The Best Diving Sites in the Philippines
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Tubbataha Reefs, Palawan
The Tubbataha Reefs is a marine park located in a remote area in the Sulu Sea, off the coast of Palawan Island. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, the park is considered by many divers as the best diving site in the Philippines, boasting extraordinary marine biodiversity.
The park features an untouched coral reef with a perpendicular wall that reaches 100 meters, vast lagoons, and a couple of coral islands. The Amos Rock Site is a diver’s paradise, where you can admire corals, schools of giant trevallies and groupers, various shark species, and a wall covered in gorgonians.
Malapascua Island, Cebu
Malapascua Island is an unmissable destination for scuba diving enthusiasts visiting the Philippines. In fact, it is the only place in the world where you can have close encounters with rare Thresher Sharks and giant manta rays. It is an absolutely priceless experience!
The Monad Shoal and Gato Island Sites are the best for spotting sharks and numerous other marine species, including sea snakes, cuttlefish, crabs, ghost pipefish, nudibranchs, seahorses, and many more.
Puerto Galera, Mindoro
Located along the northern coast of Mindoro Island, Puerto Galera is the most popular destination among divers and easily accessible from Batangas. One of the most enticing aspects of Puerto Galera is the variety of diving sites and the beautiful beaches with fine sand caressed by calm and crystal-clear waters. In addition to diving, activities such as surfing, sailing, and snorkeling are also available.
For thrill-seekers, the Canyons Site is a must-visit, where strong currents carry divers through marvelous underwater canyons covered in corals and sponges, offering sightings of schools of barracuda, snappers, emperors, and jacks. Not far from the shore, there is abundant macro life, including schools of Moorish idols, frogfish, lionfish, leaf fish, and many more.
Apo Reef, Mindoro
Apo Reef is the largest coral reef in the Philippines, located in open water between Mindoro and Coron islands. This pristine marine park has been listed as a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Apo 29 is the most exciting diving site in Apo Reef, but it is reserved for more experienced divers. It consists of an underwater mountain reaching 25 meters, where you can spot reef sharks, thresher sharks, hammerhead sharks, manta rays, and large schools of pelagic fish. Along the walls on the northeast side of the island, which descend to 80 meters, you can encounter whitetip sharks, turtles, barracudas, and snappers.
Moalboal is a must-visit destination for travelers in Cebu. The main attraction is the “Sardine Run,” which takes place at Panagsama Beach. It features thousands of sardines moving swiftly in massive schools just below the sea’s surface, creating incredible geometric formations that span between 5 and 10 meters wide. It is estimated that up to 7 million sardines reside in Moalboal. To witness this extraordinary phenomenon, snorkeling or free diving is all that’s needed.
The sites near Pescador Island are equally vibrant and diverse, featuring canyons, caves, and vertical walls.
Coron is known as the capital of underwater wrecks in the Philippines, famous for its emerald green lagoons surrounded by massive cliffs. With its accessibility, diverse marine life, and postcard-worthy scenery, Coron is a haven for diving enthusiasts.
The Okikawa Maru is the largest wreck in Coron Bay, situated at a shallow depth. It is a Japanese oil tanker sunk during World War II. The Tangat Gunboat, on the other hand, is a submarine hunter resting in shallow waters and accessible to both beginner and experienced divers. In addition to shipwrecks, Coron in the Philippines is popular for its diverse marine life, including Dugongs, and the unique thermocline experience at Barracuda Lake.
Donsol and Ticao Island
One of the main migratory routes of the Manta Rays passes through the strait of sea between Ticao Island and Donsol. The best time to spot these graceful creatures is between December and May. Other occasional visitors include massive Whale Sharks, hammerhead sharks, and tiger sharks.
Cabilao Island, Bohol
One of the most interesting diving sites in Bohol is the small island of Cabilao located in the Strait of Cebu.
The Lighthouse Site consists of a vertical wall of 25 meters where strong currents bring schools of barracuda and jackfish, as well as white-tip sharks. From December to June, it is possible to see hammerhead sharks.
Apo Island and Dauin
Most of the best diving sites in Negros Oriental are located along the coast of Dauin, just 20 minutes from the city of Dumaguete itself. Apo Island, a 30-minute boat ride from Dauin (not to be confused with Apo Reef in Mindoro), is one of the most beautiful marine reserves in the Philippines, with excellent visibility throughout the year and an abundance of turtles and hard corals.
Balicasang Island, Bohol
Balicasag is a tiny island off the coast of Panglao Island in Bohol. It is a marine sanctuary with white sandy beaches and calm, shallow waters teeming with beautiful coral reefs.
The Diver’s Heaven Site is a 40-meter vertical wall with gentle currents, making it easily accessible even for beginner or intermediate divers.
Boracay is more famous for its beaches than for its diving. However, the island offers interesting diving opportunities on the coral reef for both beginners and more experienced divers.
The Yapak site, reserved for experienced divers, is a 32-meter vertical wall where you can encounter schools of barracuda, tuna, and reef sharks. Crocodile Island, with calm and shallow waters, is ideal for macro photography due to its stunning variety of macro life.
Easily accessible from Manila and renowned for its abundant Macro Life, Anilao is the perfect place to embark on a scuba diving adventure in the Philippines. It is one of the best sites in the country for macro photography and muck diving, boasting a multitude of unique and rare marine creatures.
Moreover, it is a favorite destination among local Filipino divers who visit for weekend dives, while aspiring divers utilize the area to obtain their certification.