Best Diving sites in Philippines

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If you have dived in Philippines before, please share your experiences: Dive spots you would recommend, which Dive Center you used, Fishes & Diving, Visibility, Currents, etc. Please post your comments in the section below, by doing so you will help fellow divers to plan their next trip ;)

There is a old saying, that the most important thing that a women has is her good reputation. Once she loses it, she may never get it back. The same can be said for a travel or scuba destination. A poor reputation can last much longer than is warranted. Due to destructive fishing practices, poor diving standards and a failing infrastructure, the Philippines earned a reputation as a poor diving destination. Much has changed over the years and divers who puts aside the old stories are finding a dive destination with pristine dive sites, abundant marine life and a supporting infrastructure. Divers can now find some of the most affordable diving options in the world and many unique experiences.

 

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In this page you will find more detailed information about scuba diving in Philippines.

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Best Dive Review

You may have heard of the “coral triangle”. The WWF describes it as “The Coral Triangle, the global centre of marine biodiversity, is a 6 million km2 area spanning Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands. Within this nursery of the seas live 76% of the world’s coral species, 6 of the world’s 7 marine turtle species, and at least 2,228 reef fish species.”

The diving in the Philippines is diverse that attracts divers with a wide range of interest. Overall divers can expect good visibility and water temperatures that require a dive skin to 3mm wet suit. The dive season is best from November to May. June to October is the rainy season and also noted for typhoons. Rains will cause a decrease in visibility and in places can cause numerous days of storm warning that prohibits diving. Typhoons can be very strong and create very dangerous conditions on land. Here is a run down of just some of the top destinations. This list is not a top ten list, as divers are attracted to different aspects of diving.

  • Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park: If this was a top ten list, this would be on top. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a 97,030-hectare Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Sulu Sea off the coast of Palawan. Puerto Princesa City is the closest city about 150 km or 10 to 14 hours by boat away. Two large atolls rise from the deep Sulu Sea creating a rich reef area constantly feed by the nutrient rich waters of the deep. The conditions create one of the most diverse marine populations in the world, with both large pelagics and small macro subjects abound. Visibility is excellent. Due to the extreme nature of conditions in the Sulu Sea diving here is seasonal starting in March and going to June. Strictly a liveaboard destination, about 15 liveaboards serve the park in dive season, some by international fleets.
  • Puerto Galera: PG, as it is mostly referred to, is oldest international accepted diving destination in the Philippines. It has a natural harbor with white sand beaches. The name refers back to the time of the Spanish Galleons, the ships would seek protection here waiting for the right weather before continuing their journeys. No matter the weather conditions a portion of the area would provide protection. A number of its dive sites are often found on different top ten in the world list. While often incorrectly considered a part of Luzon by divers, it is in fact in Oriental Mindoro. Luzon and Mindoro are separated by the Verde Island Passage. The passage is just one of the attractions for divers. It provides outstanding wall and drift dives in an area abundant in marine life that scientist are still discovering new species. There are dive sites for all level of divers, with ample dive sites for new divers. Puerto Galera also has outstanding support for deep technical diving. It provides year round diving and is not often impacted by the typhoons.
  • Cebu: The province of Cebu has a number of outstanding dive destinations, that has made it the destination of choice for many divers. Cebu province consists of Cebu Island, as well as 167 smaller islands. Mactan island, home of Cebu’s airport, is known for its outstanding wall and drift dives and has a number of resorts. Malapascua Island, located off the northern tip of the Cebu, is known for its thresher shark dives as well as manta rays, macro photography, nearby Gato island known for sharks and tunnels and a few outstanding wrecks. Moalboal located on the west coast of Cebu Island has developed a tourism industry based on recreational diving and beaches. Tañon Strait separates Cebu from Negros Island and Moalboal sits on the strait. It is a 100 mile long marine protected zone known as a passage for large pelagics including whale sharks and other shark and ray species. It is also a sanctuary for marine mammals, sharks and rays.
  • Bohol: Both the provinces of Cebu and Bohol were areas that the DOT determine would make ideal diving destinations. Bohol is rapidly growing a reputation for great diving and great dive centers. Located a short distance from Cebu, it also presents a range of diving opportunities.
  • Anilao, Batangas: This dive destination is often listed as one of the best places to dive. Being only 2 hours from Manila by road, it is the destination by divers from that city. On the opposite side of the Verde Island Passage from PG it has outstanding drift and wall dives. Marco photographers also love the area.
  • Coron and APO Reef: These are really two distinct destinations, however, they are often promoted together by Liveaboard operators. Coron is best known for the WWII Japanese ships that are sunk in the bay. They also have a few unique lakes that are used for diving, Cathedral Cave and Barracuda Lake offer interesting dives plus an opportunity for qualified cave divers. APO Reef is the largest continuous reef in the world and offers outstanding diving. This is a developing destination and still not used very often. Located off the coast of Mindoro, it has limited dive centers in the area and is time consuming to reach those centers. It is, however, becoming well accepted as a liveaboard destination. In the past Liveaboards were primary just at Tubbataha Reefs, but currently a growing number are active year round and APO reef is one of the destinations, starting from Coron or PG.
  • Subic Bay: Unlike the rest of the dive destinations in the Philippines, Subic Bay is not known for great reefs, pelagics or great visibility. Subic Bay is a very popular tourist destination, that also has great wreck diving. It has the most wreck dive sites in the Philippines and they are all just 20 minutes or less from the dive centers. It is also a great destination for tech divers. Diving in Subic Bay is year round and not often impacted by severe weather.

