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The Best Diving Spots In Philippines And How To Prepare

Offering over 7,600 islands and 22,500 miles of coastlines, the Philippines is one of the best places to go diving in the world.

The Philippines offers an array of biodiverse ecosystems including colorful coral reefs, ethereal islands, and an abundance of impressive wildlife. 

Marine enthusiasts from around the world travel to the Philippines just to get a glimpse of the elusive manta rays, sharks, whale sharks, and vast schools of rare fish. 

The Best Diving Spots In Philippines And How To Prepare

It’s not just in the water where the Philippines thrives - the land itself is just as lively!

The people and communities are as warm as the waters, offering a level of hospitality only one can dream of. Prepare yourself for endless adventures, great food, and excellent company. 

If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines and not sure where to start looking for places to scuba dive, we’ve got you covered.

Here are the best diving spots in the Philippines and how to prepare for them! We’ve also included a guide on what risks to consider when diving as well as a frequently asked questions section. 

Best Diving Spots

Puerto Galera, Mindoro

Located in the province of Mindoro, Puerto Galera is one of the most popular spots for tourists and divers - and for good reason. Everything about Puerto Galera is a haven, from the crystal clear warm waters to the vast and virtually untouched coral reefs. 

For beginners who want to enjoy the bright colors beneath the water, this is an ideal location for snorkeling. For experienced divers, the main attraction is the Canyons.

The Canyons offer everything an adrenaline junkie could possibly want with a range of diving environments, including the 40-meter descent that only advanced divers should face. Be prepared to bring Nitrox, because this diving spot can be tricky. 

While the high season (December to May) offers the best weather, the low season is the best time to go diving at Puerto Galera as the visibility is best here.

If you’re not intrigued by the colorful coral reefs, Puerto Galera also offers the Sabang Wrecks, which is the ideal diving spot for those who love to explore underwater. 

What You Will See

  • Array of wildlife including thresher sharks, turtles, rays, octopuses, tuna, barracuda, and schools of fish
  • Array of underwater fauna including soft pink corals, barrel sponges, whip corals, and gorgonian fans
  • Crystal clear waters
  • Shipwrecks

Tubbataha Reefs, Palawan

If you’re worried about going to a diving spot in the Philippines and potentially disrupting the precious ecosystems, the most eco-friendly diving spot in the Philippines is Tubbataha Reefs in Palawan.

Tubbataha Reefs National Park is a World Heritage Site that works to preserve the reefs and wildlife, offering some of the richest marine biodiversity across all 7,600 islands.

The sustainable socio-economic development of the reef has meant that the diving spot can be enjoyed as it is now for generations to come. 

With around 10,000 hectares of coral reef, Tubbataha Reef is the go-to place for divers of all skill levels. This is probably the best diving spot in the Philippines for photographers and scientists due to the vast array of marine wildlife and fauna available.

Amos Rock is possibly the most popular part of the Tubbataha Reef for divers of all skill levels, as the depths range from 6 to 70 meters. Just be cautious that the currents can be unpredictable and strong at the depths of the reef. 

What You Will See

  • 600 species of fish
  • 360 species of coral
  • 11 species of shark (whale sharks, white tips, and tiger sharks)
  • Whales, green sea turtles, hawksbill turtles, manta rays, various schools of fish, and more
  • 13 species of dolphin

Moalboal, Cebu

A former fishing village, Moalboal is one of the Philippines’ best seaside vacation spots. On the land, Moalboal is alive with fresh seafood, friendly locals, and endless entertainment.

In the water, Moalboal is known for its warm waters with excellent visibility, making it one of the most accessible and easiest diving spots in the world for divers of all skill levels. 

The most well-known part about Moalboal’s waters is the iconic sardine run - a world-famous sardine bait ball! Located at Panagsama Beach, it is believed that 7 million sardines live in this area.

Divers can swim amongst this gigantic bait ball in whatever form they like (snorkeling, scuba diving, or free diving) for a once in a lifetime experience. 

Aside from the sardine bait ball, Moalboal is home to a fascinating abundance of walls, caves, and canyons that are teeming with marine life.

Tuble Reef is a haven for underwater caves, Magic Point is the best spot to swim alongside sea turtles, and Talisay Wall offers a deep slope that is filled with colorful coral and unique sea creatures. 

