Select Page
Written by Scuba Divers ~ DIVEIN.com’s Complete Guide to:

The Best Diving in Philippines

Weather in Philippines

AVERAGE TEMP. — 29°C / 84°F RAINFALL DAYS — 112mm / 4.4 inches

Water in Philippines

AVERAGE WATER TEMP. — 29°C / 84°F

Currency

Philippine Peso (PHP)
w

Language

Filipino / English
l

The authors:

torben lonne

Katt Andryskova

Scuba Instructor and Writer at DIVEIN.com

With more than 7,000 islands and around 22,500 miles of coastline, it’s little surprise that the Philipines boasts nearly as many dive sites as former first lady Imelda Marcos had shoes!

Underwater, divers are welcomed by a staggering array of variety, both in the type of dive sites and the abundance of marine life.

Divers with a penchant for the weird and small should remember their macro lenses because with mantis shrimp, pygmy seahorses, and nudis aplenty, diving in the Philippines is a slug lover’s dream. That’s not to say the big stuff isn’t here, it certainly is. Mantas, sharks, mola mola, rays and pelagic hunters all frequent the region.

On land, the people are as warm and welcoming as the waters. With white sand beaches, excellent food and drinks, and fantastic hospitality, you might never want to leave!

Planning a diving trip to the Philippines? Here’s our round-up of 20 of the best Philippines dive sites.

The 20 Best Dive sites in Philippines?

Sort this list to fit your scuba level and wishes

Recommended Level


  1. Beginner
  2. Intermediate
  3. Advanced

Dive Type


  1. Boat
  2. reef
  3. Wall
  4. Cave
  5. Shark
  6. Wreck
  7. Drift
  8. Manta
  9. Night
  10. Macro
  11. Muck
  12. Whale Shark

Show only the very best


  1. Yes
  2. No

Amos Rock

One for your diving bucket list, Amos Rock is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a reputation for its marine life. The only way to reach this Philippines dive site is by liveaboard, permittable exclusively between March and June. This limited access is sure to make you feel like a VIP. Amos Rock is a gem of the Tubbataha Reef and with dives conducted between 6 and 70 meters (19-229 ft), it can be enjoyed at different depths. Watch out for strong currents on the deeper end, these can be unpredictable.

Things to see:

Amos Rock contains more than 600 species of fish, including sharks and rays. If you’re lucky, you can spot whales and dolphins too. You can’t miss Amos Rock’s wall, which not only hosts multiple schools of reef fish but is also covered in a variety of colorful corals, gorgonians and purple sea fans.


Advanced Boat reef Wall Our Favorite

Pescador Island

A marine sanctuary, Pescador Island is situated just off the western coast of Cebu. The main attraction is the massive schools of fish that run through the area, which recreational divers can place themselves in the center of. Pescador Island is ranked as one of the top 50 dive sites in the world. Another highlight at this Philippines diving spot is The Cathedral, an open-topped underwater cave. You’ll start your dive at the southern end of the island, beginning on a sandy slope and descending to 10 meters (33 feet).

Things to see:

Pescador Island is certainly a feast for the eyes, but you’ll want to experience it for its marine life. Daily sardine runs, which include tens of thousands of fish, attract larger pelagic predators. There is also a 40 meter (131ft) wall, encrusted with hard corals.


Advanced Boat reef Wall Cave Our Favorite

Monad Shoal

If you’re interested in the best shark dive in the Phillippines, look no further. Monad Shoal is an underwater island that boasts an abundance of thresher sharks and sightings are almost a given (though some patience may be required). By far the most popular dive site in Malapascua, don’t be surprised if it’s densely populated by tourists. You can dive here all year round but the best time to see the sharks is between March and May.

Things to see:

Thresher sharks aren’t the only attraction for divers at this Philippines site and there’s plenty of other life to keep you entertained, but if you want to up your chances of spotting threshers, dive in the morning. In the afternoon you have a higher chance of seeing devil rays and giant manta rays. If you’re lucky, you can also find octopuses.


Advanced Boat reef Shark Our Favorite

Akitsushima Wreck

Palawan is home to multiple shipwrecks — a testament to World War 2 and the attack on the Japanese Navy. One of the most popular wreck diving sites in the Philippines is the Akitsushima Wreck, located in world-renowned Coron Bay. Sunk in 1944, the Akitsushima is spread out and much debris is scattered away from the ship but visible during your dive. Keep in mind that most of the wreckage is deemed too dangerous to penetrate, although you can visit the engine room if your training and divemaster allow it. The best time to dive here is between January and June and with depths between 22 and 35 meters (72-118ft), this Philippines dive site is best reserved for advanced divers who hold a Nitrox certification.

