Home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the Philippines has easily become synonymous with the idea of a tropical getaway. Along with the powdery shores, the archipelago also boasts some of the best snorkeling and diving destinations across the globe.
In recognition of the flourishing marine ecosystems that thrive here, the Philippines was also named the "World’s Leading Dive Destination” during the 2023 World Travel Awards.
While scuba diving is one of the best ways to explore the country’s waters, non-divers can still explore the rich Philippine marine life by going on Philippines snorkeling tours instead. Some of the best places to go snorkeling in the Philippines include Coron in Palawan, Balicasag Island in Bohol, and Anilao in Batangas.
To make the most of your time in the Philippines, we've listed in this article the best snorkeling places in the Philippines that you can add to your itinerary.
1. Moalboal, Cebu (Sardine Run)
Moalboal is a seaside town located along the southwestern coast of Cebu Island in the Visayas region. The town is known as one of the best places to visit in the Philippines, and a popular stop in Cebu tours thanks to the world-famous Moalboal sardine run that takes place just off Panagsama Beach.
This natural phenomenon involves millions of sardines swimming in sync with each other, making for a breathtaking sight underneath the water's surface.
The best part is that it happens year-round, so you can witness it during any trip to Cebu. Thanks to this unique attraction, Moalboal has easily become the best place to go snorkeling in Cebu and one of the top Cebu tourist spots.
- Find the best flights to Cebu
As you snorkel around the waters by Panagsama Beach, you may even get to spot a few sea turtles if you're lucky! You can also hop in a boat and sail to Pescador Island, another of the best snorkeling sites in Cebu. In the island's surrounding waters, you can find a wide array of animals, such as schools of jack, tuna, and frogfish.
Along with snorkeling in and around Moalboal, other popular ways to discover marine life in the province is by booking Cebu tour packages that include Nalusuan Island snorkeling and Oslob whale shark watching. Both areas are also popular Cebu snorkeling spots thanks to their clear waters and lively reefs.
2. Coron, Palawan (Shipwreck Sites)
When it comes to snorkeling in Palawan, Coron is undoubtedly the best destination. Coron sits in the northern tip of Palawan and is home to several shipwreck sites that have transformed into artificial reefs and now house dozens of species of marine animals.
While most of these wrecks are best explored through diving, the area's clear waters make it possible for non-divers to enjoy the underwater sights just by snorkeling above them.
- Find cheap flights to Coron and flights to El Nido
- Book transfers from Coron to El Nido
- Stay in the best resorts in Coron, Palawan
Each shipwreck has unique features, so you get a new experience whenever you visit one. Along with these historic dive sites that date back to World War II, Coron Palawan snorkeling allows you to see beyond the usual scenery above the water.
By snorkeling, you can discover more popular islands in Coron and other tourist destinations like Siete Pecados. This marine park comprises seven small islands, which are all surrounded by vibrant coral reefs, making it one of the best Coron snorkeling sites and a regular stop for most Coron tour packages and Coron tours.
Outside of Coron, you can also book other Palawan tour packages and go El Nido snorkeling in Matinloc Island. This island is a common stop on an El Nido island hopping tour C and is one of the best snorkeling spots in El Nido since its surrounding waters feature a variety of hard and soft corals.
3. Apo Island, Negros Oriental (Swim with Turtles)
Despite being a small island, its surrounding waters are a haven for different marine animals thanks to the community-based conservation efforts that have been carried out over the years.
Today, the island's waters are home to around 400 corals and more than 650 kinds of fish, making it one of the top snorkeling spots in the Philippines. Along with the variety of fish you can find here, the area is also known for sea turtle sightings.
For the best chances of seeing a sea turtle swim by you while you snorkel in Apo Island, you should head to Turtle Point. As its name suggests, this area is a well-known spot where sea turtles like to pass through and is a must-visit area when on an Apo Island snorkeling trip.
Since the island is a protected area, turtles have come to know it as a safe place to eat and rest. When looking out for turtles, try swimming around areas covered with algae as the turtles, specifically Green Turtles, love to snack on algae.
However, keep in mind that while sea turtles are known to frequent the area, sightings are never guaranteed as it depends on several factors such as weather, water temperature, and more.
