The Philippines is home to some of the most incredible dive sites in the world, with miles of coral reefs and plenty of opportunities for discovery for those looking to explore the underwater world. If you’re looking for the best scuba diving locations in the Philippines, read on!
The Philippines is divided into 3 main islands; Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, but there are many other smaller islands around that provide perfect locations for diving. If you love marine life, the benefits of scuba diving are many as you will experience some huge coral reefs, see underwater habitats, and even spot some rare and interesting species native to the Philippine islands.
Whether you have your own scuba diving equipment or you’re just joining a group, here are the 10 best places to scuba dive in the Philippines.
Mindoro is one of the best scuba diving locations in the Philippines and offers beginners some of the best diving in the country. The area is said to be the second largest contiguous coral reef in the world, and you’ll find all types of diving going on here.
With wrecks to explore and an abundance of easy shore diving, you’ll have a great time here, no matter your experience level. One of the most iconic diving areas here is Puerto Galera. It’s a great tourist area, and there are some great dive sites nearby too. While the area offers dive sites for all abilities, advanced divers can spot some amazing species such as reef sharks, eagle rays and sea turtles, and if underwater photography is your thing, some great photos are also possible.
2. Colon Bay
Isla Colon is a popular tourist destination with several areas for diving enthusiasts to explore. If you’re interested in exploring historic WWII shipwrecks (11 apparently) while also seeing the stunning coral reefs nearby, Colon Bay is a great option. Many divers come here to earn their PADI Wreck Diver certification, so if that’s something you’re interested in, Isla Colon is a great place to be.
A liveaboard is a purpose-built boat for scuba diving that typically offers dive trips lasting more than a day. There are a variety of liveaboard options in Coron, many of which offer the opportunity to visit Apo Reef, where you can see colorful coral, pelagic fish and reef sharks.
Bohol has beautiful white sand beaches and plenty of diving opportunities, and the Anda area is a quiet dive spot away from the touristy areas of Bohol. Anda is the right time of year to go if you want to feel like you’re the only one exploring these untouched reefs.
Here you can try different types of dives such as coral gardens and silt dive sites and spot an incredible amount of marine life such as napoleon snake eels, pygmy seahorses, different species of prawns and if you are lucky you can also see turtle.
Boracay Scuba Diving is known as one of the most famous scuba diving locations in the Philippines. It’s a small island but has become very popular thanks to its postcard-perfect beaches and stunningly clear waters. The island has been voted the best island in the world in the past and as such attracts tourists from all over the world – keep this in mind if you book a dive here…it’s busy!
With beautiful coral reefs and an abundance of fascinating fish such as parrot fish, puffer fish and blue-spotted stingrays, you won’t be able to believe how beautiful the diving in the area is. And, obviously, you’ll need a good meal after your swim, so be sure to check out my list of the best places for breakfast in Boracay.
read more: How to Visit Boracay on a Budget
5. Moalboal, Cebu
Moalboal is located on the island of Cebu, between Oslob and Malapascua, other popular dive sites. It is famous for the sardine run, an almost daily occurrence where up to 7 million sardines pass by along with other large schools of fish.
Diving in the area will give you the chance to witness this incredible event, explore caves and canyons, and spot some of the common marine life around Cebu such as whitetip reef sharks, dolphins, and manta rays. This area offers some incredibly diverse diving experiences for both beginners and advanced divers.
If you are traveling in Cebu, I definitely recommend you to visit Kawasan Waterfall. marvelous!
6. Malapascua, Cebu
Continuing north along Cebu Island is Mama Paloqua Island, one of the best dive sites if you want to look for the shy and rare thresher sharks. These timid creatures are so striking that their massive tails look like a larger shark.
As well as thresher sharks, you can spot baby seahorses, shrimp and other unique marine life in the area. There’s also wreck diving; the Doña Marilyn, a cargo and passenger ship that sank in 1988 and whose 98-foot hull is now covered in coral, is an amazing dive site. I visited Malapascua during my 2 week stay in the Philippines and loved the island.
7. Oslob, Cebu
Oslob is one of the most famous scuba diving packages in the Philippines and there are many dive centers in the area. It is located just south of Mama Palogua and although beautiful corals and many other fish can be seen here, Oslob is still the place to see the largest fish in the world; the Whale Shark. Oslob offers many dive packages that allow you to swim with these gentle giants, and you may be happy to know that they have tiny teeth and eat only tiny shrimp, fish and plankton.
Keep in mind that many whale shark watching dives offer the opportunity to feed the whale sharks. This is somewhat controversial as many believe it interferes with the whale shark’s natural feeding patterns, so you may prefer to seek out a tour operator who will take you to a dive site that will allow you to observe whale sharks without eating.
8. Tubbataha Coral Reef, Palawan
The Tubbataha Reef has some of the highest biodiversity in the Philippines, but keep in mind that some of the best spots are only accessible by liveaboard. Tubbataha Coral Reefs Natural Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of the best diving spots in the Philippines. It is also one of the popular tourist attractions in Palawan. There’s stunning coral and an abundance of marine life to see, including some 600 species of fish, 11 species of sharks and green turtles to keep you entertained.
If you’re lucky, you might also see manta rays and barracuda, and heading to Amos Rock will give you some of the best diving on the island, but keep in mind the diving season here is from February to June, so check out the Book your trip within this window.
9. El Nido, Palawan
Located north of Tubbataha Reef in Palawan, El Nido is not only a popular tourist destination for scuba diving. With its lush tropical walkways, beautiful beaches and stunning sunsets, El Nido attracts tourists in droves every year.
Diving here has an otherworldly feel to it, with many unusual creatures. From unique-looking seahorses and crustaceans to reef sharks, eagle rays and groupers, there’s plenty to see here. It’s also a great place to visit if you’re keen to see turtles while diving.
10. Mactan Island, Cebu
Mactan Island is the closest dive site to Cebu City, so if you’re staying in the city, you can hop over there to see some beautiful coral reefs and marine life. It’s especially popular for its clear waters, cliffs to explore and shipwrecks to photograph. You can even dive into the Tamburi Wreck, a single-seat, twin-engine aircraft that has been recovered by the surrounding coral and marine life.
Keep an eye out for schools of sardines above and porcelain crabs below. This dive site is not recommended for beginners, so make sure you book an adventure that suits you. Experienced divers will also appreciate the Shirutongan Island Marine Reserve, where the shallow reefs are covered in marine life and therefore provide excellent photo opportunities.
Philippine Scuba Diving
Ready to book your Philippines scuba diving trip? These incredible dive sites are located all over the country and are some of the best in the world, so if you’re looking for the best scuba diving spots in the Philippines, be sure to add them to your must-dive list !
If you’re planning a trip in the near future, check out my list of top Philippines travel tips to help you enjoy your trip.