Where to stay?

I usually use this website to book in advance my hotels in Philippines as they usually have the lowest rates I find. I like it because it's free to cancel and change the dates.

Travel Guide

Now that you know all about the underwater world, you might want to start planning your scuba holiday! Check out our Philippines Travel Review for information about how to get there, activities and excursions, where to stay, and more.

Diving Reviews for this region

Subic Bay

Interesting Wreck Diving close to Manila in the Philippines.

Subic Bay Diving Review

Donsol

The best place in the World to swim and dive with Whale Sharks! Also a fantastic spot for spotting Manta Rays.

Donsol Diving Review

Puerto Galera

Great spot for Macro Underwater Photography, to take a diving course and for amazing Drift Diving.

Puerto Galera Diving Review

Anilao, Batangas

The best place in the Philippines for Macro Underwater Photography! A must dive for muck diving and macro photographers. Thriving biodiversity and superb coral.

Anilao, Batangas Diving Review

Boracay Island

Great place to learn Scuba Diving or to take courses. Some interesting and challenging dive sites and good macro photography opportunities.

Boracay Island Diving Review

Bohol Island

Some of the best scuba diving in the Philippines! Great wall dives, Coral, Macro Pictures opportunities and Reef Sharks.

Bohol Island Diving Review

Coron, Palawan

One of the Best places in the World for Wreck Diving!!! Also very interesting lake diving all within a superb tropical scenery setting... ahh bliss!

Coron, Palawan Diving Review

Malapascua Island

The best place on Earth to see the very rare Thresher Shark! Good chances also to spot Manta Rays and world class macro diving. Very Beautiful pristine Island.

Malapascua Island Diving Review

Dive spots reviews in Philippines

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Monad Shoal, also known as Shark Point, has now become a World famous dive site. It is the best place in the world and i...
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With Angol and Coral Garden, LDB is one of the best and most diverse spots to learn or improve your scuba diving skills....
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The Dona Marilyn is a 98m long former ferry that sank near Malapascua Island in October 1988 during a Typhoon while sail...
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The Akitsushima Wreck is a former Seaplane Tender sunk in Coron Bay in Palawan. This former war ship is 118m long and is...
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The Irako Wreck is one of the best Wreck Dives of Coron Bay in Palawan and in the Philippines. It is a 147m long and 19m...
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Yapak is the most famous dive site in Boracay Island and one of the best spots in the whole of the Philippines. Yapak is...
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Angol Point is a very popular dive site of Boracay Island. It is a shallow (10m to 15m deep) easy reef dive used for Pad...
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Crocodile Island is located South of Boracay Island. It is regarded as one of the best dive sites of Boracay. It is also...
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Friday's Rock is a relatively easy dive site of Boracay Island. It is usually used for scuba diving training and for beg...
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Laurel Island is in fact made up of 2 small Islands (Big and Small Laurel) located just a few hundred meters from Boraca...

