Top things to do in the Philippines
Discover all the adventures you can experience in the Philippines
Photo (right) by Apo Reef Natural Park
Sitting in the middle of the Coral Triangle, the Philippines is one of the best diving destinations in the world. Its waters are filled with various corals, fish, and other marine life that no two diving spots in the Philippines are alike. Its role as a harbor for many ships during the war also means there are several options for those who want to experience wreck diving. With over 7,000 islands, a dive site is accessible wherever you are in the Philippines.
Diving in Malapascua Cebu, diving in Anilao Batangas, diving in Apo Island Negros Oriental, and diving in Puerto Galera Oriental Mindoro, have become popular with divers around the world. Some divers also go Tubbataha Reef diving or Coron wreck diving.
For those who have visited all these popular scuba diving sites in the Philippines and want to try something new, we've compiled a list of underrated places in the Philippines where you can explore the country's underwater attractions through scuba diving tours.
If you're a beginner who wants to learn to dive or an experienced diver who is looking for unique fun diving experiences, add these underrated diving spots in the Philippines:
Luzon is home to several of the country’s top diving destinations, including Tubbataha Reef and Coron in Palawan. For those who live in Metro Manila, Batangas is also a favorite diving destination because not only is it accessible, but it also has several dive sites including Anilao, the nudibranch capital of the Philippines, and Valle Verde Passage, which is home to a variety of marine species. Those who have tried diving in these popular dive spots will enjoy discovering new underwater worlds to explore with the following destinations.
Subic Bay may not be the first place to come to mind when you think of scuba diving in the Philippines, but many dive enthusiasts have flocked to this area for its wrecks. Under Subic Bay's waters, you'll find several ship and aircraft wrecks, including SS Oryoku Maru. The Japanese ship was sunk during World War II, and now its wreckage lies near Alava Pier. This dive site, along with most of the other wreck diving sites in the area, requires Advanced Open Water diving certification.
Those looking for scuba diving holidays for beginners will still be able to enjoy a couple of wreck diving sites like El Capitan and the Landing Fract Utility, both of which have a minimum depth of less than 10 meters. You'll also find different kinds of fish in Subic's waters, including groupers and jacks.
Another emerging destination for diving in the Philippines is Marinduque. If you want a quiet diving trip, this island that lies between Tayabas Bay and the Sibuyan Sea may be one of your best options. The province is located near the Verde Island Passage, which is considered the Center of the Center of Marine Biodiversity. Despite this, you won't find people crowding in Marinduque tourist spots.
There are several dive sites located in the province's waters, and if you want to see something truly different, head to Torrijos, Marinduque. Here, you'll find barracudas and groupers, as well as a giant sunken morion statue in the underwater museum. Those who want to experience a fun dive can learn here as well. Experienced divers can also check out Elephant Island, Marinduque, which is home to a variety of corals and fish.
This dive site is often labeled as Manta Bowl Ticao Pass Donsol, as it is found between Ticao Island in Masbate and the southwestern coast of Sorsogon. As its name suggests, this Diving spot in the Philippines is home to manta rays.
The marine protected area serves as a cleaning, feeding, and mating area for the majestic creatures, which can be seen all year round. Whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, and thresher sharks can also be found in the area, but their appearance is more seasonal.
The currents here can be really strong, so it is recommended for advanced and experienced divers.
Photo by Apo Reef Natural Park
Apo Reef is the largest atoll-like reef in the country and one of the largest coral reef systems in the world. It is also on the tentative list to become one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines. While there are some dive sites in Apo Reef that beginner divers can enjoy, diving in the area is recommended for advanced and experienced divers because the currents here can be strong and unpredictable.
Photo by Apo Reef Natural Park
The clarity of the water here is excellent, and you won't have a hard time spotting snappers, moray eels, manta rays, napoleon fish, and even sharks. A dive trip in Apo Reef is best enjoyed via liveaboards so you can spend more time exploring the waters. Day trip dives are still possible, but since the reef is around 30KM off the coast, a day tour will take up your entire day.
