Diving Philippines is vast array of impressive diving to suit all needs. The philippines is an archipelago of 7,017 islands. Knowing where to dive and what type of diving on a limited time constraint is the the only headache. I chose to go there for just under 4 weeks in June and chose 3 places to dive that gave the greatest diversity of diving. It is easy to get to around the Philippines by land sea and air. Most poeple speak English and the diving, accomodation and food is cheap, in certain places. As instructors with all our own kit and doing 10 dive packages we found that on average a each dive cost around £16.
Diving Philippines has everything to offer from cheap diving for beginners in Boracay to some amazing wreck diving in Coron to macro sites in Dumaguete. Unfortunatley there are not many schools of fish in the Philippines due to over fishing and the sad use of dynamite fishing. Also if you really want to see whale sharks then Donsal offers you that possibility. However, be aware that they feed the Whale Sharks here and the environmental sustainability is a little suspect. Therefore you do not see them in their true environment (free and pelagic) which is for me not what it is all about.
The main reason we visited here was to see Thresher sharks. Something that I had wanted to see for most of my life. I had seen a documentary on them on National Geographic channel as a teenager and they had bewildered me from then on. Possibly one of the most beautiful sharks in the ocean due to their beautiful silver glistening bodies, large dark eyes and most of all for the long whip like Caudual fin.
A very rare species of shark and only seen in a handful of places around the world. I was desperate to get the opportunity to see them and Malapascua was a place that could almost guarantee you that chance. To get to Monad shoal where you can see them, you have to get up early – 4.30am. At around 5.30am they start to come up from the deep. They come up to shallower depths to warm up and feed. Sitting on a rocky platform at 24m we were blessed with this chance of seeing around 3 of them for about 15 mins. Murky waters, little sunlight and no flashes made for some grainy pictures but the observations was first class. Malapascua also offers more than just these sharks – macro life abundant, wreck dives, plunging reefs and vibrant corals.I particualry enjoyed the trip to Gato island which made for a fun day trip. A nice easy dive with some great swim throughs and a good chance to see white tip reef sharks. I also enjoyed Lighthouse, Deep Rock and Bangtigi dive sites.
On the west coast of Cebu Island and not more than an 8 hour bus ride from Malapascua is the Moalboal which is home to some amazing wall diving. From the shore you can actually see the dark blue sea where the walls plunge into the depths. We had come here in anticipation of Whale Sharks (rumours had been afoot) but also to dive Pescador Island (Frog Fish and Sardine ball) and also do do some reef diving.
We were not disappointed after getting a great deal with Nelsons Dive Shop. Their crew are friendly, fun and the local guides are somewhat different, in a good way and great at finding stuff for you. I did have a running bet with my guide though on who could find the most frog fish. Not wanting to boast but I won at a count of 6 to 5!! Free Tanduay for me! Anyway, Pescador Island is a must for froggies, sardine balls and macro life and some amazing underwater topography. We had an added bonus as well – a Whaleshark! We also dived Airplane Wreck (small sunken light aircraft), Marine Sanctuary (amazing corals), Kasai Wall and White Beach.
Our preferred dive site was Pescador but with strong currents on the south side it can be challenging to some. Highlight of the trip; I found a juv Clown Froggie, but ornates everywhere, nudis, cuttlefish, garden eels, shrimps and the odd turtle.
The wreck Diving capital of the Philippines and one of the reasons we came here in the first place. We booked in with Sea Dive. We had been recommended by other divers on their facilities (the only hyperbaric chamber on the island), good lodgings, excellent Bar (Hell Divers) and sumptuous beef burritos! We booked a 10 dive package with them. Most but not all the dives where on wrecks. Obviously the main attraction here is the Japanese WW2 wrecks which were sunk whilst hiding away from the US forces.
Most of the wrecks are supply ships and they have to be some of the best wreck diving I have done to date. Not only is it frightening in some places but the history surrounding the sunken treasures makes for some very memorable diving. Penetrating a propeller shaft at 40m deep then crawling through the 1m round hole for 30m is exhilarating. Going through in darkness where your lights didn’t do much help and no turning back makes your heart pound.
Once inside the cargo holds, and various parts of the ships the sights are fascinating. Inside some parts are left intact with machinery in full view. I cannot strongly enough recommend that you do Nitrox and Wreck specialities before you attempt these dives. These are challenging dives and you need experience whatever the dive operator might tell you.
The guides at Sea Dive were superb. They knew all the ins and outs of the wrecks and one of our DM’s, a guy called Nonoy who had done over 20,000 dives on these wrecks, so we knew we were in safe hands. Another special dive which is a must whilst in Coron is Barracuda lake – a fresh water lake. The lake is fresh water at the top 5m, then salt water below! The temperature of the lake is around 38 degrees C! The hottest dive I have done to date. There is not much life in the lake bar a few barracudas and shrimps but a worthwhile dive, especially when the DM can show you what he can do with the silty bottom! Its one of the only dives I have done to date where you have to clear your mask from sweat rather than water!