PHILIPPINES DIVING HOLIDAYS

Liveaboard Holidays In The Philippines

Liveaboard diving in the Philippines is the ideal getaway for keen divers, and comes recommended as the perfect choice for diving in one of the world's ultimate hotspots. With a combination of tropical conditions, beautiful scenery and a largely unrivalled underwater wonderland; the haven of the Philippines has long been providing some of the most spectacular and unforgettable diving holidays for a range of skill levels. With more than 36,000km of coastline making it the world's fifth largest; the Philippines are naturally home to some of the ocean's most diverse marine life - and in astonishing proportions too.

Another vital cog in the Coral Triangle, the Philippines is the world's second largest archipelago and consists of 7,000 rainforest covered islands. Although the percentage of land covered in lush greenery has declined over the last couple of decades, the Philippines remain one of the world's most emphatic of life supporting areas. It houses one of the largest and most bio-diverse regions on the entire planet. But it is not just the land based creatures that mark out the Philippines as an area of natural beauty, as the life-teeming maritime waters encompass as much as 850,000m² putting the Philippines right at the top of the world's most attractive and intriguing destinations for diving enthusiasts, and in particular the liveaboard itineraries.

As well as enormous schools of fish and large pelagics roaming the waters of the world's third largest English speaking country, the Philippines are also home to over 25,000m² of coral reefs which house more than 75% of all coral species. Amongst all of this, six of the world's seven species of marine turtles and over 2,200 species of reef fish are also found swimming the crystal clear waters of the South-East-Asian Philippine archipelago. Conservation International considers the Philippines to be one of “the top priority hotspots for global conservation” as it is one of the few nations in its entirety “both a hot spot and a mega diversity country.”

Planet Suggested Tour Itineraries In Philippines

Diving Holidays In The Philippines

The Philippines archipelago, the world's twelfth most populous country, is surrounded by densely populated waters and home to one of the most diverse ecosystems anywhere in the world. Made up of over 7,000 islands, spread over 300,000Km², the sheer scale of Philippines diving makes choosing the best dive spot for your Philippines diving holiday, a challenge in itself.

There are plenty of diving destinations available for both a beginner diver and one who is more experienced. There are different itineraries to suit your needs and levels of diving. You could combine a Philippines liveaboard with  an island extension. Whatever your preference all our Philippines diving holidays can be combined with a city stopover in Manila or the likes of Hong Kong or Bangkok. Philippines diving, combined with the peoples warmth, hospitality, and the Philippines natural and cultural diversity you're assured of an exceptional diving holiday.

Philippines Liveaboard Itineraries

Philippine liveaboards remain the best way to experience as many of the mesmeric dive sites as possible. As you get more time in the water and greater access to the otherwise unattainable areas - a liveaboard itinerary can offer you far greater value with more bespoke choice. With some of the world's most bio-diverse and life-packed waters, the added dive time when travelling on a liveaboard means you get to more remote locations to appreciate the magical underwater wonderland of the Philippines. The social aspect of a luxury cruise boat is another benefit of diving on a liveaboard, as the chance to meet new, like-minded people who share your passion for Philippine diving can provide a lot more than just great conversation and diving hotspot tips.

Tubbataha

The Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park is made up of two atolls rising in the middle of the Sulu Sea, and measures 385m² in size. Considered by UNESCO a World Heritage Listed Site, the importance of this structure in the entire marine ecosystem cannot be underestimated (as many scientists agree that this is a nursery of young marine life). It is generally believed that this fascinating atoll gave the Sulu-Sulawesi Triangle its young fish and coral larvae - providing one of the most important fishing grounds of the Philippines, stretching as far South as Malaysia and Indonesia. The convergence of currents here brings in a full and consistent stream of nutrients along with fresh waters - which are perfect for developing a healthy reef and its later inhabitants. In near isolation, the monopoly held by this fantastic atoll ensures plenty of pelagic visitors amongst many of the other inhabitants. The well protected area has been manned 24/7 by guards and radars since 1998, a law which was enforced to preserve the life-giving haven by the president at the time. The only access is by liveaboard, as the nearest point is almost 100m away. During March to early June, the seas and skies are a little clearer and allow divers to visit. However, the strong winds and swells throughout the rest of the year naturally deter unauthorised visitors.

Apo Reef & Coron

Apo Reef and Coron are the perfect place to stop on your liveaboard diving holiday, as the mixture of fantastic marine life along with the incredible shipwrecks prove one of the most impressive and popular of trips to the Philippines. Apo Reef is under the Municipal Jurisdiction of Sablayan Occidental Mindoro and remains an isolated haven, as it continues to plentifully fill the Sulu and South of China's seas. Japanese Imperial Navy wrecks from WWII litter the seabed of the Calamianes Islands group, and make for some truly fascinating diving. Of the 24 camouflaged wrecks that sank back in 1994, 12 are diveable - and prove some of the finest underwater marvels found anywhere around the Philippines.

