Top 30 Snorkeling Spots in the Philippines: Hidden Gems

19 min. read By Kia Navarro on

In the Philippines, we have a wide variety of islands with beaches that we can proudly boast about.

This is definitely one of the best countries to scuba dive and snorkel in because, aside crystal white, golden brown to even black sandy beaches, we also have our own colorful and biodiverse underwater ecosystems. Truly we can say that it is indeed “more fun in the Philippines.”

Out of our more than 7,000 islands, we narrowed down the top 30 snorkeling spots that can be found in our beloved country. Time to explore what’s beyond our great beaches and hidden just below our blue waters.

1. Donsol, Sorsogon

Donsol is known to have the largest concentration of whale sharks in the world! So, if you are interested in swimming with the sharks, then this is the place for you. And by sharks I mean the friendly giant whale sharks or as we all know them, butandings.

Budget:

Snorkel and Boat Rental

P1,500 – P3,500

How to go:

Plane:

  • From Manila, ride a plane going to Legazpi City
  • Once in Legaspi, find a local van or a bus headed to Donsol

Land:

  • From Manila, ride a bus going to Legazpi City (10 – 12 hours bus ride)
  • Once in Legazpi ride a local van or a bus headed to Donsol

2. Apo Reef – Negros Oriental, Mindoro

Apo Reef is the second largest contiguous reef system in the world! No surprise that it is known one of the best diving sites in the country.

The corals are huge and there are all sorts of sea vegetation in the area. You will be swimming and snorkeling alongside various sea creatures like schools of fish, dolphins, and turtles that call this place home.

Budget:

Snorkel Rental

P200 – P300

How to go:

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

3. Subic Bay – Zambales

Subic has so much more to offer than just Zoobic, its underwater scenery is also one for the books!

Aside from the usual corals and fishes, you can also see pieces of battleships, airplanes, and submarines from WWII that are lying on the seabed. It will definitely give you chills once you see them.

Budget:

Snorkel Rental

P300

How to go:

Private car:

  • Drive along NLEX (North Luzon Expressway) until you reach the exit to SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway).
  • Take the SCTEX Exit and continue driving until you reach SBMA.

Public Bus:

  • From Manila, ride a bus going to Olongapo (P230 – P290)
  • From Olongapo, ride a jeepney going to Subic/SBFZ

P2P:

  • From NAIA, ride the P2P bus headed for Clark Airport
  • From Clark airport, take either a jeep or a taxi going to Victory Liner Dau-Mabalacat Terminal
  • Once there take a bus going to Olongapo or ride another P2P bus headed to Subic

4. Hundred Islands – Alaminos, Pangasinan

The Hundred Islands is composed of over a hundred islets spread out among the cerulean waters of the Lingayen Gulf. The three main Islands are Governor’s island, Children’s Island, and Quezon Island.

If you are looking for an island that has an exceptional marine life but shallow waters, Quezon Island is the best choice for you. This is home to different kinds of fishes like the puffers, boxfish, and parrot fish. It also has a healthy community of giant clams. It is definitely the ideal place for a weekend getaway with your loved ones!

Budget:

Snorkel Rental

P200 – P250

How to go:

  • From Manila, ride a bus going to Alaminos, Pangasinan
  • Once you arrive at the bus terminal in Alaminos, Pangasinan, go to Lucap Terminal in front of SUKI supermarket
  • From there ride a tricycle to Lucap Wharf
  • You will see the tourism information center. You will be asked to pay for the entrance fee, environmental fee, insurance and the boat rental for when you go island hopping

5. Laiya Beach – San Juan, Batangas

If you want to go snorkeling but hate long drives, then Laiya Beach is perfect for you! From Manila, it only takes about 2 – 3 hours to drive. Once you arrive at the site, you will be greeted with crystal clear waters (it is so clear that you will immediately see the bottom even at the depth of 2-5 feet), golden brown sand, and blue skies!

Budget:

Snorkel Rental

P100 – P200

How to go:

  • From Manila, ride the ALPS bus going to San Juan, Batangas
  • Once in San Juan, go to the Municipal Hall and in front of it are jeepneys going to Laiya or Hugom-bound. If there are no jeepneys, take the tricycle instead.

