5 Most Stunning Scuba Diving Sites in the Philippines
Boasting of 7,107 islands and one of the most enviable marine ecosystems in the world, the Philippines has exceptional scuba diving sites spread across its archipelago.
The waters surrounding this tropical Southeast Asian country are enriched by the currents coming from the South China Sea in the west, Indian Ocean in the southwest, Celebes Sea in the south, the Philippine Sea and Pacific Ocean in the east, and East China Sea in the north.
It is no wonder why the Philippines has astonishing amount of marine life – fishes, shells, corals, and invertebrates – that makes it one of the most preferred diving destinations in the Indo-Pacific region.
In fact, there are several diving destinations in each of the major Philippine island group:
- El Nido
- La Union
- Puerto Galera
- Subic Bay
- Misamis Oriental
- Sarangani Bay
If it is possible to name the five most stunning scuba diving sites in the Philippines, then the following sites would have to be included.
1. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Palawan
About 98 nautical miles from Puerto Princesa, Palawan lies the pristine and protected 130,000-hectare Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a diver’s paradise inscribed as a natural wonder in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
As a natural wonder, Tubbataha Reefs possesses superlative features: extremely steep and perpendicular walls that have very deep bottoms, impressive sandy lagoons, and reef platforms that occupy large swaths of space.
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is also a diver’s paradise because it is a refuge to about 350 species of coral, 500 species of fishes, and marine animals that grow to humongous proportions: sharks, mantas, whales, wrasse, dolphins, groupers and turtles.
Gigantic sponges and sea fans also line the seabed of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.
2. Coron Bay, Palawan
Somewhere between the Busuanga and Culion islands in northern Palawan, Philippines is the Coron Bay, arguably one of the finest wreck diving destinations in Asia, if not the whole world.
In Coron Bay, divers can dive 10 to 43 meters in clear water and set eyes on 12 historic sunken ships that are still structurally intact, as long as 160 meters, with large blast holes on their hulls, and home to soft and hard corals as well as other mysterious marine animals.
These sunken ships were actually Japanese supply ships sunk during a blitzkrieg launched by the US Navy during World War II.
Other than the sunken ships, Coron Bay also features reefs, which are gaining popularity because of the local’s efforts to create fish sanctuaries.
3. Donsol, Sorsogon
The ideal diving site for divers and snorkelers wanting to witness the beauty of manta rays, whales, hammerhead sharks and other exotic marine life is Donsol in Sorsogon, Philippines.
In Donsol, manta rays visit between the months of December and May while whale sharks come between the months of January and May.
Whale sharks come to Donsol to mate and feed on planktons and krill that flow through the nearby San Bernardino Strait.
Because of the generous amounts of planktons and krill, whale sharks in Donsol can grow up to 18 meters.
Oftentimes, about 15 to 20 of them swim and eat together, creating a sight to behold for divers who are actually free to interact gently with these sea animals.
Other points of diving interest in Donsol are the Manta Bowl, where divers can see very large manta rays; San Miguel Island, where corals are said to be overwhelmingly beautiful; and St. Jerome’s Rock, where a rock teems with varied kinds of fish.
4. Negros Island
The fourth largest island in the Philippines with dazzling white-sand beaches, Negros boasts of diving sites perfect for underwater photography.
Perhaps the most popular diving site is the Apo Island, which is a small volcanic island that is a rich sanctuary for a large amount of sea creatures.
Among the creatures found here are clownfish, pipefish, lionfish, waspfish, sea horses, eels, and bobtail squids.
Another popular diving site is Sipalay, which has canyons, coral reefs, white-sand beaches, and breathtaking underwater scenery.
5. Islands of Cebu
Nestled in the middle of the Philippines is Cebu, a place known for its warm water where divers can dive almost any time of the year.
In Cebu, expert and novice divers can see fishes, corals, sponges, hammerhead sharks, and whale sharks in clear water.
Some of the most famous dive sites in Cebu include the following:
- Capitancillo = an uninhabited island with three excellent snorkeling sites, with up to 100 meters of underwater visibility
- Moalboal = ideal for diving and snorkeling, as beautiful shallow reefs and abundant marine creatures can best be seen in the months of January to May
- Sunken Island= an underwater pinnacle where groupers, sea snakes, anemones, corals, ferns, sharks and turtles are found
Copyright © 2011 Kerlyn Bautista
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