A short list of my favourite places to dive in the Philippines.
Considering that the Philippines consists of over 17000 islands, many of which are surrounded by fringing reefs and submerged pinnacles, naming just a few of my favourite places is hard.
- Malapascua. Best known for the thresher sharks that frequent Monad Schoal, a nearby dive site, about 24m deep, and home to several cleaning stations, the chance of seeing thresher sharks here is great, as well as a good chance of manta rays. Another well known dive site is Gato Island, known for proliferation of banded sea snakes, white tip reef sharks, and a variety of critters. With many pretty reefs, some great critter diving, mandarin fish and of coure the threshers, this is a fabulous place to dive.
- Puerto Galera. Easily accessible from Manila, this island offers great macro diving- a photographer’s dream. There are also a few very interesting wrecks in the area, as well as some beautiful reefs. Generally calm clear waters are perfect for critter spotting. Some likely suspects include ghost pipefish, mimic octopus, sea horses, all manner of crab and shrimp, frogfish galore. Verde Island, an hours boat ride from the main island, offers superb pinnacle diving in some of the fishiest water in the Philippines.
- Coron Bay. Known as the location where the Allied forces sank a fleet of Japanese war ships in Sept 1944, this is a wreck diver’s heaven. The wrecks lie at various recreational diving depths and are full of interesting artifacts, munitions, machinery and of course, marine life. The surrounding reefs are also pretty. Barracuda Lake deserves a special mention- this geothermal lake offers divers the opportunity to enjoy clear water and experience different water temperatures not often accessible.
- Apo Island. This spectacular island lies off the coast of Dumagete. An effective and established marine protected area, this island is surrounded by magnificent healthy reefs abundant with fish life, turtles, sharks, schooling jacks etc. Currents can be fairly strong but this is an area that will not disappoint.
- Tubbataha. No list of diving destinations within the Philippines could be considered complete without the inclusion of Tubbataha Reef. This offshore reef is only accessible by liveaboard, and only during a short season. This ensures that the reef is not overcrowded with day-trippers. One of the most bio-diverse marine parks in the world, made up of over 100,000 hectors, and two main atolls, diving here provides a good opportunity to sport tiger and hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, manta rays, green and hawksbill turtles, schooling jacks and barracuda, and over 600 other reef fish species.