Photo by DIVE Batanes
You can't go wrong with a trip to Batanes as it is one of the top tourist spots in Luzon. The province may be more known for its rolling hills, lighthouses, and other Batanes tourists spots, but it is also a great place to learn how to dive as there are dive resorts that offer discover scuba diving experiences.
The waters of Batanes are home to nudibranch and trevallies, as well as fields of Pavona corals. You can see some of these, as well as other marine life, in dive sites like Trevallies Lair and Canyons. You can dive from the shore or from the boat, but take note that if you're diving from a boat, the trip going to the dive site may be bumpy because of Batanes' strong waves.
Some of Bicol's top tourist attractions are Mt. Mayon in Legazpi and its islands and beaches, and it's no surprise that the region is also home to several dive sites. While you'll find whale sharks in Donsol, you'll also find other spectacular marine animals like manta rays, thresher sharks, hammerhead sharks, tuna, barracudas, and seahorses in the waters of Bicol.
Apart from Manta Bowl, divers who want to explore Bicol should visit Catanduanes, Calaguas, and Donsol, as these spots are where you'll find diverse flora and fauna. However, do note that not all areas here have dive shops, so you may have to bring your own gear.
Photo by San Agustin Romblon Tourism
Despite the many Romblon tourist spots, the province is still one of the underrated destinations in the Philippines. One of the best diving spots in the province is Blue Hole in Romblon Island Romblon. It is located off the coast of Tablas Island, and the entrance to the tunnel sits around 7 meters below the surface, which means you can see it from above the water. Venturing into the tunnel itself is only recommended for experienced divers, as it is around 30 meters long. Inside the tunnel, you'll be able to see corals and fish.
Another noteworthy dive spot in Romblon is Banton Island, home to several dive sites, including Dos Hermanas Islands. Unlike the Blue Hole though, there are no dive shops near the area, so if you want to dive here, you'll have to bring your own diving gear.
Many tourists who want to go diving in the Visayas Region go to Boracay, Cebu, Bohol, or Apo Island in Dauin, Dumaguete. Apart from diving, there are plenty of other things to do in Boracay, like parasailing and kiteboarding, making it a well-rounded destination. On the other hand, there are many diving spots in Cebu and in Bohol that divers can visit in a short amount of time. Like these popular destinations, these underrated destinations in the region will let you enjoy your trip beyond just diving.
Photo by Danjugan Island Sanctuary
Above water, this 43-hectare island in Negro Occidental is already a paradise. It is home to white-sand beaches, limestone formations, mangrove forests, caves, and lagoons. Underwater, it's just as spectacular, if not more. Divers (and even snorkelers) may encounter giant clams, turtles, sharks, and other fish. There are hundreds of species of fish and corals on the island's waters alone.
The island is a protected wildlife and marine sanctuary managed by The Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation, Inc, (PRRCFI), and as such, you need to arrange your trip with them. No walk-ins are allowed. The money you pay for your visit goes directly to helping the organization's conservation efforts on the island. PRRCFI's packages come with gear for snorkeling and skin diving, but those who want to scuba dive here can still do so with the help of the organization's partner dive shop. Definitely one of the Visayas tourist spots you shouldn't miss.
Leyte is most known for Kalanggaman Island which has a long stretch of white sandbar, but it also has incredible marine life. The best dive spots on the island of Leyte can be found in its southern area. Diving in Panaon Island, Libagon and Sogod Bay will give you the chance to spot whale sharks, manta rays, and even dolphins!
Those comfortable diving in strong currents should also check out the Napantao Fish Sanctuary. Apart from an abundance of fish like barracudas, the sanctuary is also home to turtles and beautiful corals like Gorgonian fans.
If you're a beginner or are diving with one, the best dive spot to explore is Limasawa Island. Here you can see a variety of fish and coral, as well as deep canyons. Don't underestimate the currents though, as they can be strong in some areas.
