Scuba Diving: Surigao, Cantrasa Shoal

About the Cantrasa Shoal
The dives sites of Surigao has always been known to have very strong currents and perhaps, no current stronger than those in the Cantrasa Shoal. It is a sea mount with the top already at 30 meters deep. It has all the characteristics of what you would imagine as a great dive site. It has a cavern, a huge wall filled with soft and hard corals, wild life all around (giant travelly, green turtles, anthias, pipe fish, etc.), and of course the thing that makes is great – strong currents. A dive site very few men would attempt and a true test to a diver’s skill and bravery! If you can dive here, you can dive anywhere!

Punta Bilar Dive Center in Surigao
The Cantrasa Shoal is around 30 minutes by boat from this shore

On the way to the dive site

What to expect?
From the shore you take a quick 20 minute boat ride straight to the Cantrasa shoal. The boat stops over the sea mount and you quickly jump in the water. The current is already very strong at the surface and you need to go down quickly in order not to be swept away. You descend quickly all the way down to 30 meters while fighting the current and trying to stay with your drive group. Upon reaching the top of the shoal, you grab on to any coral you can find, take slow deep breaths, bring down your heart rate, and once you are settled, you proceed further down to the cavern representing the “entrance” to Cantrasa.

The dive starts off by entering this cavern at around 30m

Inside the cavern
Upon passing through the cavern, you go straight in the small passage way ahead

The cavern has a narrow entrance that can fit around 2 divers and the length would be around 10 meters before you pass through the other side. Once you enter, it becomes darker but not dark enough to open your flash light. You go through the cavern avoiding jagged and fire corals all around. Excitement starts to spread through out your body in anticipation of what’s to come for the dive. Upon exit, you will be greeted by a coral wall with a small passage way to your right. This leads you to the site’s main attraction which is a 25 meter wall on your left side.

Depth at around 34 meters
Huge wall on your left side
White fan corals all around

When you start traversing the wall you will reach a depth of around 34 meters. Traversing along the wall is not that easy as you are also swimming against the strong current. Imagine yourself crawling sideways and using your hands to pull yourself onwards. While the wall in on your left, your right side is nothing but blue open water. Swimming along you are huge trevalley and many other fishes. It’s like viewing a parade of fishes. And if you get lucky, you will also see an eagle ray pass by! After enjoying the show, you slowly ascend towards the top of the wall, swim along the reef until you reach 5 meters, take your safety stop, reach to the surface, remove your regulator, and just give out a big “wooohh” after surviving a dive site for the ages!

Eagle ray!
Quick sighting of an eagle ray

DIVE SITE INFO
Dive Site: Cantrasa Lars Cavern
Location: Surigao Del Norte, Philippines
Minimum License Requirement: Advance Open Water Diver
Difficulty: Very Difficult (strictly for experienced divers only)
Max Depth: 30-40 meters
Current: Strong current
Dive Type: Strong current and wall dive
Visibility: 12-18 meters

PERSONAL RECORDS
Total dives: 1
Last visit: June 13, 2014
Bottom Time: 28 mins
Night Dive: No

Recommendations:
Dive Operator: Punta Bilar Dive Center
Owner:  jake_miranda1@yahoo.com

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