A white leaf scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus) rests of red fan coral
When it comes to scuba diving in the Philippines, Mindanao rarely gets mentioned. I got certified in Punta Bilar Dive Center in Surigao City, and was looking forward to exploring lesser-known dive sites in the southern Philippines. Last August, a friend from Davao del Sur invited me to join a weekend dive at Sarangani Bay – one of most bountiful bodies of water in the country.
A white-eyed moray eel (Siderea thyrsoidea) grins for the camera!
A not-so-common species of nudibranch – Ardeadoris egretta – creeps along Tinoto Wall
With the guidance of Joel Sarenas, a freelance dive instructor based in General Santos, my friend and I enjoyed two shore-entry (more like cliff-entry) dives at Tinoto Wall, just off the Lemlunay Resort, which sits atop the limestone cliffs of Tampuan Point. The first dive in the morning was a more productive endeavor as we spotted white leaf scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus), white-eyed moray eel (Siderea thyrsoidea) and a gorgeously white Ardeadoris egretta nudibranch. The sea current shifted and became stronger in the afternoon, and the waters became more turbid, so our second try was much less rewarding. Nonetheless, I ended up with impressive shots of a pair of false clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris).
Branching coral and gorgonian sea fans decorate Tinoto Wall
A pair of false clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) guard their anemone home
Tinoto Wall is part of the Kamanga Marine Eco-tourism Park and Sanctuary, established in 2006. Sadly, a coal-fired power plant being constructed close by threatens the marine protected area, which is also home to dugong, sea turtles, eagle rays and Napoleon wrasse.
Lemlunay Resort in Maasim, Sarangani
HOW TO GET THERE:Lemlunay Resort is located at Brgy. Kamanga, Maasim, Sarangani – a 45 minute drive from General Santos City. SCUBA DIVING & SNORKELING RATES: For certified divers, the resort charges PHP 800 for one or two divers and PHP 600 each for three divers. This includes tank, weights, boat and guide. A night dive costs PHP 950. Diving gear rental is an additional PHP 550 per day. For snorkeling, full gear (mask, life vest, snorkel, booties and fins) can be rented for only PHP 250 pesos per day. Alternatively, General Santos-based dive instructor Joel Sarenas (+63 9159910800) can also arrange dive trips in Sarangani and the rest of the region.
WHERE TO STAY: One can spend the night at a budget accommodation like Amigotel Hotel & Suites in General Santos City then day trip to Maasim, or overnight at Lemlunay Resort, which has a great restaurant and nice infinity pool. Rooms start at PHP 1,500 for a double.
Welcome to my website! I’m travel writer, photographer and online influencer Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap from the Philippines. Join me as I hike, dive, fly, eat and do pretty much anything in between across 7,641 islands and beyond. Need to reach me? Please write me an email.