The Philippines are a collection of some 7,700 islands in the western Pacific Ocean of Southeast Asia. As a result of the huge number of islands and islets, the larger make-up of the Philippines is generally referenced in the context of three groupings:
- Luzon is far and away the biggest of the islands that constitute the Philippines. It is also the country’s center of commerce and home to the capital city of Manila. Luzon is located in the north of the archipelago
- The Visayas is an island grouping that is located in the center of the Philippines. There are three larger islands that constitute the majority of the region: the Eastern Visaya, Central Visayas, and Western Visayas. The largest and most well-known city in the Visayas is Cebu
- The southern portion of the Philippines is comprised of the island grouping of Mindanao, which also lends its name to the largest island in the region and second-largest behind Luzon. The main city of Mindanao is Davao.
As a result of so many islands and due to its relatively isolated location far away from the mainland Asian continent, the Philippines has developed into one of the pre-eminent diving locations in the world. Popular with both experienced divers who know what they’re looking for as well as beginning divers looking to gain experience and certification, the Philippines is consistently one of the most visited countries in the world for diving tourism.
How to Start Diving in the Philippines
Before going on any diving excursion in the Philippines, it is critical to get certified as a diver. The country offers dive schools across all of its many islands and once certified, tourists are able to have access to the best spots.
With pristine waters all across the country, it is easy to see why the Philippines is a premium diving destination. For anyone who wants to take a cursory look at the incredible reefs and wildlife found beneath the ocean waves, it is possible to grab a snorkel mask and head to any of the accessible beaches. Those who wish to have a more immersive experience can book a trip on a liveaboard dive boat, all of which are curated to ensure the best experiences in the best dive locations.
Liveaboard excursions are all-inclusive diving expeditions where the participants eat and sleep on the boat in between dives. They are typically for more seasoned divers and trips can last for days at a time. Each boat offers a varied experience and any diver with a diving certification can find the right trip for them.
More Casual Diving Options
For divers looking for more economical options, there are myriad dive shops that rent equipment to certified divers and local guides who offer day excursions. Check with your hostels or hotels for the best local options.
Where to Dive in the Philippines
With thousands of islands to choose from, the best spots to dive in the Philippines are constantly in flux, and no list would be able to adequately detail the nuances of each of the incredible locations. However, the majority of the established spots are located in the central and northern sections of the country, clustered in Luzon and the Visayas.
With that in mind, here are a few of the most popular starting points for the best diving in the Philippines:
- Manila (Luzon) is the capital city of the Philippines and one of its largest transportation hubs. Tourists who travel to Manila are often surprised by the clear waters and good diving found around the metropolitan area. The Canyons, which are located in Puerta Galera, and Mainit Point are two of the most popular dive sites in the country, and both offer opportunities to see active and vibrant reefs and sea life
- Boracay (Visayas) is a small island in the Western Visayas that was once voted the most beautiful in the world. Its clear waters are also world-class and offer scuba divers opportunities such as Yapak 2, which offers large marine life such as sharks and tuna, and the Camia Wreck, which sank in 2011 and has since been transformed into a beautiful reef
- Subic Bay is one of the more popular dive spots in the Philippines. Situated on the west coast, the former US Naval base is home to dozens of sunken ships and jets. The USS New York, Douglas Skyraider, and F4 Phantom are just a few of the locations the sea has turned into some of the best dive spots in the entire Philippines
Before traveling to the country to explore the many possibilities for diving, tourists should first check whether they require a visa to enter the Philippines. Many foreign citizens are able to travel to the Philippines visa-free for varying periods of short stay, depending on their nationality. Citizens of Taiwan are able to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization for the Philippines through a simple online application form.