20 Scuba Diving Places In The Philippines To Add To Your Bucketlist

20 min. read By Kia Navarro on

More and more people are adding scuba diving on their bucket lists. Lucky for us, the Philippines is the perfect place to try this acitivity. Talk about 7,000+ islands teeming with underwater life and breathtaking sights!

Scuba diving in the Philippines allows one to see and enjoy beautiful coral reefs, haunting wrecks of Japanese ships from World War II, and graceful monster-size barracudas and sharks, among other things.

So why not grab some scuba gear and prepare for an underwater adventure you will never forget? Listed below are the top 20 scuba diving places in the Philippines.

1. Anilao, Batangas

Skill level: Beginner to intermediate

Anilao in Batangas is just a few hours away from Metro Manila, the perfect spot for Manila-based divers. It is a marine-protected sanctuary that boasts more than 30 diving sites. The most famous are the Sombrero Island, Cathedral, Maricaban Island, and Mapating.

Macro underwater photography (small sea critters) is popular here and you will find a variety of sea creatures like the Blue-Ringed Octopus, Nudibranch, Ghost Pope Fish and Frogfish and more. Truly an photographer’s paradise!

Price

Certified Divers

P1,500

Beginners

P3,000 – P4,500

How to go to Anilao, Batangas:

  • Ride a Batangas City bound bus
  • Once you arrived in Batangas City Bus Terminal, transfer to a jeep that is Mabini bound, that will take you to Anilao Port
  • From Anilao Port, ride a tricycle to your booked resort

2. Monad Shoal – Malapascua, Cebu

Skill level: Intermediate

If you are a shark lover, then this underwater island is the best place to scuba dive for you! Monad Shoal is known as a Shark Point and is now a world-famous dive site.

But keep in mind that you might not see the famous thresher sharks on your first dive, but if you give it a day or two there is a huge change that you will see them, usually in the early hours in the morning before or during sunrise.

Monad Shoal not only offers thresher sharks for you to swim with, but you can also spot Manta Rays, Pygmy Seahorses, Devil Rays and Eagle Rays depending on the season.

Price

P2,200 per person

How to go to Monad Shoal, Malapascua:

  • Board a plane/boat going to Cebu City
  • When you arrive in Cebu City, take the bus from the North Bus Terminal going to Maya in Daanbantayan. Another option is you can also rent a van to go to the port of Maya, this will take around four hours in total
  • From Maya, you can ride a motorized boat that will take you to Malapascua Island in around 30-40 minutes
  • Once you arrive in Malapascua, you will see a ton of resorts that offer scuba diving packages in Monad Shoal

3. WWII Wrecks of Coron Bay – Palawan

Skill level: Beginner to Intermediate

On the 4th of September 1944, a squadron of 24 US bombers that came of the sky just above Coron Bay. They located the Japanese supply fleet hiding among the islands below and proceeded to blow it apart. The charge was successful and it sure did leave a legacy that we can now see for ourselves through recreational diving.

Coron Bay is known today as the best wreck diving venue in Southeast Asia. There are numerous sunken WWII ships that can be found in Coron Bay like Irako, Okikawa Maru, Akitsushima, Kogyo Maru, and Olympia Maru.

Some say that a few of the ships can be seen when snorkeling; go deeper than 30 meters and you’ll see more. So if you love history and are into exploring wrecked ships, then the WWII Wrecks at Coron Bay is the ideal place for you.

Price

Certified Divers

P3,500

Beginners

P4,500

PADI Open Water Diver Course

P17,000

How to go to Coron Bay, Palawan

Plane:

  • Take the plane from Manila to Busuanga airport, Palawan
  • Once you’re in Busuanga aiport, take a jeepney To Coron Town

Ferry boat:

  • Take the Ferry from Manila. The schedule is every Friday at around 4:00pm. Expect to arrive in Coron after about 10-12 hours.

4. Barracuda Lake – Coron, Palawan

Skill level: Beginner to intermediate

This eerie dark lake is filled with water that a mix of freshwater (first few meters) and saltwater (deeper than 14 meters) that amazingly coexists together in harmony.

The temperature changes drastically once you go deeper. The deeper you go, the warmer it gets due to the volcanic activity at the bottom. Keep in mind that it may get a bit uncomfortable once you go a below 14 meters.

If you are certified or an advance scuba diver, at 35 meters you will find the cave where the alleged monster-sized barracuda lurks. But be warned that the cave is dark with almost zero visibility. The local dive instructors do not go this deep because the water color changes from blue to deep brown.