Things to see:

You can still see one of the ship’s anti-aircraft guns. Though the wreckage itself is a sight to behold, look out for the marine life that has claimed it. Parts of the ship are now covered in corals, gorgonians and purple sea fans. You might see barracuda, yellowfin tuna, and groupers too.


Advanced Boat Wreck Our Favorite

Canyons

Puerto Galera is heaven on Earth for divers and tourists alike. Its rich, clear waters are irresistible and this site is a feast for the eyes both above and below the waves. Canyons is the main attraction thanks to its abundant variety of marine life and its selection of diving environments. It’s one for the adrenaline junkies as it features a rapid 40-meter (131-foot) descent. Nitrox is highly recommended for Canyons and only seasoned divers should attempt to explore it due to the challenging conditions.

Things to see:

It’s impossible to list all the creatures you’ll be able to see here. Look out for turtles, thresher sharks, barracuda, octopuses, and tuna; as well as large schools of reef fish. Barrel sponges, gorgonian fans, soft pink corals and whip corals are visible throughout this site.


Advanced Boat reef Wall Drift Our Favorite

Manta Bowl

Named for its shape and the abundance of manta rays, Manta Bowl is an underwater shoal spanning seven hectares. Its strong currents — felt from all directions — attract manta rays and the site serves as both feeding and cleaning station. The best time to dive at this Philippines site is between December and May, though the manta rays are prominent all year round. This site makes a great getaway if you’re hoping to escape the winter or make the most of your Christmas break.

Things to see:

Manta Bowl has a sandy bottom so you won’t see as large a variety of life as you would at other dive sites. That said, manta rays aren’t the only feature. You can see barracuda, thresher sharks, hammerhead sharks, and snappers. Keep your eyes open for feeding whales too.


Advanced Boat Drift Manta Our Favorite

Manit Muck

Also known as Secret Bay, Manit Muck is a great spot for night diving and is suitable for divers of all skill levels. You’ll find a wide variety of marine life at this site, which guarantees a unique experience. What you see depends on the time of day that you dive. Manit Muck is considered one of the best macro photography sites in the world and is also a true gem for blackwater diving. It’s situated two hours away from Manila.

Things to see:

Manit Muck is home to beautiful coral reefs and a diverse selection of marine life. You can see seahorses, frogfish, jellyfish, turtles, reef sharks and massive schools of reef fish —to name just a few of the highlights.


Beginner Boat reef Drift Night Macro Muck Our Favorite

Diver’s Heaven

Aptly named, this is a favorite spot for divers around Balicasag. Diver’s Heaven is a wall dive reaching depths of 40 meters (131 feet). It’s a perfect spot for novice divers because the currents are light and you can control which depths you want to visit. It’s home to a variety of marine life, largely unbothered by divers, making it a friendly and easy environment. It’s worth noting that Balicasag features luxurious white beaches and resorts to visit when you’re not underwater. Diver’s Heaven is neighboured by three other diving spots: Black Forest, Balicasag Sanctuary, and Royal Garden.

Things to see:

You’ll see large schools of jackfish and reef fish who won’t mind your presence at all. Barracuda are prominent in Diver’s Heaven, while turtles, sharks, eels and other creatures populate the surrounding areas.


Beginner Boat reef Wall Our Favorite

Yapak 1

Another wall dive, Yapak 1 is better suited for advanced divers looking for a bit of a challenge. Its maximum depth is a whopping 70 meters (230 feet) and the currents here can be as strong as two knots. You won’t regret rising to the challenge though as Yapak 1 is thought to be the best dive site in Boracay. There’s a cool and diverse selection of marine life to see, and the area has white sand beaches to enjoy when you’re not diving. The best time to visit is February through March.

Things to see:

Look out for gray and white-tipped reef sharks, Napoleon wrasse, grouper, trevally, and dog-toothed tuna. Tiny pygmy seahorses and massive mola mola are also found here. Keep your camera with you because there’s loads of macro life visible along the wall.


Boat Wall Shark Macro Our Favorite

Coconut Point

Coconut Point is a spectacular coral reef located south of Apo Island (not to be confused with Apo Reef). This wall spans 150 meters (492 feet) and features diverse corals and creatures. Keep in mind that this site has a reputation for challenging conditions, so make sure that you plan accordingly. The best time to visit is between December and May during Apo Island’s dry season. It’s important to only attempt this Philippines dive when the weather and visibility are good. It has the nickname ‘the Washing Machine’ due to strong, unpredictable currents.

