Best Diving sites in Subic Bay

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If you have dived in Subic Bay 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 ;)

Subic Bay, Zambales, is located about 100 km north/north-east of Manila in the Philippines making it a easily accessible location for both people residing in the National Capital Region (NCR) and travelers passing thru.

Most of the wrecks here were sunk during World War II, yet the oldest known dive site within the bay is the resting place for a steam powered galleon sunk during the Spanish-American War back in 1898, the San Quentin.

Subic Bay is the home for more than 10 wreck-sites and a number of reef-sites suitable for both beginners and more advance divers, with the USS New York as it’s flagship. This 117 meter long steam-powered armored cruiser is one of the most popular dive sites within the bay offering a wide range of possibilities for both recreational- and technical divers.

The marine-life within the bay is diverse and you are likely to spot schools of both Jack’s and Tuna’s, Bluespotted Stingray, Octopus, Shark, Lionfish, Stonefish, Cuttlefish, Remora, Puffer’s and a wide variety of Coral fish.

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

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Best Dive Review

Subic Bay caters for all different experience levels with sites suitable for both Discover Scuba sessions, brief wreck penetration and more advance Technical Diving.

Most wrecks are easily accessed located at an average depth of about 15-20 meters, accommodating the less experienced diver. For more advance divers many of the dive centers within the bay offer both NITROX and TRIMAX sessions, diving on wrecks located at as deep as 30-50 meters.

Diving in Subic Bay gives you good possibilities for growth as a diver with divemaster too.

Diving with wales and dolphins can be experienced within the facilities of Ocean Adventure. They have daily shows making this a great place to bring your family and kids. For more information visit their website.
Wreck sites:
USS New York, L.S.T. (Landing Ship Tank), L.C.U. (Landing Craft Utility), Japanes Patrol Boat, El Capitan (USS Majaba), San Quentin, F4-Phantom, The Barges, Nikko Maru, Seian Maru and Oryoku Maru.

Where to stay?

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

Best time to dive in Subic Bay

The best time to dive in Subic Bay is February-May with visibility sometimes above 30 meters at some of the sites.

Visibility varies with weather and tides and can sometimes be as low as a couple of meters. Most of the dive sites are located within a 10-20 minutes boat-ride from any of the well established dive centers and you’re likely to visit up to three wreck-sites in a day. Having said that most of the wrecks should be visited more than once in order to get the most out of your Subic Bay diving experience!

Water temperature averages between 27-29 degrees Celsius.

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Scuba Diving conditions

Dive conditions are generally fair throughout the whole bay with currents ranging from mild to none existent, making Subic Bay a great location for both beginners and more advance divers.
Visibility varies from site to site but is generally better at the reef sites, The Barges, Canyons Reef, Nabasan Reef and Runway Reef. In general visibility is best during March to May but can vary from day to day. Sites like USS New York and other wreck sites located deep inside the bay are usually better to visit during mornings with visibility ranging from 10-20 meters but sometimes as low as 5-7 meters. The visibility range at a specific dive site can sometimes changed dramatically from one day to another, its therefor recommended to visit each wreck site multiple times during your stay in Subic Bay.

Snorkelling in Subic Bay

There are plenty of fun snorkeling sites within the bay and there is always someone willing to take you out. Most of the resorts and dive centers offer rental equipment in case you don’t have your own gear.

Diving Safety

If you are planning an upcoming dive trip or travelling to Subic Bay, it is a really good idea to invest in travel insurance for scuba diving, because you never know what could happen and when you might need it (because accidents do happen!). I recommend this diving insurance as they offer worldwide coverage and focus on providing scuba divers a quality insurance and medical assistance service.

Thank you to Daniel Hogberg from El Coral Reef Dive Center in Subic Bay for his great review.

Travel Guide

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

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12 dive logs in “Subic Bay

  1. Went to Subic over the weekend and booked a room at Johan’s. The most expensive room was still cheap and a good bargain. I thought the food was horrible though. The place had this private club feel to it and, although I brought 6 guest, I felt more like I was a nuisance then a welcomed client…

    On the diving side I thought that they were a bit pretentious, and although I had told them when I booked the room that I wanted to do 4 dives a day, I ended up doing 2 dives over the weekend with them.

