More than 7000 tropical islands, clear warm water, vast coral reefs and mind-blowingly beautiful flora and fauna make the Philippines a true scuba diver’s paradise.
You can find almost every underwater adventure and experience here. At some dive resorts, shore diving on the house reef is popular, but divers can also hop on a day boat or live-aboard to access the sheer reef walls and atolls offshore.
A rich WWII history makes wreck diving the focus of areas such as Coron, off Palawan and Subic Bay. The underwater ecosystem is an epicenter of marine biodiversity with Dugongs and skittish scythe-tail thresher sharks leading a cast of more than 1200 marine species.
And topside, rest assured of a warm welcome as the friendly and relaxed Filipinos embrace visitors.
- Yapak, Boracay – This deep wall starts at 30 metres/100 feet then plunges straight down. Watch for patrolling white-tip and grey reef sharks, schools of tuna, manta rays and eagle rays. This is all in addition to a vibrant wall encrusted with corals of every description.
- Monad Shoal, Malapascua –This is a known thresher shark viewing spot that attracts divers from around the world. But it also has batfish, flutemouth, barracuda, tuna, mantis shrimp, pipefish, scorpionfish, lionfish, Moorish idols, schooling bannerfish, unicorn fish, squid, octopus and various moray eels to see even when the sharks aren’t present.
- The Canyons, Puerto Galera – Flushed by currents from the South China Sea, this drift dive takes you over several small drop-offs past canyons covered with soft corals and sponges. Duck into a canyon to watch snapper, sweetlips, barracudas, jacks and an occasional shark cruise by.
- Balicasag Fish Sanctuary, Bohol – Rich with marine life, this site features a large school of jacks that don’t seem to mind when you swim into the middle of them. Cruise along the straight wall and peek under the overhangs to see midnight snappers, sweetlips and all kinds of reef fish.
- Mactan Island, Cebu –The east side of the island drops into a deep, narrow channel that offers a few good wall dives. With plenty of nutrients in the water, you’ll see lots of different corals, sponges and gorgonians covering the walls. You may have a chance encounter with turtles, lionfish and rays.
- Morazan Maru, Coron Bay, Palawan – A popular wreck dive, the Morazan Maru went down during WWII and now lies on her starboard side in 25 metres/80 feet of water. With lots of big holes in her hull, light filters in and adds to the beauty of this wreck now covered with hard and soft corals. Many fish species, turtles and even sea snakes call this wreck home.
- Apo Island, Dumaguete – This beautiful island has a spectacular variety of dive sites. With stunning coral gardens and prolific fish life some dive sites are accessible from the beach. Look for dense hard and soft coral growth with triggerfish and bannerfish swimming around. Look carefully for nudibranchs and scorpionfish that are perfectly camouflaged in reef.
- USS New York, Subic Bay – Scuttled in 1941, this huge armored cruiser is one of the most popular wreck dives in the Philippines. Sitting between 18-30 metres/60-140 feet, most of the 110-metre/330-foot ship is still intact and you can swim along huge guns and around the massive bronze propeller. It’s now home to barracuda, lionfish, sweetlips, groupers and lobsters.
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Visibility – Depending on the location and the weather, visibility can range from 5-45 metres/15-150 feet.
Water Temperature – Nice warm water, varying between 23-30°C/73-86°F depending on the area and season.
Weather – You can dive year-round in the Philippines, but there are three distinct seasons that affect dive conditions. December through March is the northeast monsoon that can bring strong winds. April through June is usually dry with warm days and little wind. July through November is the southwest monsoon, which is wet but the water is warm. Air temperatures average 25-32°C/78-90°F with high relative humidity.
Featured Creatures – The Philippines is a great place to see scorpionfish, emperor fish, barracuda, Moorish idol, flutemouth, tuna, batfish and trevally. Some of the more unusual creatures spotted also include pygmy sea horses, parrotfish, lionfish, triggerfish, unicorn fish, trumpet fish, wrasse, mantis shrimp, squid, and octopus. Bigger animals also get into the picture with eagle rays, devil rays, manta rays and sharks, including thresher sharks and hammerhead sharks.
Recommended Courses – Take the AWARE – Coral Reef Conservation, AWARE – Fish Identification and PADI Digital Underwater Photographer courses to understand and to capture the beauty of the marine life. With walls, currents and wrecks, it’s a good idea to take the PADI Deep Diver, Drift Diver and Wreck Diver courses. Technical diving on the deep wrecks requires special training, look into PADI TecRec courses, including the PADI Rebreather Diver course, if interested.
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.
Language – Filipino. English is also widely spoken.
Currency – Philippine Peso. Credit cards are widely accepted.
Major Airports –There are several international airports in the Philippines including the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Clark International Airport in Angeles City, Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City, the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City, and Kalibo International Airport in Kalibo.
Electricity – 220 volts, 60 Hz. Internet is common in cities and tourist areas.
Topside Attractions – Sand, sun and fun are the focus on the beaches in the southern Philippines. Visit Taal Volcano, the smallest active volcano in the world. Check out the architecture of the many historic churches. Engage in other watersports, such as sea kayaking or wind-surfing, or take a wildlife tour.
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