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The 10 Best Dive Sites in the Philippines

The 10 Best Dive Sites in the Philippines

With so many islands to explore, it makes sense that the Philippines is one of the best diving destinations in the world. Spectacular reefs, whale sharks, mantas, and underwater UNESCO World Heritage sites invite divers into the crystal clear waters of the Pacific. But which are the best dive sites in the Philippines?

While nearly any destination will yield amazing scuba diving, the best diving holidays in the Philippines are found aboard liveaboard diving vessels. These well-appointed yachts will transport you to otherwise unreachable reefs and allow you to dive the best sites across several islands in just a short amount of time.

Here are our ultimate recommendations for the 10 best dive sites in the Philippines. You won’t want to miss these!

1. Amos Rock – Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park

One of the most remote diving destinations in the Philippines, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is only reachable by liveaboard between March and June. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and boasts 600 species of fish, 360 species of coral, 13 whale and dolphin species, and 11 species of shark.

Underwater reefscape with large, colourful gorgonians to the foreground, abundant reef fish in the midground, and sunlight filtering through deep, turquoise surface in the background.

You’ll need a week to explore all the sites, but don’t miss Amos Rock where a gorgonian-covered wall hosts a variety of soft corals and massive schools of fish. The area is famous for its large reef sharks.

Dive Type: Reef
Recommended Level: Intermediate
Featured Creatures: Reef sharks, groupers and massive schools of reef fish

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2. Monad Shoal – Malapascua

As the Philippines’ best shark dive, Monad Shoal is home to regular sightings of thresher sharks. At 100 feet (30 meters), divers are nearly guaranteed at least one observation of the crazy-tailed shark over two diving days.

This is the most consistent site in the world for thresher sharks, and happens to be the only place a thresher shark was photographed giving birth. Grab your gear and head to this tiny paradise for a thrill of a dive. Read everything you need to know about diving in Malapascua here.

Dive Type: Shoal
Recommended Level: Advanced
Featured Creatures: Thresher Sharks

3. Canyons – Puerto Galera

Easily accessible from Manila, Puerto Galera is a diving paradise with crystal clear waters, abundant marine life and a variety of diving environments.

While there are several dive sites worth note, the most sought after is Canyons. Here, currents sweep divers through three gorgeous canyons covered in a variety of soft corals and sponges. Take your time inside these structures to find large schools of fish including barracudas, batfish, snappers, emperors and trevally. 

Dive Type: Drift
Recommended Level: Advanced
Featured Creatures: Barracuda, batfish, snappers, trevally and emperors

Map showing the 10 best dive sites in the Philippines
Map showing the locations of the 10 best dive sites in the Philippines

4. Apo 29 – Apo Reef Natural Park

Known to be the second largest coral reef in the world, Apo Reef Natural Park is the second UNESCO World Heritage site reef in the Philippines. It is quite a journey from the main islands, so you’ll find Apo Reef is also best dived from a liveaboard.

Be sure to include Apo 29 in your dive plan – it’s often considered one of the best yet most challenging dive sites in the area. The large seamount rises to 82 feet (25 meters) below sea level.

Here you might spot various reef sharks, thresher sharks, hammerheads, manta rays and schools of pelagic fish. The best time to visit is between November and May, and be aware that many dive operators require 100 dives as a prerequisite for a dive safari to Apo Reef. 

Dive Type: Seamount
Recommended Level: Advanced
Featured Creatures: Manta rays, reef sharks, hammerheads and thresher sharks

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5. Manta Bowl – Ticao Pass, Donsol

An underwater shoal covering 7 hectares of flat area, Manta Bowl sits between the plankton-rich waters of the Ticao and Burias Passes. With constantly flowing current, the alley has become a magnet for manta rays as both a cleaning and feeding station.

The best time to spot these graceful creatures is between December and May. Other occasional visitors include massive whale sharks, hammerheads and tiger sharks. 

Dive Type: Drift (with reef hooks)
Recommended Level: Intermediate
Featured Creatures: Manta rays

6. Okikawa Maru – Coron Bay, Palawan

Sometimes referred to as the “Poor Man’s Chuuk Lagoon,” Coron Bay served as a brief harbor for several Japanese warships during World War II. In September 1944, 11 of these ships were sunk by an Allied air attack.

Today, these wrecks are fascinating dive sites, and one of the most accessible is the Okikawa Maru, a 525 feet (160 meter) long tanker. The top of the ship’s superstructure sits at 32 feet (10 meters) below the surface, making this a great wreck for all levels. Just be aware that strong currents are occasionally present. 

Dive Type: Wreck
Recommended Level: Beginner
Featured Creatures: Macro life

7. Coconut – Apo Island

Not to be confused with Apo Reef, Apo Island is located off of Dauin, near Dumaguete. The entire area is a world-class diving destination, but drift-lovers will want to add Coconut to their must-dive list. You’ll soon realise why it’s one of the best dive sites in the Philippines!

Aerial view of a small rocky outcrop in vibrant blue water, in Apo Island, Philippines.

Locally called the Washing Machine, this site isn’t for the faint of heart. But you’re sure to see LOTS of interesting marine life, including huge schools of pelagic fish, banded sea kraits and sea turtles. Occasionally bait balls form. So find a sheltered spot and watch the action unfold.

Dive Type: Drift
Recommended Level: Advanced
Featured Creatures: Barracuda, trevally, sea kraits and sea turtles

8. Yapak – Boracay

There’s more to Boracay than powdering white sand beaches that stretch on for as far as the eye can see. The diving around this paradise is also great, and the best site is Yapak. You never know what you might see along this 106-foot (32-meter) wall.

Drift along looking out to the blue for tuna and sharks that float effortlessly by. Turn to the wall and search for macro life, including colourful nudibranchs and pygmy seahorses. If you are extremely lucky, you might even get a glimpse of the strange mola mola ascending from the depths.

Dive Type: Wall
Recommended Level: Advanced
Featured Creatures: Tuna, pygmy seahorses and nudibranchs

9. Divers’ Heaven – Balicasag

A coral reef paradise, Balicasag is a short boat ride from Bohol. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that one of their favourite dive sites around this small island is Divers’ Heaven, a wall dive between 30 and 130 feet (10 and 40 meters).

A turtle swims away from the camera in crystal blue water, in one of the best dive sites in the Philippines at Balicasag island.

Large schools of fish such as jacks and barracuda populate the area and are seemingly indifferent to divers. Because currents are light and the depth can be determined by the diver, this is a great site for beginners.

Dive Type: Wall
Recommended Level: Beginner
Featured Creatures: Jacks, barracuda and reef fish

10. Manit Muck – Anilao

The best night dive on our list, Manit Muck is one of several worthwhile dive sites in Anilao. Also known as Secret Bay, this site may even rival some of the muck diving found in Indonesia.

At any time of day, you might find Ambon scorpion fish, ghost pipefish, Wonderpus octopus, mantis shrimp and nudibranchs. But be sure to dive Manit Muck at night to see this environment come to life. The most life is concentrated between 10 and 70 feet (3 and 21 meters).

Dive Type: Muck/Night
Recommended Level: Beginner
Featured Creatures: Mantis shrimp, octopus, nudibranchs, seahorses and pipefish

Now, isn’t it time you booked your dive trip to the Philippines?

And don’t forget to join our GTS discount membership to save some serious cash on diving in the Philippines – and the rest of the world too!

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