Diving is one of the highlights of visiting the Philippines. Marine life is varied and rich, the waters are temperate, and facilities throughout the country provide excellent service and safety. If you’re looking for the big stuff, you’re in luck: whale sharks, thresher sharks, turtles, rays, huge schools of sardines, barracuda, jackfish, tuna, and more ply these waters. Macro-lovers can find ornate ghost pipefish, mantis shrimp, seahorses, nudibranchs, colourful harlequin shrimp, and loads of other tiny critters. For wreck-lovers, Coron is home to more than a dozen shipwrecks that sunk during WWII. Many of these can be penetrated without special equipment with the right local guide and training.
For healthy coral, turtles, and great macro life, Dauin in Negros Oriental and neighboring Apo Island are hard to beat. To see the thresher sharks, Malapascua at the northern tip of Cebu is your best bet as a cleaning station sits about 30 meters down. Bohol is our favorite gateway to Balicasag Island with its healthy coral walls and teeming schools of jacks and barracuda. For a chance at seeing whale sharks there are some great sites near Donsol. Although you’re nearly guaranteed to see these beautiful fish snorkeling in Oslob or Donsol, we don’t recommend these activities as they are not sustainable or healthy for the whale sharks. Puerto Galera has both easy dives just off-shore and more advanced dives with strong currents in the Verde Island Channel. Boracay also offers an array of dives although the best dives are deep drifts for experienced divers only. Sadly, the coral at sites for novice divers has been severely damaged and marine life is thus lower in numbers and variety. In 2018, the island of Boracay closed to visitors for six months of environmental rehabilitation so hopefully the marine life will return in future years to healthier waters.
Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park, southeast of Palawan in the Sulu Sea, has the greatest variety of marine life in the Philippines. This area is only accessible from mid-March to mid-June and requires a ten-hour boat ride from Puerto Princesa. Bookings for multi-day dive trips on liveaboard boats can fill up to a year in advance. Elsewhere in Palawan, you’ll find some lovely diving near Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and along the coasts. In other words, you can dive almost anywhere in Palawan.
With the exception of Tubbataha, diving is good year-round in the Philippines. November to June typically have the best visibility with water temperatures climbing toward 30 degrees near the end of that period.
For inspiration, have a look at the sample itineraries below. We can tailor-make an itinerary that gets you to some of the best dive sites in the country and Marbree, our resident Philippines expert, is always happy to talk about diving. Enquire now or give us a call us at (UK) 0207 112 0019!