There is now a 3rd PADI dive resort operating in Leyte. Padre Burgos Castle Resort has recently gained PADI accreditation and offers guided scuba diving excursions for very small groups with a maximum of just 4 divers. Their ‘Luxury Dive Packages’ are great value and include 2 guided scuba dives per day, unlimited shore diving on their house reef and deluxe room accommodation with breakfast.
Guests without diving certifications can try the Discover Scuba dive and a full range of PADI courses from Open Water to Dive Master are available.
PBCR continues to offer wonderful full-day trips to swim with whale sharks, snorkeling tours and what is certainly the best dolphin watching in the Philippines all set in the beautiful and non-touristic environment of Southern Leyte. Other great activities include sailing, island hopping, caving, hiking to waterfalls and interacting with wild monkeys.
Beautiful Coral Reefs
Super Wall Diving
Wonderful Marine Life on Pristine Reef
After a fabulous start to the whale shark season right at the beginning of November, late November through mid December was disappointing with few reported sightings. Things picked up just in time for Christmas and, despite rather rainy weather and a tropical storm passing nearby just before New Year, whale shark tours over the festive season were very successful.
That storm brought a lot of rain and water visibility was dramatically reduced for several days. By the end of the first week in January, however visibility was much improved and since then the whale shark watching has been getting better and better. As of now there are plenty of whale sharks around, and they are easy to find making for multiple interactions on each tour. With the help of marine biologists working with the Physalus marine conservation group, we yesterday identified 3 different whale sharks which had been seen here in 2013, which is interesting and doubtless many conclusions will be inferred from this small amount of data! The whale shark tours run by Padre Burgos Castle Resort are usually joined by one of the marine biologists from Physalus, who will be working here studying whale sharks until the middle of June.
Close up of a whale shark feeding at the surface in Southern Leyte.
A few boats have been making the 5 to 7 hour trip over from Cebu to bring guests to see the whale sharks here in Southern Leyte. Oslob, in the south of Cebu Island, is much closer for such people, but they will surely have relished the wonderfully natural and totally uncrowded whale shark interactions here and found the trip more than worthwhile.
With the poorest weather associated with the north-east monsoon, or amihan, hopefully already past, and plenty of whale sharks frequenting the coastal waters of Sogod Bay, we are looking forward to a long and very successful season.
As usual at this time of year we are enjoying perfect conditions with warm, dry and sunny weather and excellent water visibility making for superb scuba diving, snorkeling and, of course, whale shark watching. There seem to be even more dolphins than normal and we are seeing lots of them on every trip at the moment – about 500 last time out!
First cross planted in Philippine soil – Limasawa Island, 31 March, 1521.
Land based activities should not be overlooked and there are superb caves, beautiful waterfalls and the historic site of the First Mass to visit, as well as some interesting walks to hill-top churches and shrines and delightful strolls along deserted beaches.
Looking slightly further ahead, Padre Burgos Castle Resort still has some availability for both Christmas and New Year offering gala dinners with free-flow wine, champagne breakfasts, complimentary sailing and kayaking.
Right on cue, the whale sharks have now ‘returned’ to Sogod Bay and hopefully the season will run all the way through until next June.
The ‘early season’ is a fantastic time to see whale sharks in Southern Leyte, with great weather and a very high likelihood of being able to snorkel with these magnificent creatures all on your own.
Getting close to a whale shark in Southern Leyte.
Padre Burgos Castle Resort is again running whale shark tours for very small groups with a minimum of just 2 people. The word ‘returned’ in the opening sentence above is enclosed in quotation marks as one of the many unknowns about the whale sharks is where they are when they are not here! There are nearly as many different theories as there are marine biologists working to answer that question, as well as many others, about whale shark behaviour. During our tours we endeavour to give guests as much up-to-date information about the whale sharks as we can, and, in addition to your enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide, a full-time marine biologist often joins guests on the boat to do just that.
So come and enjoy what is by far the best whale shark experience in the Philippines, if not the world.
Sogod Bay in Southern Leyte offers probably the finest shore based diving and snorkeling in the Philippines with walls, slopes, muck dives and marine life ranging from pygmy seahorses to whale sharks. Although very easily accessible from Manila, Cebu and Bohol tourists are few and far between and there are only a handful of dive operations.
To enhance your enjoyment of this fabulous diving area Padre Burgos Castle Resort is now offering guided diving in very small groups. Your group of 4 can enjoy private diving, and the size of a non-private group is just 2 to 4 divers.
For private groups the programme and timing will be at your discretion, but the normal routine is an 8.30am departure from the resort’s private beach with 2 morning dives before returning to the resort for lunch. Keen divers can also enjoy an afternoon dive and night dives are also available, with the one at Padre Burgos town pier being especially recommended.
Subject to a maximum number of 6 guests on the boat, snorkelers can also join the diving groups while snorkeling only tours, including whale shark watching, are run for groups of between 2 and 6 people.
7 metre whale shark in Southern Leyte.
After excitement late in the season with frequent whale shark sightings in the 2nd half of May through early June, it is now time to declare the 2013-14 whale shark season as being over. And an unusual season it has been.
After perfect conditions in late October, our anticipation of the new whale shark season was overshadowed by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) which, thankfully, caused no damage or injuries in Southern Leyte. As things returned to normal, there were regular reports from fisherman of whale shark sightings all around Sogod Bay, but not consistently at the usual congregation area near Pintuyan. This made finding whale sharks for guests almost impossible, as the area to be surveyed was huge. By early March hopes for reliable whale whark watching were fading when whale sharks began feeding in Calian bay near Liloan. Despite extremely limited visibility we enjoyed several days of superb snorkeling with several whale sharks in close proximity and no other boats in the vicinity.
The whale sharks were feeding extremely actively on shrimp spawn, and as that dissipated the whale sharks headed south and finally ended up at Pintuyan. We expected them to stay in that area, but strangely they didn’t and April and May yielded no whale shark sightings, or even reports of them from fishermen, until the late season flurry a couple of weeks ago.
The reasons for this unusual pattern of whale shark behaviour are unknown. Some people attribute it to the heavy seas brought on by Typhoon Haiyan; others to the artificial feeding undertaken at Oslob in southern Cebu. Neither of this explanations stands up to rational analysis, and the most likely explanation is just natural variation.
Certainly we’re looking forward to the return of the whale sharks and some great whale shark watching next season which should start around late October. In the meantime, we can enjoy the ‘summer’ which usually brings us great weather, superb diving and snorkeling conditions, and consistent south-westerly breezes for excellent sailing.