Liveaboard Reviews in Philippines

Diving centers in Philippines

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47 comments on “Philippines

  1. I’ll be doing a trip to an area called Dumaguete and will be diving the Dauin and Apo Island region.Have anybody dive there? Staying with Liquid Dumaguete.Will appreciate if you can tell me more!

      • I spent two weeks November 2015 in Dumaguete and Apo Island. Apo Island is a great dive site with lots of diversity. One of the most pristine sites I have done. You can spend about 3 days there. Dumaguete is muck diving. I was there for a week and enjoyed it, but I was there too long. A couple of days would have been good. There is lots of good diving on Cebu Island if you want to spend more time. You can get there by ferry from Dumaguete.

  2. Anilao Batangas – Never tire (after more than a dozen times) of going down on Twin Rocks from the walk-in at Planet Dive (day or night). Always see schools of jacks and baracuda and every kind of reef fish imaginable. But due to the diversity I meet some new creature each time I dive this spot. Last dive was a close encounter with a very large turtle grazing on coral. There are also outstanding reefs on the back side of Sombrero Island about 15-20 minute by boat from Planet Dive. There a dozens of more dive sites in Anilao but never enough time to get to all of them. Next time!

  3. i am a divemaster on mactan island……..i usually dive two times a day……….it is usually clear……..so when people come to airport cebu………i can pick them up and show them a good time

    • I read a article about Mactan, cebu as follows:
      Many of the resourts offer shore diving on house reefs, Bas Diot, off western Cebu, is a star-step drop-off that is home to clownfish, ….

      Do you suggest any resorts or hotels in that area? Thanks, – Nancy from Florida

    • Hello,

      I love to dive, I”ve dove Alona dive in panglao.
      I’m coming to cebu next year.
      Maybe you and I can work something out??

      Do you know if the poker room is open at the waterfront?

  4. Dumagete/ Apo island has good diving; Anilao has the best dive sites. Boracay MAY have some good dive sites but they are not as good as Anilao and Sabang. Mantangale and Cumigan island has good diving; the dive sites there are better than Alona and nearby islands. Southern most dive spots at Cebu island has only a few dives sites; whereas, Pangsama beach/ Moal Boal has good diving up to 14 dives sites. South Leyte has good diving; noted for Whale sharks but I did not see any.

  5. Anilao and Sabang bay are the best for diving.
    Boracay (May 2012) dive sites are over-rated.
    Moal Boal/ Pangsama beach is ok. Cumigan island/ North Mindanaro has good diving. All the above were better than Tubbataha (May, 2010) islands which had bad viz. and dead, brown reefs. Alona Beach and nearby island are ok; comparable to southern most Cebu island.

  6. Yep! I’ve been diving in Puerto Galera. Seriously COOL. I learned to dive here.., dive my DSD in the Manila Channel.. and now I’m off to Thailand where I’ll be doing more.

  7. Have you tried diving with whale sharks in Oslob? If not, you must try it and experience swimming with numerous gentle giants.

  8. Hope to come to the Philippines in July/August but from reading it seems that its the wrong time of the year. Is there anywhere that you can recommend at this time.

  9. Many great dives from Planet Dive in Anilao. Keep going back for more. Twin Rocks is the best shore dive I have found. Always great seaslife and corals only a short dive from the resort.

  10. I recently did a day’s diving with Coral Bay Resort (off Busuanga Island in Coron). Great WWII Japanese wrecks with good oportunities for penetration. Vis wasn’t great – 5 to 8 m – but for these dives it didn’t matter. The dive gear was good, crew even better. I wish we had been staying longer so we could do more.

  11. I highly recommend Camiguin Island in Mindanao. Definitely one of the best dive spots in my country. and one of the cheapest too! :)

  12. If you’re down south in Mindanao/ Davao region try Talikud Island and Samal island. I did my open water there and always go back, great coral gardens, walls and some very good macro. Try Caribou Divers in Davao….about 850 pesos for a day trip with 2 dives, BYO lunch on beautiful palm fringed white sand beach.