What You Will See

  • Caves, canyons, and walls
  • Sardine bait ball
  • Schools of barracuda and tuna
  • Hundreds of marine species including batfish, sharks, turtles, and more
  • Scenic backgrounds for underwater photography

Akitsushima Wreck, Palawan

Shipwrecks are kind of like a playground for divers. With endless crevices, hidden sea creatures, and an abundance of history, the Akitsushima Wreck in Palawan is one of the most popular shipwreck diving spots in the Philippines.

The Akitsushima was a Japanese Navy seaplane tender that served in the Second World War before sinking in 1944. Due to the dangers surrounding the wreck, this diving spot is only recommended for experienced divers.

A lot of the wreckage is too risky to dive through, but divemasters will take you around the engine room if you’re lucky. 

Nitrox is needed for this diving spot, as the Akitsushima Wreck offers depths between 22 and 32 meters. An array of debris is scattered around the sides of the wreck, allowing for divers to explore to their heart’s content.

As the ship sank some 80 years ago, marine life has begun to take over, so be prepared to see scatterings of coral and wildlife!

What You Will See

  • A shipwrecked seaplane tender
  • Anti-aircraft guns
  • Purple sea fans, coral, and gorgonians
  • Marine wildlife including barracuda, groupers, octopuses, and more

Manta Bowl, Ticao Island

As the name suggests, Manta Bowl at Ticao Island is an underwater bowl that is home to the magnificent and elusive manta rays!

Spanning 7 hectares, Manta Bowl is a giant shoal that features strong currents from every angle. Manta rays follow these currents into the bowl to clean and feed before going off on their travels. 

Unfortunately, Manta Bowl isn’t the diving spot to see fantastic coral reefs and colorful caves. The bottom of the bowl is sandy, which means the main feature of this diving spot is the ethereal marine wildlife.

Manta Bowl isn’t just for the manta rays - it’s also home to hammerhead sharks, thresher sharks, and an abundance of fish. 

The best time to visit Manta Bowl is between December and May when the visibility is at its best. 

What You Will See

  • Manta rays
  • Hammerhead sharks
  • Thresher sharks
  • Barracuda 
  • Snappers
  • Feeding whales (if you’re lucky!)

Anda, Bohol

If you’re an experienced diver looking for a diving spot in the Philippines that is void of tourists and off the beaten track, make sure to check out Anda in Bohol.

Anda is a fantastic diving spot with a mixture of walls, slopes, coral gardens, and sandy areas. The whole environment is laid-back, but the depths of this diving spot means that it’s better suited for advanced divers. 

Anda is remarkably underrated despite the vast amount of diving experiences it has to offer. Divers can swim into and amongst caves, scale large and plentiful coral reefs, or investigate the deep walls.

Due to the variety of environments in this diving spot, Anda is home to the biggest range of marine wildlife out of most of the diving spots in the Philippines. 

What You Will See

  • Hammerhead sharks between January and June
  • Reef fish, turtles, several shrimp species, eels, seahorses, and more
  • Sea snakes
  • Manta rays 
  • Whales (if you’re lucky)

Mapating (Shark Cave)

Mapating, better known as Shark Cave, is believed to be the original diving spot in the Philippines. With strong currents and - you guessed it - sharks circling the area, this diving spot isn’t for the faint of heart.

The Cave itself features depths of up to 30 meters and is less of a cave than it is a giant wall, wherein divers can explore the crevices to see unique wildlife and fauna. 

Even though this diving spot is a haven for sharks, it’s very rare that shark attacks occur. If you follow the guidance of your divemaster and leave the sharks alone, they will generally ignore you. Make sure to bring a camera to prove your bravery!

What You Will See

  • Several shark species including hammerhead sharks, white tip sharks, and often whale sharks
  • Variety of coral, sponges, fans, and sea whips
  • Small fish within the wall itself who hide from the sharks 
  • Pelagic life (open sea creatures)

Diver’s Heaven 

Located just off the island of Balicasag is Diver’s Heaven - one of the most popular wall diving spots for novice divers. With depths of up to 40 meters, this is the ideal diving spot for beginner and novice divers who want to push themselves slightly out of their comfort zones.

It’s a friendly and easy-going environment thanks to the light currents and abundance of marine wildlife that generally likes to leave the divers alone. 

Aside from the diving spot itself, Balicasag’s beaches are filled with heavenly white sands, making it an ideal location both in and out of the water.

