For beach bums in southern Mindanao, the town of Glan, Sarangani is their own version of “Boracay” with its white sand coves and crystal-clear water.
The mile-long Gumasa Beach is the most popular among these sandy shores because of the concentration of cozy tropical themed resorts and restaurants. It is also the site of the summer-time Sarangani Bay (SarBay Festival), the country’s biggest beach party which integrates environmental education, physical wellness and family recreation.
Lovers of the sun, sea and sand in these parts would have more options to enjoy this beach hideaway with the launch of the Glan’s dive tourism program.
“There are so many things that Glan can be proud of that we have kept for so long, and it is high time for us now to discover all those and show it off to the world as one of the most beautiful municipalities in the Soccsksargen Region and the country,” says Mayor Vivien Yap.
Also launched during the event was the coffee table book and dive directory titled “Discover Glan’s other Paradise: It’s Underwater”.
She said that the program launch is timed for the 25th anniversary of Sarangani Bay’s declaration as a Protected Seascape by then President Fidel Ramos to showcase its lush marine world.
The bay is also recognized as a Key Marine Biodiversity Area by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Formally introduced to the dive industry during the town’s annual Mahin Festival were Sumbang Point and Binuni Reef, which have been validated by dive professionals.
Sumbang Point, situated near Belimac Beach Resort is habitat to 16 genera of hard corals and five soft corals, and about 100 distinct marine species, including hawksbill turtles, giant clams, marble shrimps and rare nudibranchs.
Binuni Reef, with a maximum depth of 12 meters, has a vertically-zoned intertidal area with patchy seagrass. The subtidal area is characterized by colonies of hard corals of massive, breaching and encrusting life forms. It also has 12 hard coral and four soft coral genera, and 62 distinct fish species.
The dive tourism program is supported by the DENR, the Department of Tourism (DOT), and the Provincial Government. Sarangani Bay was declared by the DOT as Soccsksargen’s diving haven during a dive safari in 2017.
The bay, which covers 215,950 hectares, is also home to yellow fin tuna, sperm whales, pilot whales, dolphins, clown fishes, lion fishes, sergeant fishes, and sea turtles. Its coral resources cover more than 2,293 hectares spread in 20 coral reef areas with about 60 important live hard coral genera, and 411 reef species.
Whale sharks, cheilinus undulatos (Mameng), and dugongs (sea cows), are also occasionally sighted, particularly on the western side of the bay.
Dives in Glan should be coursed through Sarangani Divers in General Santos City, the accredited dive center for proper documentation.