Things to see:

Apart from the impressive wall and the corals it features, divers may come across tuna and barracuda. Turtles are sometimes seen in these waters and you’ll also spot Spanish mackerel, parrotfish, triggerfish, sweet lips and big-eye trevallies.


Advanced Boat reef Wall Drift Our Favorite

Okikawa Maru

This shipwreck is another Coron Bay hotspot as it’s one of the easiest and most accessible wreck dives in the area often referred to as the “poor man’s Truk Lagoon.” The Okikawa lies upright at 26 meters (85ft) with the main decks at 12m (39ft). Diving is possible all year round and with calm waters, the wreck is suitable for divers of all skill levels. After more than 50 years underwater, the Okikawa Maru is home to diverse marine life who live all over her expansive, 160-meter shell.

Things to see:

The Okikawa Maru was a tanker and you can explore the inside of the wreck — if you have the right qualifications. Penetrations are relatively easy on this Philippines wreck because the ship lies upright on the ocean floor. Marine flora and fauna have overtaken the vessel and you can spot plenty of sponges and lettuce-leaf corals. Fish found here include snapper, batfish, fusiliers and red lionfish.


Beginner Boat reef Wreck

Apo 29

The Apo Reef Natural Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the second-largest coral reef in the world. Within it, you will find Apo 29, one of the best and most challenging dive sites on the reef. The best time to visit is between November and May but to access the area, you’ll need at least 100 dives under your belt. You’ll have to reach this spot by liveaboard as it’s quite far from the islands. It features a seamount that rises to 25 meters (82 feet) below sea level.

Things to see:

Both macro life and pelagic marine life are visible here. The reef features sponges, tunicates, nudibranchs, and sea slugs aplenty. A variety of sharks are found here including hammerheads, whale sharks, gray reefs and white tips. You can also spot stingrays, tuna, snappers, and jackfish, often in large schools.


Advanced Boat reef Macro Whale Shark Our Favorite

The Pinnacle

This reef surfaces on the eastern side of Verde Island and is known for it’s vicious, challenging currents. You’ll have to reach it by speed boat or tender and skippers will make sure you get as close to the reefs as possible to make your descent easier. This Philippines dive site features a 40-meters (141 feet) drop. One highlight is the Pinnacle itself, a chimney-like column that starts 60 meters (190 feet) and narrows as it stretches to the surface. Coral and a wide variety of sea creatures inhabit the site.

Things to see:

Jacks, red lionfish, butterflyfish, zebra turkey fish, and anemonefish are all visible within the Pinnacle. You can also spot moray eels and sea snakes. As for coral, gorgonian fans are abundant in this area and often harbor some of the fish and sea snakes found here.


Advanced Boat reef Wall Drift

Mapating

Mapating, better known as the Shark Cave, is said to be the original dive spot in the Philippines. It’s not for the faint-hearted though as even experienced divers find this site challenging. The currents are almost always strong and the dive reaches depths of 30 meters (98 feet). There is a thriving population of pelagic life and more sharks than you can shake your camera at. It’s a popular spot for macro photography so don’t forget your lenses. Diving is conducted here all year round.

Things to see:

This wall has coral, sponges, sea whips, and sea fans jutting out from its face, which makes it excellent for posed diver and coral photographs. Hammerhead sharks, white tip sharks, and whale sharks populate the area, with the latter slightly less abundant. Note that the sharks are timid, and won’t bother you if you visit them.


Advanced Boat reef Wall Shark

Mainit Point

This is an excellent Philippines dive spot for divers of all skill levels and a perennial favorite among beginners. With shallow waters that are easy to navigate, it’s easy to see why; you’ll be able to see coral and animals here without having to dive too deep or too far from the drop point. The currents are mild or completely non-existent. A highlight of Mainit Point is its nearby hot springs. Water temperatures typically range between 27 and 30 degrees Celcius (81-86 Fahrenheit).

Things to see:

Mainit Point is underrated in terms of wildlife and a greater variety of creatures make their home here than many divers think. Colorful and robust hard corals hide nudibranchs, good news for slug lovers and macro photographers, and sharks are not uncommon. Keep your eyes peeled for frogfish, turkey fish, the elusive mantis shrimp, and ribbon eels.


Beginner Boat reef Macro

Hole in the Wall

This mountain-like coral formation is best suited to advanced divers due to strong currents. It’s a spectacular place for macro photography and if you like, you can dive it at night. At 18 meters (60 feet) there is a small cave to explore that houses both coral and fish. It gets its name from an odd, circular gap in the rock that experienced divers enjoy flying through. This is a site you’ll want to visit more than once as you won’t be able to take it all in with a single trip.

