A whale shark feeds at the water’s surface in Southern Leyte, one of the Philippines’ noteworthy dive sites
The Philippines is home to a stunning array of dive sites teeming with a myriad of biodiversity. Here are 3 sites where divers can witness a long list of wondrous underwater sights.
Text credit: Shreya Acharya
Images credit: Shutterstock
1) SOUTHERN LEYTE
Known for: Macro diving, whale sharks
Four major areas make up the extent of diving in Leyte, and they are all in the extreme southern tip of the island.
Limasawa Island, just off the southern point of Leyte, is perfect for all levels of diving. Environments include deep canyons, steep walls and healthy reefs. Note that the currents can be strong here. Panaon Island and Sogod Bay are where whale sharks are spotted between November and May. When the whale sharks are not present, whales, dolphins and manta rays take their place.
Further north from Panaon Island, Libagon offers manta rays, whale sharks and dolphins. Finally, the area around the southern peninsula of Leyte is home to a wide range of dive sites. Most of these sites, around Tankaan and Padre Burgas, play host to schools of barracuda, sweetlips, fusiliers, tuna and jacks as well as gorgeous hard and soft corals.
2) DAUIN, DUMAGUETE
Known for: Hard coral walls, muck diving
Dumaguete is located on the island of Negros, a one-hour flight from Manila. All dive sites in Dauin are protected marine sanctuaries and can be explored via shore entry.
The dives sites of Dauin have a number of great macro subjects, including pipefish, mandarinfish, juvenile batfish, seahorses, mantis shrimp, ribbon eels, dragonets, hairy squat lobster, snake eels, wonderpus octopuses, bobtail squid, a large number of nudibranchs, blue-ring octopuses, harlequin shrimp, and flamboyant cuttlefish.
As a bonus, most dive resorts along the Dauin coastline offer a day trip to Oslob, where you can swim and snorkel up-close with the ocean’s biggest fish, whale sharks. It is located about a 2.5-hour drive away from Daum, and sightings of these gentle creatures are practically guaranteed.
3) PUERTO GALERA
Known for: Verde Island Passage, critters, pelagic fish, drift diving
Situated at the heart of the Coral Triangle, Verde Island Passage is a strait that separates the provinces of Mindoro and Batangas. Many of the dive sites of Puerto Calera are located in the Verde Island Passage, where there are generally strong currents and clear water. This offers great opportunities for drift dives along the deep walls.
Three canyons make up “The Canyons” dive site, which is a hotspot for schooling trevally, groupers, drummers, snappers and barracuda Huge gorgonian sea fans and an abundance of soft corals make this a colourful site. Look out for turtles, sea snakes, hiding octopuses and passing reef sharks.
If you are a macro photographer, do not miss Sinandigan Wall. This beautiful coral wall extends down to 30 metres, from where it becomes a sloping reef. Look out for macro critters among the colourful soft corals and resting turtles.
This is an excerpt from an article from Asian Diver Issue 4 / 2020, which can be purchased here.
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