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Whether you’re a diving enthusiast or just an adventurous traveler, you need to go scuba diving in the Philippines and see the abundant marine life.
From swimming with whale sharks to exploring World War II shipwrecks, the dive sites in the Philippines are spectacular.
There is a massive range of scuba diving spots in the Philippines. However, two of the best destinations are the Batangas region and Subic Bay.
Both locations have many excellent resorts for you to base yourself in so that you can dive all day and then return to luxurious accommodations at night. That said, all diving destinations in this article provide fantastic resort and accommodation options close by.
This post was written by Catalin Geangos, the Founder and Editor of TravelTrained. He’s a travel blogger who mainly focuses on hostel life, beach resorts, and day trips and tours.
Best Diving Spots In The Philippines
Subic Bay Scuba Diving in the Philippines
Subic Bay is most well known for the enormous number of wrecks that you can explore. The wrecks are mainly from the Japanese occupation during World War II, so they have a lot of history behind them.
You’ll also find many coral reefs to explore, but this is THE wreck diving destination in the Philippines.
While diving in the area, you will likely see a vast range of marine life, including sharks, rays, whales, turtles, and even dolphins as, well as all the fish and other sea creatures you’d expect in the Philippines.
The diving sites in Subic Bay provide an opportunity for all divers to explore, ranging from novice divers up to technical divers who want to go deep and penetrate the wrecks.
You’ll find three different kinds of wrecks in Subic Bay, including ships, planes, and then smaller military equipment to explore. Each wreck will require different levels of experience and certification.
Batangas Scuba Diving
If this is your first visit to the Batangas region, then Anilao is where you want to go. It has a vast range of different diving options to suit whatever you feel like exploring.
The scuba diving options in the area include coral dives, muck dives, shipwrecks, walls, caves and tunnels, and almost anything you can imagine.
Anilao was previously a fishing village, but most locals now cater to diving enthusiasts, so everything is set up perfectly for you.
Anilao Pier is another fantastic muck diving site. It has an enormous range of sea life for you to interact with and photograph.
The dive is very shallow at 5 m and is terrific for night dives with diverse sea creatures that come out then, and there are no boats during the night.
You’ll find stargazers, octopus, eels, flounders, crabs, shrimps, mollusks, Bobbit worms, sea snails, and a host of other critters to make your evenings a bit more enjoyable.
Cathedral Rock is one of the most popular diving spots in the Batangas region. It is a giant rock cavern with no roof, so it is easily accessible and safe for all divers.
The marine life is diverse and colorful, and the fish love to be fed and interacted with. They will be pestering you for any food you have.
You’ll often see octopus, sea turtles, giant black frogfish, and stingrays swimming in the area.
Secret Bay or the Mainit Muck dive site comprises around four dive sites. It is an excellent novice diving area, especially you’re interested in muck diving.
The area provides access to explore and take photos of all the tiny and strange creatures that make the walls or ocean floor their home.
Most areas have a minimum depth and low current, which allows you to spend a lot of time enjoying yourself.
You may even find volcanic bubbles if you venture to Bubble’s Point in Secret Bay.
Sombrero Island is named so because it looks like a sombrero and is home to a massive reef wall that extends all the way around the island.
The reef has a multitude of valleys, pillars, walls, and flat areas for you to explore. You will need multiple visits to see everything.
As well as the coral reef, you’ll find a diverse number of animals living in the area, including eagle rays, manta rays, sea turtles, and all your expected coral-loving animals.
The area can be as shallow as 10 m but goes all the way down to 100 m.
The best wreck diving in the region can be found at Daryl Laut. Previously a casino, it now serves as home to all kinds of coral and sea creatures.
The frame is intact, but most of the ship has been removed, making it very easy for you to swim in and out of the wreck.
The depth goes from 10 m down to 40 m.
If you’re looking for easy access on a day when you just want to relax, you can make a beach entry at Mabini and visit the Twin Rocks area for scuba diving.
You will find two giant rocks about a meter apart, which are home to a fantastic assortment of coral and fish, but also juvenile turtles make this their home.
