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Boracay is one of the smaller islands in the Philippines. Only 7km across at the widest point, it still manages to pack in a number of amazing beaches, clear water, and some of the best scuba diving in the whole country.
Boracay is located 275 miles away from Manila, a trip best taken by boat or plane, but doable by bus or car. It is in the southern part of the Philippines island chain, near Panay and Masbate, putting it in the middle of several different pristine diving experiences.
The island has 25 different dive sites, all of which are easy to access and provide an amazing view of the sea below. Most of the centers offer the opportunity to advance your current dive certificates or to get started on your way towards certification as well. Also read: 62 Awesome Places to Visit in Philippines.
The area boasts an amazing array of reefs and has received high praise for conservation efforts that has been undertaken in the area.
Most divers see white and black tip sharks, clownfish, parrotfish, and damsel fish, while lucky divers will see sea turtles.
The thriving reefs teem with anemones, tunas, trevallies, and a variety of smaller fish. The clear water allows great visibility for anyone interested in underwater photography or otherwise documenting their encounters with these amazing fish.
Great scuba diving in Boracay
Yapak – Famous for the incredible amount of visibility that it allows, the Yapak series of dive sites are some of the most well known on the island. Yapak 2 is the most well known, as it features sheer walls of coral, a wide array of sea life, and often features friendly and curious sharks. The site can go as deep as 60m, but the entrance the coral walls is only 32m. Conditions on the island are favorable for dives at the Yapak sites year round, with conditions rarely preventing dives from happening in the area.
Crocodile Island – Located along the southern edge of the island, Crocodile island welcomes divers and snorkelers alike. The area is designated for advanced divers, but the 18cm depth and uncomplicated reefs make it a great location for team dives and dive training. Photographers often find eels, snakes, and lionfish swimming free, while sea fans and coral walls offer amazing backdrops. Cuttlefish and nudibranch are also plentiful and quick to approach divers.
Angol Point – With depths of 10 to 15m and almost no current, Angol point is a popular site for night and full moon dives. Photographers often find that the tranquil spot is great for long exposure photography and that visibility is high even in the dead of night. Colonies of starfish can be found in this area, along with other small bottom dwelling species.
During the day, conditions are favorable for snorkeling and exploratory dives, making it a popular spot for beginning divers and full service dive tours. The entire site takes only a few hours to explore, but the large amount of life within the reefs makes it a great spot for repeated dives.
Friday’s Rock – One of the best spots for beginners on the island, this site has a maximum depth of 18m. The site is well known for being the home of stingrays and ribbon eels, making dives for exciting the closer to the bottom that they get. Schools of parrotfish, snappers, angelfish, and other schooling fish can also be found around the site.
The current is generally very tranquil, making it a great spot for training and an amazing introductory spot for those who are unsure of their own skills. The rock is open year round, with shore access allowing new divers to go at their own pace.
Laurel Island – With a current that is somewhat predictable, this site is not recommended to beginning divers. The two small islands are extremely close to the main island of Boracay, with a maximum depth of 10m between the three islands.
This site offers a tunnel that can be explored while diving and is a short distance from Crocodile island, making it possible to combine dives at both of these spots. The coral in this area are spectacular, but the strong current does mean that there is slightly less variety in this dive spot than in others around the island.
Most tours of the island and those for surrounding islands are going to include this spot, but it is possible only dive on Laurel island as well.
This is one of the most popular spots in Boracay due to the steep reef walls and dramatic slopes that surround the small islands, along with the lack of interfering critters. These one of a kind photo opportunities can be crowded, but are well worth the wait, providing ample opportunities for macro and time delayed photography.
Bat Cave – An interconnected cave system that has both above ground and underground access. This might be the most well known and challenging dive spot on the entire island. It is rated for advanced drivers and is rather shallow at 6m, but still presents a challenge and has an astounding array of sea life available for viewing. The spot is favored by Lion fish, lobsters, and sea snakes. This site requires clear conditions for dives and may be harder to access than others on list.
Also read: Guide to Scuba Diving Philippines
Boracay Travel Information
How to get to Boracay
As with any other destination in the Philippines, you need to arrive in Manila first and then head south towards Boracay. This can either be done via plane, which flies into Caticlan from Manila and Cebu in under an hour, or Kalibo from Cebu or other destinations in Asia, or via boat.