(Read: Best Budget Destinations Near Metro Manila)

6. Coral Gardens – Puerto Galera, Mindoro

Puerto Galera is well known for its gorgeous beaches and marine life. Scuba diving is also popular in this place, but if you are the type who wants to see the beauty of the life underwater but don’t like going in deep, then snorkeling is definitely the best choice for you.

Snorkeling here will not require much effort because the water is shallow and that will allow you to immediately see schools of fishes! Also keep in mind that since the Coral Garden is pretty shallow and occasionally has strong currents, be mindful of where you step because you might crush the fragile corals.

Budget:

Snorkel Rental

P250

How to go:

  • From Manila, ride the bus going to Batangas City Pier
  • Once you arrive in Batangas Pier, ride the ferry going to Puerto Galera

7. Jomalig Island – Quezon Province

Some say that Jomalig Island is the hidden gem of the Quezon Province. Its beaches are what we call “heaven on earth” even though it is not the most developed place. It doesn’t have hotels or big establishments.

What it does have is golden brown sand and blue water teeming with life. The spectacular marine life it offers will surely not disappoint!

Budget:

Snorkel Rental

P250 – P300

How to go:

  • From Manila, take the Raymond bus going to Infanta
  • Once in Real Quezon and ride a tricycle going to Ungos Port
  • Ride a boat going to Jomalig Island

8. Nalusuan Island – Cebu

If you are looking for an aesthetically pleasing place, Nalusuan Island is one of the best candidates out there! The clear blue waters are very inviting and really hard to resist! They are also the home to a variety of fish species.

If you want the whole island vibes during your stay, lucky you because this place has no electricity and will force you to be one with nature whether you like it or not. So, don’t expect that it has internet!

Budget:

Snorkel Rental

P250 – P300

How to go:

  • From Manila, ride a plane going to Cebu City
  • Once in Cebu City, take a cab or a van that will take you to Nalusuan Island Wharf in Tonggo, Marigondon
  • Ride a boat from there going to the island.

9. Anda – Bohol

Anda is one of the places in Bohol that has good offshore snorkeling. The island also offers fascinating stories like the preserved bones in Lamanoc Island and more mysterious places around the area.

The reef, on the other hand, is about 14km long and has different kinds of creatures like seahorses, eels, giant clams and occasionally, whale sharks! There aren’t a lot of people in the area so if you like exclusivity then pay this island a visit!

Budget:

Snorkel Rental

P200 – P300

Boat Rental

P600

How to go:

  • From Manila, board a plane going to Tagbilaran, Bohol
  • From Tagbilaran airport, take a tricycle to Dao Terminal
  • Ride a bus or van that will take you to Anda

10. Coron – Palawan

Coron is one of the most popular sites to dive and snorkel in the Philippines. Its beauty and mystery attracts not just locals, but also foreigners.

I mean, who could blame them? The reefs are healthy and when you snorkel over the shallow waters, you can see the plane and boat wrecks from WWII. All of which feeds your mind and imagination!

Budget

Snorkel Rental

P200 – P300

How to go

  • From Manila, fly to Busuanga airport, Palawan
  • From Busuanga airport, take a jeepney or a van going to Coron Town

(Read: Boracay Island Alternatives: 6 Breathtaking Beach Destinations In The Philippines)

11. Tres Reyes – Marinduque Island

Known as the “Heart of the Philippines” because of its shape, Marinduque will for sure leave a good mark in your heart when you visit. You can go island hopping and snorkeling in the group of islands named after the Three Kings or “Tres Reyes”, Gaspar, Melchor, and Balthazar.

Budget:

Boat Rental

*Includes snorkel gears for 12 persons

P1,000 – P1,500

How to go:

Plane:

  • Ride a plane going to Marinduque via Cebu Pacific Air

Land:

  • Ride the bus going to Lucena Grand Terminal or Dalahican Port
  • Once there, ride a ferry going to Balanacan Port or Buyabod Port in Sta. Cruz

12. Cagbalete Island – Mauban, Quezon

Cagbalete Island is not as popular as Batangas or Palawan but if you’re looking for a budget-friendly place to relax, swim and snorkel, why not visit Cagbalete? You will not only appreciate the rich marine life, but you will see a ton of exotic plants and a huge variety of birds. This hidden island is just waiting to be explored!