4. Coral Garden, Camiguin
Camiguin sits in the middle of the Bohol Sea, about 100 KM north of Cagayan de Oro City in the Mindanao region. It is also called the "Island Born of Fire" as it is home to several volcanoes whose eruptions have reshaped the landscape over the years.
One of the most notable changes caused by one of its volcanoes is the Sunken Cemetery, which is a staple on most Camiguin tours. The land the cemetery and the nearby town were built on sunk below sea level in the 1870s when Mt. Vulcan erupted.
Despite its tragic past, the cemetery has since transformed into a beautiful and unique artificial reef that now helps the local marine life thrive. As you snorkel above this quiet seascape, you may also still see a handful of tombstones that have not been fully covered by corals. Along with visiting the sunken cemetery, another popular thing to do in Camiguin is to go on a Mantigue Island snorkeling tour.
Mantigue Island is located off the eastern coast of Camiguin and boasts powdery white sand and turquoise waters. However, the best thing about this island can only be seen by taking a peek beneath the water's surface as Mantigue sits in the middle of a protected marine sanctuary. Schools of various fish live in the surrounding waters as it is forbidden to go fishing here.
5. Balicasag Island, Bohol
Balicasag Island sits off the shore of the Panglao municipality by the southwestern tip of Bohol Island in the Visayas region. This almost perfectly round-shaped islet has been a marine sanctuary since 1985, which has allowed the surrounding underwater ecosystems to flourish.
Thanks to the efforts to protect the island, it has turned into a top Bohol snorkeling spot that is popular in many Bohol tour packages.
When you're going on a Balicasag Island snorkeling trip, you'll find yourself floating above colorful reefs filled with soft and hard corals that a wide array of sea critters call home. While you float and gently swim across the surface, you may also see parrotfish, different species of clownfish, and frogfish among the corals.
- Find the best flights to Bohol
Be careful to not swim too far away from the island as the area surrounding this Panglao snorkeling spot drops off to a wall about 6 to 18 meters from Balicasag's circumference. Juvenile sea turtles also frequent the area, so keep your eyes peeled for these gentle sea creatures when snorkeling in Panglao, which is among the best things to do in Bohol.
6. Apo Reef, Occidental Mindoro
Photo by Apo Reef Natural Park
The Apo Reef is the largest contiguous coral reef in the Philippines and the second largest one in the world after the famous Great Barrier Reef. This massive reef sits off the western coast of Occidental Mindoro in the Luzon region. It is also part of the Apo Reef Natural Park, which has been placed on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in recognition of its flourishing biodiversity.
Photo by Apo Reef Natural Park
While the reef is more popular among scuba and free divers, even non-divers can enjoy the area's vibrant underwater world just by snorkeling, as some corals are only around 4 to 10 meters deep.
For the best chances of discovering the different underwater animals that live along the reef, consider snorkeling by the reef wall, as this is where species like moray eels, sea turtles, and schools of fish tend to stay. You'll also be able to spot barracudas, squids, and giant napoleons, among others, as you float above the reef.
Apart from snorkeling, another popular activity to try during a visit to Apo Reef is dolphin watching as bottlenose dolphins have also been reported around the area. If you're lucky, these intelligent marine mammals may even swim close to your boats.
7. Coral Garden, Puerto Galera
Photo by Coral Gardens Resort & Dive Center
The Coral Garden is a popular dive site off the coast of San Antonio Island in Puerto Galera. True to its name, this Puerto Galera snorkeling spot boasts a wide array of corals set against powdery white sand. Some of the corals you can find here include giant plate corals, staghorn corals, and barrel sponges.
This Puerto Galera tourist spot is also home to a species of coral that was first found here. In honor of where it was discovered, scientists named the species Anacropora puertogalerae. To find it during your Puerto Galera tour, keep an eye out for brown twig-like corals with white tips while you snorkel.
There are also several soft corals here that maintain symbiotic relationships with various tropical fish like parrotfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, and more. Since the corals are located in shallow waters with a maximum depth of 12 meters, it's best to be aware of your surroundings while taking a peek beneath the water to avoid accidentally stepping on any corals.
On the other hand, the shallow waters make this spot not only a safe place for snorkeling but also for travelers who want to try scuba diving in Puerto Galera.