To take the boat, you must first arrive in Ilolilo via bus and then take the ferry from Ilolio to Caticalan where you can then take a boat directly to Boracay for around 150 pesos a person, while bike rental from Caticalan to Boracay is around 25 pesos a person, increasing in price for delivery to resorts and hotels.
It is also possible to drive all the way from Manila, but this is a much longer journey, clocking in at 9 or more hours.
Other things to do and see in Boracay
If you want something to do other than scuba diving, Boracay is known as one of the more relaxing and sedate islands in the chain. Pristine beaches, cave tours, ATV trips, shopping, and extreme water sports are all offered for low prices.
Others find that they enjoy getting massages, visiting spas, taking cooking classes, and even horseback riding.
We recommend taking a boat tour and exploring bat cave from above the water in addition to diving it. Many of the best dive locations are also surrounded by sights, making it easy to combine time above and below the water for the ultimate tour experience.
Best times to visit Boracay
Most people choose to visit Boracay between November and May, avoiding the majority of the rainy season and enjoying much calmer waters. While the island is great for diving at all different parts of the year, these seven months provide the best opportunities for enjoyable dives.
The temperature of the water is lower around December, January, and early February, but is still an enjoyable 25°C at the coldest. Visitors towards the end of season can expect temperatures approaching 32°C during the day.
Philippines visa info for Americans:
The basic visa for entry to the Philippines for Americans will allow you to stay for 30 days. You do not need to apply for this before entering the country, it is automatically granted to anyone holding a USA passport as they enter the country. Should you decide you want to stay, you will only need to pay a little over $50 for each month you want to stay. One month, six month, and 12 month visas are all available without having to leave the country once you have entered.
Manila, Cebu, and any other large city in the country will have immigration offices where visa extensions can be applied for and procured. Passports are held for up to 5 business days during the extension process, but can be held for as little as one day depending on the volume of applications.
Critter highlights in Boracay:
As most people know, the Philippines is host to millions of different species from around the world. The waters that surround the island chain are home to many unique creatures and offer shelter to others, making them visible in much larger numbers than anywhere else in the world.
The sheltered bays and tranquil beaches of Boracay are no exception, lending themselves to habitation by a wide variety of critters.
Some of the most popular creatures found within the waters surrounding the island are on this list.
A few critters you’ll see while scuba diving Boracay:
– Parrot fish Often seen in schools, these brightly colored fish are curious and enjoy swimming along with divers, playing around reefs and venturing out into the open waters regularly as well.
– Sea Turtles Mainly seen at the end of the season, large sea turtles can be found in the surrounding waters and sunning themselves near the surface.
– Damsel Fish At only 14 inches long, damselfish can be easy to miss in open waters. Their bright blue, yellow, sometimes neon colors set them apart from other fish, but their small size often aids them in hiding. Careful observation near corals will reveal a large number of these small fish, as they are active during all parts of the day.
– Black Tip and White Tip Sharks While all sharks can be scary, many people have described the curious and gentle white tip and black tip sharks around the island as sea puppies. Divers are often surprised to be greeted by curious sharks, while others enjoy swimming among schools during the warmer parts of the day.
– Rays Both Manta and Eagle rays can be found on the island, with great schools of them blocking out visibility as they pass. Hatching grounds for baby rays can be found near most of the main diving spots, making the early spring months particularly exciting in these areas.
– Hammer Head Sharks One of the weirder looking sharks around, these can often be found in the Yapak diving sites and any other sites with a heavy coral presence. Schools are often available for photography, with the majority of these gentle sharks keeping their distance from divers in their area.
– Barracudas Huge, unforgiving, and generally not concerned with the behavior of humans, barracuda are some of the most interesting fish in the world. Spending much of their time hiding in the reefs, they can also be found near the surface of the water and wherever schools of smaller fish congregate.
– Lionfish Magnificent, aggressive, and largely solitary in nature, the lionfish claim parts of Boracay as their home range. Divers often come face to face with these fish around the island.
– Clownfish famous for their symbiotic relationship with anemone, clownfish are a striped favorite. The warm waters of the island create perfect conditions for breeding and living, leading to a large number of these fish on the island.
– Trevallies Although these fish are not particularly pretty, they are extremely large and known to grow to weight of more than 170 pounds. At 67 inches long, they are often larger than the divers who find them, with schools of them inspiring feelings of awe.
Where to stay in Boracay & who to dive with:
There are a number of great dive resorts in Boracay, with good gear and boats and crew, and we will give out top favorite pick below. You can also search through more hotels and dive resorts in Boracay HERE.