Scuba Diving the Philippines
The fantastic Philippines offers world-class diving in the coral triangle. Join a liveaboard and experience the best scuba diving in the Philippines.
To be able to reach the best diving in the Philippines, a liveaboard cruise is required due to the nature of the country. With more than 7,000 islands covering 300,000 km2, The Philippines is part of the Coral Triangle. This gives it a great diversity of both corals and marine life. Open to all levels of divers, the area offers all types of marine life. From the pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs and frogfish to thresher and whale sharks. Wreck diving is also known worldwide with the famous Coron diving sites.
With a great mix of macro and pelagic marine life, pristine coral, pinnacles, caves, walls and the Japanese fleet sunk at Coron in World War II. The diversity is unlike other destinations.
Liveaboard diving offers four different routes to cover the different areas that the country has to offer. Join one soon to visit the best dive spots in the Philippines.
Take a look at the Liveaboard Cruise options below.
Scuba Diving the Philippines - 12 LIVEABOARDS
All Star Stella Maris
All Star Stella Maris in Philippines is a 31-metre vessel offering cruises to the Philippines for up to 20 guests in her ten cabins. The cabins have a range of setups over the three decks all with ensuite bathrooms and climate control. The indoor lounge area has comfortable sofas, a full entertainment system and library. There are two sundecks and bar areas. The dive deck is spacious and well organised, with personal gear storage and four freshwater showers. Diving is from the tenders.Book Now
Azalea Liveaboard in Philippines is a 21m vessel newly built in 2018 offering cruises around the Philippines. She accommodates only ten guests in her twin and master cabins, all with en suite facilities and climate control. There is an indoor dining and relaxation area and meals are freshly prepared on board. A sundeck is an ideal place to relax and take in the views. The spacious dive deck has plenty of equipment storage room plus an additional bathroom, and a tender is available.Book Now
Atlantis Azores Liveaboard in Philippines is a luxurious cruise. She is 32 metres long and comfortably accommodates up to 16 guests in 8 air-conditioned, en-suite staterooms. Delicious meals are served on board with snacks and drinks available all day, including complimentary alcoholic beverages. Amenities include a full bar, hot tub and warm freshwater showers on deck. Trips include up to 5 dives per day. Nitrox is available.Book Now
The best diving in the Philippines is dependent on the season that you decide to visit, but diving is available year round on the fantastic coral reefs, walls, seamounts and wreck sites. Variety is profuse when enjoying scuba diving in the Philippines and there is something for every type of diver to enjoy. Technical diving, deep wrecks, shallow colourful reefs, unequalled macro life and predictable whale and other shark sightings to name a few. Conditions are easy, and the majority of the scuba diving Philippines sites are open for all divers.
Best Places to Dive in the Philippines
The best scuba diving in the Philippines region can be divided into four areas:
The Visayan region of The Philippines offers a high concentration of world-class dive sites with vast biodiversity. The island group offers wrecks, walls, pinnacles, muck dives, seamounts caves and tunnels.
Located in the Sulu Sea Tubbataha is a Unesco World Heritage Site that has some of the best diving in the coral triangle. Atolls with walls leading to drop-offs covered in pristine corals and varied marine life in the nutrient-rich waters.
Coron diving offers some of the best wreck diving worldwide with twelve World War II intact wrecks within the recreational diving limit.
Apo Reef is a marine sanctuary that provides impressive coral life with a great mix of pelagic and macro life to keep every diver enthralled with the sites on offer there.
Best Dive Sites in The Philippines
In the Sulu Sea is world class scuba diving in the Philippines and trips here sometimes book a year in advance due to the short diving season.
This is a cleaning station for the grey, white tip, black, silky and even guitar sharks pass through the area. There is a good chance to see the magnificent whale sharks too along with rays and turtles.
A pristine reef and is relatively unexplored. Drop offs into the abyss have the pelagic life such as black and whitetip reef sharks, tuna, barracuda, and for the lucky diver’s tiger sharks, great reef sharks, silky sharks and whale sharks are drawn to it.
Along the south tip of the reef system, this is the best place for manta and eagle rays along with the hammerhead, mako, and thresher sharks that sometimes visit.
A deep water seamount for experienced divers.
Shark diving is prolific here with reef sharks, threshers and sometimes hammerheads visiting along with manta rays.
A seamount that is the best dive spot in the Philippines for spotting thresher sharks early in the morning.
It has a cleaning station for not only the thresher sharks but also manta and devil rays. The sides drop down steeply into the blue to 200m+. Hammerhead sharks have also been seen here between January and April.
Offers excellent biodiversity and is both a marine reserve and a sea snake sanctuary.
The Cave has a large tunnel running underneath the island with a sandy bottom here the white tips are usually lying until disturbed when they will often swim close by the divers until you exit to meet more slowly circling the area.
The place for wreck diving in the Philippines. A large, sheltered body of water where the wrecks are Japanese warships that are accessible for advanced divers due to their depths.
A wall that drops down to over 900m known for strong currents and upwellings that bring the scalloped hammerheads and manta rays.
Read more information about Philippines Dive Sites
The Visayan dive area covers Malapascua, Apo Island, Bohol and many of the favourite Philippine islands dive destinations. For more information about Visayan dive sites, please click on the photo.
Tubbataha has a very limited dive season due to its remote nature. Liveaboards have a short window of opportunity to reach this amazing destination and spaces on board are highly prized. For more information about Tubbataha dive sites, please click on the photo.
Explore the pristine reefs of the marine sanctuary at Apo Reef and the world-renowned WWII wrecks at Coron on a single liveaboard trip in the Philippines. For more information about Apo Reef and Coron dive sites, please click on the photo.
Philippines Scuba Diving Highlights
- Common Sightings – Reef sharks, manta rays, nudibranchs, barracuda, frogfish
- Special Sightings – Whale sharks, hammerheads, thresher sharks, pygmy seahorses.
- Topography - Reefs, pinnacles, walls and wrecks
- Visibility - between 5 and 30m depending on the location
- General information - Diving in the Philippines is available for all certified divers. Most vessels accept open water divers with 40 dives on board. Currents are not as strong as other areas in Asia.
- Onboard Options - Beach, island visits
Best Time to Go
There are two specific Philippines diving seasons.
Rainy season is from June to November. Some sites are only open at this time due to the wind coming from the southeast.
The dry season is December to May which is better for visibility.
Generally, November to April is considered the best time to dive in the Philippines as there are no typhoons at this time. Typhoons usually occur from May to October.
For marine life, whale sharks are in their greatest numbers from March to May.
Tubbataha Reef is only open for diving from March to June.
Visayas - Recommended time to visit is November to May.
Malapascua Island - recommended time to visit is December to April.
Coron Bay - Recommended time to visit is November to May.
Water temperature ranges over the year from 26 to 29 Celsius, so a shorty or 5mm long suit is suitable depending on if you feel the cold easily.
How to Get There
International flights are into either Manila or Cebu, and then you may need a local flight depending on which liveaboard destination you have chosen.
Tubbataha departs from Puerto Princesa. There are local flights from both Cebu and Manila.
Cebu City is another port used, and domestic flights are available between Manila and Cebu.
For trips departing from Batangas, there are buses from Manila to the port.
Local time vs GMT
What to pack
Food and drink
Philippine Peso (PHP)
On entry for Western nationalities, visas required for other nationalities
Tagalog and English is spoken widely
Manila (MNL), Cebu (CEB)
Suncream, lightweight clothing and a light jacket for cooler evenings
26 - 30 C daytime, 21 - 25 C evenings
Adobo, roasted pork, seafood and vegetables