MANILA, Philippines – Diving is one of the things I love doing. Here are 5 diving spots I recommend to my fellow diving enthusiasts, and to tourists who want to try diving in the Philippines.
If you’ve been to any of them, I’m sure you’ll agree when I say that a second visit is always more than worth it — and a 3rd or more is always a charm.
1. Tubbataha Reef
Need I say more?
At 30 feet, I saw white tip, black tip and reef sharks all hanging out, no rush to swim anywhere. At 20 feet, I saw manta rays gliding right past me, oblivious to the gawking divers surrounding them. At 10 feet, I saw diverse corals of every texture, color and size, their brilliance breathtaking just beneath the surface.
From the boat, I saw pornography — hawksbill turtles mating on the surface! Even more shocking, as I walked on the pristine white sand surrounding the Ranger’s Station, I saw a huge nurse shark watching me.
Tubbataha Reef is on every diver’s bucket list. If you have an opportunity to go and see it, go! It’s a diver’s dream. Even if you dive 4 to 6 times a day, you won’t feel tired. Every dive reveals something special to see.
My home away from home. Better yet, my underwater playground. This was where I first got my scuba diving license in 1993 and has been my escape for the past 20 years.
The resorts in Anilao are very affordable. The food, fresh and good. Best of all, as a diver, you have hundreds of sites to choose from. Each dive site has a little unique surprise.
My favorite will always be “Mainit,” a site that housed my favorite sea creatures like sharks, barracudas and turtles. Recently, we spotted a lone manta ray.
A mere two-hour drive from Manila, Anilao will always be my sea haven — my home and my escape.
3. Apo Natural Reef Park
This reef gives me bittersweet memories. A liveaboard my family was on capsized here. That was a long time ago, and was a great adventure and bonding experience for my family.
Flashbacks of that trip are still vivid and I remember how beautiful both the reef and island were. After the ordeal, we still wanted to dive.
Thank God we did. We were blessed to see 3 graceful manta rays flipping and showing their bellies. They looked like they were dancing without a care in the world.
We recently visited Apo Reef again. The sites were still amazing with sharks, barracudas and turtles. Sadly, our manta ray ballerinas were not there.
Apo Reef has several liveaboard trips. A trip will cost about P17,000 to P18,000 per person. Visit Apo Reef Club for more information.
4. Siquijor and Oslob
The mystical Island of Siquijor was a very pleasant surprise. I was not expecting great dives on this trip but I was so wrong. One of the San Juan sites housed huge mackerel, baby squid and mother milkfish — the biggest milkfish I’ve seen to date.
The highlight of my trip, though, was our trip to Oslob, Cebu, a boat ride away from Siquijor. In Oslob, we were able to dive — not just swim — with the regal whalesharks. I swam with them in Donsol in Bicol but was never able to dive underneath them.
The whalesharks were as big as cars. To have them looming over us like clouds was one for the books. It was great just being able to watch them glide over the surface and not half-drown trying to swim to keep up with them. They were so majestic. [See lead photo]
In Siquijor, we stayed at the Coco Grove Resort. They have a great dive shop and can help coordinate and schedule your dive trips.
I was not particularly a fan of wreck dives but I understood the allure it offered most divers. Visibility may be difficult especially inside dark planes and sunken ships. I sometimes got a chill up my spine if I couldn’t properly see the creatures around me. I was worried if I flashed my light in any direction I’d see a huge fish with fangs right beside me.
Coron was different, though. I appreciated the history crash course from all the Japanese war ships that crashed and sank during the war. The gorgeous islands gave us refuge in-between dives.
Some of my favorite sites were the Okikawa Maru and the Irako sites. There were a lot of schools of sweet lips and napoleon wrasse fish.
Coron has a wide selection of resorts to choose from and a dozen sunken Japanese shipwrecks. Visit their site tourism site for help with accommodations. Check out Coron Wrecks before you plan your dive trip. The history will help you appreciate the sites. – Rappler.com
Do you have recommended dive spots, too? Share them with us by posting your comment below.
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Tanya Lim is an adventure travel junkie. When she’s not traveling on a budget or seeking new adventures, she focuses on her day job as a hotel executive.