The Philippines’ Best Dives Sites

Best Dive Sites

The Philippines, being an archipelagic country surrounded with various bodies of water, is home to a diverse and vivid underwater word. In fact, the entire country lies in Coral Triangle, the global center of marine biodiversity. With the Philippines on its core, we are on the center of world’s marine biodiversity.

You don’t know how lucky we are living in the Philippines. Other nationalities, from as far as Europe, Americas of Africa, go here just to dive. So if you are a Filipino, might as well learn how to dive and see what other scuba divers are going gaga about. Because, a great treasure is right in our homeland, buried on the depths of our warm waters. It is a huge natural underwater museum open to everyone, day and night, all-year-round.

I have been actively diving since year 2008 and I must say that in almost 10 years of being a scuba diver and logging more than 250 dives across the Philippines, I have seen the majority of our country’s major dive sites. I have blogged most of my dives and through the years, I have received and been receiving a lot of inquiries on where to go or what is the best dive sites so I decided to rank my favorites based on my personal preference. So here’s my take. 🙂

1. Tubbataha Reefs (Cagayancillo, Palawan)

Tubbataha

Without argument, topping my list is the holy grail of scuba diving in the Philippines, the mecca of Philippine scuba divers – Tubbataha Reefs! Spanning 97,030 hectares in the middle of Sulu Sea, Tubbataha Reefs National Park is comprised of two coral atolls, the North and South, separated by eight-kilometer wide channel, and the Jessie Beazley Reef, covering a total of 97,030 hectares. It is believed that around 90% of the marine species in Philippine waters are found here. Its importance is recognized by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that it was declared a World Heritage Site in 1993.

Dive Season: Late-March to mid-June.
Rate: Expect to shell out at least P60,000 for four days of dive cruise.
Recommended Dive Operators: Live aboard diving only – Hans Christian Andersen and Oceana Maria.
Recommended Dive Sites: Sharks Airport, Sea Fan Alley, Delsan Wreck and Lighthouse.

.

2. Malapascua (Daanbantayan, Cebu)

Malapascua

Shark diving? Malapascua is the place to be! This underwater paradise in Northern Cebu has been synonymous to sharks since it is the only known place in the world that guarantees daily sightings of the rare Thresher Shark. It also offers sightings of Reef Sharks, occasional Hammerheads and Whale Sharks, Rays and other pelagic.

Dive Season: All year round, best months are from February to May.
Rate: Average dive rate is around P1300 per dive.
Recommended Dive Operators: Divelink Cebu
Recommended Dive Sites: Monad Shoal and Gato Island

.

3. Coron (Palawan)

Coron

If you are into wreck diving, I am pretty sure that you will love Coron as much as I do. The waters surrounding this group of islands in Northern Palawan’s Calamianes is dotted with at least nine ship wrecks that date back to the second world war. These ships were sunk at depths of 10 to 40 meters by United States Navy Task Force 38 on September 21, 1944, most of them are still intact. It is an underwater museum of history and a visual treat to scuba divers who love to experience the thrill of penetrating creepy wrecks. Aside from these shipwrecks, Coron also has underwater caves and marine sanctuaries teeming with diverse marine life for those who prefer nature diving. Another interesting site is Barracuda Lake, famous for its thermocline and the lone freshwater barracuda that lives in the lake.

Dive Season: All year round, best months are from January to May and October to November.
Rate: Average dive rate is around P2800 for two boat dives inclusive of lunch.
Recommended Dive Operator: Sea Dive
Recommended Dive Sites: Irako, Okikawa Maru, Akitsushima, Kogyo Maru, Olympia Maru, Kyokuzan Maru, Barracuda Lake, Coral Garden

.

4. Apo Reef (Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro)

Apo Reef

Apo Reef National Park is a protected marine area off the coast of Sablayan in Mindoro Occidental. The world’s second largest coral atoll-like reef in the world, next only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, it is a 34-square kilometer reef that serves as habitat of more than 350 marine species such as sharks, sea hawks, manta rays, stingrays and other tropical fishes, corals, crinoids and invertebrates. The site guarantees sightings of sharks.

Dive Season: All year round, best months are from April to May.
Rate: Average dive rate is around P5000 for two dives.
Recommended Dive Operators: Sablayan Local Government and Pandan Island Resort.
Recommended Dive Sites: Shark Ridge, Shark Encounter, Hunter’s Rock, Apo Island and Merope Rock.

.

5. Moalboal (Cebu)

Moalboal

Moalboal seems to be sleepy and laid back inland but when you get to its water, you will be transported into an action-packed and booming coastal life. Perhaps the only place in the Philippines where you can dive with millions of sardines, Moalboal is just two hours away from the city. But more than the famed Sardine Run, Moalboal offers more! Sea turtles, airplane wreck, coral gardens and a chance to see Thresher Sharks and Whale Sharks who occasionally visit the reefs.