    Fair enough, they had a beach clean up, which took a lot of their time Sunday, but things like this should have been mentioned when I booked the room.

    The divemaster had a big ego and bad bedside manners. He even lost me during the second dive and I was his only client!! He even lost the down line on a wreck!!! Lost control of his buoyancy and ended up at the surface. No big deal really, just that I thought it was hilarious coming from someone who seemed so far above everyone…

    Fortunately, the Week End was saved when I went to Blue Rock hotel and their Dive shop took me out no problem. The staff out there was local, super nice and the diving experience was relaxed and pleasant. What diving should be all about.

    The Dive themselves were very average. Visibility was poor due to a lot of algae. Likely due to pollution and stagnant water, although I am not an expert.

    The coral reefs were a waste of time. I dove the LST, el Capitan and LCU.

    The LCU was a more beginner wreck but I thought it was also more enjoyable.

    I am going out there again because I forgot my weight belts, but I will try and go out on the USS New york which was not accessible last time.

    If you are into wrecks, Subic is a good spot for beginners and those who want to train, as long as you don’t go to Johan’s….

    Happy diving,
    Etiennne
    PADI MSDT
    HSE Part1 Commercial diver

    • Thanks for the info Etienne.
      I am taking my kids aged 13,16 and 18 to Subic and was hoping to do the PADI advanced and Johan’s was one of the places I considered but not any more! Thank you for the tip!

      If you are still checking out this site, and seeing as you have been pretty recently, so know the conditions, if you have any advise on which dive sites would be worth trying, I’d really appreciate it.

      Hope the next trip works out better for you!
      Cheers,
      Steve

    • Diving at Johan’s
      The dive shop is excellent.
      The hotel sucks and you won’t like it. The price is excellent but the slow service will turn you off. A prime example on why you should never hire relatives to help in any business venture.

  2. I dove Subic Bay last summer at the Camayan resort. Visibility was ok despite the recent storms that had passed through earlier. I did the wreck diving so if there was any underwater landscapes to see I missed them. There area around the wrecks was pretty sterile. In any case, I would dive Subic Bay again, but I wouldn’t dive through the Camayan Resort. The equipment was pretty shotty and unsafe; the rented regulator breached at only 15 ft and our DM didn’t know how to fix it. This cut our dive short and they refused to make up the time so our two dive session went to one dive…for the same price. Typically I would have been using my own trusted regulator, but in this case I was over there for work with no plans to dive and was forced to stay an extra weekend, so the diving opportunity arose unexpectedly. The DM must been having a cruddy day as he spent most of the morning yelling at various employees, which made things a bit tense all around. As far as the area for wreck diving, it’s got plenty of ships to explore….hopefully you won’t get the same DM from the Camayan that we got.

  3. Hi.

    I took my kids to Subic Bay for a week of diving in October 2012 & planned to get us all up to advanced open water level but my daughter and I had caught colds just before the trip so couldn’t dive until the last day. Anyway, my sons got their SSI advanced through the Blue Rock Beach resort scuba diving centre as they don’t run the PADI course. The lads (16 & 13) did 8 dives including a night dive through the week and then they joined my daughter and I for two further dives at the end of the week.
    The lads say that the visibility was up to 15m most days and were only wearing 3mm shortie suits except on the night dive. The visibility was about 5-7 m when I got to dive but there had been a tropical storm blow through the day before.