Anilao

Diving in Anilao is popular amongst diving enthusiasts due to the vibrant reefs and the diversity in marine life sustained. With some of the most intricately built ecosystems and fascinating macro-critters found around the area, the diving here is as exciting as it is enthralling. The drift dives around Puerto Galero are quite spectacular, as the strong currents that flush so much of the water onto the South China Sea are packed full of life and magnificent underwater visuals. Situated on the northern peninsula of Mindoro, the area is separated from Luzon by this Verde Island Passage. As this passage is so deep, the water is very clear and visibility is excellent - especially with the variety of dive sites along the Puerto Galero.

Southern Leyte

Southern Leyte is a province of the Philippines, located in the Eastern Visayas region and comes extremely highly recommended as a top dive site for large fish and pelagics. In the peak of the season, you have a strong chance of snorkeling with whale sharks. Whale sharks are something of a local resident to Limasawa, Napantaw, Padre Burgos and Liloan - and make some quite spectacular company on your liveaboard trip to these waters. Starting with Panaon Island, the Napantaw Marine Sanctuary has walls and slopes that are packed with both hard and soft corals. Covered with great gorgonians and black corals, the incredible waters are densely packed with thousands of fish species - including the wonderful giant frogfish. The protected area has been guarded for more than a decade now, and has continued to flourish as an untouched haven for marine life in astonishing proportions! Limasawa Island is another of the top sites here, allowing you to get up close and personal with more whale sharks, manta rays and many other fascinating creatures. Part of the largest sanctuary in Southern Leyte, this stunning area has some incredible steep walls and is blessed with many fantastic marine life visitors. Padre Burgos Jetty is another of the most popular dive spots, as the maze of piers is covered in soft corals that house many types of seahorses, juvenile lion-fish, frogfish, pink cowries and snake eels; making the spectacular underwater seascape one of the hottest night dive locations in the Philippines.

Diving The Philippines

The waters of the Philippines archipelago contains over 500 species of hard and soft coral, as well as innumerable varieties of fish and large pelagics, including the world's largest fish, the whale shark. In addition six of the seven species of marine turtles, schooling barracuda, trevally, tuna, giant frog fish, mandarin fish, napoleons, sardines, pegasus sea moth, pygmy seahorses and many thousand other reef species. The Philippines boasts one of the highest biodiversity ratios per unit area found anywhere on the planet. Diving the Philippines offers divers of all abilities some of the most diverse underwater environments, bringing together this astonishing range of marine life with some fantastic seascapes. Steep colourful walls, offshore pinnacles and coral atolls, critter hunting in coral gardens, wreck diving on a sunken Japanese fleet, diving the Philippines will leave you spoiled for choice. Diving the Philippines is in three broad regions:
 
Luzon and Mindora
 
With 12 million people living in the metro Manila region the local diving in northern Luzon is extremely popular, particularly in Anilao. Another well-liked dive spot are the wrecks of Subic Bay where travelling divers enter via Manila and then head on to more remote diving. Donsol, in southern Luzon, is the Whale Shark capital of the Philippines with diving possible from nearby Ticao Island.
 
On the island of Mindora, separated from Luzon by the Isla Verde Passage, the drift dives around Puerto Galero are quite spectacular, as strong currents flush waters packed full of life into the South China Sea. Situated on the northern peninsula of Mindoro, the straits are deep and the water is clear with excellent visibility. Apo Reef, off the south of Mindoro, remains an isolated haven which is accessed only by the Philippines Liveaboards.
 
Palawan and Tubbataha
 
In the north of Palawan Japanese Imperial Navy wrecks from WWII litter the seabed of the Calamiane Island group around Coron Bay. The wrecks of Coron make for some truly fascinating diving. Of the 24 camouflaged wrecks that were sunk back in 1944, 12 are diveable and the wrecks in Coron Bay, and surrounding shores of Busuanga, are some of the finest wreck diving in the Philippines. Off Busuanga there's also the chance to do some Dugong watching between dives.
 
The Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park is made up of two atolls rising up from the middle of the Sulu Sea, a nursery for young marine life. The only access is by one of the Philippines Liveaboards during March to early June.
 
