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Apo Reef

Dive Map Apo Reef Merope RockHunter's RockApo IslandBinangaan Drop OffShark Ridge
Around 20km off the west coast of Mindoro Island is Apo Reef, a huge expanse of coral reef in the South China Sea.

This reef is in fact the second largest single coral reef in the world. The geography of the reef has created two internal lagoons, with spectacular plunging walls around the outside, comprising a total area of 34sq km.

The reef is a magnet for marine life, with plenty of Shark sightings, Manta Rays and many more impressive animals.
Lionfish Manta Ray Schooling Jacks Hawksbill Turtle Dive Map Apo Reef
 
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Manta Ray On the east side of Apo Reef is Shark Ridge. Sloping down to around 25m, this ridge is an excellent place to find Blacktip & Whitetip Reef Sharks. Manta Rays often cruise the area as well.

Going anti-clockwise around the reef, you come to Binangaan Drop-off. This impressive wall, dropping down to great depths, has beautiful gorgonians sea fans and a huge amount of life. Large Groupers, schools of Snapper & Bumphead Parrotfish can be seen here. Just off from the reef, plenty of pelagics, including large Tuna, can be spotted.

Continuing around the perimeter of the reef, the walls get even deeper, reaching around 900m on the northern side. Currents tend to be strongest on this northern side of the reef, but that brings plenty of action, with Manta Rays & Scalloped Hammerhead seen from time to time.

To the west of the main reef is Apo Island. Dwarfed by its neighbour, Apo Island is a match for its big brother underwater (this is not to be confused with Apo Island in the Visayas). Again, dramatic walls adorned with impressive corals are the main feature. The reef is simply teeming with life - Turtles are a common sight and numerous species of Shark can be seen. Manta Rays are known to visit as well.

Further west again is Hunters Rock. This island is completely submerged, starting at about 10m. The reef here is excellent with similar life to Apo, but the main draw, especially in June & July, are the Sea Snakes, or Banded Sea Kraits, that come here to breed in their thousands.

Nearby, Merope Rock is also a submerged rock that has no shortage of big fish, including plenty of Shark action. Hunters Rock & Merope Rock are only for experienced divers due to the lack of protection from currents. Apo 29 is another underwater sea mound for the advanced diver with lots of big-fish action.

Closer to the coast of Mindoro is Pandan Island. With one resort, it is the closest place from which to reach Apo Reef. It is frequently used for check dives and training dives, but this does not do it justice as the diving is surprisingly good, with gentle coral slopes providing shelter to all manner of interesting marine life.

In the past, Apo Reef has been as popular with local fishermen as with divers and, despite being declared a marine park in 1996, little was done to enforce this status. Now, hopefully, things are beginning to change and the area is starting to receive the protection it needs - and deserves.

  Schooling Snapper Reefscape Diver & Reef Whip Coral
 
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Apo Reef can be dived all year round, but June - October brings a higher chance of rain and rough seas.

It can be reached from little Pandan Island, 20km away, but is more usually dived from Puerto Galera 125km to the east. Liveaboards & Safaris often visit the area as well.
  • Puerto Galera

Dive Map Puerto GaleraDirectory Find Dive Centres in Puerto Galera

Originally a safe harbour for ships, Puerto Galera is now one of the Philippines' most famous & visited tourist areas, due to its lovely beaches and easy accessibility.

Dive Phuket  Dive
It is also one of the most famous diving areas, with many dive shops catering for beginners & experienced divers alike. Day trips are made to the many sites around Puerto Galera, including Verde Island. Safaris can be organised to Apo Reef to the west and occasionally further afield, such as Marinduque.

Stay Phuket  Stay
There is probably more choice of places to stay around Puerto Galera than any other dive spot in the Philippines, with hotels lining the beaches. White Beach has many budget options and Sabang beach is the bustling tourist centre of the region. The other beaches tend to be more relaxed and upmarket. A lot of resorts tend to be quite small with a few cottages on the beach.

Travel Phuket  Travel
To reach Puerto Galera take a flight to Manila, the Philippines capital. From there, head south through Luzon, either by car or bus to Batangas Pier. From here, you can take a car ferry or speedboat to Puerto Galera.

Do Phuket  Do
Away from the diving, there is plenty of activities to entertain you including lively nightlife, beautiful beaches, tours, watersports, shopping & even paintball.

 
Puerto Galera         
Philippines
Originally a safe harbour during typhoons, Puerto Galera has become one of the Philippines' most popular diving destinations. Around 40 dive sites have now been charted, ranging from easy dives to current-swept drifts for experienced divers looking for a thrill...

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Are you addicted to the thrill of big marine encounters? Do you crave up-close & personal encounters with gentle giants or apex predators? Then check out our guide to Asia's best spots for big fish encounters...

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