Anyone that has ever been scuba diving in The Philippines, knows that in this world, it doesn’t really get much better when it comes to the quality, and quantity, of dive sites. The vibrancy of the reefs, insane diversity of marine species, and mindblowing shipwrecks. The Philippines is a diving paradise.
It really is THAT great. From world-class muck sites with rare and exotic species to sites with more healthy and vibrant reefs than most other countries combined, The Philippines has it all. You’ll experience things here that you won’t find anywhere else.
But with so many islands (over 7,00 in fact!) and so many incredible dive spots, it’s not always easy to know where to visit. Especially if you’ve only got a week or two for your dive trip.
There are a ton of options when it comes to diving in The Philippines, so we will tell you what makes each one unique and special, and once you decide where you want to go, we’ll give you all the information on when to go diving here.
Some locations are better for rare macro critters, like flamboyant cuttlefish and blue ring octopus, while others are known for healthy reefs and bigger things like sharks and turtles.
We highly recommend combining multiple locations, and creating one epic dive trip!
Top Locations for scuba diving in the Philippines
If you are looking for a quick answer, here are the top 5 Scuba diving locations in the Philippines.
Keep reading for an overview of what you can expect from each of these spots, as well as the other top locations for scuba diving in the Phillippines.
Not to be mistaken with Apo Reef, Apo Island is a small island off the southeastern tip of Negros, towards the South of The Visayas in the central Phillippines. Often considered one of the best diving spots in the world, Apo Island is home to over 650 different species of fish and over 400 different coral species. When it comes to vibrant reefs, Apo Island is hard to beat!
Locally known as the nudibranch capital, Anilao offers some of the best Philippines diving and a huge variety of species, and healthy coral reef. It offers over 50 awesome dive sites, all with incredible rare critters. If you’re a macro lover or underwater photographer, you do not want to miss Anilao when diving in the Phillippines.
Dauin offers some of the best muck diving in the world, with chances to see a lot of rare critters, such as flamboyant cuttlefish, frogfish, blue ring octopus, and much more.
North of Palawan, this island is literally paradise. The topside scenery is what tropical dreams are made of, but it’s what’s below the crystal clear turquoise waters that really get us scuba divers excited. Coron is the wreck diving capital of The Philippines and arguably home to some of the best shipwreck dive spots in the world. The bays here hide a fleet of WWII wrecks that will keep you entranced for weeks!
During WWII, 24 Japanese boats were sunk in the area around Coron, as well as some US jets. There is an entire bay full of old wrecks, just waiting for divers.
Besides the chance to dive with the famous thresher sharks, there is also Gato Island, one of the best dive locations in the country (and the world), just offshore, as well as countless other little dive sites where you will be able to see a big number of macro and rare critters.
Moalboal has a ton of awesome dive sites, all a short boat ride from most resorts. The two most known are the famous Sardine Run, which is a giant bait ball, and Pescador Island.
A dive trip to the Philippines might not be complete without a stop in El Nido, and its countless beautiful islands. In this Palawan destination, expect to bump into sharks, turtles, big schools, and more.
Located on the western side of Luzon island, Subic Bay was a former US naval base that is now a seaside town best known for its wreck dives, many of which include shipwrecks from WWII.
Hardcore divers should Ticao on their bucket list. There are not many dive sites here, however, it is one of the best places in the Philippines to see mantas rays, whale sharks, thresher sharks, and hammerheads. You’ll also be away from the crowds.
Discovered in the ’70s, Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park is widely considered as not just the best of Philippines diving, but the best in the world. Tubbataha Reef is the highlight of all biodiversity in the Philippines, which is saying A LOT. Is this the best when it comes to scuba in the Philippines? We think so! Although you can only access Tubbataha via a liveaboard.
An Archipelago made up of about twenty islands, Romblon is located in the Mimaropa region. This is another one of the lesser-known or visited destinations on the list, but is well adored by divers lucky enough to have made the trip.
If you prefer to see your favorite pelagic in the wild, here is a deep channel where you can see the big guys, such as mantas, pilot whales, whale sharks and even humpbacks. Many call this the ethical alternative to Oslob, where whale sharks are fed for tourists (not ideal!)
Everyone has heard of the famous Chocolate Hills and the tiny tarsiers, but what many don’t know is that the diving around Bohol is world-class. Places like Panglao and more. It’s pretty close to Moalboal & Dauin, so expect greatness.
Being the gateway to the rest of the popular Palawan, you are sure to spend some time in Puerto Princesa, so you might as well explore some of it’s dive sites! Not to mention, the underground river system.
Think of Puerto Galera as the little brother of Anilao. It’s nearby, has great diving, and is about the same distance from Manila as Anilao is. This is a popular spot for local divers, and you can either spend your whole trip here or combine it with Anilao.
Siquijor is an island located in the Central Visayas region and is known among the Filipinos for ‘witchcraft’ and voodoo, but most people come for the sandy beaches and underwater delights. You’ll love exploring the walls and macro critter sites of Siquior.
Best times for Philippines Diving
It is the either dry or the wet season in the Philippines. The wet, also known as the monsoon season, is from May to October and a dry season from November to April.
Although you can travel and dive the Philippines year-round, choose between November to April for the perfect weather. Even though the dives are always great, you might get a little seasick from wave action on the boat in monsoon season.
The Phillippines has many of the world’s top sites for scuba diving so we understand it’s not easy to pick just one to visit! If you’ve got the time we highly recommend spending a month, or two, island hopping and diving your favorites from the list above.
Our favorite way to enjoy diving in The Phillippines is on a liveaboard, it really is the ultimate way to dive. Take a look at our guide to liveaboards in the Philippines for more info.
Do you have a favorite spot for scuba diving in The Philippines? Let us know in the comments!