Explore the Philippines underwater

Whale-shark diving in Oslob, Philippines (image courtesy of Adam Brill).

Whale-shark diving in Oslob, Philippines (image courtesy of Adam Brill).

One of the main tourist attractions of the Philippines is the ocean – not surprising considering the country comprises more than 7,000 islands! The archipelago often features in lists of the world’s best dive sites for good reason; it really is one of the greatest places in the world to see marine life. Clear visibility, and water temperatures at a comfortable 23 – 30 degrees Celsius all year round, make it a perfect spot for a dive vacation.

With a tropical climate, pristine sandy beaches and almost 40,000km of coastline and coral reefs to explore, divers looking for their next adventure should click here to book a flight to Manila and head to scuba paradise. Easily accessible from Manila, the capital of the Philippines, are a number of excellent beach dives, sheer reef walls and atolls, all teeming with colourful sea life.

Best dive spots in the Philippines

Make the short hop from Manila to Subic Bay to do some fantastic wreck and reef dives. Formerly the site of a large US naval facility, Subic Bay is nowadays famous for its great variety of wreck dives, with wrecks dating from the Spanish-American War in the 19th century to the Second World War. The sites are easily accessible from the various dive centers by speed-boat. There are some great places to see large marine life, including sharks, dolphins, and turtles. The USS New York is the most famous wreck in the area and you will be amazed at the array of barracudas, lion fish, spotted sweetlips and lobsters you will see around the ship.

Coron Bay in the Palawan province offers some excellent dive experiences, including the warm geothermal lakes of Coron Island, reef walls and World War II wreck diving for advanced divers. Coron is recognised as one of the finest wreck diving spots in the world.

Off the coast of the kris-shaped island of Palawan, Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park is ranked by CNN’s travel website as one of the top-eight dive sites in the world. This World Heritage listed national park is only accessible by live aboard boat, so it tends to be visited by serious divers. Visitors can expect to see the likes of sharks, turtles and manta rays.

Chasing a manta ray at Tubbataha Reef Marine Park (image courtesy of Jayvee F.)

Chasing a manta ray at Tubbataha Reef Marine Park (image courtesy of Jayvee F.)

On the island of Mindoro, just south of the main island of Luzon, take a gentle drift dive at Puerto Galera along stunning walls and see schools of snapper, emperors, eagle rays, tuna and sometimes sharks.

Boracay may be best known for its powder white sand and turquoise waters, but it also offers a calm and easy dive destination, ideal for novice divers. Those with more dives under their belts should try Yapak, where the vibrant coral wall plunges deep down into the ocean. Located in the northern corner of Boracay island, Yapak’s reefs are home to everything from whitetip and grey reef sharks to manta rays and schools of tuna.

A sea snake in the reefs of Yapak (image courtesy of Nico Boxe).

A sea snake in the reefs of Yapak (image courtesy of Nico Boxe).

Dumaguete has a stunning variety of dive opportunities, including reef walls and coral gardens that provide an excellent opportunity to see plenty of marine life. The town can easily be reached on a short flight from Manila or via ferry from Cebu. Although there are lots of dive sites in the area, the main one is Apo Island; a tiny marine sanctuary with thriving coral that is teeming with fish species, crustaceans and nudibranch.

Malapascua Island is a great place to see thresher sharks, whitetip sharks, manta rays and devil rays. From December to February hammerhead sharks are also known to pass by Malapascua island. You can see batfish, barracuda, pipefish, lion fish, moorish idols and more.

Malapascua Island (image courtesy of Stephen Bugno).

Malapascua Island (image courtesy of Stephen Bugno/BohemianTraveler.com).

The Philippines is an outstanding dive destination, with so many sites that it is difficult to know where to begin. Choose a variety of sites that suits your level and make notes of the type of marine life you’d like to see. Whichever you choose, you’ll soon be returning to explore more of the country’s best dive sites.

Do you know other great dive sites in the Philippines? Leave your tips in the comments section below.


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Note: this post was brought to you in partnership with Emirates Airlines.

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9 Responses to “Explore the Philippines underwater”

  1. Tina 16/09/2013 6:09 am
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    Malapascua Island really looks like a paradise, with it’s crystal clear water and powdery sand. definitely a place to visit in the Philippines.

  2. Ariana 02/08/2013 4:03 am
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    Wow! I’d love exploring this country and try some amazing adventures. A lot of fun activities needed to do in this country. This is a helpful post thank you!

  3. Spencer 23/06/2013 3:13 am
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    I have been scuba diving in St Thomas but would love to go round the Philippines. I hear there are some excellent dive spots there and beyond that the country is supposed to be a lovely one to visit.

  4. Barbara 23/06/2013 12:41 am
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    We are looking forward to diving in the Philippines and your post has definitely intrigued us! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Keith Jenkins 21/06/2013 10:58 am
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    Hi Valerie,
    Thanks for adding your tip. :-)

    Cheers,
    Keith

  6. Valerie 21/06/2013 6:27 am
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    Just to add, Anilao in Batangas is a top diving site. Not that far from Manila.

    Thanks for featuring Philippines!

  7. Keith Jenkins 20/06/2013 5:22 pm
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    Glad you enjoyed the post Scott! :-)

    Cheers,
    Keith

  8. Scott 20/06/2013 3:26 pm
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    I love the ocean and have always wanted to go to the Philippines to to go snorkeling and diving because I’ve heard its a really great place to experience sea life. Thanks for the post and pictures.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Radar: Travel Lately – Intelligent Travel - 26/06/2013

    [...] The Philippines may be known for its powdery beaches and azure waters, but a diver’s paradise — think shipwrecks and reefs teaming with marine life — is waiting to be discovered offshore. Check out this guide to some of the best diving spots in this island wonderland. @velvetescape  [...]

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