Snorkeling area

*Minimum of 10 pax

P200 per person

How to go:

  • From Manila, ride the bus going to Lucena Grand Central Terminal
  • Once you arrive at the terminal, take a van or a bus going to Mauban
  • From Mauban, ride a boat going to Cagbalete

13. Moalboal – Cebu

Moalboal is known for its popular sardine run, perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling! The island is rich with colorful corals and a variety of fishes. It also has underground springs and waterfalls to enjoy.

Budget:

Island Hopping

*Includes snorkeling

P500 per person

*Private tour costs around P1,500 – P2,000 for six people max

How to go:

  • From Manila, ride the plane going to Mactan – Cebu
  • From Mactan – Cebu, ride a taxi or bus going to Cebu’s South Bus Terminal
  • From there ride a “Bato via Barili” bus, ask the driver to drop you off at the Moalboal Municipal Hall or at Gaisano Grand Mall
  • Once you arrive there, ride a tricycle to your booked place

14. Siete Pecados – Coron, Palawan

Locals and foreigners delight in this area because of the crystal-clear water, vibrant corals and a huge array of fishes!

Siete Pecados is known as the prime snorkeling spot in Coron. Its name is Spanish for “Seven Sins” because legend says that it represents the seven sisters who disobeyed their mother to swim in the open water and ended up drowning, therefore forming the seven islets that are formed around the area.

3 days and 2 nights

Snorkeling  Tour

P2,000 – P3,000  per person

How to go: 

  • From Manila, ride a plane heading to Coron Airport
  • From there, ride a van going to the town of Coron

15. Mantigue Island – Camiguin

If you’re in Camiguin and you’re looking for the perfect snorkeling site, almost all of the locals will recommend Mantigue Island!

It has a solid reputation as the “White Island” because of its blinding white sand that ranges from fine to coarse around the area. The island itself is rich with giant clams, healthy corals and a variety of fishes that call this place home.

Budget:

Snorkel and Boat Rental

P150 – P350

How to go:

  • Board a plane headed to Camiguin Island
  • From the port, ride a boat headed to Mantigue Island

16. Punta Bilar – Surigao City, Surigao del Norte

This island boasts of colorful corals and a huge array of fishes. As a bonus, the scenery in this place is just absolutely breathtaking. The beautiful light blue water, white sand, and trees that can be seen in the area will make you feel like you’re in paradise!

Budget:

Snorkel Rental

P200 – P300

How to go:

  • From the city, take a jeepney or a multicab going to Lipata Pier

17. Pinagbuyutan Island – El Nido, Palawan

El Nido is well known for its beach sites that looks like it came straight out of your imagination. Pinagbuyutan Island boasts of its glass-like water and amazing corals. Perfect to unwind, swim and snorkel!

Budget:

Snorkel Rental

P300 – P500

How to go:

  • From Manila, book a flight going to Puerto Princesa
  • Once you are in Puerto Princesa, ride the bus, van or even a ferry going to El Nido
  • In El Nido, take a tricycle going to your hotel

18. Anilao – Batangas

If you’re looking for a place that is near Manila but worth your money, Anilao is the perfect place for you.

The scenery underwater is basically picture perfect. Speaking of pictures, macro underwater photography is popular here! When you visit, don’t forget to bring your camera.

Budget

Snorkel Rental and Boat Tour

P2,500

*Good for 8 pax

How to go:

  • 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

19. Maasim Reef – Sarangani Bay, Southern Mindanao

Maasim Reef is definitely for those who would like a challenge during scuba diving or even snorkeling! The currents here are unstable; it usually plays around moderate to strong, depending on the weather and the season.

