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The Philippines

The Philippines Dive Map Western LuzonBatangas BayPuerto GaleraMarinduqueApo ReefBoracayNorthern PalawanSulu SeaNegrosBohol CebuSouthern Leyte Davao
The Philippines is made up of over 7000 islands and has over 36,000km of coastline. It lies north of Indonesia and east of Vietnam and its coastine touches the waters of the Pacific & Indian Oceans, the South China Sea, The Celebes Sea & the Sulu Sea, making it a country of almost endless underwater variety.

Many of the Philippines' islands are tiny. The largest islands are Luzon in the north and Mandanao in the south.

The third main region of the Philippines is known as the Visayas, a group of islands sitting between Luzon & Mandanao, while to the west across the Sulu Sea is the remote island of Palawan.

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Soft CoralsMain Diving Areas Burma Main Diving Areas
Due to its great variety of dive spots, there are many different types of diving available in the Philippines. There are calm shallow areas for beginners, plunging wall dives, some of the world’s best wreck diving, plus fringing reefs, pinnacles sea-mounts & even caves.

Puerta Galera is one of the Philippines best-known and most established dive spots. Situated just a few hours south from Manila, the capital - it offers convenient access, good tourist facilities and great diving, with a large variety of reef inhabitants, wrecks and some pelagic action too.

Cebu, in the Visayas is also a popular dive area. Cebu City is the Philippines second largest city and has an international airport, meaning that many of the dive sites are easily accessible. Mactan Island is probably the most popular base for diving, with convenient access and numerous dive sites.

Further afield, Malapascua is relatively undiscovered and offers beautiful corals, good wall diving, the chance to see sharks, big rays and even Mandarinfish. To the west, Moalboal has some stunning dives & is a great place for photography - with beautiful corals, abundant reef-life, some great underwater scenery and plenty of pelagic action. To the south-east is Sumilon island, which is another great spot for big fish encounters.

Also in the Visayas, Bohol is rich with diversity, coral gardens & pelagic action, while southern Leyte is becoming known as a great place to spot Whalesharks.

Around Palwan & Mindoro to the west are the Japanese WWII wrecks of Coron Bay; Apo Reef, with its huge expanse & variety of corals, plunging walls & diversity of both reef and pelagic species; plus El Nido, which again offers great wall & drift dives.

Out in the Sulu Sea and only reachable by Liveaboards, Tubbataha Reef offers an abundance of big fish action, from huge Groupers & Tuna, to numerous species of Sharks and giant Manta Rays.

Boracay, Anilao & La Union are easy to reach spots with calm conditions & relaxing diving, which are popular for beginners and those looking to learn

What To See Burma  What to See
Due to its location, variety of habitats and nutrient-rich waters, the Philippines offers a wealth of marine life to see. For shark lovers, it is probably one of Asia’s best destinations, with Reef, Grey, Thresher, Hammerhead & Whalesharks all regular visitors. Manta Rays and Eagle rays are also often seen, along with five of the world’s seven Sea Turtles.


Along with Indonesia, the Philippines are thought to have the the highest levels of marine diversity on earth and also an incredible abundance of marine species, with many reefs simply teeming with life. For the macro enthusiast, it is also possible to find Frogfish, Seahorses, Ghost Pipefish, Mandarinfish & many more rare and exotic creatures.

Logistics Burma  Logistics
Many of the Philippines’ dive sites can be accessed by day boats, but as reaching the local dive shops by land can sometimes be challenging, dive safaris - where you travel from place to place by boat but stay each night on land - are also popular. Fully-fledged liveaboards also journey around the country's best dive sites, especially to visit the best of the Sulu Sea & northern Palawan. Dive centres are generally well-established, experienced & professional.

Directory Find Dive Centres & Resorts in the Philippines
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Manta RayWhen To Visit Burma When to Visit
Generally speaking, the Philippines has three distinct seasons: a cool dry season from November to February; a hot, dry season from March to May; and a wet season from June to February.

The best months to dive are generally between December & June, although there are regional variations, with more protected areas benefitting from longer dive seasons.

Central areas, in particular Southern Luzon & the Visayas can suffer from typhoons between June & October.

Costs Burma Costs
The Philippines, like many Asian destinations, is a cheap place to visit. The cost of a dive starts around US$20 - US$25 with more difficult to reach dive sites obviously being more expensive. It is a country where bargaining pays great dividends though, so don’t necessarily accept the first price that you are given.

Many dive operators also offer dive packages, or even safaris, ranging from a couple of days to a couple of weeks and costing from around US$100 per day. Fully-fledged liveaboards cost upwards of a couple of hundred dollars per day, depending on the level of luxury you want.

Travel in the Philippines is fairly cheap. There are now many competitive, domestic airlines with inter-island flights from as little as US$35 plus taxes. Buses & ferries are also very cheap, although make for a time-consuming option as there are so many different islands.

Accommodation starts at around US$10 for a basic hotel room to hundreds of dollars for luxury accommodation.

East of Travel Burma Ease of Travel
There are international airports in Manilla, Cebu, and a few other larger towns. There are also many domestic airlines & routes between the islands, which are making it easier to travel around. One popular option is to buy what is known as an ‘open jaw’ ticket, usually flying into Manila & out of Cebu, or vice versa.

The islands are connected by a ferry network, but schedules are difficult to obtain, journey times are long and ferries are often old & overcrowded. Travel by road is also possible, but not especially practical. Unless you have a lot of time and very little money, flying is most definitely recommended.

Visas Burma Visas
Citizens of most countries receive a 3 week visa on arrival in the Philippines. Citizens of Brazil & Israel receive a 59 day visa on arrival. Visa extensions can be arranged either in advance from your local embassy or consulate, or within the Philippines. The first extension is for 38 days and further extensions are for 59 days.

People Burma The People
Filipinos are known as a friendly & hospitable people. Many Filpinos, while having origins in China, have Hispanic influences from colonial rule and the country has a Roman Catholic majority. More recently, the proliferation of American military bases has left a strong American mark in the culture. Most of the population lives in Luzon or Cebu.

Safety Burma Safety
Of prime concern to any diver visiting the Philippines is the threats from terrorism & kidnapping. Terrorist attacks have occurred in the past, both in Manila and elsewhere - and most probably will in the future too. Kidnapping western tourists from dive locations - particularly, but not exclusively from sites around Palawan - has been a major concern for a number of years and is a threat that should be taken very seriously. Petty crime of course can happen too, so make sure you take the usual precautions.

Older buses & especially ferries are not up to western standards and are often over-crowded and under-maintained, so it is advisable to exercise caution if you have to travel this way.

In terms of the diving, some of the Philippines’ dive sites have very strong currents, so make sure that you have enough experience before you dive the more advanced sites and ensure your dive operator takes all the necessary safety precautions.

Diver & CoralMorayAnthiasNudibranch




Apo Reef         
Around 20km off the west coast of Mindoro Island is Apo Reef, a huge expanse of coral reef in the South China Sea. The reef is a magnet for marine life, with plenty of Shark sightings, Manta Rays and many more impressive animals...


The island off Bohol lies just to the east of Cebu in the Viasayas region of the Philippines. It is a home of the Tarsier, a very rare little monkey that is only found in this region of the world. The area's diving is also a major attraction, with great macro life & plenty of bigger encounters...


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