SCUBA DIVING PHILIPPINES
Anyone that has dove it for themselves, knows that in this world, it doesn’t really get too much better when it comes to quality of reef and the number of species, than the scuba diving in Philippines. It really is THAT great. From world class muck sites with rare and exotic species, to sites with more healthy and vibrant reefs than most countries, Philippines has it all.
I have now spent a few year in Philippines, doing hundreds of dives all over the country, and experiencing things I have not done before. It is my goal to show you why Philippines diving is a dream for anyone.
In this guide, it is my goal to show you all of the best dive locations in the country, how to get there, what to expect, who to dive with, visa information and more.
There are a ton of options when it comes to diving here, so I will tell you what makes each one unique and special, and once you decide where you want to go, I’ll give you all the information you’ll need to make it happen.
Some locations are better for rare macro critters, like flamboyant cuttlefish and blue ring octopus, while others are known for healthy reefs and bigger things like sharks and turtles.
I will tell you which is which, but I highly recommend combining multiple locations, and creating one epic dive trip!
PHILIPPINES DIVE LOCATIONS
Read more information on diving Dauin.
Besides the famous thresher sharks, there is also Gato Island, one of the best dive locations in the country (and world), just off shore, as well as countless other little dive sites where you will be able to see a big number of macro and rare critters.
Read more about Malapascua diving.
Moalboal has a ton of awesome dive sites, all a short boat ride from most resorts. The two most known are the famous Sardine Run, which is a giant bait ball, and Pescador Island.
Read more about Moalboal diving.
Also: Fun Things to do in Moalboal.
Locally known as the nudibranch capital, Anilao offers some of the best Philippines diving, and a huge variety of species and reef. It offers over 50 awesome dive sites, all with incredible rare critters.
Read more about Anilao diving
A dive trip to Philippines might not be complete without a stop in El Nido, and it’s countless beautiful islands. In this Palawan destination, expect to bump into sharks, turtles, big schools and more.
Read more about El Nido diving.
An Archipelago made up of about twenty islands, Romblon is located in the Mimaropa region. This is another one of the lesser known or visited destinations on the list, but is well adored by divers lucky enough to have made the trip.
If you prefer to see your favorite pelagic in the wild, here is a deep channel where you can see the big guys, such as mantas, pilot whales, whale sharks and even humpbacks. Many call this the alternative to Oslob, where whale sharks are fed for tourists.
Read more about Donsol diving
Being the gateway to the rest of the popular Palawan, you are sure to spend some time in Puerto Princesa, so you might as well explore some of it’s dive sites! Not to mention, the underground river system.
Read our guide to Puerto Princesa diving.
Think of Puerto Galera as the little brother of Anilao. Its nearby, has great diving, and about the same distance from Manila as Anilao is. This is a popular spot for local divers, and you can either spend your whole trip here or combine with Anilao.
Read more about scuba diving Puerto Galera
Hard core divers should Ticao on their bucket list. There are not many dive sites here, however it is one of the best places in the Philippines to see mantas rays, whale sharks, thresher sharks, and hammerheads. You’ll also be away from the crowds.
Read more about scuba diving Subic.
Coron is another great spot for wreck diving. During WWII, 24 Japanese boats were sunk in the area around Coron, as well as some US jets. There is an entire bay full of old wrecks, just waiting for divers.
Read more about scuba diving Coron.
Boracay is the most touristy on this list, and is known for being the party and romantic getaway. But we wouldn’t be listing Boracay just for its white beaches and bars. There is a secret location off-shore you might like, which reportedly is a migration route for big fish.
Read more about scuba diving Boracay.
Related: Fun Things to do in Boracay.
Discovered in the ’70s, Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park is widely considered as not just the best of Philippines diving, but the best in the world. Tubbataha Reef is the highlight of all biodiversity in Philippines, which is saying A LOT. Is this the best when it comes to scuba in Philippines?
Leyte is one of the most remote, hard to get to locations on this list, and because of this you can imagine how untouched and pristine the reef and critter life is here. Even more so than the already high expectations for Philippines.
Everyone has heard of the famous Chocolate Hills and the tiny tarsiers, but what many don’t know is that the diving around Bohol is world class. Places like Panglao and more. It’s pretty close to Moalboal & Dauin, so expect greatness.
Read more about scuba diving Bohol.
Siquijor is an island located in the Central Visayas region, and is known among the Filipinos for ‘witchcraft’ and voodoo, but most people come for the sandy beaches and underwater delights. You’ll love exploring the walls and macro critter sites of Siquior.
