Are you a professional diver looking for some choice diving spots? Or perhaps you’re a resident of the Philippines looking to get into this wonderful hobby and you want to start somewhere close by? If you are, then you’ll be pleased to know that some of the most beautiful diving locations in the world can be found right here in the Philippines. Not only do they all feature sparkling, clear waters and magnificent, awe-inspiring marine life, some of them also sport epic diving opportunities for you to enjoy. These include swimming alongside gigantic whale sharks, as well as allowing you to explore haunting, historic shipwrecks up close. Best of all, most of them are within easy access from Manila, either by bus or via domestic flight.
That being said, you’re quite spoiled for choice here, seeing as the Philippines is, in fact, an archipelago—it’s not just made up of one landmass, but broken up into many islands. Multiple islands, therefore, means a lot of beaches and diving spots for you to choose from. But to help you save time and to point you toward the best that the Philippines has to offer, we’ve assembled a list of the most popular, attractive, and exciting diving spots that you’ll ever have the pleasure of visiting in the Pearl of the Orient Seas. Enjoy!
Let’s start this list off strong with one of the most popular diving spots in the country, namely Anilao, Batangas. Dubbed by many in the hobby as the birthplace of diving in the Philippines, Anilao hosts not one, not two, but over 40 diving sites, each one offering you amazing sights to see and experience underwater. It’s not just a local wonder, however—many diving websites and tour blogs hosted all over the world have nothing but praise to shower upon this amazing chunk of the country.
There’s more to love with Anilao than just its myriad diving locations, however. Not only is it very close to Manila—only two and a half hours’ away—it’s also got its own share of luxurious beach resorts for you to stay in when you’ve had your fill of diving. Nowhere else will you be able to experience the kind of rest and relaxation that only a Batangas beach resort can bring, and right after enjoying some world-class diving, too! If you only have to visit just one diving spot in the Philippines, make it Anilao.
Tubbataha Reef, Palawan
Tubbataha Reef National Park currently enjoys the privilege of being listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. This marks it as not only a premium tourist destination, but also a legendary diving location—one that features over a thousand species of coral, fish, and marine mammals under over 10,000 hectares of protected sea. You can’t get this much underwater biodiversity anywhere else. What’s more, the entire reef is protected with strict rules and regulations, so you can be sure that things are being done properly here, without any threat or risk to the marine environment.
That being said, it will take a bit of doing for you to get to Tubbataha Reef. Being located nearly 150 kilometers from Puerto Princesa, Palawan, it will take you 10 hours to get there from the nearest city. The long wait and journey is more than worth it, however.
Subic Bay, Zambales
If you’re a fan of exploring haunting and mesmerizing shipwrecks from eras long past, then Subic Bay should be right at the top of your list. Subic Bay is home to nineteen intact shipwrecks, with most of them hailing from the war-torn periods of the 1890s and the 1940s. Dive in and come face to face with the well-preserved remains of Spanish, American, and Japanese ships who were involved in the many naval conflicts that happened in the name of colonial disputes and global wars. You’ll never find the opportunity to explore so many wrecks in just one location anywhere else in the world.
Subic Bay is also reasonably easy to get to from Manila. A four-hour bus ride will take you there in relative comfort. If you want to cut the trip time by a considerable amount, you can always take a domestic flight.
Apo Reef, Occidental Mindoro
Are you in the mood to explore the second-largest atoll in the world? If so, then Mindoro should be your next stop, as it’s home to Apo Reef. This diving spot is yet another legendary location that is guaranteed to be included in many a diver’s bucket list, what with it featuring some of the clearest waters in the world, as well as being home to a lot of striking and awe-inspiring underwater fauna. Diving in Apo Reef guarantees that you’ll be spotting your fill of tuna, manta rays, sharks, and other species of fish.
A domestic flight direct to Mindoro will see you there in no time flat. If you’re more into traveling by land, though, expect at least an eight-hour trip from Manila to the reef itself.
Want to swim alongside the gigantic and intimidating, but ultimately harmless and friendly whale shark? You can try your luck by taking a detour to Donsol, Sorsogon, where the gentle giant has been spotted in increasing frequency and regularity. But in case your luck isn’t with you and it doesn’t show up, don’t fret, as you’ll still be able to enjoy some world-class diving by exploring the Manta Bowl and the San Miguel Island, both of which are highly popular diving locations.
You can easily get to Sorsogon via direct domestic flight from Manila. You can also choose to take a bus, but you’ll be spending half a day on the journey, so it’s not recommended.
Experience the dive of a lifetime only in the Philippines
The Philippines is the only country in the world able to offer such a wealth of diving experiences to divers of all levels. Whether you’re only starting out with this eye-opening hobby or you’re just looking for a challenge, then this is the place to go to. Make sure to earmark the diving locations listed above to truly maximize your time over there!
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