After exploring the Coral Garden, you can visit even more diving and snorkeling spots in the area by booking Puerto Galera tour packages. These tour packages include trips to an underwater cave as well as a stop at the local giant clam site, both perfect additions to a snorkeling adventure!
8. Tubod Marine Sanctuary, Siquijor
The Tubod Marine Sanctuary is located off the southwestern coast of Siquijor Island in the Visayas region. Since Siquijor is only a ferry ride away from Dumaguete, you can easily plan a visit to both destinations in one trip.
As a protected area, the sanctuary has transformed into a blossoming haven for a wide array of aquatic animals and has become one of the best Siquijor snorkeling spots. The entire sanctuary stretches for 3 hectares and boasts a massive coral reef where you'll find over 100 species of fish in its crystal waters.
The water here is shallow as well, so you can easily watch the schools of fish glide from one coral to the next. As you float along, you'll most likely spot angelfish, triggerfish, and even several clownfish hiding in nearby anemones and corals. Beyond the fish that call this sanctuary their homes, the protected area has allowed giant clams to steadily grow as well.
It's recommended to bring a camera or phone in a safe waterproof casing, too, so you can take photographs of the colorful underwater world. Make the most of your time as well by going on the best snorkeling Siquijor tours, which often come with rental gear for a hassle-free time exploring the sea.
Boracay Island in the Visayas region is synonymous with white sand beaches, pristine waters, and the ultimate tropical vacation. Beyond its world-famous White Beach, however, is a vast underwater ecosystem teeming with all kinds of fish, corals, and more. For a more complete experience on this beach destination, make sure to try snorkeling, as it's one of the top things to do in Boracay.
Some of the top places for Boracay snorkeling is its very own Coral Garden, which you can visit during Boracay island-hopping tours. Similar to the one in Puerto Galera, this marine haven allows different types of corals and sea critters to grow.
As you hop off your boat and plunge into the cool and clear waters, you'll find yourself floating above a vibrant seascape made up of hard and soft corals, schools of colorful fish, and even a handful of sea turtles if you're lucky.
Along with the Coral Garden, you can also sail to Angel Point. This snorkeling area in Boracay is generally known as a cliff-jumping spot, but if you take the time to gaze underwater, you'll find schools of fish feeding here too.
Outside of island-hopping, you can also head to snorkeling spots in Boracay that sit along its coast, like Puka Beach and Tambisaan Beach. These beaches are also included in the itineraries of most Boracay tours and Boracay tour packages, so you can easily visit them during your vacation.
10. Anilao, Batangas
Also known as the Nudibranch Capital of the Philippines, Anilao in Batangas is a hotspot of marine biodiversity. It is also the closest marine haven from the metro since it's only about 90 KM from Manila City. It also faces the Verde Island Passage, which is considered the center of the world's marine biodiversity.
Thanks to the area's abundance in marine life, it has become the top spot for diving and snorkeling in Batangas. Anilao Beach is also home to around 60 dive sites and is among the best beaches in Batangas, making it a great place to dive year-round.
Some of the best resorts in Batangas are also found along Anilao’s coast so you can easily plan a weekend getaway here when you get the itch to explore the sea. The coast is also a popular jump-off spot for island-hopping tours that can bring you to the different Batangas snorkeling spots around Anilao like Twin Rocks, Mainit Point, and Sombrero Island.
When you go on an Anilao Batangas snorkeling tour, you'll most likely be able to spot frogfish, flounders, and more. If the conditions are great, you may even get to spot a nudibranch or two as you snorkel at the top Anilao diving spots.
Explore the colorful reefs of the Philippines
Discover the incredible marine ecosystems hidden within the waters of the Philippines by snorkeling in any of these top snorkeling spots, with most located just a few meters away from the best islands in the Philippines. Immerse in the natural beauty of the tropics without any worries by booking all-inclusive Philippines vacation packages that will take you to the best beaches in the Philippines.
After getting a preview of the country’s rich seas through snorkeling, you can also explore the best diving spots in the Philippines. For a seamless and memorable adventure through underwater worlds, check out our Philippine travel guide ahead of time as well to learn more about what hidden worlds you can find above and beneath the waters of our archipelago.
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