A view of the vast expanse of Sogod Bay from the coastal perspective of an outlying barangay in Padre Burgos town. The farthest end of the picture shows the historic island town of Limasawa, which is also a popular diving destination (Photo courtesy of Sogod Bay Scuba Resort)

MAASIN CITY– Tourism stakeholders of Southern Leyte aim to promote Sogod Bay as the top diving destination in Eastern Visayas.

Southern Leyte provincial board member Myra Rentuza, chairperson of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Committee on Tourism, stated that Southern Leyte is a top diving destination globally, and most divers visit to witness various fish species.

Rentuza narrated the story of a couple, Philp McGuire and his wife, who opened a dive resort in Padre Burgos town. They could attract foreign divers from around the world through their initiative.

“Darlene and Phil are heroes. For 18 years, they have been promoting the dive site in Southern Leyte. They are not only conducting business for the diving industry but also planting corals to preserve and maintain the marine environment and ecosystem,” Rentuza said during the joint meeting of the provincial tourism council and the provincial culture, heritage, and arts council on February 20.

Sogod Bay, as seen on a map, resembles a cleavage that bisects the province, with 11 municipalities lining its coast. Locals and foreign divers often make repeated visits as the vastness of the bay remains unexplored, offering an abundance of natural underwater sights, including steep drop-offs, live coral reefs, shelves, walls, and various sea creatures.
Napantao in San Francisco, Tangkaan in Padre Burgos, and the town’s piers are the most frequent dive locations. Limasawa is the site of the first Easter Sunday Mass, and there are also places like House Reefs and Ghost Towns, which are technical names coined by scuba divers.

Darlene McGuire shared that diving in Southern Leyte has transformed into an experience similar to underwater yoga, making it accessible to senior citizens.

However, she added that the municipality of Padre Burgos only has three dive operators, which makes it challenging to keep up with demand. She suggested that the area is ready for more investment to help meet the growing interest in diving.

Nedgar Garvez, the provincial tourism officer, informed the members of the two councils attending the meeting that the Department of Tourism has declared Sogod Bay as the anchor for a regional diving site.

Garvez suggested integrating this into crafting the ongoing provincial tourism master plan for the next five years with the assistance of Southern Leyte State University (SLSU).
During the meeting, the discussion on the province’s vast potential for diving, with the support of the tourism department, came up when the agenda included the Philippine Dive Expo on February 23 to 25, in which the McGuire couple would participate.

The province is conducting cultural mapping for all 19 LGUs, as recommended by the DOT. This encourages divers to spend their last two days sightseeing at other tourist attractions before leaving the province after their underwater experience.
(AAC/MMP/PIA Southern Leyte)