Budget:

Snorkel Rental

P250

How to go:

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

20. Pandan Island – Occidental Mindoro

Pandan Island is the home to snappers, butterfly fish, parrot fish and more! The white sand beach is very inviting and the ideal place to unwind after a stressful week at work.

Budget:

Private Tour

*Snorkeling included

P900 – P 1,000 per person

How to go:

  • From Manila, ride the bus going to Sablayan
  • From Sablayan, take a boat going to Pandan Island

(Read: Top Scenic Road Trip Destinations For People Who Like Long Drives)

21. Cabilao Island – Bohol

The reefs found in Cabilao Island are beautiful and well preserved. It also has white sand beaches and coastal rock formations that surround the area.

Cabilao Island also has a bird sanctuary you can visit if you’re into bird watching.

When snorkeling, make sure you don’t forget your camera because the water is clear as day. The island will continually prove to you that it is one of the best islands in Central Visayas for scuba diving and snorkeling. An island full of surprises I must say!

Budget:

Snorkel Rental

P200 – P300

How to go:

  • From Manila, book a flight to Cebu – Mactan
  • Ride a bus or a van going to Cebu City Pier
  • From Cebu City Pier, ride a ferry going to Tagbilaran Pier
  • From Tagbilaran Pier, ride a van going to Mocboc Pier, Loon
  • Once you arrive at Mocboc Pier rent a native outrigger boat (RORO) going to Cabilao Beach Club

22. Tubbataha Reef – El Nido, Palawan

For those who are a huge fan of history, Tubbataha Reef is the perfect place to snorkel for you! There are over 1,000 species of marine life to see and a number of interesting Japanese shipwrecks from WWII!

Budget:

Liveboard Rentals

*Includes snorkeling

$1,000 – 4,000 or around

P53,000 – 212,000

How to go:

  • 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)

23. Dakak Beach – Dapitan, Zamboanga Del Norte

Legend says that Dakak got its name from the sound of the birds that live in this place, an interesting fact to take note of. Dapitan, on the other hand, is filled with white sand beaches that are good diving and snorkeling spots!

Budget:

Day Tour

P500

How to go:

  • From Manila, book a flight going to Dipolog City
  • From the airport, ride a tricycle going to the city terminal
  • From the terminal, ride a bus or a van that will take you to Dapitan City

24. Cresta de Gallo Island – Sibuyan, Romblon

Romblon, in general, is under appreciated because it is not well known. One of the hidden treasures in this place has is the Cresta de Gallo Island found in Sibuyan.

The water is so clear that it feels like you’re looking into glass, match that with its fine white sand beach and it is a diver’s paradise indeed. Snorkeling in this place will make you feel all sorts of emotions, it’s that beautiful.

Budget:

Day Tour

*Includes snorkeling

P3,500

How to go:

  • From Batangas port ride a ferry going to Sibuyan Island

25. Calayan Island – Cagayan

Calayan Island is one of the five major islands in the Cagayan province. This place is rarely visited but that doesn’t mean that it is a disappointment, it’s just not well known; yet another gem of the Philippines waiting to be discovered.

Visit the island’s caves, falls and coves. Don’t forget to dive in and enjoy snorkeling in their blue waters and white sand beaches!

Budget:

Round Trip

*Includes snorkeling

P1,000 per person

How to go:

  • From Manila, ride a bus going to Tuguegarao
  • From Tuguegarao, ride a van or jeepney going to Claveria
  • Go to the port then board a ferry bound to Calayan Island

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

26. Talikud Island – Davao

Popular with celebrities, Talikud Island is worth visiting. You can laze around its white sand beach and swim in its very enticing clear blue water. Two days wouldn’t even be enough for you to enjoy its beauty!

Budget:

Snorkeling and Boat Rental

P300 – P500 per person

How to go:

  • From Manila, book a flight going to Davao City
  • From Davao City, ride a boat going to Talicud Island

27. Siquijor

Also known as “Esla del Fuego” or “Island on fire”, it is popular for its fireflies! When you visit this place, it would feel like you’re in a Disney movie wherein you’re about to have your big moment with your prince/princess.

