Dumaguete is a vibrant city in the south of Negros Island, within the Visayas. It is most famous for its university, however it is also the major dive base for trips to Apo Island Marine Sanctuary.
There are quite a few dive centres in the area, most of which are based either in Dumaguete itself or in Dauin just to the south. Day trips are made to all the sites in the area including Suquilor & Apo Island. Many of the dive centres are connected to resorts.
There is a good range of accommodation around Dumaguete catering for all budgets. Budget resorts tend to be close to the town with more upmarket resorts along the coast.
Dumaguete has a domestic airport which has regular flights to & from Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Once in Dumaguete, most of the resorts are no more than 30 minutes drive away and you may be able to arrange a transfer from the airport with a dive centre. It is also possible to reach the area from Cebu either by taxi, bus or boat.
Aside from diving, there is quite a lot to do around Dumaguete. The bustling town is very clean and has good shopping. In the surrounding area there are hot springs, jungle treks, lakes, waterfalls, pretty villages & even a golf course to enjoy. One of the most popular tours is to see Dolphins & Whales which can often be seen in the surrounding waters.
Sipalay City is located on the west coast of Negros in the Visayas, facing the Sulu Sea. It is one of the Philippines newest and most unspoilt destinations with a superb white sand beach and excellent diving nearby.
There are now around 5 dive centres in the area which make daily trips to the many dive sites around Sipalay. Some can arrange Safaris to destinations further afield.
There are now quite a few budget & mid-range options to choose from and also a few more upmarket places to stay. Many of the dive centres have or are connected to resorts and can organise your accommodation.
There is talk of an airport being built in Sipalay, but at present, the only way to reach the area is to travel by land from Dumaguete or Bacolod. Both Dumaguete & Bacolod have airports that connect with Manila. Dumaguete can be reached from Cebu.
Sipalay is a peaceful place and an idyllic holiday base. Aside from diving, swimming & snorkelling are popular and stunning sunsets can be enjoyed most evenings. Life is generally based around the sea, with plenty of beach activities.
Mactan Island is just to the east of Cebu City and is one of the most convenient places to dive in the country. It is also one of the country's most popular tourist spots.
Due to its popularity, there is a well established dive scene here with quite a few dive centres, which visit the sites on Mactan's east coast as well as Olango Island across the channel. There are also dive centres in Cebu City itself which also make trips to the dive sites of Mactan Island.
Some dive centres also run trips to Bohol's dive sites to the east.
There is a wide range of accommodation options in Mactan and also in nearby Cebu. Near the beaches, most accommodation is more upmarket.
The island is very easy to reach, as Cebu City's airport is actually based on Mactan Island. The airport has many domestic flights & some international flights, including connections to Singapore, Hong Kong & Tokyo. From here, a simple bus or taxi ride will take you to your resort. Alternatively, for those with more patience, it can be reached by ferry from most parts of the Philippines. Bus routes connect here to other parts of Cebu.
Aside from the diving, there are many activities around Mactan, including sporting activities, sight-seeing, shopping & good nightlife.
Panglao is a small island connected to Bohol in the Visayas. It is the most popular spot in the area for tourists, with a large range of activities and tourist facilities.
There is excellent diving in the waters surrounding Bohol and the number of dive shops reflects this. It has calm waters for those learning to dive as well as excellent dive sites for experienced divers, including Balicasag, Bohol's rival to Sipadan in Malaysia.
This is one of the Philippines' top tourist areas and has a range of accommodation to match, from simple bungalows on the beach to very expensive hotels. Most of the options are around Alona Beach, while Dumulan Beach further up the coast & Dauis in the north have more upmarket options. There is also a dive resort on Balicasag, right on top of the area's best diving.
To reach Panglao Island, first you need to get to Tagliaran City, the capital of Bohol. The airport here connects with Manila, while it is also possible to get a ferry or speedboat from Cebu. Once in Tagliaran, it is a short journey to Panglao, which is connected to Bohol by bridge.
Diving is not the only activity here. There are plenty of activities around the beautiful beaches, lively nightlife, treks and nature trails plus the Chocolate Hills, Bohol's most famous landmark.