Destination Paradise: Dive into a great trip to Batangas, Philippines

by Robert Marmaduke
Stripes Guam

Editor's note: This story appeared in 2015 edition of Destination Paradise. We are now accepting stories for the 2016 edition, which hits the streets in February. Submit your story and photos to paradise@stripes.com by Jan. 8, 2016, and we'll make you famous!

Somewhere not too far away from Guam, just west across the seas, is a quiet resort region in the Philippines that caters to sport diving. A short flight to Manila, a comfortable taxi or bus ride south for a couple hours, and you're at Batangas. Then whether you head west to Mabini's resorts, or east to Laiya, you're well taken care of in beachside luxury.

But our group kept going south on the outrigger ferry to Puerto Galera and Sabang Beach, where you'll likely run into someone you know from Guam already diving there. You'll probably run into a lot of people at Sabang, it's wall to wall dive hotels and restaurants. So then when you go, let me tell you about BadLadz Dive Resort.

BadLadz sits in Puerto Galera, south of Sabang. PG is a sleepy cathedral town and north ferry transit hub to the beautiful Philippine island of  Mindoro.
You can't miss it, BadLadz is right on the beach, but set back from the ferry terminal traffic on a paved walkway leading to their open lanai bar, and their comfortable rooms and verandas just up the stairs, with full AC and cable TV.

Gavin Featherstone runs BadLadz. He came to Puerto Galera in 2010 for a dive holiday, and stayed. There's just something about the vibe there that makes you relax. He spent 6 months getting his Dive Master certs, became a dive instructor and tour guide, then bought a half-share in the resort and went back to England to become an expatriate to the Philippines.

But it wasn't that easy though, and perhaps why you'll appreciate what he's done for the dive resort. Gavin contracted a spinal infection, one that even after multiple surgeries left him paralyzed below the waist. Still, with incredible fortitude and after lengthy rehab, Gavin is finally able to walk on crutches again, and personally meet and greet everyone who visits BadLadz.

Gavin's made every effort to make his resort primo. The bar and staff are tops. They make a great margarita, and the Cerveza Negra is perfectly chilled. They use only top-cut meats in their Mexican cantina, and our group can honestly say we've never had better Mexican cuisine. You have to try their huge 'Wet Burrito' plate! Then just hang out in the lanai or up on your verandah looking out at the harbor, while their excellent dive staff prepare your gear.

We lucked out and had a technical diver join us for the quick outrigger ride to the dive site, and together with our dive leader, saw the incredible variety of undersea life there. BadLadz dive trip to the unspoiled Verde Island you'll find is one of the top dive sites in the region, so don't pass it up!

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