Photo by Salamangka Beach and Dive Resort
Although this island province is small, it has over 20 dive sites for all kinds of divers to enjoy. The best part is a lot of these dive sites are not too far from the shore, so reaching them will not require too much effort. Experienced divers who want to see Spanish dancers, giant frogfish, and majestic corals should dive at Tonga Point, which has depths of up to 65 meters.
Beginners can try diving at Sawang, a dive site known for its soft and hard corals and a variety of marine life, including turtles, nudibranchs, flatworms, and cuttlefish.
There are also a couple of wreck diving sites in Siquijor, but both are for advanced divers. In the waters of Larena Port, you'll find the wreck of a small Japanese landing vessel, while near Silinog Island, you can dive down to see the wreck of the cargo vessel MV Geopeter.
Places like Siargao, Pink Beach in Zamboanga, and Mount Apo in Davao are usually what most tourists visit in Mindanao, but the whole region itself has become an emerging destination for diving. The region’s waters are thriving with marine life including majestic creatures like manta rays, hammerhead sharks, and octopuses that diving here will guarantee a one-of-a-kind experience.
Photo by Sarangani Divers
The province of Sarangani actually got its name from Sarangani Bay, one of the busiest ports in the Philippines. There are four main dive sites in the bay alone. If you want to dive at Tinoto Wall Sarangani Bay, head to the Lemunlay House Reef. Here you can spot moray eels and nudibranchs. Advanced divers should see the coral gardens of Maasim Reef. If you're lucky, you might even spot white-tipped sharks!
Tuka Marine Park and Rocky Beach are beginner-friendly dive sites. Parrotfish, turtles, and batfish can be found in Tuka Marine Park, and with some shallow areas, even snorkelers will be able to enjoy a trip here. Rock Beach, on the other hand, is home to vibrant and colorful sea fan corals and fish.
Photo by Dakak Park and Beach Resort
Although Dakak is mostly known for its white sand beach and sunset views, a lush landscape also awaits those who want to explore its waters. It is home to at least 10 dive sites, most of which are best explored from March to September.
Photo by Dakak Park and Beach Resort
Beginners can try Coral Garden, where you can find different fish among the soft corals. More advanced divers can Cesar's Reef, where you may encounter Napoleon wrasses, snappers, and barracudas. Octopuses and sponges can be found in Octopus Wall, while crustaceans and Spanish dancers can be found on a night dive at the Caves. Experienced divers can also check out The Wreck, a sunken passenger ship that is now home to snappers and groupers.
Photo by the Department of Tourism
Many who have experienced diving in Camiguin claim that Jigdup Reef is one of the best dive sites in the province. Also known as Jigdup Slope or Jigdup Shoal, here you can see different hard and soft corals, triggerfish, lionfish, and sometimes, manta rays. Coral Garden Camiguin is perfect for all kinds of divers, including beginners, as it has an average depth of 20 meters. Other dive sites worth checking out are Kabuan Point, Old Volcano, and Sunken Cemetery.
Samal Island is one of the top tourist spots in Mindanao, but it's mostly known for its beaches and islands. It is also is one of the best places to try Davao diving as it has sites that are appropriate for all types of divers. In between dives, you can also check out other tourist spots in Davao.
One of the most recommended dive sites here is Talikud Island, where you can find colorful corals, starfish, jellyfish, anemonefish, and seahorses. The best part is this dive site can be enjoyed by beginners and advanced divers. You can also check out other dive sites like Mansoud Wall Davao and Ligid Caves Davao, which is home to two cave systems.
You won't have difficulty finding divemasters or gear to rent as there are many dive shops in and around Samal Island, including Carabao Dive Center Davao. There are also many options for Samal Island hotels and resorts.
Explore The Emerging and Underrated Diving Spots in the Philippines
There are endless diving destinations in the Philippines worth exploring for both beginners and certified divers. If you're new to diving in the Philippines, you can check out popular dive sites like Dauin Negros Oriental, Canyons Puerto Galera, or Divers Heaven Balicasag, but those looking for a different adventure should check out the dive sites mentioned above. There are many more reasons why you should visit the Philippines, and booking Philippine tour packages to the best places to visit in the Philippines will help you discover all of them.