Scuba Diving the Philippines

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 - 16 LIVEABOARDS

From $300 / day

Resolute

MY Resolute is a very stable 35m vessel cruising the Philippines as one of the longest-running liveaboards with the most experienced crew onboard. She can accommodate 16 guests in her eight cabins. Her indoor saloon has a bar area and an entertainment system, and there are an outdoor saloon and sun area. Dining is buffet style and alfresco. The dive platform is spacious and has stor-age boxes for each guest. The guides are very knowledgeable.

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From $197 / day

Dolphin

Dolphin Liveaboard in Philippines is a 28m liveaboard with nine cabins to accommodate 18 guests on board. The cabins are a mix of twin and double bed with en suite bathrooms. Social areas include the indoor saloon, dining area and bar, and an outdoor saloon and sundeck. The dive area is well organised with rinse showers, storage space and nitrox available. Enjoy up to 5 dives a day on board from the two tenders, including night dives.

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From $336 / day

Philippine Siren

Philippine Siren Liveaboard in Philippines is a luxury 40 metre liveaboard, built by divers for divers. Thoughtful planning and keen attention to detail have resulted in a vessel much loved by divers and photographers. Relax in the hands of a highly experienced crew who will work tirelessly to ensure your diving trip is a memorable one. Eight en-suite, air-conditioned cabins comfortably accommodate up to 16 guests on board. There is a comfortable outdoor dining area and an amazingly spacious dive deck.

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Diving in The Philippines

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

Tubbataha

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.

Shark Airport

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.

Jessie Beazley

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.

Apo 29

A deep water seamount for experienced divers.

Shark diving is prolific here with reef sharks, threshers and sometimes hammerheads visiting along with manta rays.

Monad Shoal

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.

Gato Island

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.

Coron Bay 

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.

Binangaan Dropoff 

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.

Visayas Scuba Diving Destination

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.

Tubbataha scuba diving destination

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.

Apo Reef scuba diving destination

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.

Country Information

Currency

Visa

Local time vs GMT

Language

Airports

Religion

What to pack

Average temperature

Food and drink

Philippine Peso (PHP)

On entry for Western nationalities, visas required for other nationalities

+8 hours

Tagalog and English is spoken widely

Manila (MNL), Cebu (CEB)

Christian

Suncream, lightweight clothing and a light jacket for cooler evenings

26 - 30 C daytime, 21 - 25 C evenings

Adobo, roasted pork, seafood and vegetables