One of the main tourist attractions of the Philippines is the ocean – not surprising considering the country comprises more than 7,000 islands! The Philippines often features in lists of the world’s best scuba diving 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, the Philippines are a 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. Here are some of the best scuba diving sites in the Philippines:
Best scuba diving sites 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.
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.
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.
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.
View Best diving sites in the Philippines in a larger map
Read about other island destinations on Velvet Escape:
- Ten islands to visit in Malaysia
- Getting over my Jaws complex
- The magic of the Galapagos Islands
- Exploring Curacao
- Ten things to do in Mauritius
Note: this post was brought to you in partnership with Emirates Airlines.