Considering diving in the Philippines? Here’s where to go!

You may have already seen the Philippines’ beautiful mountain ranges, the countless waterfalls and rivers, the tropical rainforests and of course the 7000+ islands with turquoise blue waters and epic surfing spots.

But, if that’s the case, you’ve only actually experienced half of what makes the Philippines more fun!

Not many people know that the Philippines is actually located in a region in the globe called the “Coral Triangle”.

This means that the Philippines lies in the area of the planet with the richest marine life and coral diversity.

Simply put, the Philippines seas are so freaking awesome!


An orange coral reef against a vivid blue sea in the Philippines

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Do you want to really enjoy the Philippines and discover its best-kept secrets? Then you should definitely go scuba diving!

If you’re brave enough to go explore the deep blue, you will be rewarded with an experience you will never forget.

Keep on reading if you want to know more about the fun scuba diving experiences you must try in the Philippines.


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It’s interactive, too, so you can print it off or check it off on your laptop as you pack. 

Click here to download yours for free.


1 – Chill out with turtles in Balicasag Island

If swimming with turtles is on your bucket list, you should head over to Balicasag Island for a sure way to see them.

Just a 30-minute boat ride away from Alona Beach in Panglao, this scuba diving site is one of the most well-protected areas in Bohol.

Only 150 scuba divers and snorkellers are allowed to enter the Balicasag Marine Sanctuary.

One of the dive sites in Balicasag has the very apt name “Diver’s heaven”.

As soon as you descend, you will start seeing sea turtles. Not just two or three, but several of them feeding on seagrass. At one point, I counted at least a dozen!

If you get tired of the sea turtles (which I doubt!), there is much more in store for you while scuba diving in Balicasag Island.

The massive school of silver jacks swimming close by will be impossible to miss. And if you have been wanting to see “Nemo”, the chance of seeing him there is great!

I have gone scuba diving in Balicasag Island twice and neither time failed to amaze me.

The lush and lively reef will leave you feeling in awe. And to some, it might even be a spiritual experience.


READ NEXT: What to pack for the Philippines.


A sea turtle swimming over coral in Balicasag Island, Philippines

2 – Explore the World War II wrecks in Coron

For history-nerds or technical scuba divers, exploring the World War II wreck sites in Coron Bay might just turn out to be the best dive experience for you.

According to history records, on September 24, 1944, American jets flew over Coron Bay to wreak havoc on the Japanese fleets that were hiding among the islands.

The attack was brief since the US bomber jets had to return to their aircraft carrier which was 340-miles away. Nevertheless, it was ruthless.

The 15-minute encounter led to the destruction of several gunboats, supply ships, tanks, aircraft carriers, and even planes.

Today, divers consider the WW2 wrecks of Coron to be one of the best wreck diving spots in the world because of their excellent preservation.

It is also popular since there are so many of them that are within a short boat-ride away from each other.


RELATED READ: The ultimate island-hopping itinerary for El Nido and Coron.


There are over 20 wrecks in Coron and at least 10 of them are often explored by scuba divers.

The wrecks lie at different depths, so you can enjoy them on both recreational and technical dives.

You can penetrate the wrecks but if you have claustrophobia, do not worry. You can still enjoy them from the outside as these long sunken ships are simply majestic to look at.

What used to be weapons of war and destruction are now encrusted in beautiful corals and home to many marine sea creatures.


3 – Muck diving along the shores of Dauin

If you haven’t heard of the term muck diving before, it is basically – as the name suggests – diving in a “mucky” environment.

Unlike coral reef dives where you get to see a lot of colourful and vibrant marine life, muck diving involves dive sites consisting of dark volcanic sand, sediments, and debris like dead corals or trash.

But who would want to go diving on a terrain that looks like a barren wasteland? Lots of scuba divers actually. This unique environment attracts a different mix of critters like frog fishes, sea slugs, seahorses, cuttlefish, shrimps and many more.

If you want to do muck diving in the Philippines, one of the best places to do it is in Dauin, Negros Oriental.

The volcanic sand along the coast of Dauin is the perfect environment for many creatures to live, breed, feed and hide.

Scuba Divers, especially underwater photographers, love Dauin because it is home to many of the weird and wonderful critters underwater.


RELATED READ: Scuba Diving in Dauin, Negros Oriental, Philippines.


A hairy frogfish surrounded by darkness in the Philippines

4 – Observe thresher sharks in Monad Shoal

Known for its exceptionally long tail, the threshers sharks of Malapascua, Cebu, is arguably one of the coolest sharks in the Philippines.

With a tail almost as long as the rest of its body, a thresher shark catches its prey by stunning it with its tail first.

Due to the pelagic nature of thresher sharks, it is quite hard to find them. However, the thresher sharks in Malapascua are an exception.

If you go to Monad Shoal and do a deep dive to 30-meters, you are most likely to see them! Almost every day! The shoal serves as a cleaning station for the sharks.

The caveat, however, is that you need to leave Malapascua island at an ungodly hour of 4 in the morning. Apparently, the sharks like visiting the cleaner wrasse in Monad shoal from sunrise to around 9 in the morning to get their daily cleaning.

It is worth it, though! The earlier you get there, you’ll see more thresher sharks and fewer scuba divers!


READ NEXT: Pros and cons of living in the Philippines.


5 – Lose yourself in the middle of a million sardines in Moalboal

Yes, a million sardines and maybe even more! This adrenaline-pumping experience is perfect for those who want to see what it’s like to be in the middle of a sardine hurricane.

It is estimated that there are over 7 million sardines in Moalboal. How they counted this, I do not know. But, after enjoying this mesmerising underwater attraction, it’s really hard to dispute.

Located 3-hours away from Cebu City is Moalboal, the home of the massive school of sardines.

In the past, you might find  the school playing around Pescador Island. However, they migrated to the closer and more accessible shores of Panagsama beach.

You can enjoy the Moalboal sardine-run by either scuba diving or even snorkelling. Because the area is a sardine protection zone, it also serves as a sanctuary for other marine creatures.

There’s a good chance you will also encounter a turtle grazing on seagrass. And there have also been reports of whale sharks passing by and even thresher sharks hunting in the area.


Love food? Make sure you visit Siargao.


Millions of sardines surround a diver in the Philippines

6 – Visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park

If you ask a Filipino scuba diver where their dream dive destination is, it will probably be Tubbataha.

Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park joined the ranks of the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, The Great Barrier Reef in Australia and Komodo Park in Indonesia as one of the best diving destinations in the world.

It is a 97,030-hectare Marine Protected Area (MPA) where you can find 13 species of dolphins and whales. 13 species of shark. 600 species of fish and 360 species of corals also call it home, while hawksbill and green turtles nest in the islets in Tubbatah.

With the rich diversity, it is not surprising that ocean lovers enjoy exploring this haven.

Tubbataha is just off the coast of Palawan, in the middle of Sulu Sea. Because of its isolated location, you can only access it through an accredited dive operators live-aboard vessels.

Running for 7 to 10 days at a time and only from March to June, Tubbataha live-aboards can cost $US1800-3500. Because of these factors only a few get to live the dream of diving Tubbataha.

You can enjoy scuba diving in the Philippines all year round. However, November to May is the best time to go because this is when the typhoon season is over.

Peak season is between February to April when water temperature is at its warmest and visibility is simply amazing.


READ NEXT: Want to know more about Scuba Diving in the Philippines?

Check out this Ultimate Travel Guide to Scuba Diving in the Philippines by Ara Juan of Diver Bliss.