The beach itself has the traditional coconut palms, golden brown sand and crystal-clear water. For sure it is a dream come true for divers and snorkelers.

Budget:

Snorkel Rental

P260

How to go:

  • From Manila, book a flight going to Dumaguete
  • From the airport, take a tricycle going to Dumaguete Port
  • From there, take a boat to Siquijor

28. Antonia Beach – Iloilo

Some say that this paradise-like beach was named after a lone resort found on the peninsula. It is an underdeveloped island wherein electricity is provided by generators, perfect if you need to get away from the toxicity of social media nowadays.

Budget:

Snorkel Rental

P200 – P300

How to go:

  • From Estancia Port, ride a ferry going to Brgy. Lantangan
  • Once you are there, ride another ferry going to Antonia Beach

29. Pamilacan Island – Panglao, Bohol

Have you ever had that feeling where you suddenly want to go somewhere in the province just so you can relax and unwind? Well, if your answer is yes, why don’t you go to Pamilacan Island for a quick getaway?

It is the home to a ton of small and colorful fishes. What makes this island special is that even if you are in shallow water, there is a chance that you will able to see dolphins, manta rays, and if you’re lucky, whale sharks too.

And if you’re done snorkeling, you can even get a massage on the beach. Talk about high-class service right there!

Budget:

Island Hopping

*Snorkeling included  

P500 – P1,000 per person

How to go:

  • From Manila, book a flight going to Tagbilaran airport
  • From there, go to Baclayon or Loay boat station
  • Ride a boat going to Pamilacan Island

30. Puka Shell Beach – Boracay

Puka Beach has this elite and exclusive feel to it because of where it is located and the fact that there is a forest alongside the island and a gigantic cliff upfront.

The sand is pure white but feels a bit coarser than the other beaches in Boracay because small parts of broken corals got mixed in with the sand.

There are a lot of activities you can do here like kayaking, paddle boarding, and snorkeling just to name a few.

Budget:

Island Hopping

*Snorkeling included 

P800 – P1,500 per person

How to go:

  • From Boracay, it only takes about 15 – 20 minutes ride away to get to Puka Beach. You can ride a tricycle (P150), motorcycle (P100 – P150) or by island hopping.

Things you need to know before snorkeling

What is Snorkeling anyway? Snorkeling is basically swimming with a mask, fins and a snorkel that allows you to breathe through your mouth while floating on shallow water.

As simple as it sounds, snorkeling is not a sport that you can just throw on the gear they gave you and jump into the open blue right away. Of course, you need to know the risks and safety procedures before diving in.

Equipment you need for snorkeling

  • Mask
  • Snorkel
  • Fins
  • Rash guard

Tips you need to follow:

Tip #1: NEVER SETTLE FOR CHEAP EQUIPMENT

Make sure that the equipment you are paying for are all in great quality. It’s not throwing money away if it’s on vital equipment that will allow you to snorkel safely.

Tip #2: BREAK IT IN

Once you have your equipment, do a test run on the shallow parts of the site before going to the deeper areas. Make sure that everything fits you well and is all functioning properly.

Tip #3: PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND PRACTICE!

Practice breathing in and out through the snorkel and stay as calm as possible or else you will scare the fishes away. Float – don’t flail.

Tip #4: DO NOT SNORKEL ALONE

I know that snorkeling is safe and not as daring as scuba diving, but if you are a beginner, you need to understand that in some snorkeling sites the current can change from mild to strong really quick. Make sure that you always have someone with you .

Tip #5: DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING

I repeat, DO. NOT. TOUCH. ANYTHING. I know that it is tempting to touch the harmless and friendly looking sea creatures but be aware that some fishes are threatened if you get too close. Remember that they don’t live with humans and that is why everything about us is scary to them. So, keep your hands to yourself. And don’t even think about getting a souvenir! Respect their home, it’s the only one they have, and it is our duty to take care of it, not take away from it.

Tip #6: HAVE FUN

Get to know your surroundings and enjoy! There is so much beauty hidden underwater. That is why if you are lucky enough to be able to witness it, absorb it. Forget all your problems for a second and relax, you deserve it!

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."