Tubbataha Reefs, Palawan
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site found in the Sulu Sea near Palawan. It’s considered the most biodiverse diving location in the country, making it one of the best diving spots in the Philippines.
It has fantastic and varied terrain to explore, and It’s filled with a variety of larger sea life, including reef sharks, mantas, turtles, and even hammerhead sharks.
The location is for experienced divers as the currents can be strong; however, it’s well worth visiting to see the beautiful reefs and fantastic collection of sea life.
Coron is a fantastic diving site if you’re looking for underwater shipwrecks to explore, and Subic Bay wasn’t enough for your historical diving needs. The wrecks are also from World War II and provide various options for different diving skill levels.
Coron is also a beautiful topside for when you need a break from diving, with high cliffs to explore and bright white sandy beaches to relax on.
Read more: Exploring the islands of Palawan with TAO Expeditions
Apo Reef, Mindoro
Apo Reef is the second-largest contiguous coral reef in the world. You’ll be able to explore and see a wide variety of sea life, including sharks, turtles, parrotfish, mantas, and huge schools of other fish.
The only way to dive the Apo Reef is to join one of the liveaboard safaris and go for multiple days. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to reach it, dive, and return in a single day.
Dauin is best known for muck diving and the coral reefs nearby and having luxurious but affordable resorts compared to other diving destinations in the Philippines. You can access dive sites from a boat or even from the shore.
Expect to see many sea turtles, coral gardens, and blue-ringed octopuses.
Apo Island, Dumaguete
Apo Island is a short boat ride from Dauin. It offers a diving spot called Coconut Point, best known for drift diving and locally known as the washing machine.
The currents can be strong and require some experience as a diver but offer beautiful viewings of the coral reef walls and marine life living around the island, as well as the fun of drifting.
Expect to see sea turtles, sea snakes, and a massive variety of reef fish.
The Moalboal diving sites in the Philippines are most famous for their huge schools of sardines that will swim around you as you dive. However, there are some islands a short boat ride away and even a plane wreck you can explore.
Moalboal is easily accessible, and diving is easy, making it a perfect place for backpackers or novice divers to visit.
Another fantastic scuba diving destination in Cebu is Malapascua. Malapascua is best known as the only place you can see pelagic thresher sharks.
Typically thresher sharks are only found in deep water, but they venture close enough to Malapascua for recreational divers to see them.
You’ll also find a sunken plateau called Monad Shoal, where cleaner fish will clean the thresher sharks and remove parasites and dead tissue from them.
This cleaning is likely the only reason the sharks come to such shallow water, giving you an excellent opportunity to see them.
Donsol scuba diving is most famous for your ability to dive with whale sharks as well as all the manta rays living there. You’ll find various options in the area, including sandy floors, coral, and rock formations to explore.
Donsol is also home to a vast range of marine life that you will see. It also has shipwrecks in the area if you are an advanced scuba diver, making this diverse site one of the places for scuba diving in the Philippines.
Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro
Puerto Galera is a short distance from Manilla, so it can often be a day trip or a short side trip while visiting the Philippines.
It hosts many excellent scuba diving sites, but the best is Canyons. You will drop into the hole in the wall, which will take you for a ride on the currents through the spectacular underwater canyons.
While in the Canyons, you’ll see barracudas, batfish, snappers, emperors, and a host of other interesting marine life.
Balicasag Island, Bohol
Balicasag Island is a marine sanctuary that is a must-visit location when in Bohol. It’s around 600 meters in circumference, with five different dive sites around it. However, the most significant part of the area is a 200 meters drop-off.
One of the dive sites called the Black Forest gets its name from the distinctive black coral there.
The entire area is filled with barracudas, jacks, sea turtles, dolphins, and a spectacular assortment of other marine life.
Tips for Diving in the Philippines
- Never dive alone
- Bring buoys for safety so boats can see you’re diving. Some areas can get busy.
- Keep the reefs safe and healthy, and wear reef-friendly sunscreen.
- Don’t touch or break off coral as a souvenir.
