The Philippines landing page on Planet Deepblu.
When Planet Deepblu was in development, it was a major task to identify the top twenty dive countries on Earth and write up some useful tips for each region. We did so through information submitted by users, so it seemed like a good second task to get some first-hand input about where to go in the one that came out on top, which was the Philippines.
A diver could spend a lifetime trying to explore the country, known for its lush reefs and diversity of wildlife, and several people have moved there to dedicate their lives to the dive. We tapped into Deepblu users again to see where to go, and what makes each place special. While the choice is never easy, we came up with a guide to some of the hottest spots, including links to their respective locations. Here’s what we found, leave your favorites in the comments.
A quick flight from Manila, Coron is a dive destination known not only for its multiple species of fish, but for the sheer number of wrecks in the area. Easily, according to several people I spoke with, the “best dive location in the Philippines,” it’s full of reefs and the life that lives within them. The most popular of these reefs is Seven Picados. It’s also much easier to get to than a lot of the other shipwreck diving sites in the region, so more divers can access it for a quick overnighter.
One popular wreck in Coron is the Akitsushima. This ship took four direct hits before finally sinking near Coron during World War 2. Over the years it has evolved into an artificial reef full of sea life, and many dive centers will allow those with an open water certification to head down for a peek in the calm waters; however, you’re going to need to be advanced to go through the wreck itself.
As I’m in the Deepblu office every day, this was an easy one. El Nido pops up on our live section every couple of hours, and with good reason. The area has so many sites that it’s going to be hard to get through all of them in one lifetime unless you’re a seasoned veteran who has devoted a lot of time to the Philippines. The place hardly ever comes with a strong current, and divers of all levels are kindly assisted by the plethora of dive shops available in the area. Like-minded folks are easy to find, as many have specifically come to enjoy diving.
Whether you’re looking for rays at Twin Rocks, turtles at Helicopter Island, or nudibranchs in Paglugaban, El Nido has something for you. In addition, it’s a great place to find tunnels, walls, and caves that will keep you exploring. If what you’re into is one-stop adventure, this is the area for you.
In my search for the finest dives in the area I talked to Pól Ó Cionnaith, a diving enthusiast, and he brought up Moalboal, which I hadn’t thought of before. What he told me piqued my interest.
“I had a great time diving at Moalboal on Cebu - they have an incredible wall-dive sardine run that you can literally walk out to, and pretty magical bioluminescent plankton for night-diving. We stayed at a small dive shop called Cebu Dive Centre, I would definitely go back.”
He went on to inform me that this area also included canyoning tours, climbing, and a wide array of other outdoor activities. He also noted that Dumaguete is a nice, walkable or bikeable retreat away from the crowds of Cebu.
If you hop over to the other side of Cebu you’ll find the south-central island of Bohol, which is surrounded on all shores by dive sites, dive centers, and pros to show you the way. In addition, several small, surrounding islands provide for a great deal of dive adventures.
One popular site for dive centers in the area, off of Panglao, is Balicasag. This luscious reef is filled with colors and species. Cuttlefish, parrotfish, and batfish thrive in this area. In addition, it’s a popular spot for barracuda and turtles. As with much of the Southern Philippines, calm waters make for a nice dive for just about anyone. Furthermore, for a small island, you’re in luck, because you can stay overnight and get away from pretty much everything else in the world at Balicasag Island Dive Resort. Rooms with views, so you can have a gaze and get excited for each day of diving. As typically noted… I wasn’t paid to say that. Over 400 dive logs and media on Planet Deepblu can fill you in with more.