Diving is possible all year round in the Philippines; with warm water temperatures (27 - 31 Celsius) and crystal clear waters. There’s definitely plenty of flora and fauna to capture your attention and make this trip a worthwhile one.
1) Tubbataha Reef
It’s not everyday that you get to dive into the waters of a UNESCO World Heritage Site like this. As the first national marine park in the Philippines, this amazing reef is a natural wonder of pristine coral reefs and breath-taking lagoons. Since it’s located in the middle of the Sulu sea, the currents can be very strong at times. Unlike certain other spots in the Philippines where diving can be done all year round, this location can only be reached by liveaboard and the best time to visit is from the months of March to June.
2) Malapascua Island
This lovely destination in the province of Cebu is touted as a location for world-class diving, especially since the unique highlight is the sighting of thresher sharks. Since its distinctive tail can be as long as its body, it’s also aptly known as the fox shark. If you’ll like to watch them in their natural environment, there’s no better place than Monad Shoal (located just 20 minutes from Malapascua Island). Just take note that the sharks congregate before sunrise so you’ll have to be up pretty early to reach the feeding station. The dive is more suited to advanced divers as the viewing area is past 30m.
3) Coron Bay
If you’ve never seen a wreck underwater before, this is definitely a chance not to be missed. Known as the best wreck diving site in South East Asia, its World War II vessels are some of the best-preserved. Located at the north of Palawan Island, it is easily accessed by plane from Manila. While you’re in the area, you can also pay a visit to Cathedral Cave (located under Coron Island) via a small tunnel located in a wall. The main chamber is a startling blue filled with natural light from a hole in the ceiling. Another attraction is Barracuda Lake, which can be reached with about 8 minutes of up and down climbing. Its name is derived from the discovery of a giant barracuda skeleton sometime back.
4) Subic Bay
This is another popular site for wreck diving. Located at the north of Manila, this former US navy base has opened its doors for recreational diving since 1992. One of the most visited wrecks is the USS New York battleship, an armoured gun cruiser that was used in both World War I and II. Although the waters are on the murky side, you’ll still be able to see Spanish gun boats and even jet fighters from the Vietnam era. This site is both suitable for beginners, advance divers and tech divers. The best time to dive is when the water is clearest (from March to May).
5) Apo Reef
As the largest atoll-like reef in the Philippines and the second largest contiguous reef in the world, a large portion of the reef has also been designated as a marine sanctuary. Diving in its waters, you’ll be able to view a myriad of marine life and dense coral growth. It is a submerged platform that allows spectacular viewing of fish, dolphin pods and even turtle bales. Although diving is all year round, the best times would be March to May as it’s the dry season, and also from December to February where there is a higher chance of spotting larger marine creatures.