If you are the type of person who gets excited at the sight of water and fishes that you can actually spend the whole day following them around in their natural habitat. Then pack your bag and diving gears, head to these mind-blowing diving spots in the Philippines and plunge into the hidden world under the sea.
Note: Hover on the photos to see photo sources
1. Tubbataha Reef. Since it’s discovery in the 1970’s, Tubbataha Reef has been recognized as one of the most amazing coral reefs in the world. In fact, CNN’s travel website even regarded this UNESCO World Heritage Site as one of the top diving sites in the world.
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is situated at the heart of the Coral Triangle, thus it plays a significant role in marine biodiversity conservation. Coral Triangle is a marine area located in the Western Pacific Ocean, which include some parts of the waters of the Philippines and its other neighboring countries. Named for its impressive number of corals that accounts to nearly 600 species of reef-building corals alone, the Coral Triangle, where Tubbataha lies, is a global priority for conservation. The water is very clear that you can actually see the humungous reefs even up to 100m visibility. If you’ve been dreaming of swimming with sharks, rays, turtles, snapper barracudas and schools of jacks and tunas, then Tubbataha won’t disappoint. It’s immaculate corals and colossal sponges are so big that you can actually live in them.
Needless to say, this sanctuary of over 600 fish species, 360 coral species, 11 shark species and 13 dolphin and whale species is the epitome of diving spots in the Philippines that should be experienced by every diver even once in their life.
Depth: 5-60 meters
How to get there: Fly to Puerto Princesa and hire a live-aboard boat to take you to Tubbataha Reef.
2. Anilao, Batangas. Two-hours drive away from Manila, Anilao has been a favorite spot among experienced and newbie divers. If you are into macro photography, then Anilao is your underwater playground. The vibrant corals, picture perfect cute nudibranches, multi-hued chrinoids, introvert seahorses, mimic octopuses and flamboyant cuttlefishes are just some of the gentle creatures you can find in the deep. If you are feeling more adventurous, you may also try night diving because it’s the perfect time to spot unusual and interesting sea critters like blue-ringed octopuses, mandarin fishes, sea hares, ghost pipe fishes, catfish and snake eels.
Max Depth: 20-50 meters
How to get there: If you are not bringing a car with you, you may ride a bus going to Batangas City, ride a jeep to Mabini and get down at Anilao Port where you can ask a tricycle driver to bring you to your resort.
3. Coron, Palawan. Anyone who has been to Coron, Palawan can attest how rich and diverse their marine life is. If you are a fan of shipwrecks, then diving in Coron should definitely top your list as this small island in Palawan is home to several WWII shipwrecks. As a matter of fact, Coron’s water is dotted with several shipwrecks that were sunk by the American Forces during the battle of Coron Bay in September 1944. If you are megalophobic and the sight of large objects, like facing a ship up close, freaks you out, then visiting Lusong Gunboat Shipwreck is your best alternative. This six-decade-old sunken gunboat is only 25m long and is located in the shallow parts of Coron Bay. The area where the gunboat sunk is so shallow that you can actually step on it or even see the ruin from your tour boat. Thus, no diving expertise is required to get the sort of spine-tingling feeling that the Titanic remnants give. Reef life in Lusong Gunboat Shipwreck is also fantastic. The sight of damsel fishes, parrot fishes and vast shoal of fishes that will gladly welcome you once you get down on the water is priceless and a very surreal experience.
However, if wreck diving creeps you out, don’t fret because Coron offers many dive sites for all types of divers. Siete Pecados, Coral Garden, Twin Peaks and Barracuda Lake are just some of the interesting spots that are worth visiting. No wonder Forbes Travel Magazine regarded Coron among the Top 10 best scuba diving sites in the world on the year 2007.
Max Depth: 3-43 meters
How to get there: Fly to Busuanga and hire a boat at the Harbour Center in the town of Coron or ask any good resorts or dive operators in the town proper.
4. Apo Island, Negros Oriental. Apo Island in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental is an underwater paradise brimming with tropical fishes in different colors and sizes. Apo Island in the town of Dauin is a Marine Protected Area that has around ten dive sites. Water is so clear and the abundance of sea critters and school of fishes are just so overwhelming that you will find it hard to focus your attention in just one area. Sea Turtles are also abundant in Apo Island that it’s so rare for you not to see a sea turtle slowly gliding or feeding on sea grasses in one of your descents.
Max Depth: 15m-30m
How to get there: Fly to Dumaguete and book in any of the diving operators in the city. Apo Island is a 35-45 minute boat ride from the mainland Negros.
5. Puerto Galera, Mindoro. If you love Puerto Galera’s white sand beaches and buzzing nightlife, wait until you experience a whole new world in Puerto Galera’s “Under the Sea” party. Teeming with psychedelic aquarium fishes, nudibranch spanish dancers and brightly colored coral wall that’s way better than any party photo wall or party lights, you’d definitely wish you could be part of their world even just for a day.
Puerto Galera has 40 dive sites with different levels of difficulty. From Verde Island’s mind blowing “Drop-Off”, which has the largest concentration of corals in the country, up to the treacherous “Washing Machine” that could spin you around and suck you if you are not a well-experienced diver. In 2006, a study by the Smithsonian Institute, together with a team of marine conversationalists declared the Verde Island Passage in Puerto Galera to be the “Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity” in the world. Scientists also dubbed Verde Island as “The World’s Blue Water Version of the Amazon River basin” because it has the biggest marine life concentration in the world with approximately 1,700 marine species and excellent dive spots.
Max Depth: 5m-40m
How to get there: From Batangas Port, ride a fast craft to Puerto Galera then inquire in any of Puerto Galera’s diving operators.