Price

P2,700 to P3,500

How to go to Barracuda Lake, Coron, Palawan:

Plane:

  • Take the plane from Manila to Busuanga airport, Palawan
  • Once you’re in Busuanga aiport, take a jeepney To Coron Town
  • Ride a motorboat that will bring you to Barracuda Lake

Ferry:

  • Take the Ferry from Manila. The schedule is every Friday at around 4:00pm. Expect to arrive in Coron after about 10-12 hours.
  • Ride a motorboat that will bring you to Barracuda Lake

5. Canyons – Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro

Skill level: Intermediate

Mindoro is the seventh largest island in the Philippines and it is known to have the second largest coral reef worldwide. Its clear waters and over 1,200 marine species are definitely some of the reasons why people are so attracted to the area.

When you are in Mindoro, you have to go scuba diving in the canyons. There are about three distinctive canyons that are surrounded by corals and other sea creatures like scorpion fish, unicorn fish, trumpet fish and other large schools of fishes that roam around the area.

Price

Certified Divers

P2,500

Beginners

P3,200

Night Dive

P1,500

How to go to Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro

  • Ride a bus from Manila to Batangas
  • Ride the Ferry from Batangas to Puerto Galera

6. Manta Bowl – Ticao, Masbate

Skill level: Beginner to intermediate

Ticao Island is one of the three major islands of Masbate; the other two are Masbate Island and Burias Island. Ticao Pass is especially known for its plankton rich water and continuous current. Because of these assets, Ticao is swarmed with whale sharks, thresher sharks, tiger sharks and even hammerheads! You can freely swim with the whale sharks because they are friendly and gentle by nature.

The Manta Bowl is located in the middle of Ticao pass and is used as a cleaning station by large pelagies like manta rays and the sharks stated above. You can catch the manta rays all year round and you will also see soft and hard corals in deeper areas. Perfect for your scuba diving adventure!

Price

P3,505 for Beginners

How to go to Manta Bowl, Ticao – Masbate

Plane:

  • Flight from Mania to Masbate

Land:

  • Ride a bus headed from Manila to Legaspi City

(Read: Top 30 Snorkeling Spots in the Philippines: Hidden Gems)

7. Tubbataha Reef National Park – Sulu Sea, Palawan

Skill level: Beginner to Intermediate

Tubbataha Reef is truly a scuba diving gem of the Philippines. It is a protected area located in Sulu Sea at the center of the Coral Triangle between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. It was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993! Definitely a perfect example of what an island with an elite coral reef looks like. It also has lagoons and two coral islands.

If you plan to scuba dive here, keep in mind that it has strict rules due to the conservation and protection of its marine environment.

Price

US$1365 / P71,499

How to go to Tubbataha Reef, Sulu Sea – Palawan

  • From Manila, book a plane going to Puerto Princesa
  • Ride a boat going to the park from Puerto Princesa (the travel time will take about 9-10 hours)

8. Honda Bay – Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Image source: sharkdivingpalawan.com

Skill level: Beginner to Intermediate

Honda Bay also has been known as the more affordable site close to the beauty of Tubbataha. Honda Bay has breathtaking white sand beaches and various marine species to see.

Price

Certified Divers

P3,500

Beginners

P2,000

SSI Open Water Course

P18,550

How to go to Honda Bay – Puerto Princesa, Palawan

  • From Manila, take a plane going to Puerto Princesa
  • From Puerto Princesa City, go to San Jose Terminal and take a bus, van or jeep. Ask the driver to drop you off at your booked hotel.

9. Blue Hole – Romblon Island

Image source: explora.ph

Skill level: Beginner to Intermediate

If you are into mystery and surprises, the Blue Hole is the scuba diving site for you! You can find it at the very North of Tablas Island. What makes the Blue Hole different is that it is approximately 10 meters below the surface. When you dive in, you will immediately see the depth and darkness within the hole. Some described it as if they were floating over a black hole, which technically it is an underwater sinkhole.

You might have a bit of difficulty when diving due to its strong currents from time to time.

Price

P7,400 per person

How to go to Blue Hole – Romblon Island

  • From Manila, travel to Batangas
  • From Batangas, ride a Ferry going to Romblon (Odiongan, Romblon, San Agustin, and Sibuyan). Be prepared for a 12-hour ride

10. Danjugan Island – Negros Occidental

Image source: danjuganisland.ph

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Danjugan Island is known for its efforts in marine and forest conservation.

