You’re never too far from the ocean wherever you may be in the Philippines. Our beaches are among the world’s best, and it’s near impossible to resist taking a dip in our brilliant blue seas. Best of all, our marine riches are unparalleled, thanks to the country being in the Pacific Ocean’s coral triangle and our position as the global center of marine biodiversity. With our seas having more species per unit area than anywhere else in the world, there’s no better place than our own backyard to see what the deep blue has to offer. Read on to see where you should go for a taste of the aquatic life!

LUZON
1. ANILAO, BATANGAS
Anilao’s rocky beaches may not be ideal for sunbathers, but it more than makes up for its lack of fine, white sand with its rich marine life. Known as the birthplace of scuba diving in the Philippines, this town, a mere two-hour drive away from Manila, boasts of more than 20 known dive sites teeming with colorful corals, abundant fish, and all sorts of sea creatures. Even non-divers could join in the fun as they could see all sorts of fish and marine life by snorkeling in the shallower sites.

2. APO REEF, OCCIDENTAL MINDORO

Apo Reef should be on every Pinay diver’s bucket list. The largest contiguous coral reef in the Philippines (and the second largest in the whole world only after the Great Barrier Reef), this marine paradise has a staggering variety of corals and an impressive quantity of fish. Diving here will have you seeing everything from tuna to barracudas to turtles to eels, and if you’re really lucky, you can even see dolphins playing around near your boat!


3. TUBBATAHA REEF, EL NIDO, CORON, PALAWAN
This article would be completely invalid without a mention of Palawan, the location of some of the best dive sites in the world. History buffs will get a kick out of the Japanese shipwrecks and the marine life in Busuanga, while El Nido’s reefs are renowned by divers worldwide for their diversity. The crown jewel of Palawan’s diving scene, however, is the majestic Tubbataha Reef, a World Heritage Site brimming with over 1,000 species of marine life including manta rays, sharks, clownfish, and turtles.

VISAYAS
4. CEBU
This ribbon-shaped island offers a lot of options for anyone looking for an undersea adventure. Malapascua in the north offers threshers sharks and shipwrecks, while Santander and Sumilon all the way in the island’s southernmost end has creatures like frogfish, lionfish, and cuttlefish. Moalboal in the west has a wide variety of corals and fish, as well as turtles, reef sharks and amazing sardine sightings, while diving at Mactan island, just a short drive from Cebu City, gives you a chance to see barracuda, stingrays, and if you’re really lucky, maybe even a hammerhead shark.

5. APO ISLAND, NEGROS OCCIDENTAL

Apo Island, a marine sanctuary located on the southern end of Negros Occidental, is one of the Philippines’ most popular diving and snorkeling sites for a good reason. Its gorgeous corals and myriads of colorful fish and sea creatures make for the perfect backdrop for the island’s top draw: majestic sea turtles, usually found swimming just a few feet away from you. Ain’t that a great reason to schedule a trip to Dumaguete?


6. BOHOL

The southwest shores of Bohol are a diver’s dream come true.  You can easily spot gorgeous corals, myriads of fish, even eels and squids a short boat ride away from the white sand beaches of Panglao. More experienced divers can also visit Balicasag Island, Cabilao Island, and Pamilacan Island, where you could see Napoleon wrasses, sea snakes, sharks, and beautiful coral gardens.

7. BORACAY

Need a break from Boracay’s loud party scene? The island has a number of decent snorkeling and dive sites for beginners, experts, and every kind of swimmer in between. Divers will appreciate the many impressive corals and fish, while underwater photographers will love the opportunity to take pictures of the different sea creatures like lionfish, butterfly fish, moray eels, and stingrays.

MINDANAO
8. CAMIGUIN
Camiguin might be the country’s second smallest province, but it sure packs a punch with its stunning landscapes, gorgeous beaches, and excellent dive sites. You’ll find no shortage of beautiful corals, tropical fish, and, if you’re lucky, turtles, eels, and manta rays underwater. The island’s most unique attraction, however, is the Sunken Cemetery, where you can see schools of fishes swimming around ancient crosses and coral-covered tombs.

9. DAKAK, ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE

Dakak, located in Zamboanga Del Norte’s northwest tip, offers a variety of lovely dive sites for beginner and advanced divers. It’s a great place to see all sorts of creatures like clownfish, rays, barracuda, and even octopuses. Experienced divers will have a lot of fun at the aptly named Eskuelahan, where a wide variety of fish gather to feed.

10. TALIKUD AND SAMAL ISLANDS, DAVAO

Davao, home of Mt. Apo, durian, and some of the warmest and most disciplined people in the Philippines, is also a top destination for undersea explorers. Samal and Talikud islands have a number of impressive dive sites between them, all teeming with creatures like cuttlefish, nudibranchs, shrimps, and even turtles, dolphins, and sharks. The waters in the Davao Gulf are also extremely clear, making it a haven for underwater photographers.

PHOTO: qphia/Flickr Creative Commons, qphia/Flickr Creative Commons, wanderlasss/Flickr Creative Commons, Constantine Agustin/Flickr Creative Commons

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