- November to May is the best time of year to dive, with morning till 3 pm being the best time.
- Everything you bring in, make sure you take out.
Love diving? Check out these other fantastic dive spots!
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Lora is a full-time digital nomad on a quest to visit every country in the world and pet as many dogs as she can along the way. Over the last 15 years, she has traveled to 70+ countries and six continents solo. She currently calls Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home and enjoys ending each day with sunset and tacos on the beach.
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Many would agree that Tubbataha is the best diving spot in the Philippines, and one of the most biodiverse diving spots on earth. Pristine coral reefs, the richest marine biodiversity in the country, and pelagic action. Big or small, Tubbataha has them all.What is the diving capital of the Philippines? ›
Anilao, Batangas (Nudibranch Capital of the Philippines) Anilao diving in Batangas, known as the Nudibranch Capital of the Philippines, is the closest underwater haven from Metro Manila.Does the Philippines have good scuba diving? ›
The Tubbataha Reefs offer some of the highest biodiversity in the Philippines, although keep in mind some of the best spots can only be accessed via a liveaboard. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the best diving spots in the Philippines.What are the best diving months in the Philippines? ›
You can dive in the Philippines all year round however the best time is generally December to April. July to September is the monsoon season. The hottest months are April, May and June with temperatures over 32 oC.Which of the following is the number 1 best spot for scuba diving in the Philippines? ›
1. Amos Rock – Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. One of the most remote diving destinations in the Philippines, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is only reachable by liveaboard between March and June.Is Thailand or the Philippines better for diving? ›
In the category of Asia's Leading Dive Destination 2020, the Philippines was crowned the winner over Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. It is home to some of the best scuba diving in the world, thanks to its coral reefs and enormous schools of fish.Is diving in Philippines expensive? ›
Boasting almost as many dive operators as it does islands, Philippines diving can be as cheap or expensive as you like. From one-off dives to dive-and-stay packages (usually between five and seven nights), there's something for every budget.Is scuba diving expensive in the Philippines? ›
Cost: The cost of diving ranges depending on where you are and if you have equipment, but expect to fork over at least $50 USD per dive, including equipment rental. The price of a full PADI certification course usually starts around $400 USD.How deep is scuba diving in Boracay? ›
The 7km long reef on Boracay's western shore offers a variety of easy dives, ideal for training as they gradually slope deeper from 6m to 25m. Experienced divers will also feel at home here with plenty to enjoy as a relaxed reintroduction to tropical diving.Is scuba diving in Boracay worth it? ›
Probably Boracay's most popular dive sites, Yapak 1 & 2 are the places to go to see larger marine life like grey and white-tip reef sharks, tuna, jacks, snapper and triggerfish. Malabulot is a gentle dive for all levels with healthy hard and soft corals and abundant macro life.
Coron Bay in Palawan, Philippines, is a popular destination for diving enthusiasts who want to explore the underwater beauty of wrecks and reefs. With its crystal-clear waters, abundant marine life, and interesting dive sites, Coron Bay is a paradise for divers.Is Boracay a good place to dive? ›
There's also a great variety of macro life and beautiful coral reefs in all Boracay dive sites. Whether you are a certified diver or just learning to dive, Boracay's amazing underwater world makes it one of the top diving destinations in the Philippines.How long is scuba diving in Boracay? ›
Just note that the whole tour can take up to 3 hours, so plan accordingly. Boracay is not only known for its beaches but also its clear waters and marine life. When you scuba dive in Boracay, you'll get a chance to encounter angelfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish, lionfish, scorpionfish, and even blue spotted stingrays!When should you not scuba dive? ›
If you have any of these or other illnesses, which might cause similar problems, consult a doctor before diving.It is not recommended for people with the following conditions to scuba dive: People with breathing problems. People with ear problems or people who have had ear surgery in the last 12 months.Can I fly 20 hours after scuba diving? ›
Both PADI and DAN recommend a minimum preflight surface interval of at least 12 hours for single dives and 18 hours for repetitive dives or multiple days of diving. NAUI recommends 24 hours after any dive before flying to altitude.