Among the ten most populated countries in the world, Philippines comprises of more than seven thousand islands and covers more than 300,000 square kilometres. It is defined by its jungle clad, rough terrain and sandy coastline flanked by turquoise waters and coral reefs. Located on the western fringes of Pacific Ring of Fire, this country is prone to frequent seismic and volcanic activity. Nevertheless, it is endowed with large amounts of mineral deposits and other natural resources. Apart from offering a wide variety of sightseeing attractions like Malacanang Palace and Cebu Taoist Temple, Philippines also offers excellent options for adventure seekers. Obviously, much of the action takes place in and around the water. Blessed with pristine reefs, underwater caves and the two-tiered Puerto Princesa subterranean river, Philippine archipelagos are perfect for travellers eager to explore the underwater world.
Marine life in Philippines
Philippines boasts of an astounding variety of marine species and is a veritable haven for marine biodiversity. It harbours more than five thousand species of fishes, clams, snails and molluscs, beautiful coral reefs, and five of the seven sea turtle species known to the world today. The list is likely to grow further, as scientists are discovering new species of marine fauna in this region every year.
Diving in Philippines
With an incredible array of pristine reefs, mysterious shipwrecks, emerald lakes and marine life, Philippines is undoubtedly among the best diving destinations on the planet. Diving in Philippines can be an incredible experience irrespective of your diving skills. Shore diving on the home reefs is very popular among amateurs, but experienced divers can also choose to hop on a day boat to access atolls and sheer reef walls which require a little bit of expertise to navigate. Enthusiasts can dive year-round in the Philippines, however, November to June are universally preferred. With more than seven thousand tropical islands to choose from and the most biologically diverse waters on the planet, you should not have a problem in finding a good diving spot. However, there are a few places in the Philippines that top the list when it comes to great diving. Here are some of them:
Coron, an exquisite destination on the southeast coast of Busuanga Island, is almost inconceivably exotic and tropical. It is a region of craggy limestone islands, underground rivers, rocky coves, breathtaking virgin rainforests and fine white sand beaches. It is an hour and a half journey by air from Manila. Coron Bay is also one of the most famous wreck dive destinations in the country. It was the site for naval battles between US strike forces and Japanese supply fleets during World War II. These wrecks can be found at depths of 80-100 feet in relatively shallow waters.
Apart from the wrecks, there are two lakes, one with a warm water layer which harbours an interesting assortment of marine fauna such as catfish, molluscs, shrimps, and snails. The other is a land-locked salt water lake with interesting species of fish and turtles. Swarms of cardinal fish and oysters can be found in the adjacent mangroves which are not more than two meters deep and are definitely worth a snorkel.
Also called as the Pearl of Mindoro, Puerto Galera is blessed with one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. It is famous for its splendid virgin beaches, mesmerizing coral reefs and exquisite dive sites for novice and experienced divers alike. Located about three hours from Manila, it offers incredible diving opportunities and an authentic sample of Filipino culture. The strong currents in the Verde Island Passage from the South China Sea make this a prime site for drift dives, and should be attempted only by divers with some experience. It is common for the divers to be accompanied by schools of emperor fish, red snappers, barracudas, eagle rays, turtles and tuna.
With more than two miles of aquamarine waters and sugary sand beaches, Boracay depicts the proverbial Pacific dream. The waters here are usually calm and are perfect for beginners. Located to the north of Borocay Island, Yapak is one of the most famous dive sites in Philippines. It is made up of four different unique spots and Yapak 2 is the most popular one among the lot. The top of the wall starts at 100 feet and plunges two hundred feet to the sea floor.
The view at the bottom is a breathtaking experience with diverse marine life like barracudas, tuna, white tip reef sharks, mackerel, manta rays, eagle rays, jacks, nudibranchs, pygmy sea horses and mola molas. Only certified divers should attempt this dive because of the depth and strong currents, which can be treacherous. The best time to dive at Yapak is between 6 AM and 8 AM.
Located on Negros Island, Dumaguete is one of the Phillipines’ best kept secrets. Beautiful walls and sheer drop-offs, ultra colourful coral gardens and electrifying drift dives await divers here. This dive site has a rich source of teeming diverse and exotic marine life and sea creatures such as parrotfish, pennant fish, moray eels, triggerfish, snappers, gobies, lizardfish, trumpet fish, filefish, and trevallies. Muck diving in Dumaguete presents a vista to some unusual creatures like neon nudibranchs, tiny transparent shrimps and huge sponges adorned with hundreds of multi-coloured crinoids. Cuttlefish, octopus, and sharks make guest appearances here.
Also called Bounty Beach, this diving destination is known for its beautiful coral gardens and excellent dive spots nearby, including Monad Shoal, an underwater plateau where thresher sharks can be spotted. It offers gin-clear water with visibility up to 40 meters and is fast becoming a popular diving hotspot. Descending into these waters, divers will be surrounded by soft tree corals, sea fans and pigmy sea horses. From December to February, hammerhead sharks can also be spotted. Batfish, flutemoth, mantis shrimp, barracuda, lionfish, pipefish and Moorish idols can be sighted on a regular basis.
Who to Dive With?
To dive in Coron we recommend the Busuanga Seadive Resort who have been in operation for over 15 years and offer World War 2 wreck diving and have the only recompression chamber in Palawan.
For scuba diving in Boracay we would recommend you check out Boracay Diver's who can offer diving tours and possible encounters with Whale Sharks amoungst other species of fish.