dive sites philippines

Dive Sites Philippines: Top 8 in the Country

The Philippines is a diver’s paradise with an incredible marine biodiversity.  From colorful reefs and fascinating shipwrecks to delicate barnacles and majestic whales, divers have plenty of underwater sights to enjoy in the country.  But with over 7,000 islands and hundreds of dive sites in the Philippines, which one should you visit?

Below are ten of the best Philippines dive sites you can explore, each offering a unique experience for divers from beginners to advanced.

1. Amos Rock, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park 

Diving Level: Advanced Open Water certification or higher

The Amos Rock is located in the North Atoll of Tubbataha Reefs National Park in the Philippines, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Otherwise known as the Southwest Rock, this wall dive site is a favorite of experienced divers with exhilarating currents, vibrant marine life, and intricate underwater formations surrounding the wall.

The dive begins with a mild slope featuring exotic corals, gradually transitioning into the spectacular wall. You can also spot sharks, rays, and turtles in this colorful dive site.

2. Moalboal, Cebu

Diving Level: Open Water Diver certification or higher

Moalboal is situated on the southwest coast of Cebu Island. It is a diver’s paradise known for its stunning underwater walls full of corals and rich biodiversity, including the famous family of sardines. All these fascinating dive sites in the town of Moalboal are just a short distance from the shore.

The wall dive can get exciting as currents can be strong.  You will get a view of vibrant corals, as well as gorgonian and purple fans. during your descent.  You can also see manta rays, sharks, and turtles during your dive.

Another unique diving adventure that you can experience in Moalboal is the “sardine run” where thousands of sardines move in synchronized patterns, creating a striking underwater spectacle.

3. Malapascua, Cebu

Diving Level: Open water to advanced diving certification

Going to the northern tip of Cebu is Malapascua Island – another paradise for divers. Among some of the best Philippines dive sites, the island has many interesting diving spots, including Monad Shoal, Kimud Shoal, Deep Rock, Gato Island, Lighthouse, and Lapuslapus. The Monad Shoal is known for its thresher shark encounters, while the Kimud Shoal allows you to see pygmy seahorses, frogfish, and nudibranchs. Deep Rock has underwater rock formations with various marine life, and Gato Island has an underwater tunnel where you can spot white-tip reef sharks. Finally, the Lighthouse diving site has a nearby reef with frogfish, moray eels, and lionfish, and Lapuslapus has beautiful coral gardens.

4. Apo Reef, Occidental Mindoro

Diving Level: Open water to advanced diving certification

Located in the Mindoro Strait, Apo Reef is a coral reef system in the western waters of Occidental Mindoro province in the Philippines.  It is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site and a well-known diving destination for locals and tourists alike.

The shallow waters by the reef feature vibrant coral gardens, while the deeper areas offer exciting pelagic sightings. You can expect to see schools of fish, sharks, and occasional sightings of mantas and whale sharks. The Apo Reef also features underwater caves and tunnels to explore, making it a unique and exciting diving experience.

5. Coron Bay, Palawan

Diving Level: Open water to advanced

Coron is a small town located on the island of Busuanga, in the northern part of Palawan province in the Philippines. This beautiful town is known for its natural beauty and popular dive sites.

You can find WWII shipwrecks that are scattered across the bay and are now covered in coral and teeming with marine life.  You can also expect to see a variety of fish, including barracuda, tuna, and snapper, as well as colorful coral formations and sea turtles.

6. Anilao, Batangas

Diving Level: Open water to advanced

Anilao, located in the province of Batangas, is one of the most popular dive sites in the Philippines, and for good reasons.  The waters are clear and the visibility is excellent, allowing you to explore the underwater world with ease. It is also a great place for underwater photographers to enjoy its small marine creatures.

Anilao has over 40 dive sites, each offering unique features. The famous Cathedral dive site is known for its large schools of fish and colorful corals.  Kirby’s Rock is another popular site where you can spot sea snakes, frogfish, and nudibranchs.

7. Dauin and Apo Island, Negros Oriental 

Diving Level: Open water diver to advanced

These two popular dive sites are located in Negros Island, south of Dumaguete City. If you love or want to try muck diving, you can explore Dauin with its sandy sea floors.  Here you will find tiny creatures great for macro photography, including nudibranchs, seahorses, and camouflaged creatures.

From the town of Dauin, you can ride a boat to reach Apo Island, where you can dive alongside sea turtles. You can also spot the iconic Boluarte Rock which offers stunning underwater rock formations. Finally, you can explore vibrant coral gardens, underwater caves, and swim-throughs in the beautiful Apo Island.

8. El Nido, Palawan

Diving Level: Open water to advanced

El Nido, located on the northern tip of Palawan Island, boasts some of the most breathtaking diving sites in the Philippines, including Bacuit Bay, where you can find stunning limestone cliffs, colorful reef fish, and vibrant macro marine life. If you are a beginner, you can head to Helicopter Island, which features shallow coral gardens and sandy slopes. Other interesting dive sites in El Nido include South Miniloc, Twin Rocks, and The Wall.

Best Philippines dive sites: Takeaway

The Philippines is truly a paradise when it comes to diving and exploring the underwater world. With the above list, you now know where to go and plan your diving trip to the best diving sites in the Philippines.