It has five lagoons in total, and both the lagoons and the surrounding forest are teaming with amazing wildlife. Of course, it’s a phenomenal diving site! There are so many fascinating facts about this island that you just have to discover for yourself when you visit.

Price

P1,950 – P2,000 per person

How to go to Danjuan Island – Negros Occidental

  • From Manila, ride a plane going to Bacolod-Silay Airport
  • From Bacolod, ride the Ceres Bus going to Hinoba-an
  • Get off at Brgy. Cartagena in Cauayan
  • Ride a motorcycle going to Bulata
  • Ride the boat you have booked going to Danjuagan

11. Balicasag Island, Bohol

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Balicasag Island is located off the coast of Panglao Island, Bohol. For those who love to go swimming and island hopping, this is the best choice for you!

It has white sand beaches and black corals in shallow and deeper parts to satisfy your aesthetic needs. It is approximately 600 meters in diameter and can be explored within 30-60 minutes.

While scuba diving, you may even encounter a school of jacks, eels and many more species of fishes!

Price

P1,500 – P2,000 per person

How to go to Balicasag Island – Bohol

  • From Manila, take a plane going to Tagbilaran
  • When you are in Tagbilaran, rent a van or ride a tricycle that will bring you to Alona Beach, Panglao
  • Ride a motorboat that will take you to Balicasag Island

(Read: 11 Best White Sand Beaches in the Philippines)

12. Tablas Island – Romblon

Image source: the-three-p.com

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Romblon has three major islands, Tablas Island, Romblon town and Sibuyan Island. Tablas Island has about 7 scuba diving spots all of which offers distinctly beautiful underwater scenery. This island is definitely one for the books!

Price

P1,500 – P2,000 per person

How to go to Tablas Island – Romblon

  • From Manila, ride a plane going to Odiongan Port
  • From Odiongan Port, ride a ferry that will take you to Romblon Island

13. Maasim Reef – Sarangani Bay

Image source: choosephilippinese.com

Skill Level: Intermediate

This dive site is not for the faint of heart due to its currents that play from moderate to strong depending on the weather. It is advisable that divers that will dive here are advanced or pros.

Not a lot of divers were able to reach down Maasim Reef because of its moody waters, but those who did reach the bottom said that the bottom has a much milder current and has better visibility. It also has several types if fishes to swim with like the plethora of rays, triggerfishes, white-tipped sharks, and ginormous batfishes!

Price

Trial Dive

P1,500

One or Two divers

P800

Three divers

P600

Night dive

P950

Diving gear rental

P550

How to go to Maasim Reef – Sarangani Bay

  • From Manila, ride a plane going to General Santos International Airport
  • Once you arrive, contact that resort you booked to pick you up

14. Rocky Beach – Sarangani Bay

Skill Level: Beginner

Rocky Beach is perfect for those who are beginners in scuba diving because you will be able to see the colourful corals and variety of fishes even on shallow waters.

The napoleon wrasse and the ribbon eel are no strangers here; you will be able to see them from time to time! Soft and hard corals can also be seen in the area.

Price

P2,000 – P3,500 per person

How to get to Rocky Beach – Sarangani Bay:

  • From Manila, ride a plane going to General Santos International Airport
  • Once you arrive, contact that resort you booked to pick you up

15. Apo Reef – Occidental Mindoro

Skill Level: Intermediate

Apo Reef is located off the west coast of Occidental Mindoro. It is the world’s second largest contiguous coral reef system and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has an exceptional view with loads of species to be seen like more than 300 species of coral and invertebrates, giant napoleons, murenas, manta rays, and thresher sharks!

The site is breathtaking but this is only for the experienced divers. Most of the local operators require at least 90-100 dives recorded in your logbook before they allow you to dive in because the currents are aggressively strong and the dive is deep. Definitely not for the faint of heart!

Price

Day trip with 3 dives

P8,950

Overnight trip with 6 dives

P12,950

How to go to Apo Reef – Occidental Mindoro

Plane:

  • From Manila, ride a plane going to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro
  • From there, ride a tricycle to the bus station
  • Ride the bus that is headed to Sablayan
  • Ride a motorboat headed to Apo Island

Land:

  • Ride the bus going to Batangas Port
  • Once there, take the ferry going to Abra de Ilog
  • Take the bus or a van going to Sablayan
  • Ride a motorboat headed to Apo Island

16. Yapak – Boracay

Image source: calypso-boracay.com

Skill level: Intermediate

The Yapak dive sites can be found in the west end of Boracay. This site is the perfect place for scuba diving if you’re up for a challenge.