  13. I am a dive master of bohol beach club,I dove many times in balicasag island,pamilacan island,apo island,tried snorkling with whale sharks in oslob,dove at nalusoan island with sting rays,hilutongan island in mactan,with nice guest…almost 10 years gone for diving..

  14. Hi, for 6 times whe dived in Puerto Galera. every time whe where happy, the accomodation is very well and the dive crew is super, many macro live, but also chance to black or white tip sharks. have a nice dive time

  15. I have been diving in the Philippines since 1983 and I don’t think I could ever tire of it.
    I am an active open water scuba instructor and have been leading dive trips since the middle 90s all around the world and I would have to say overall it is among the best in the world,
    in terms of crystal clear vis and value for your dollar, if you want to see just about anything that swims in the sea go to the Philippines , recently I was in ticao pass near Bulan Sorsogon and when we dropped in we were met by a school of whale sharks ,Amazing, I love diving there it never disappoints, thanks and hope you find yourself there too one day.

  16. Tanon Strait and Apo Island are great places to start. Compared to the “big boys,” these sites aren’t as crowded and there’s plenty to see.

  17. I trained with Tim Aukshen and June Santos at Ocean Deep in San Fernando, La Union, Luzon. It is a nice city just a couple of hours north of Subic Bay and an hour from the summer capital Bagio City.
    June taught me both my Open Water and a year later my Advanced Open water. He also took us for a tour of just about all the reefs around the area.
    One night, after our training we went night fishing and caught enough to BBQ for the family.
    Although most of my diving will now be around Vancouver Island, Canada, I long to return to the friendly city of San Fernando.
    PK

  18. El nido in Palawan has some good dive sites; sea horses, ghost pipe fishes, nudibranchs, etc.
    Higher prices than other areas in Ph. due to being far (5-7 hrs.) from Puerto Princesa.

    • I have been in Cebu jan. 2010, Marcosas Resort in Panagsama,, its very good, frendly pers all over, good dives, 3-4 houres by van from airport to resort

    • 2012 I WAS AT moalbol in cebu the best dive for me was at piscodore island ;to get in the middle of a shoal of sardines after being a herring fisherman was sooooooo good

  19. When if ever will the southern Philippines be safe for diving?
    Specifically, for yrs., I’ve wanted to dive Davao area but the terrorisn and kidnapping threat is too risky.

  20. Awesome dives with the team of DIVEPUERTOPRINCESA! I have been diving in El Nido and Port Barton in Palawan, but my dives in Puerto Princesa are the best so far. Divemasters and crew were very helpful in assisting our group, both in and out of the water. Divepuertoprincesa knows where to take their divers out, whether big animals (barracudas, jacks, mackerels, tunas, turtles, sharks) and small creatures (nudis, ribbon eels, frogs, ghost pipes, seahorses, etc) alike.

    • I dove in 2013 in Puerto Princessa and had 4 wonderful dives in the bay where they had sighted 8 whale sharks that morning when they were showing the people from UNESCO around. our boat had to make a quick stop to avoid a Dugong, and I was thrilled with the Giant Jawfish, Frogfish, pure white Devil Scorpionfish I saw that day was well as the octopus that that was visiting us during our safety stop.

  21. I am a flight attendant from a top airline in the Middle East. The choice of vacation for me and my friend was in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. There I came across a dive center named Divepuertoprincesa. Did my PADI open water course while my friend Jamie joined in all of the four (4) open water dives, as her refresher course, since her last dive was three (3) years ago. Romel Carbonell was my dive instructor, who is knowledgeable in all aspect of the course. He is also personable and know how to have fun underwater and on the surface. My friend, Jamie, told me that her open water course was way to different and not as thorough as mine. Truly, I am very thankful to have been instructed by Romel Carbonell, who is a dive professional at the highest level! We are definitely coming back and book with Divepuertoprincesa again. My friends are so envious and starting to ask for the details of our trip.

  22. I am from Dumaguete and working here in Saudi Arabia. I had just finished my AOWD last February 2015 and did it in Dauin. After that I did dives in APO island just a boat ride away from Dumaguete and it was great. That was my first time to visit the island where it is just within my reach since I live near. Scuba diving was the reason why I was able to.

