scuba DIVING Dumaguete
Dumaguete is a fan favorite for expats now, and has an ever growing community. The reasons? Easy long term visas, relatively clean city, tons to do, world-class diving nearby, and the list goes on.
As for the actual diving in the area, we can’t say enough. To be technical, most of the great known dive sites in the area are actually closer to Dauin, just down the coast, but many travelers prefer to base themselves in Dumaguete, as there are much more conveniences around.
Unless you plan to stay in a all inclusive resort in Dauin and never leave the hotel, you’ll probably be staying in Dumaguete, where there is actual nightlife and places to eat and so on.
Where ever you choose to stay, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about the epic diving on offer here.
Besides the famous Apo Island, whcih the Chicago Aquarium was modeled after, most of the dive sites in the area would be considered muck diving. If you are a underwater photographer, then muck diving is your favorite, as it offers the most cool species.
“Muck” seems like a ugly word, but in fact muck diving is a term used by divers to describe a certain dive site that at first glance might appear ugly and barren, but upon closer inspection is hiding some of the most awesome critters in the world.
They are normally black sand or rubble piles, not necessarily beautiful coral that divers love, but are home to some of the most rare, and unseen critters you will ever dive with.
On a normal reef dive you might see schools of colorful fish, turtles and sharks, but on a good muck dive like in Dumaguete or Dauin, you can see porcelain crabs, hairy frogfish, ghost pipefish and countless other little wonders.
Dauin is know as one of the best locations in the world to find rare cephalopods as well as frogfish. During the right seasons, you can cross off mimiks, blue ring, matoti and more octopus off the list, as well as the coveted flamboyant cuttlefish.
BEST DIVE SITES
Apo Island. As I said above, Apo Island has some of the best reefs in the world surrounding it. Some dive sites have big schools of jacks, and other sites have tons of table coral, stag horn, soft corals and countless turtles. The incredible Chicago Aquarium was modeled after the reefs here, which are an amazing example of how a healthy reef should look.
Pyramids. The name Pyramids comes from the metal frames piled up in pyramid shapes. Here is another underwater photographer favorite, where you can see donald duck shrimp, whip coral crabs, xeno crabs, thorny seahorses, nudibranch and more.
Cars. This is really shallow dive, and one of the best muck dives, and a favorite for photographers. This shallow and easy dive can offer critters like oranate ghost pipefish, robust ghost pipefish, dragonettes, crinoid shrimp, cockatoo wasp fish, hairy squat lobsters and many many more. There are too many to list.
El Dorado Shallow.
El Dorado Reef. With reef intermittent with grass beds, you get to see macro critters, and then occasional turtles.
San Miguel Tires. This is a large pile of truck tires split open long ways, and set up in a pile to create articficial reef. There is a ton of critters around the tires, big and small. I ran into countless nudis on a single dive, as well as snowflake and gray eels, pipefish, occasional octopus, and a couple black giant frogfish.
San Miguel North.
Mainit. At Mainit you can run into wandering dogfish tuna, surgeon fish, yellow snappers, fusiliers, and more. There are currents here at times, so be careful.
BEST TIME TO DIVE
There is no bad time to dive in Philippines, with warm waters, good visibility and good conditions nearly year round.
However, if you are coming here for the legendary octopus or frogfish sitings, they do have a season. Although they are seen year round, they are seen even more during their respective seasons, which are:
October: Octopus season. We like to say cephalopod seson actually, since it includes flamboyant cuttlefish.
March – June: Frogfish season. There are up to 6 different species found here, which is unique
HOW TO GET TO DUMAGUETE
To get to Dumaguete by air, you can travel from Manila International Airport or from Cebu City, directly to the small airport in town. Flights from either location are around an hour, and usually very cheap.
“By land” should really say “by sea”, as if you are not flying in, you will be taking some inter-island ferries to get to Dumaguete. From anywhere in the island of Cebu, either get the the far south at Santandar to get the 20 minute ferry, or one all the way from Cebu City, which can take up to 12 hours. A popular itinerary in Philippines is to go from Cebu to Siquijor, and then take the ferry from there to Dumaguete.
CRITTERS TO LOOK OUT FOR
The diving around Dauin/Dumaguete is a huge favorite for divers and underwater photographers, just because of the huge variety of critters, such as:
- Big number of frogfish species
- Nudibranch species
- Blue Ring octopus
- Mimic octopus
- Matoti Octopus
- Bobtail squid
- Flamboyant Cuttle fish
- Ornate ghost pipefish
- Robust ghost pipes
There are so many species of fish and rare critters along this coastline, that it’s impossible to name them all. We are filming a documentary though about the SCUBA diving here, so stay tuned for that.
WHERE TO STAY
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Click the button to start browsing dive resorts and destinations.
Dumaguete is located on the southern end of Negros Oriental, in a prime location to be included in any great Visayas island hopping itineraries.
An easy ferry ride from both Siquijor and Cebu, and just a little further afield from Bohol, Dumaguete, having tons to offer on it’s own, should not be missed.
On one side you have the ocean vistas, while the opposite views offer towering green mountain cliffs. Under those wave, is a never ending fish hatchery producing some of the most rare and sought after species on Earth.
Although most of the great dive sites are closer to Dauin, just down the coast, many prefer to book their accommodation in the bigger Dumaguete, which has much more to do and more conveniences.