The Yapak 1 and Yapak 2 dive sites span from 25 meters down to 70 meters. This site is recommended for experienced divers only because it is known for its mild to very strong currents

Once you dive in, you can observe the big fishes such as barracudas, dogtooth tunas and giant trevallies swimming around the area. There are also sharks there like the white tip reef sharks, hammerhead sharks or grey reef sharks that patrol the area too!

Price

P3,500 per person

How to go to Yapak – Boracay

  • From Manila, ride a plane going to Kalibo Aklan
  • From Kalibo, ride a bus going to Caticlan, Malay
  • From Caticlan, ride the ferry going to Boracay
  • From Boracay, ride a taxi or rent a van going to Yapak

17. Crocodile Island – Boracay

Image source: sucubadivephilippines.com

Skill level: Intermediate

Crocodile Island is one of the main scuba diving sites in Boracay. It is named after a crocodile not because it is infested with deadly crocs, but because it looks like a big crocodile from afar! This gorgeous diving site is only 15 minutes away from Boracay by boat.

The current in this site is strong and perfect if you are up for drift diving. It also has colorful corals that are inhabited by garden eels, clownfishes, different kinds of snail species and more.

Price

5 dives

P9,000

How to go to Crocodile Island – Boracay

  • From Manila, ride a plane going to Boracay
  • From Boracay main white beach, ride a boat going to Crocodile Island

18. Divers Heaven – Balicasag Island, Bohol

Image source: bohol-philippines.com

Skill level: Beginner to Intermediate

Divers Heaven can be found at the north-east of Balicasag Island. This particular dive site has an outstanding rating of 4/5 from divers who were able to see and experience its glory.

Once you dive in, there is a steep slope that can be found at the left, north-west shoulder. Note that the slope will get steeper if you are in the north. Almost immediately when you enter the 10-20m zone; you will be greeted with corals, big bucket sponges, midnight snappers and especially turtles!

Price

1-3 dives

P1,500 to P5,900

Open Water PADI Certification (equipment and material included)

P20,000

Adventure dive

P 3,500

Advanced Open Water PADI certification

P16,900

Specialty course PADI certification

P12,900

Emergency First Responder PADI certification

P7,900

Rescue Diver PADI certification

P20,400

Divemaster PADI certification

P37,500

How to go to Divers Heaven – Balicasag Island, Bohol

  • From Manila, take a plane going to Tagbilaran
  • When you are in Tagbilaran, rent a van or ride a tricycle that will bring you to Alona Beach, Panglao
  • Ride a motorboat that will take you to Balicasag Island
  • Ask the locals what motorboat you should ride to reach Divers Heaven

19. Dimakya Island – Palawan

Skill level: Beginner

Everything about this island screams BEAUTIFUL.

Offshore, if you’re lucky, you will see the friendly green sea turtles that lay their eggs on secret hiding spots waddling around. There are also electric clams, leaf fishes that are hard to spot at times, and cuttlefishes.

Onshore, you will see the dinosaur like creatures called Monitor Lizards who are about 1-5m in length. The site is also filled with different kinds of birds and fruit bats!

This scuba diving site is kid friendly and definitely the perfect place for a weekend getaway with your loved ones.

Price

P18,200

How to go to Dimakya Island – Palawan

  • From Manila book a flight to Busuanga
  • One you’re in Busuanga airport, the place where you booked to stay in should send a van to pick you up
  • You will be taken to the Island via motorboat

20. South Miniloc – El Nido

Image source: palawan-divers.org

Skill level: Certified Diver

This site has got to be the most popular scuba diving site in El Nido! The dive site is in between Miniloc and Simizu Island and occasionally has strong currents. The scenery underwater has a wide variety of marine life.

What makes South Miniloc popular are the marbled grouper, tuna’s, mackerels and barracudas that can be found in the site. Let us not forget the small fishes that are present as well like the ribbon eel, frogfish, and nudibranch that can be found in the colorful coral garden.

