With over 7,641 islands, it’s no wonder tourists from around the world flock to see the the Philippines’ turquoise waters and idyllic beaches. The archipelago boasts extensive marine sanctuaries and bountiful coral reefs.
There are quite a number of uncharted waters and dive sites in the country. But if you’re new to diving, the best way to discover what’s underneath the vast blue ocean is to try out snorkeling!
Hold your breath as we list down top snorkeling spots you need to visit on your next underwater adventure!
1. Malapascua Island in Cebu
First on our bucket list is a famous diving destination in Cebu. Malapascua Island is known for its unspoiled beauty and long stretch of fine white sand. Divers usually come to the island, specifically to Monad Shoal, to have an up-close encounter with thresher sharks, one of several harmless, fish-eating shark species.
Fees: Boat rentals and island hopping fees cost more or less P1200. This is good for 4 to 5 persons and inclusive of snorkeling fee.
How to get there: The fastest route to Malapascua Island is via a direct flight to Cebu. Drop-off point is atMactan-Cebu International Airport. From there, ride a bus to Maya Port. Travel time is around four hours. Then, take a boat to Malapascua Island for an hour and 30 minutes.
2. Mantigue Island in Camiguin
Situated off the coast of Camiguin, Mantigue Island (also known as Magsaysay Island) is a marine sanctuary surrounded by mangroves. The four-hectare, powder-white island is teeming with lush vegetation and vibrant marine life. It is home to pristine and rich marine biodiversity, making it a perfect destination for scuba diving and snorkeling.
Fees: Snorkeling fee is P150 inclusive of masks and snorkeling gears. Boat rentals can accommodate up to 6 persons for about P600. You also have to pay for environmental fee (P30). Tourists are only allowed to stay for 4 hours on the island, but if you want to stay longer, you need to pay an additional P50 per hour.
How to get there: From Manila, you can take a flight to Camiguin via Cebu. Alternatively, you can book a flight straight to Cagayan de Oro. Alight at the Mambajao terminal where you can hail a motorbike or a tricycle to the San Roque Port. From there, you can ride a boat to the island for about 20 minutes.
3. Apo Reef National Marine Park in Mindoro
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Apo Reef Natural Park is one of the protected marine areas in the Philippines. Encompassing a total of 34 square kilometers, Apo Reef is deemed as the world’s second largest coral reef system, next to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It is home to more than 200 marine species, including tropical aquarium fish, snappers, and crevice-dwelling moray.
Located off the coast of Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro, Apo Reef is considered one of the best dive sites in the world. Aside from snorkeling, you can also try other underwater activities such as scuba diving, bird watching, dolphin watching, reef cruising, kayaking, lagoon rafting, and turtle monitoring.
Fees: Entrance fee to the island costs more or less P350. Boat rentals are available at a fixed rate of P10,000, good for 10 to 15 persons. You can also rent snorkeling masks and gear at the tourism office for P150 per set.
How to get there: From Manila, you can take a plane going to San Jose in Occidental Mindoro. Alternatively, you can ride a RORO bus heading to Sablayan. Boat rentals to the island are available there.
4. Matinloc Island in El Nido, Palawan
Matinloc Island is one of the famous snorkeling spots in El Nido, Palawan. Apart from its crystal clear water and rich marine biodiversity, this island features a secret lagoon just behind its craggy rocks and cliffs. The hidden beach is swept by strong waves and surrounded by limestone rock formations.
Fees: El Nido Tour Package C lets you explore through different spots in the area including Secret Beach and Matinloc Island. For only P1,400 per person, you can already climb up the towering cliffs, snorkel, and dive deep down the clear turquoise waters.
How to get there: Book a flight straight to Puerto Princesa. From there, you can take a van heading to El Nido for about 5.5 hours. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by registered guides offering boat transfers to the island.