    They mostly did wreck dives and there was very little in the way of marine life and coral although there were some lion fish, eels and one turtle. The wrecks were in good condition and with plenty of swim through sections to keep it interesting (not fully enclosed as there was an upper exit with the sunlight visible).
    The DM (Jun) and his daughter were both very friendly and fairly flexible. with timings for going on dives….so no having to be up by 5 or 6 am and their boat (very minimal craft with no real areas to chill out) would leave from the beach outside the resort, so no long bus trips to/from the boat. The dives were all within 30 minutes or there about.
    The equipment we hired (all bar our own mask and fins) was limited but in decent condition with no technical problems encountered.
    The resort itself was pretty basic but the rooms were kept very clean and prices were very reasonable. However, their swimming pool is a joke!
    The larger resort ‘Wild Orchid’ across the road allows the use of their facilities for a fee of 500 pesos per person, but considering you can redeem this throughout the day on food & drinks and the prices and choices are the same as at the Blue rock…we ended up eating there most nights as the bar had less young local girls hanging off the arms of old western guys than the blue rock resort….and they had a bigger pool and pool table.
    We didn’t really venture around too much as taxi costs are high and there is not a lot out there anyway. The cost of the touristy things to do is also fairly high and we were on a cheap diving holiday but at least there were things available if we had really wanted to try them out.

    I wouldn’t go back there unless I was at the advanced level already and then i’d do some of the more interesting wrecks which seemed to be off limits at the time…..there was a tropical storm part way through the week, so maybe that was the reason?

    Hope the info helps.
    Happy diving
    Steve

  4. I live on Baloy Beach… I have been diving here for 7 years… I dive almost exclusively with Johan’s.. their attention to diver safety, equipment and experience is second to none… Johan (one of the few tech instructors in PH) and Paul (his regular PADI instructor) are excellent teachers for divers at ALL levels. I know exactly who the dive leader is that Etienne refers to negatively in a previous post; he is only a temp and to be kind a bit of a know-all and not a great diver. Not at all representative of the professional operation Johan runs. The local Dive Masters are first class(Henry and Eljohn) know the sites and both have eyes like hawks.. The resort is basic, reasonably priced, clean and the food is generally reliable, the WIFI is routinely slow though. The wreck sites are mostly easy dives. LCU is a great “first wreck dive” … LST is deeper but one of my favorites… “San Quintin”, “The Canyons” and “The Barges” offer some of the best photo-ops especially for the macro-photographer.. nudies, flatworms, shrimp, crinoids etc…. The “New York” is the site most talked about… it also has the worst Vis as it sits right in the shipping lane…Great dive if you’re lucky.. and a good penetration dive if you know what you’re doing, dangerous if you don’t; people (experienced divers) have died in there. If clear water is your thing time your trip for the best times of year (not rainy season). Ocean Adventure and Zoobic improve every season the JEST survival camp and tree top Zip-lines are fun activities and Harbor Point is a nice Mall to shop in. Driving around, look for the fruit-bats in the trees down by the airport, (they aren’t at the bat sanctuary anymore) and don’t open your windows for the monkeys, they bite! If you drive, don’t roll-through the stop-signs in SBMA, wear your seat-belt and keep infants in the back of the car preferably in a car seat… they are very very strict there. Hope this helps you guys.. Oh and finally if its a “boys trip” there are many nice bars in Baretto.. with some good food options. “Harleys” if you want to watch sport (Hickey can get most things on his array of cable feeds).. “Allies” does great Fish and Chips (Pies too)… Many live bands to watch around town, but don’t get so drunk you make a total ass of yourself. And disrespect the bar-owners, dancers, security guards and local police at your peril… You’re a guest.. behave like one. :-)

  5. went to Subic bay for a dive trip, with Johan’s, about 2-3 years back. Some of the wrecks were beautiful. the highlight (perhaps the only one) for me was was the japanese one, felt magical, like little mermaid would spring out singing. the rest of the dive sites, most were very stale and gloomy, no blue waters or much marine life, they were just grey and felt dusty, kinda depressing. it wasnt any much better on land too. Do not expect much of the beach either, it isnt like the rest of the clear blue waters like their neighbouring beaches in Philippines. The area felt like a red light district, there were many older expats with Filipinas. We actually was dining beside a group of them, expats & fillipinas, and one of them had 2 of her kids present too. it was kinda strange for us. Johan’s bar was in an old american setting, which was nice. the rooms were okay, we had one facing the sea (though the beach wasnt much) but the showers were terrible, with pathetic water flow, had to fill up bottles to wash my hair. it wasnt a great trip, at least for us. dont mean to sound negative, but, i wouldnt return, neither would i recommend. :S

  6. I just got back from Subic Bay, last week … I stayed at the Arizona Hotel and dove with Arizona Dive Shop, and I was thoroughly pleased with both the shop and the hotel.