Price

P4,800 – P5,000 per person

How to go to South Miniloc – El nido

  • From Manila, ride the plane going to Puerto Princesa
  • From Puerto, take a van going to El nido

*You may also take a direct flight to El Nido from Manila

(Read: Best Affordable Beach Resorts In Batangas [Updated])

Things you need to know before scuba diving

Is it safe to scuba dive?

Yes! But just like in any other extreme sport, there are important details you need to keep in mind before you jump into the water. The place that you chose to scuba in will most definitely provide an instructor and he/she will teach you what to do and not to do during the dive.

Remember that humans were not created to breathe underwater, that is why you need to listen carefully to the proper training and equipment briefing that will be provided by the instructor to make sure that you are safe during the experience. Just make sure that you don’t do anything unnecessary and you will be fine!

What are the equipment needed when scuba diving?

  • Diving Mask
  • Drysuit or Wetsuit
  • Fins
  • Snorkel
  • Scuba Gloves
  • Scuba Tank
  • Regulator
  • Depth Gauge
  • Dive Computer
  • Buoyancy Compensator
  • Underwater Camera

What should I expect when scuba diving?

The first thing that you will notice is that once you are underwater, it is surprisingly noisy. That is because sound waves travel four times faster underwater! Water carries out the sound of the sea quicker because the particles are much closer together than when it is on land, therefore they can quickly transmit the vibration energy from one particle to another. So, if you think that going underwater will be like a trip to Silent Hill, guess again!

Second, keep in mind is that since the density of the water is heavier than air; expect that your movements will be restricted. You will feel some resistance when you try to move quickly so do not panic. Because once you do, you will quickly exhaust yourself and that might be real cause of an emergency.

The third thing you need to remember is to not to be ashamed if you forget the hand signals, skills, or other instructions the instructor gave you. Your brain is working extra hard to remember all these new information and sometimes instructions that were given in the surface seemed clear but you totally black out when you get to the diving spot. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the instructor to remind you again of the things that you forgot. It’s better to be safe than sorry am I right?

The fourth and most important point is the most important above all; never touch, write, or pick up any corals, rocks, or any of the living creatures underwater unless the instructor says that you could.

The smallest change already has a huge impact to the creatures living down there. Do not even think about getting a souvenir when diving or write an “I was here” memo on the rocks. Please be responsible. Also be mindful of your garbage! It is our duty as a decent human being that we take care of the ocean with a life cycle of its own.

(Read: 4 Destinations In The Philippines Where You Could Really Use Travel Insurance)

What do you do when the scuba diver is panicking underwater?

The most dangerous situation a diver could be in is not running out air underwater – it’s when they panic. When the diver starts to overthink during the dive and starts getting anxiety attacks underwater, there is no way we can get to them quickly like how we can offshore; that is why it is important to recognize the signs of panic in ourselves and in others.

  • Recognize the warning signs

Some of the possible signs that the diver is in the verge of panic are that they feel a bit agitated about the smallest thing, are suddenly unable to communicate, they start flailing their arms, feel unable to move and have eyes are wide open with fear. This could be because of peer pressure or their imagination is running wild due to irrational thinking.

Inform the instructor and please pay special attention to them during the pre-dive, it is better to calm and diffuse the person’s anxiety attack before they enter water.

  • When panic happens underwater

If the anxiety attack happens during the dive, slowly approach them and put your palm up in a “stop” signal and stay there until the panicking diver recognizes that you are there to help.

Put one hand on their shoulder and signal them to look at you in the eye. Most of the time when divers panic, they hyperventilate. That is why encourage them to take a few deep breathes to diffuse their anxiety.

Once the diver is a bit calmer, swim behind them or hold their tank valve while making sure that the regulator is in place, then slowly ascend to your boat.

How to get your diving license in the Philippines

Now that you know all the hottest spots to scuba dive in the Philippines, you might want to get your diving license! If you are certified to go diving, that means you have passed and taken the scuba diving course given by one of the accredited scuba certification agencies such as PADI or NAUI (there are also other agencies but PADI and NAUI are the main ones). With that being said, you can go diving pretty much anywhere.

The price for the certification ranges from P10,428 to P18,249 depending on the avenue you will take. This is a good investment if you plan on diving regularly because once you are certified, you are certified for life! Not bad right?

So what are you waiting for? Go to your local dive shop and get certified now!

About the author

Kia Navarro

Kia Navarro Kia Navarro still lives with her parents. She is, after all, a 24-year-old student who just happens to write content for eCompareMo, which she refers to as "the coolest company she's ever written for."