Dive Season: All year round, best months are from December to May.
Rate: Average dive rate is around P1500 per dive.
Recommended Dive Operators: Cebu Dive Center and Savedra DIve Center.
Recommended Dive Sites: Panagsama Reef for the Sardine Run, Pescador Island and Airplane Wreck.

.

6. Apo Island (Dauin, Negros Oriental)

Apo Island

Prepare to be amazed beneath the surface of Apo Island, undeniably one of the best dive sites in the Philippines and in the world. Situated off the coast of the town of Dauin, Apo Island boasts of its vast colorful reef, home and breeding ground to green sea turtles and to over 650 documented species of fish and over 400 species of corals. The water surrounding Apo Island is a marine reserve, protected by the National Integrated Protected Area Act (NIPA) and under the jurisdiction of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB). It is one of the world’s best known community-organized marine sanctuaries. Various macro species also thrive here, making it a great site for macro and night diving.

Dive Season: All year round, best months are from January to May.
Rate: Average dive rate is around P3000 for two dives.
Recommended Dive Operator: Scuba Ventures Dumaguete
Recommended Dive Sites: Chapel, Katipanan, Rock Point, Mamsa Point and Sanctuary.

.

7. Anda (Bohol)

Anda

Generally unspoiled and unexploited, the dive sites of Anda in Bohol are divine! Mostly wall and reef diving, expect to see colorful coral gardens and beautiful walls with variety of sea slugs, sea fans, corals and sponges, and the usual tropical fishes. Sea turtles, tuna, jacks and occasional sharks, napoleons and barracudas will be your dive buddies. Don’t miss the night dive for the regular sighting of the rare Mandarin Fish. Anda is also home to numerous cave pools and you can dive there too!

Dive Season: All year round, best months are from December to May.
Rate: Average dive rate is around P3,500 for two dives.
Recommended Dive Operators: Blue Star Dive and Resort
Recommended Dive Sites: Paradise Garden, Shark’s Point and Wonder Wall.
.

8. Mantangale and Mantigue (Balingoan, Misamis Oriental and Camiguin)

Balingoan

The quiet town of Balingoan in the Northern Mindanao province of Misamis Oriental is known to be the gateway to Camiguin Island. For scuba divers, the town is already a destination, an underrated one yet perhaps the best in Mindanao. The water off the coast of Mantangale in Balingoan that stretches towards Mantigue Island of Camiguin is teeming with vivid marine life. Just off the coast of Mantangale is a beautiful reef that is home to rare Mandarin Fish. Beyond are vast coral areas, walls and reefs frequently visited by schools of jacks, barracudas, manta rays, whale sharks, reef sharks, sea turtles and other pelagic. The place is an enthralling underwater paradise, generally unspoiled and unexploited and off the radar of the usual underwater tourists. It has at least eleven known dive spots, probably more that are still undiscovered.

Dive Season: All year round, best months are from April to June.
Rate: Average dive rate is around P3000 for two dives.
Recommended Dive Operators: Mantangale Alibuag Dive Resort and DIve Special Camiguin.
Recommended Dive Sites: Again Reef and Mantigue Island.

.

9. Sabang (Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental)

Puerto Galera

On the southern side of Verde Island Passage is Puerto Galera, a coastal town popular for its white sand beaches and underwater attractions. Its incredible marine diversity, beautiful warm water and variety of dive spots make it one of the popular dive destinations not only in the Philippines but in the world. Divers flock to the village of Sabang where most dive operators are stationed, majority of the dive sites are also located off the coast of the village, few minutes by boat from the shore. As it lies along Verde Passage, dubbed as the “Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity”, expect that the marine life in this part of the Philippines to be among the most diverse and vivid. There are also small wrecks lying on its seabed though not as grand as those in Coron.

Dive Season: All year round, best months are from April to September.
Rate: Average dive rate is around P2500 for two dives.
Recommended Dive Operators: Big Apple Dive Resort
Recommended Dive Sites: Alma Jane, Sabang Wrecks, Hole in the Wall, Canyon and Shark Caves.

.

10. Anilao (Mabini, Batangas)

Anilao

Just three hours away from Manila is the birthplace of scuba diving in the Philippines – Anilao! This spot lies north of the Verde Island Passage which is dubbed as the “Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity”. With more than forty dive sites to choose from that stretches from the coast of the town of Mabini all the way to Tingloy Island, Anilao promises awesome day underwater. Whether you are into cave or nature diving, one who loves to see sharks, schools of pelagic or macro, day or night, Anilao will not disappoint.

Dive Season: All year round, best months are from March to June.
Rate: Average dive rate is around P2700 for two dives.
Recommended Dive Operators: Aqua Reef Venture, Pier Uno, Acacia Dive Resort and Vistamar
Recommended Dive Sites: Cathedral, Twin Rocks, Basura, Mapating, Kirby’s Rock, Grotto, Sombrero Island and Bonito Island.

Comments

  1. Jade Arnaiz

    Apo Reef is indeed beautiful! According to this article: http://goo.gl/RWDvuV, it is one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. Can’t wait to see this beauty! 🙂

Comments are closed.