Things to see:

Visible at Hole in the Wall are white gorgonian fans, basket sponges, pink soft coral, and tree ferns. You can also find feather stars and tubeworms. As for fish, look for frogfish, snappers, sweetlips, bass and more.


Advanced Boat reef Wall Drift Night

Dolphin House

Dolphin House, unfortunately, isn’t home to any dolphins but that’s no reason to shy away from it! To make up for the lack of porpoises, there is an abundance of fascinating life instead. Plus, it’s a nice, chill spot for beginners seeking a relaxed dive. This Philippines dive features a wall with small caves and a sandy slope, both are easy to navigate around. The currents range between non-existant to slight so divers won’t feel any resistance. The maximum depth of this dive is 28 meters (92 feet).

Things to see:

You can find big-eye trevally, frogfish, red lionfish and pipefish. The highlight is the range of turtle species you can spot including green sea turtles, hawksbill turtles, and loggerhead turtles.


Beginner Boat reef Wall Cave

Copton Point

A wreckage with a twist, Copton Point’s main feature is a sunken airplane. What many don’t know is that the plane was deliberately stripped of all its parts and placed here as an underwater attraction in 1993. There is a lot to observe at Copton Point but most come for the wreck. With the plane resting at around 25 meters (40ft) divers with an Advanced certification will find it easy to get that prime cockpit photo.

Things to see:

The frame of the sunken plane is cool to dive around. Sea fans and staghorn corals appear like tables, and you can also find string coral and sea whip. As for animals, Copton Point is home to damselfish, triggerfish, sweetlips, emperors, pufferfish and spotted eagle rays.


Advanced Boat reef Wreck

Talisay Wall

You’ll find beautiful wildlife here and Talisay Wall is impressive in its formation with topographical features including canyons and deep slopes. This Philippines site is suitable for shallow dives, deep dives, and snorkeling. It’s also the perfect challenge for beginners. Some areas of this dive site are dark, so a torch is a handy bit of kit here. The currents are moderate and the site reaches a maximum depth of 30 meters (98 feet).

Things to see:

It’s likely that you’ll spot schools of batfish, triggerfish, and mackerel. Turtles and barracudas also populate this area, and if you’re lucky (or have a guide with you), you could see the famous mandarin fish. Leather corals and elephant ears are prominent.


Beginner Boat reef Wall Macro

Small Lagoon to Big Lagoon

Every aspect of this dive site is accommodating to beginners — even those who are just starting out. It’s shallow, the current is barely noticeable and to top it off, the drift dive is breathtaking. A cool and diverse population of marine life greets divers as the gentle current pushes them along. The maximum depth is 18 meters (59 feet), water temperatures are mild, and it features the beautiful La Laguna Wall. One of the best sites for exploratory diving and you can challenge yourself at different depths.

Things to see:

Creatures include frogfish, sergeant majors, fusiliers, and cardinalfish. Lionfish and scorpionfish are known to hunt here as well. In stronger currents, you might find surgeonfish, trevally, and even turtles. Sea fans are most prominent along the wall and there’s the wreckage of a small speedboat to be found.


Beginner Boat reef Wall Drift

There are so many diving destinations to choose from worldwide, but plunging into the wonderful waters of the Philippines is a place you can’t pass up.

The Philippines boasts hundreds of diving spots lying along its sea beds.

This is the Philippines

The Republic of the Philippines can be found in the western Pacific Ocean with Taiwan to the north, Vietnam to the west, and Indonesia to the south.

The Philippines is often visited for its fabulous diving spots and destinations and is known as the country with one of the longest coastlines in the world, ranking 5th overall.

See the complete list: 36 Reasons to Go Diving In The Philippines

There are more than 7,107 islands making up the Philippines and has become a number one choice by both foreign and local divers in search of beautiful natural marine resources like picturesque coral architectures, colorful schools of fish, just to name a few.

You may also try Diving In Thailand.

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park

Known for its thousands of colorful marine species, the famous Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park has been named as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Watch this video of Tubbataha Reef.

There are many amazing and untouched islands that provide the greatest places for divers in search of an unforgettable diving adventure.

The following are some of dive spots in the Philippines you definitely want to put on your list:

Cebu: The Queen City of the South

Cebu is a center for trade, commerce and tourism. However, the Cebuano communities still brag about their well known diving spots left somewhat untouched by pollution and potential dangers of industrial progress despite the fact of being a highly industrialized region in the Visayas.

Some of the primary and most popular dive spots in Cebu include Malapascua, which is located on Cebu’s northern coast, being known for its species of rays and sightings of thresher sharks.

