A Department of Tourism video proudly declared, “We have the most species in the least space of anywhere in the planet. Out of the world’s 500 coral species, more than 400 are here.”
Located in the so-called Coral Triangle of the world’s marine biodiversity, this is no empty boast as the Philippines is among the most sought-after dive havens. And while you can dive anywhere in the archipelago, four spots stand out with their accessibility, facilities, and sheer beauty of marine life.
The birthplace of scuba diving in the Philippines, this coastal barangay in Mabini, Batangas is the entry point to Balayan Bay, which extends to the island town of Tingloy. With 42 dive spots teeming with a mesmerizing assortment of corals and aquatic animals, it is ideal for beginners to advance divers, as well as underwater macrophotographers.
Due to its proximity and the competition among resorts, it is perhaps the cheapest place for your foray into diving or an open water certification.
- Business name: Halo Anilao Dive Resorts
- Address: Brgy. Ligaya, Mabini
- Contact: 0917-8523483
- Website: www.halodiveresort.com
2. Puerto Galera
The resort capital of Oriental Mindoro, this town has been included in the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme and the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club.
Its marine life includes trevallies, groupers, snappers, barracudas, huge gorgonian sea fans and soft corals, sea turtles, octopuses, reef sharks, moray eels, and blue spotted stingrays. There is also a number of boat wrecks where corals and fishes now thrive.
Verde Island, the “center of center of marine biodiversity”, is a stunning site for pelagic animals, jacks, fairy basslets huge gorgonian sea fans, and a myriad macro crustaceans.
- Business name: Marco Vincent Dive Resort
- Address: White Beach, San Isidro, Puerto Galera
- Contact: 0917-5442642, 0920-9510128
- Website: www.marcovincent.com
A diving mecca in the Visayas, Bohol has numerous dive spots across the province, with Balicasag Island as the top must-see. With dive sites such as Cathedral, Heaven, Rico’s Wall, Black Forest, and Rudy’s Rock, the island is famous for school of jacks, barracudas, and densely-packed coral wall with reef fishes raining like confetti.
Mainland Panglao features some 20 spots with lush reefs that offer the same charm as Balicasag. Other towns offering equally exciting dives are Anda, Loon, Baclayon, Jagna, Tagbilaran City, and Bien Unido.
- Business name: Scotty’s Action Sports Network
- Address: The Bellevue Resort, Doljo, Panglao, Bohol
- Contact: 0915-1172985
- Website: www.divescotty.com
Surrounded by water, this province is a veritable marine kingdom. The closest dive sites are in Mactan Island—the caves of Marigondon, Caubian, and Pawod, Kontiki House Reef, and the islands of Hilutungan and Nalusuan – just a few minutes away from the airport.
The northernmost town of Daanbatayan (Malapascua Island) is the playground of the sought-after thresher shark known for its long tail, and Gato Island which hosts white tip sharks and rare nudibranchs.
Down south, Oslob takes pride in Sumilon Island, the country’s first marine sanctuary—an oversized aquarium of sea creatures in well-preserved coral gardens. At Tan-awan village, divers can play with the tiki or whale shark, the world’s biggest fish.
Meanwhile, Moalboal is known for its sardine run, in which hundreds of thousands of the fish move as one, whirlpooling in an unbroken mass. Pescador Island has incredible coral growths and extremely diverse and abundant marine life, topped with a swim through Cathedral Cave. Thresher sharks also occasionally stray into the area in search of prey.
Bogo City, Santander, San Remigio, Medellin, Samboan, and Camotes Islands offer exciting diving, off-the-beaten path adventures too and shouldn’t be missed.
- Business name: Nalusuan Island Resort
- Address: Olango Reef, Cordova, Cebu
- Contact: 0919-9916219 / 0917-3221033
- Website: www.nalusuanislandresort.com