    First, as to the hotel, it is a GREAT place for a mature bachelor to stay. I had a “deluxe” room, actually Room 1 right next door to the dive shop, and it was quite comfortable, though fairly simply furnished. The food service is impeccable, with the exception of the rump-steak I had with my first breakfast – but later meals made up for that handily. And you have a choice of three bars on-site — the one in the dining room, plus the Floating Bar in the afternoons and Score Bar in the evenings (both of these last two have a bevy of “Guest Relations Officers” to sweeten your visit!)

    Next, the Dive Shop may be compact, but it is efficient and well-run and the staff are endlessly helpful! Kent and Gary run a tight, professional operation, along with instructor/leaders Mike and James; the boat staff and helpers are helpful and courteous, almost to a fault; and the boat itself is the best day-trip boat I’ve seen outside of the USA. (It’s one of their traditional trimarans, with decks out to the pontoons and a “bench step” on each side for gearing-up before you go in the water.

    The diving – well, remember that Subic Bay is a harbor, and a busy one … The visibility on the USS New York was poor, but it’s close to the port facilities and it’s often stirred up. Viz on the other wrecks varied, from about 5 meters on the El Capitan (which is in a sheltered cove) to maybe 15-20 meters on the San Quentin (which is alongside Grande Island, near the mouth of the Bay, and is cleared out by tidal currents). That said, there’s a lot of fascinating sea-life to be observed, from nudibranchs and beautiful “feather-star” crinoids to anemones full of juvenile clownfish – and I missed seeing the turtles. If you are interested in wreck-diving, and I mean as in going inside the shipwrecks, you can learn it here, and they have all the equipment for rent or to buy; I’m into photography, so I was content to stay outside, but I did follow along on a few swim-throughs where we were always in sight of the light. If you really want “gin-clear waters” and photogenic reefs, go elsewhere, but if you like shipwrecks, this is the place.

    Barrio Barretto – “J” above mentioned that “the area felt like a red light district.” Actually, J, it pretty-much is … there are two dozen or so “go-go bars” on either side of the main street, west of the Arizona (and its own Score Bar). This is great for a mature bachelor who’s looking for “a taste of the sweetness” while he’s on vacation – certainly, for THIS mature bachelor – but if that offends you, there are plenty of other places to dive in the Philippines. (And your absence makes more space for me and my ilk!)

    I’ll be back – and next time, I want to spend more time in-country, and do more than just diving and night-life.

  7. hey guys, thanks for all the info. a few friends and i are visiting the philippines and were considering our options. either coron or subic. are they comparable for a dive trip? i have dived in many places in the philippines but not in either of the 2 and will be getting my advanced water, so looking fwd to the wrecks and my mates will be getting their open water license. should we just pay the lil extra for flights and go to coron or expect equal beauty in subic. imy friends will be in the philippines for the first time, so i really want them to have a good time. thanks in advance.

    • Darrel, I am puzzled that you’d take new divers to a site that caters to a small subset of diving, namely wreck dives. You need to be AOW to get most of the featured sites. I have dived neither, however, two good friends were in Subic in February 2016 and cut short their trip. They told me that volcanic ash had left a gray monotone layer of dust. The sites are known to have low vis and they confirmed that. I think you can find better places to go than these two, they are AOW specialty sites perhaps saved for a future visit. Why not find sites with good visibility and large fish count. Your buddies will appreciate that. And take Nitrox as one of your specialty courses for AOW cert, you’ll find that a valuable specialty that actually counts for something.

  8. Darrel, unless your trip is already over… Go dive Coron! I have been to Coron and can say unreservedly it is the best place I’ve been so far in the Philippines and I’ve been working my way around the islands in the last 15 months.

    There is beginner diving on wrecks and reefs–as well as advanced wreck diving–and amazing reefs and sea life at every level; even snorkeling. Check out Rocksteady divers; they’re great–very organized, knowledgeable and affordable.

    I am diving Subic this coming weekend so it’s possible my thoughts may change but I don’t think so. Enjoy!

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