Another dive site to go diving in the Philippines, highly preferred by beginner divers who want to try night diving is Dakit-Dakit. This spot has incredibly diverse collection of marine animal and plant life, which satisfies your quest for the ultimate diving experience.

Diving in the Philippines with sea snails

The ‘Warty/Little Egg Cowry’ sea snail thrives in Malapascua- Credit: Andan

Bohol: The Island Paradise

Local divers and foreign divers have been coming to Bohol to visit year after year because of its magnificent places to scuba dive. Some of these dive spots include the Balicasag Black Forest and Balicasag Diver’s Heaven.

  • Balicasag Black Forest – named for its thick corners of unusual black corals along with colorful fish that include barracuda and butterfly fish.
  • Balicasag Diver’s Heaven – often visited because of its amazing and colorful coral gardens, crystal clear blue waters, and picturesque spots for avid photographers.
Diving in the Philippines with whale shark

A whale shark up close in Donsol Philippines – Credit: Kjersti Joergensen

Boracay: The Beach Capital of the Philippines

Boracay possesses thousands of marine species that makes up a rich community of underwater life and breathtaking and peaceful white sandy beaches. There are a wide variety of accommodation options for divers that range from modest beach huts up to five-star hotels.

Do you know How To Become An Environmentally Friendly Diver?

The location of Crocodile Island is regarded as one of the premier diving sites. Having a throng of aquatic species and numerous coral reefs, this makes it a preferred spot for divers to visit.

Greeting your eyes as you swim through the canyons and crevices of the Laurel Island are vibrant species of fish that include Sergeant Majors and Emperor Fish. This makes for a truly amazing Boracay experience while diving in the Philippines.

Diving in the Philippines Boracay Island

Divers getting ready on a banca along the shores of Boracay beach – Credit: Public Domain

Puerto Galera: The Pearl of Mindoro

Experience Sabang Point, located in Puerto Galera, Mindoro where you can dive around the clock. Sabang Point is a great place for night diving, which is conveniently situated and easily accessed. It is especially spectacular during full moon.

Both beginner and expert divers will appreciate batfish and surgeonfish schools, which cover the ridges and walls of this dive site.

Here’s A Scuba Diver’s Impact On A Coral Reef.

The Boulders, a network of underwater tunnels and caves that are sanctuaries to large Pelagics, which consists of majestic rays and sharks, is another pride of Puerto Galera.

The Philippines, known as Asia’s refuge of underwater wonders, is surely the Pearl of the Orient Seas with all of its picturesque beauty.

Have you ever dived in the Philippines? Tell us about it!

10 Comments

  1. Melissa

    We went to the Philippines last year, and it was so great! Throughly world calss diving! Diving Tubbataha Reefs is the best I have ever tried. Big big recommendations from Oregon. Happy thanksgiving to you all!

  2. Torben Lonne

    Thank you for sharing.
    It sounds like an amazing trip you had! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

  3. Seth

    I have 3 days in Manila next weekend Fri-Sat-Sun, then fly back to the states. Is there good day-trip diving anywhere near Manila?

  4. Robin McCoy

    I gotta go. was planning a trip last year but unfortunately it was canceled. Now I want even more! Thanks ????

  5. Torben Lonne

    Sorry to hear that. Hope you get the chance soon! Thanks for sharing Robin.

  6. Anna W Berggren

    You dive in some of the best divespots in the area, Moalboal, Liloan, Santander, Sumilon Island, Balicasag Island, Alone Beach, Panglao Island, Siquijor Island, Apo Island, Dauin and other dive spots along the coast of Negros. In January I was joining an amazing trip with dolphins company, whalesharks, beautiful coral gardens and fishes I never seen before. It was a small boat so if you are 10 friends you get the boat for yourselves. Enjoy!

  7. Tony Vella

    Dived the Philippines much during early 70s. Nasugbu Batangas, was fabulous, Anilao, Mactan, Cebu islands .. miss those places and my diving partner, Timmy Sevilla, who is sadly gone to better diving areas in the sky.

  8. johnny

    Tubbataha 1 apu reff 2 cebu moalboal 3 coron 4 malapascua 5
    Boracay yapak ok, Puerto galera ok,
    Anilao ???? must check it out.

  9. MICHEL BARBESOLLE

    It’s too bad your article is not mentionning Punta Ballo, Sipalay in the province of Negros Occidental (Visayas). This place was declared “marine sanctuary” by former president Gloria Arroyo who is an expert diver and visited the place several times. Punta Ballo with its fabulous white sand beach and colourful reefs is comparable to Phuket or Boracay but without the crowds.

  10. black bathroom tap

    Interesting, you are doing a good work

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *