Roger is a mad traveler and lover of the outdoors. Originally from Australia, he is now living in Switzerland where he spends most of his time traveling, blogging, hiking, mountain biking or flying his Mavic Pro drone. You can find him online at his blog or on Twitter.
Even before the rest of the world discovered the white sand beaches and clear blue waters of the Philippines, divers have been flocking to this tropical country for it’s epic diving. With over seven thousand islands, there are certainly a lot of options too.
The combination of tropical weather, rich minerals coming from volcanoes and mountains, and its location as a migration passage for several large species also make the Philippines a prime destination for SCUBA diving.
And if you want to experience some of the amazing diving as well, I want to share five of the best sites for SCUBA diving in the Philippines with you:
Tubbataha Reef National Park
Tubbataha has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And diving here is only possible through liveaboard as it’s a 10-hour ferry ride from Puerto Princesa in Palawan.
The liveaboards usually take 7 days, anchoring in different areas of this 97,030-hectare Marine Protected Area at the heart of the Coral Triangle. It’s home to no less than 600 species of fish, 360 species of coral, 11 species of shark, 13 species of dolphins and whales, 100 species of birds, as well as manta rays and nesting Hawksbill and Green sea turtles.
So, as you can imagine, a trip to this diver’s paradise will have you wearing the battery out in your GoPro in no time!
A little distance off the small and quiet province of Dumaguete is Apo Island. It’s an hour’s boat ride from the town of Dauin, and is regarded as one of the best dive sites in the world.
It is quite a small and remote place, so don’t expect any big parties on the island. With only a small community of people and power for only six hours in the evening, you might need to bring a book. However, the efforts to keep the surrounding dive sites as pristine as possible are world-class, which means it’s an epic diving location.
As a turtle sanctuary, Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles are frequently seen feeding near the shore, but the underwater scape is something else. Home to over 400 species of coral and 650 species of fish, the spectacular and colorful marine life will take your breath away.
Puerto Galera is a great destination because of the combination of land and water activities you can do. There are over 40 dive sites in this area, ranging from easy and idyllic (such as the Coral Garden) to dangerous and challenging (like the Washing Machine).
It’s also here that you can dive at the “Center of the center of Marine Biodiversity” – the Verde Island Pass. It’s a cauldron of marine life so rich that no other marine habitat has more documented species. Expect to see gorgonian fans, frogfish, jacks, banner fish, basslets and the occasional sea snakes, among many (many) other things.
Balicasag is known for its coral covered slopes. Divers here are treated to large schools of jack and batteries of barracudas. There are also good spots for macrophotography with the number of nudibranchs living in the area.
The most popular site is called Divers Heaven, and it is aptly named too. This wall dive experiences very mild currents and is good for divers of all levels of experience.
Not to be confused with Apo Island in Dumaguete, Apo Reef is a 30-square-kilometer stretch of protected marine life in Mindoro. It is home to a diverse collection of species, including dolphins, turtles, and of course an abundance of corals and fish. Fishing is banned in this area, and it is the largest adjacent reef system in Asia.
It’s not the easiest to get to and there are very few options for accommodations on the island, but this has probably contributed to keeping the reef alive and thriving.
So, there you have it. Five stunning locations to either start diving or scratch your diving itch while in the Philippines. It is one of the most spectacular and unspoiled places still left to dive in the world, so don’t miss your chance!