metres / 55-86 feet and all eight of her guns are still intact. She was scuttled in 1941 in Subic Bay to prevent failing to the invading Japanese forces. El Capitan – This world-class shipwreck is accessible by divers of all levels. Her cavernous cargo holds, engine room and galley are easily accessible and highlights of this dive include a large school of jack fish which can literally be seen here in their thousands. This is a ‘must see’ wreck in Subic Bay. Landing Ship Tank - This famous wreck sits at between 26-35 metres / 85-115 feet and is home to a large number of fish including resident groupers. This huge wreck was a WWII vessel designed to provide support to amphibious operations by landing tanks, trucks, artillery and troops onto remote shorelines. Douglas Skyraider – This Korean war time plane crashed into Subic Bay in 1962 and now sits upright on a flat silt bottom at 36 metres / 118 feet. This is a small wreck measuring just 12 metres / 39 feet long and is home to sweet lips, banded coral shrimp, hinge beak shrimp and juvenile jack fish. F4 Phantom – This was a record-breaking, supersonic, twin engine, long-range jet. The Phantom has the distinction of being the last U.S. fighter flown to attain ace status in the 20th century. Previously able to reach speeds of Mach 1.9 she now rests at 45 meters and is home to schools of small reef fish and groupers.

What to see

The stars of the diving in Subic Bay are undoubtedly the collection of ship and aircraft wrecks but the marine life is equally as impressive. Look out for schooling sweet lips, jacks, groupers, trevally and glass fish. Critters are abundant on many of the wrecks, most notably moray and ribbon eels, lion fish, scorpion fish, nudibranch and a plethora of cleaner shrimps and other small crustaceans.

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Location

Located on the western coast of Luzon Island, Subic Bay is an extension of South China Sea. Subic Bay was formerly the site of US Navy facility called US Naval Base Subic Bay. The area has since then transformed into an industrial and business hub and is called Subic Bay Freeport Zone and managed by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. Being a duty free port, Subic Bay is excellent for shopping. The Subic Bay area is perfect for scuba diving with a stunning wreck jungle beneath the surface. The area is particularly known for its wrecks. The climate of the bay area is warm and since there are no significant currents in the area, diving activity is undertaken throughout the year. There are over 15 wrecks within 5 to 10 minute’s boat ride from the shores and more than 30 can be seen within a boat ride of 1 hour. The more famous wrecks that are frequently explored by divers are USS New York, San Quentin and El Capitan. There are also several other vessels of military vintage resting on the sea bed of Subic Bay. Dive centers in the area have kept a brief description of every wreck which can be read before a dive to enhance the understanding of the wreck and increase the pleasure.

Getting there

Fly into Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and there are a range of options to Subic Bay including bus, taxi or private car rental. Subic Bay is a two hour drive from Manila. Buses also operate this route. The Victory liner runs hourly to Subic Bay from terminals in Pasay City, Caloocan, Sampaloc and Cubao.