Read more about scuba diving Siquijor.
Related: Awesome Things to do in Siquijor.
BEST TIME FOR DIVING
It is either dry or wet season in Philippines. Wet or monsoon season is from May to October and a dry season from November to April.
Although you can travel and dive Philippines year round, choose between November to April for the perfect weather. Even though the dives are always great, you might get a little seasick from wave action on the boat in monsoon season.
HOW TO GET TO PHILIPPINES
If you click on the dive location/city that you are interested above, you will find more specific information on how to get to those specific spots within Philippines. There are many international flights to the country, most of the time with a layover or two in major cities in-between.
VISA INFO FOR AMERICANS
You will get a 30 entry on arrival, no visa needed ahead of time. if you want to stay longer that the 30 days, Philippines has the easiest (by FAR) extension in all of Southeast Asia.
You can extend by one month at a time for a few months, without leaving the country, and after a few months the give you a Philippines Id, and offer 6-12 month visas. The one month extensions usually cost around $60 or less.
To get the extension find a immigration office in either Manila or Cebu City, and other cities around the country. They will hold your passport for a few business days, and thats it. It’s a very easy process.
WHERE TO STAY
Ever heard of PADI Travel? Yep, you can now book your dives and rooms with the biggest name in scuba diving! Trust me, you want to book you dream dive trip with the most trusted name in the industry!
Click the button to start browsing dive resorts and destinations.
Still undecided about where to visit? Let us help a little more. Here are some suggestions based on questions we’ve gotten from readers:
-What sites are easiest to get to, closest to Manila, for a short visit?
That said, although you can drive to these locations, traffic can be horrible, and the drive take up to 3 hours. Flights to the other locations, on the other hand, take no more than one hour. So its a toss up.
Of course some of those locations also require some drive time, on top of the flights. But if you just want quality diving, no flying, and a decent road trip, combine those three locations, or just one.
-What are the best dive sites for wrecks?
This is an easy one. Coron and Subic Bay, Coron having the most/best. Again, if you are coming to Philippines for tons of wrecks, these two locations could be easily combined.
However, for the truly intrepid, you can also find some lesser visited wrecks around Leyte and Coron that I recommend checking out.
-What are the best sites to combine around Cebu?
From Moalboal you could easily get to Dauin/Dumaguete by ferry, to do some of the best macro dives in the world, as well as Apologetics’s Island. A Malapascua, Moalboal and Dauin combo trip is one of the best trips you could ever make. EVER.
-Where are dive locations that also have amazing beaches?
Of the locations listed above, Malapascua, El Nido, Boracay and parts of Bohol have the best beaches, as well as certain areas of Leyte. Actually, you’ll probably see good beaches near most of these.
But Malapascua or El Nido is probably my favorite. If you really want an answer to this, check out our huge list of the 101 best beaches in Philippines.
-Is traveling/diving in Philippines safe?
This always depends on your definition of “safe”, but I have never felt anything but welcome in this country. Yes, there are some poor areas, but even in the dirtiest slums I felt safer than I do in Detroit or New York City or London.
There are a couple conflict areas, but they are very far from any location listed above, and you won’t ever notice a thing. In fact, even though I live here, anytime something bad happens, I hear it first from my mom, who heard it on the news. I’m never affected.
As for the diving itself, I find that there are mostly very legit and high quality dive operations here. I have been to much worse in Mexico, Belize and the Caribbean. They all seem to be Westerner owned, and up to PADI regulations and safety. They will take care of you.
PHILIPPINES TRAVEL INFO
Located in SouthEast Asia, Philippines is comprised of 7107 islands (7106 at high tide). Each and every one of those remote islands being situated within the coral triangle, you can see why Philippines is so sought after by dive-travelers, marine biologists and underwater explorers.
Tourism-wise, Philippines doesn’t quite get the number of tourists that nearby Thailand does, nor Bali in Indonesia, which makes now a great time to experience the dive sites and beaches, before the secret is out.
In my opinion, as a whole, Philippines boasts much superior diving and beaches than Thailand does, so its a wonder that tourism hasn’t caught up. yet. In fact, I also think the locals are much friendlier as well.
As for food, expect a lot of varieties of chicken, rice and pork, which are the most popular (by far) for the locals. Of course there are always western restaurants and options, but if you’re willing, try out the local cuisine.
For more information, you can check out our full Philippines Travel Guide.