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We are going on vacation to the Philippines in April and May this year. We were wondering if anyone could please recommend some dive spots for us, as we are very lost on this topic!! We dont want to end up leaving the Philippines having missed out on anything! We have searched and searched on the web, but we havent been able to come up with a definitive answer. We have never dived before, so we would like to do an open-water dive course in the Philippines, and then perhaps do 10 or so dives around the Philippines. We will have 2 months, so we dont mind island hopping to the best spots. We are nature lovers so we are looking for dive spots where we would see the most marine life, or perhaps special dive sites where we can perhaps see particular marine species such as thresher sharks, manta rays, dugongs etc. Would anyone be able to recommend a few of the top beginners spots and also where would be the most 'interesting' place to do our open water dive courses? Thank you very much for your time!
Somewhere beyond the sea...over the rainbow, chocolate NIPS! :)
I'm a Fish!
Anilao Batangas is the nearest place to Manila, which offers a wide array of sites to suit every divers tastes. There are lots of flora & fauna to be seen in numerous sites in this place. There have been sightings of eagle rays in some sights as well as huge jacks, barracudas, turtles, napoleon wrasses, etc. Other noteable sites are in Puerto Galera, Apo Island, Apo Reef,Moalboal in Cebu for the thresher sharks, Tubbataha Reefs in Sulu Sea, Coron Island in Palawan for WW2 Japanese wrecks. If you want to have a sighting of the whale sharks, the time that you come here to the Philippines is the peak season in Donsol. They don't allow scuba though. Anyways, you can check up on www.wowphilippines.com.ph for the different sights around the country. Oh, I can also offer you the scuba lessons as well! =)
Thanx so much for the advice! But I have a few more questions if that ok! Is it possible for beginners to dive at the Tabbataha Reefs and are some of the wreck dives at Coron Bay suitable for beginners? I have heard that there are some beginners wrecks at Subic bay - would it be better to dive these wrecks or the ones in Coron Bay? Also, would we need to do an advanced open water course to see the Thresher sharks at moalboal, or would a regular open water course be ok? Which is better for thresher sharks - Moalboal or Malapascua? We will definitely head to Donsol for the whale sharks! Thanx again for the advice and we will definitely keep you in mind for our dive course - where are you situated?
Somewhere beyond the sea...over the rainbow, chocolate NIPS! :)
I'm a Fish!
The Tubbataha Reef is only open from march to june if i'm not mistaken. beginners can dive Tubbataha, but it is much advisable if you are already comfortable & have mastered your bouyancy. It's better for you to gain experience first in other types of diving like drift diving. Coron has clear & relatively calm waters. Most of the wrecks are situated in 60-80 ft (18-25 m) of water so its no problem. The thresher sharks can be seen at Malapascua, but it really depends on the luck of the draw. They can appear at anytime. Subic bay are mainly American wrecks since it was a naval base before. They have large galleons over there but the viz is kind of bad. There are not much life forms over there, unless you just want to look at the wrecks. Generally, other locations require for one to be an advanced diver before venturing out since you have more experience in diving. One thing to counter this is to rack up your dives as soon as you are done with your open water course. Am based in Manila. PM me your email address so that we can correspond further.
I disagree stongly that the wrecks in Coron are suitable for beginners- the viz is often pretty limited due to the oyster farms near by and the current can rip. There's a hyperbaric chamber in town which can mean a few different things! Saying that- if you do end up doing a few dives by the end of your vacation, it can be a great experience. I dived with SeaDive there- I'd recommend doing a wreck-course first using reels etc. For the 'fun dives' groups can be quite large (eg. 6 divers) which IMO, can be too much for the guide at the front of the group to adequately supervise. I got my Nitrox course there for cheap- US$100. Nitrox courses are pretty basic but can extend bottom times quite nicely and give you a little more protection if you dive conservatively.
The Visayas region has a lot of diversity and an Int. airport (Mactan, Cebu). Malapascua is a nice small island- no touts, no hard sells, no blaring discos, very laid back with nice white sand beaches. The thresher shark dive isn't very deep although the current can be strong. Beginners can be disappointed if the sharks don't appear but there are other things to see if you get into macro stuff. You basically sit on the bottom and wait. Good on nitrox. There are a few different spots around Malapascua and good night diving- threshers aren't guaranteed of course but I'd check it out and also Gato Island about 2 hrs away for some really cool experiences. I dived there with Thresher Shark Divers and would recommend them for an OW course.
Moalboal has some good dives and lots of diveshops to choose from. Pescador Is is the main dive spot. Whale sharks do frequent the area. Moalboal nightlife can be a little seedy. There's some waterfalls nearby and you can rent motorbikes and explore the area easily. However the locals put a hard sell on you for buying T-shirts and necklaces.
Mactan Is has some fair diving and is easily accessible. The dives are pretty easy- mostly walls without much current for the most part. Unfortunately there's no scene at night- the resorts are not connected and you're pretty much stuck in one for the night.
Bohol and Alona Beach are pretty good as well. Tarsier monkeys on the mainland, chocolate hills at dawn are great, good choice for dive shops, easy beach to walk down, different bars and restaurants.
Apo Island down south is excellent diving and has some challenging currents, big fish, beautiful corals etc. It is remote but I loved it. There's some nice hiking in the area as well. No real apres-dive scene but some cool bars in the university town of Dumaguete.
Up north, Puerta Galera has to be the pick I think. I would by far and away recommend Asia Divers on Sabang Beach for a course if you do one there. Not the cheapest but the best. There is an emphasis on the customer having fun both in the water and out- they are up to date with their safety procedures, have a pool on site, good equipment and native English instructors. **** This is important in my opinion especially for the Open Water course as you need to have confidence in the instructor and you know exactly what is going on.**** The diving in Puerta Galera has a lot to offer for beginners and advanced- great night diving and a lively bar scene with a quiet beach around the corner for relaxing out.
With your plan of an OW course and 10 dives- I'd do OW in Puerta Galera and hit Moalboal and Malapascua (advanced?/ nitrox?) for a couple of days each.