  23. Thank you for this post it is so nice seeing this kind of articles. By the way I dive last week at Malapascua saw thresher sharks! Unforgettable experience.

  24. Any suggestion for multiday dive in philipines during end of May to begining of June? i’ve been to Malapascua diving there was amazing able to see thresher shark and many macros.

    Read a few regarding Puerto Galera and Coron but would ove to know more real experience. Prefer place with easier access so not much travel time will be wasted. (from Cebu town to Malapascua takes near 4 hours… that is long)

  25. Hi there,
    want to do a spontaneous dive trip to PHP over new years. At this time of the year, which dive sites are best? I usually prefer wreck and big fishes over macro sea life.

    thanks and looking forward to advise,
    Rafael

  26. Hi, I’ve been diving in Philippines for about 30 years and taking groups there as a guide/instructor for more than 20, if you want wrecks go to Coron Buswanga lots of Japanese wrecks from ww2, stay at seadive resort in Coron for best value and food ,you may have to call to book but check it out online.
    You can get to Coron Buswanga daily with flights from Manila or Cebu , you can get a taxi from the airport or Seadive can arrange transport good luck and have a good time.
    Also next month is better and a lot cheaper if you can wait.
    Robert Lovely

  27. I dove there in 2013, and have not seen so many critters anywhere else (including Dumagete, Sabang,Ambon,and Raja Ampat. ) Two varieties of dragonets on the same dive as a sea moth, nudibranchs pipefish. Other dives produced painted frogfish, hairy frogfish, giant frogfish, electric clam, and an Ambon Scorpionfish. Sabang, which is a couple hours or less by boat offered waspish, Giant Clams, Xeno Crabs, need I say More. We went in January and it was too cold, but the Viz was great.

  28. Julian, I have not been diving for the last 10 years .Im a Divemaster and I will be trying to get my instructor cert possibly this year. I live in the Philippines .in Cebu. But hopefully by sept 2016 I will have my instructor cert. I am a lifeguard/surfer.but I want to get back to diving again .My home town is Rochester New York,but I live here in the Philippines .Im a bit older 57 but in very good shape. I plan to teach here in the philippines if possible ,this is where my family lives. That’s why I use your site to look for work here in the Philippines ,especially palawan, but will work anywhere here in PI .anyway take care and happy diving.if I blow bubbles again I will let you know ……Russ

    • Hi Russ:
      I guess I did not get the memo! When did 57 get a bit older?
      I will be 62 in a few months and feel I have a long ways to getting a bit older. I am an active diver and also live in the Philippines. I call the great wrecks of Subic Bay my local dive sites. I also grew up in Rochester Ny.

  29. Hello, I hesitate between Philippines and Sri Lanka to go diving for 10 days at the beginning of April. Where would you advise me to go also knowing that even if I have the Padi advanced diver, I only have 10 dives in total.
    Thank you very much

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  33. The walls in Mactan offers a different type of diving here in Cebu. This under-rated island host to over 20 dive sites, more than half of them are now protected marine sanctuaries. Talima, San Vicente, Nalusuan, Hilutungan, marigondon cave, and kontiki being the more popular sites frequented by divers.

    We have been around Mactan and by far, the most convenient and suitable scuba training site would have to be the house reef of Kontiki. A dive site adopted by Dive Funatics in cooperation with Project Aware to gather marine debris, catalog and report the data collected.

    Kontiki offers a shallow sandy bottom ideal for confined training, and with amazing walls and varying depths suited for all types of adventure dives and open water training dives, all with-in a few kick cycles away from the entry point.

    As in any other sites, visibility is affected by tide changes, waves and current, but generally, the visibility in this area is 12 to 15 meters.

    Mactan as a training site is ideal in more ways than one. It is near the airport, it is in highly urbanized city, with access to banks, ATMs, food, dive shops, malls, transporation, and other non-diving activities. This place offers an ideal staging or jump-off point to the neighboring sites like Moalboal, Alcoy, Santander, Malapascua, Bohol, Sumilon, Dumaguete and even Siquijor for a more challenging and advanced type of diving, or if simply wish to try out these other places.

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