The waters are warm throughout the year, but the best time to go to Diver’s Heaven is between January and May when the visibility is crystal clear. 

What You Will See

  • Barracudas
  • Jackfish
  • Sharks
  • Eels
  • Turtles
  • Reef fish
  • An abundance of coral, fans, sponges, and more

Types Of Risks 

As with any water sports activity, there are several risks that divers need to be aware of when choosing the best diving spot in the Philippines. Knowing about the risks involved with diving is a huge part of preparing for the dive itself, after all! 

Sea Creatures 

Not to freak you out or anything, but you will be diving amongst wild sea creatures that aren’t necessarily used to human interactions.

In general, most sea creatures are fairly tolerant of divers in that they will hide away into crevices and holes and coral. However, there are other sea creatures such as sharks and rays and eels that might take more of an interest in divers. 

The most important thing to remember when diving amongst sea creatures is to basically ignore them.

Always listen to the advice given by your divemaster, because they will understand the creatures far better than you. This is just a risk you will have to take when it comes to diving anywhere in the world!

Small Spaces 

A lot of the diving spots in the Philippines feature caves, small crevices, shipwrecks, walls, and holes. For experienced divers, this is the equivalent to a playground.

For novice divers, it’s not often worth the risk of potentially getting stuck in a tight hole or damaging your expensive equipment - especially if you’ve rented the equipment. Sure, it’s fun to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but not when it risks your safety. 

Plus, the risk of traveling through small holes and caves means that divers often touch the precious coral around them. Coral can die if they have been damaged, which is the equivalent of killing several trees at a time. Take care of the ecosystem and it will take care of you!

Currents

A lot of diving spots in the Philippines feature pretty strong currents and, unfortunately, these currents are mostly unpredictable. For experienced divers who can read and understand currents, this shouldn’t be a problem.

However, for beginners and novices, currents have the potential to be dangerous and even deadly. Therefore, it is vital that you only go to the diving spots that match your skill level.

Divemasters understand the waters better than anyone, so they will know what conditions are most suitable for which divers.

It’s never worth the risk of going to a deep wall dive that is riddled with strong currents just for the sake of a photo. And no matter how hard you try, currents are virtually impossible to swim out of. 

Decompression Sickness

One of the biggest risks when it comes to scuba diving is decompression sickness, or DCS for short. When you go diving, you breathe compressed air at great depths.

Your body tissues will naturally absorb more nitrogen, but if they absorb too much nitrogen once you resurface, the pressure reduction can lead to nitrogen bubbles forming in your tissues.

This causes a lot of pain, and if left untreated, can lead to tissue and nerve damage. It can also lead to death. 

There are several ways to prevent DCS. Firstly, always follow the divemaster’s instructions and only ever descend at a slow rate.

Secondly, ensure that you are healthy enough to dive - for example, make sure you’re hydrated, physically fit, well rested, and free from alcohol and drugs. 

Anything Else You Should Know

At What Age Should You Stop Scuba Diving?

Fortunately, there is no maximum age for someone to stop scuba diving! It all comes down to the physical health of the individual.

Without proper training and sticking to a good health routine, scuba diving can unfortunately lead to nasty health problems such as decompression sickness. 

How Do Scuba Divers Not Get Attacked By Sharks?

Despite what the movies say, sharks are generally non-aggressive creatures when it comes to divers.

Sharks are apex predators that are naturally territorial, so there will be some shark species that are more prone to attacking divers than others, which means it all comes down to common sense. 

To avoid getting attacked by a shark, scuba divers mustn’t dive in murky waters with low visibility, and should never attempt to approach a shark. Leave them alone, and they will leave you alone. 

Are There Manta Rays In The Philippines?

Yes! The Philippines is home to many manta rays, almost all of which like to gather in Manta Bowl on Ticao Island. Manta Bowl is an open, sandy shoal that is surrounded by multiple currents.

Manta rays follow these currents to the bowl where they will clean and feed before floating off again. Manta Bowl is one of the most popular diving spots in the Philippines due to its abundance of magnificent manta rays!

How Much Does Scuba Diving Cost In The Philippines?

The costs of scuba diving in the Philippines depend on the diving school’s rates, the skill level of the diver, what equipment the diver will rent, and how long they want to dive for.

On average, a scuba diving session in the Philippines costs between $70 and several hundred dollars. These prices are fairly low for scuba diving sessions, which is why the Philippines is a popular destination for divers on a budget. 

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