The Philippines have some of the most incredible diving spots in the world, with reefs stretching for miles and offering plenty of discovery opportunities for those who want to explore the underwater world. If you’re looking for the best places to go scuba diving in the Philippines, read on!
The Philippines is split into 3 main islands; Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao, but there are also lots of other smaller islands dotted around offering the perfect spots for diving. The benefits of scuba diving are plentiful if you love marine life, as you will get to experience some of the immense coral reefs, see underwater habitats, and could even spot some rare and interesting species local to the islands of the Philippines.
Whether or not you have your own scuba diving equipment or you’re just turning up to join a group, here are the 10 best places to go scuba diving in the Philippines.
Mindoro is one of the best places to go scuba diving in the Philippines, and offers some of the best diving for beginners in the country. The area is supposedly the second biggest contiguous coral reef in the world, and you’ll find all types of diving going on here.
With wrecks to explore, and abundant easy shore dives, whatever your level of experience you’ll have a great time here. One of the most iconic areas to dive here is Puerto Galera. It’s a great tourist area but also has some fantastic dive sites nearby. Though there are dives for all abilities in this area, advanced divers can see some amazing species such as reef sharks, eagle rays and turtles, and get some excellent photographs if underwater photography is your thing.
2. Coron Bay
The island of Coron is a popular tourist spot with multiple areas for keen divers to explore. Coron Bay is a great one if you’re interested in exploring historic WW2 wrecks (there are apparently 11 of them) while also seeing amazing reefs nearby. Many divers come here to achieve their PADI Wreck Diver certification, so if this is something you’re interested in, Coron is a fantastic spot.
A liveaboard is a purpose-built boat for scuba diving, and will typically offer diving trips lasting more than one day. There are multiple liveaboard options in Coron and many will offer the chance to visit Apo Reef where you can see colourful coral, pelagic fish and reef sharks.
3. Anda, Bohol
The island of Bohol offers gorgeous white sand beaches and plenty of diving opportunities, and the area of Anda is a quieter diving spot away from the touristy areas of Bohol. If you want to feel like you’re the only one exploring these untouched reefs, Anda is a good spot at the right time of year.
You can try different types of dives here, such as coral gardens and muck dive sites, and spot an abundance of incredible marine life like Napoleon snake eels, pygmy seahorses, different kinds of shrimp, and if you’re lucky, turtles.
Boracay scuba diving is well known as one of the most premier scuba diving locations in the Philippines. It’s a tiny island but gets super popular thanks to its postcard-perfect beaches and stunningly clear water. This island has been voted the best island in the world in the past, so it draws tourists from all over — keep this in mind if you are booking dives here… it gets busy!
With beautiful coral reefs and plenty of fascinating fish like parrot fish, puffer fish and blue spotted stingrays, you won’t believe how beautiful diving in this area can be. And, obviously you’ll need a good feed after all that swimming so make sure to check out my list of the best places for breakfast in Boracay here.
READ MORE: How to Do Boracay on a Budget
5. Moalboal, Cebu
Moalboal is located on the island of Cebu between other popular diving sites Oslob and Malapascua. It’s known for its sardine run which happens almost every day and sees up to 7 million sardines pass through alongside other big schools of fish.
Diving in the area offers the chance to see this incredible event, as well as exploring caves and canyons, and spotting some of the common marine life around Cebu such as whitetip reef sharks, dolphins and manta rays. This area offers some incredibly varied diving experiences for beginners and advanced divers alike.
If you’re visiting Cebu on your trip, I definitely recommend you to check out Kawasan Falls. It’s stunning!
6. Malapascua, Cebu
Moving further up the island of Cebu to the north is Malapascua, which is one of the best spots to dive in if you’re on the lookout for the shy, rarely-seen thresher shark. These timid creatures are quite a sight with their huge tails giving the appearance of a much larger shark.
As well as thresher sharks, you could spot tiny seahorses, shrimp and other unique marine life in the area. There’s also wreck diving; the Doña Marilyn, a cargo and passenger vessel that sank in 1988, has a 98ft hull now covered in coral and makes for an amazing dive site. I went up to Malapascua when I was in the Philippines for two weeks and loved the little island.
7. Oslob, Cebu
Oslob is one of the best known areas for scuba diving Philippines packages, with many diving centres present in the area. It is located south of Malapascua and despite the beautiful coral and many other fish that can be seen here, Oslob is the place to go to see the largest fish in the world; the whale shark. Oslob offers many dive packages to swim with these gentle giants who you may be glad to learn have tiny teeth and only eat small shrimp, fish and plankton.
Keep in mind many dive tours to see whale sharks will offer the chance to feed them. This is a little controversial as many believe this interferes with their natural feeding patterns, so you may prefer to look for a tour operator who will take you to a dive spot and allow you to observe the whale sharks without feeding.
8. Tubbataha Reefs, Palawan
The Tubbataha Reefs offer some of the highest biodiversity in the Philippines, although keep in mind some of the best spots can only be accessed via a liveaboard. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the best diving spots in the Philippines. It’s also one of the top tourist spots in Palawan. With stunning coral and plentiful marine creatures to look out for, including around 600 species of fish, 11 species of shark and green sea turtles, you won’t be able to peel yourself away.
If you’re lucky, you may also spot manta rays and barracuda, and heading to Amos Rock will give you some of the best diving experiences on the island, but remember diving season here is from February to June so book your trips within this window.
9. El Nido, Palawan
Located north of Tubbataha Reefs on Palawan island is El Nido, which is a very popular tourist spot for more than just scuba diving. With lush tropical walks, gorgeous beaches and epic sunsets, El Nido draws crowds every year.
Diving here is otherworldly, with many unusual creatures. From unique looking seahorses and crustaceans to reef sharks, eagle rays and groupers, there is so much to see here. It’s also a great place to visit if you’re keen to see turtles on your dives.
10. Mactan Island, Cebu
Mactan Island is the closest diving spot to Cebu City, so if you’re staying in the city, hop on over to see some gorgeous coral reefs and marine life. It’s especially popular for its clear water visibility, drop-offs to explore and wrecks to photograph. You can even dive to the Tambuli plane wreck, a single seater twin engine aircraft which has been reclaimed by the coral and marine life around it.
Keep a lookout for large schools of sardines above and porcelain crabs scuttling along below. This dive site is not recommended for beginners so make sure you book the right expedition for you. Experienced divers will also love the Hilutungan Island Marine Sanctuary which offers great photography opportunities thanks to its shallow reefs covered in sea life.
Philippines scuba diving
Ready to book a scuba diving trip to the Philippines? These incredible dive sites located all over the country are some of the best in the world, so if you are looking for the best places to go scuba diving in the Philippines, definitely add them to your list of must-dives!
If you’re planning a trip anytime soon, check out my list of top Philippines travel tips to help you enjoy your trip.