The Visayas
 
The Visayas lie in the geographical heart of the Philippines between Luzon and Mindanao. The gateway to the Visayas is Cebu with direct access to Moalboal, with its macro diving and the sites around Pescador Island. To the north of Cebu are the Threshers of Malapascua Island. Across the channel from Cebu is the beautiful island of Bohol. The diving here is along the south and west at resorts like Cabilao, with its hammerheads, and Panglao, from where you can dive Balicasag Island. To the west of Cebu the resort of Dumaguete on Negros island with its dark sand bays offers some amazing muck diving. Further west still is resort island of Boracay, a great place for a Philippines Learn to Dive Holiday

Dive Seasons Of The Philippines

With a range of depths and fantastic visibility in the warm crystal waters of the Philippines - the diving is suited to divers of all skill levels, and really does have something for everyone. The islands are tidal and currents can be powerful, however, our land-based dive centres plan the days diving according to where the good diving is and match dive sites to the divers' abilities in order to get full enjoyment. Visibility is usually good in the open channels but is reduced in the shallows, particularly where river run off is a vital factor. On average visibility is between 10m to 40m.
 
The Philippines has a tropical maritime climate and is usually hot and humid throughout the year. There are two monsoon seasons in the Philippines. October to June, known as Amihan, cool trade winds blow from north-east bringing moderate temperatures and little or no rainfall. Throughout the rest of the year the south-west monsoon, Habagat, is hot and humid with a good chance of heavy rainfall, and a prevailing wind from the west. The transition between seasons normally occurs overnight but on some occasions can be unsettled for a week or two before settling into the new season. There are three main seasons across the Philippines affecting the diving:
 
Tag-lamig - winter is a cool and dry season (December to February)
Tag-init  - summer is a hot and dry season (March to May)
Tag-ulan - rainy season corresponding to the south-west monsoon Habagat (June to November)
 
Average air temperature is 13°C to 32°C with average water temperature staying a pretty constant 25°C to 28°C. Thermal protection is very much a matter of personal choice and dependent on the type and amount of diving you plan to be doing. Most people happily wear 3-5mm shorties or full suits. If you are just doing a few dives in the warm season you may get away with just a rash vest and shorts, others who feel the cold might like to dive with a hood.
 
Sitting astride the Typhoon Belt, the Philippines can experience torrential rain and thunderstorms from July to October. In a typical year eight or nine typhoons may get large enough to make landfall in the Philippines.

Diving And Island Hopping In The Philippines

Most of our guests diving in the Philippines combine one or more dive spots during the same holiday.

Using road and ferry transfers we combine five of the most famous dive destinations of the Philippines in one holiday. Alona Beach and Cabilao in BoholDumaguete and Moalboal are world famous for its macro diving or Malapascua for its Thresher Sharks. We can organise domestic flights to include the wrecks of Palawan. It's also possible to combine these spots with Boracay from Manila or Mindoro to dive with the Whale Sharks and Mantas when they are in season.

 

History And Culture Of The Philippines

The Philippines have many festivals and processions. The majority of the cultural celebrations are closely related to the Catholic religion. Nearly 90% of the Filipinos are Roman Catholic. Many of their religious ceremonies and festivals are in the following months: January, April, May and June.  
 
For the Filipinos themselves, every year the festivals and processions are days of great joy and happiness. Almost all celebrations feature music, dancing, and food feasts. The most well-known festivals are the procession of the Black Nazarene, the Ati-Atihan, the Sinulog, the Flores de Mayo and the Santa Cruzan

Travel Health For Philippines

Do ask your travel health expert (e.g. GP, practice nurse or travel clinic) to provide you with up-to-date information and vaccines to ensure your travels are safe and enjoyable.

Bring light and casual clothing like cotton or linen - but remember that you must cover up in public places. It is advised to cover up in the evenings to avoid mosquito bites. Sun protection is absolutely essential. It is recommended that you drink bottled water.

It is vital to ensure that all members of your party have adequate health and travel insurance cover, which not only includes cover for holiday cancellation and loss of baggage but also provides adequate medical cover including cover for any ‘higher risk’ activities you are likely to take part in.

Philippines Travel Money

The currency in the Philippines is the peso (PhP) and the Centavo. 100 centavos = P1. Coin denominations are: 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavos, P1, and P5. Bill denominations are: 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1, 000 pesos.
 
Foreign currency may be exchanged at your hotel, and in most of the large department stores, banks and authorised money changing shops. Exchanging money anywhere else is illegal and the laws are strictly enforced.
 
Most large stores, restaurants, hotels and resorts accept major credit cards including American Express, Visas and MasterCard. Travellers cheques, preferably American Express, are accepted at hotels and large department stores. Personal cheques drawn on foreign banks are generally not accepted.

The Entry Requirement

You will need to ensure you have correct documentation for your holiday including a full passport valid for the minimum period beyond your planned return date. You may also require a visa.

Citizens of most countries who are travelling to the Philippines for business and tourism purposes are allowed to enter the Philippines without visas for a stay not exceeding twenty-one days, provided they hold valid tickets for their return journey to port of origin or next port of destination and their passports valid for a period of at least six months beyond the contemplated period of stay. 

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