Both Bicol and Cebu are home to a handful of diverse and stunning dive sites, perfect for beginners and professionals alike. Prepare to be blown away by the clear waters and vibrant marine life that await you there!
Dive Sites in Bicol
1. Manta Bowl
If you take a trip down to Ticao Island, be sure to check out the Manta Bowl dive site. Dubbed the mecca of dive sites, the Manta Bowl is recognised by a deep compression in the shape of a, surprise, surprise- bowl. Manta rays frequent the region, sometimes in large numbers, as a quick stop to clean themselves up by the cleaner wrasses that gather there. On top of the manta rays, divers can also spot different species of sharks such as whales, threshers and hammerheads. However, do note that Manta Bowl is only open for diving between the months of December and June.
How to get there: Take a flight to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL), Manila, before heading onto another light to Bicol International Airport (LGP). From Bicol airport, arrange for your own transportation or your dive operator will arrange for it.
2. Catanduanes Island
The sunny island of Catanduanes houses Agojo Reef, which is easily accessible by a short boat ride from San Andres. With a depth of over 46 meters and average visibility of 28 to 30 meters, Agojo Reef is a divers paradise. The shallow area leads to a drop, where the reef blossoms at a depth of 30 meters. There is no lack of corals in the Agojo Reef – from the shallow area to the depths of 50 meters. Dugongs, also known as sea cows, are observed feeding around the area of the reef.
Visit the Poseidon Rock while you are there for a tranquil dive, surrounded by nature’s Finest formations. The name arises from Poseidon, the Greek God of the Sea, which is perfect for the degree of Olympian aura this destination offers.
For beginners or less advanced divers: You can also snorkel in the waters for a closer look at the marine ecosystem.
How to get there: From Bicol International Airport (LGP), take a short ride of less than an hour to Tabaco Port, where you can hop onto a ferry heading towards San Andres Port on Catanduanes Island.
Dive Sites in Cebu
Surrounding Malapascua Island
1. Monad Shoal
Known as ‘Shark Point’ – the best place in the world to catch a glimpse of the intimidating thresher sharks! It is a great location for underwater photography, with the abundance of critters, pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, mantis shrimps and many more tropical marine creatures. It takes around 30 minutes to reach Monad Shoal by boat from Malapascua Island.
2. Gato Island
Home to a marine reserve, there’s plenty to offer here for divers. At a depth of 10 meters, there is a tunnel 30 meters long, where you can have a thrilling experience swimming past White Tip Reef Sharks!
3. Doña Marilyn
One of the most beautiful wreck dives of the Visayas, Doña Marilyn is a 98 meter long ferry that sank to depths in 1988 near Malapascua Island. The ferry lies 30 meters deep with its shallowest point standing at 18 meters. Healthy corals have made the wreck their homes, attracting tiny glass fishes and colourful sweetlips, scorpion fishes, batishes and nudibranchs. The exotic marine life is topped with sightings of blue-spotted stingrays and even an eagle ray.
Note: Due to the dangerous currents and depths of this wreck, it is only recommended for certified advanced divers to explore this area!
Surrounding Malapascua Island
1. Kontiki House Reef
If you’re a novice diver, Kontiki House Reef is the perfect place to dive! This shallow area is covered with healthy, colourful corals and seagrass. It is a great spot for macro underwater photography as well as night dives. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the impressive variety of underwater critters!
Tambuli, located along the coast of Mactan is home to an aeroplane, at a depth of 22 meters, sunk as an artificial wreck in Tambuli several years ago. Ever since the wreck has become the home to the exotic marine ecosystems that flood Mactan’s waters. Divers can encounter all sorts of colourful life here! This site also perfect for new divers.
3. Marigondon Cave
For more experienced divers, Marigondon Cave is an excellent dive spot along the coast of Mactan Island. Its roof is around 20 meters and the loor at 40 meters. Divers can spot lionishes near the opening of the cave and much more inside. Deeper in the cave, divers can spot schools of flashlight fish that blink in the dark, as well as some giant crabs. This cave may be an intimidating explorative experience for many but it’s so worth the dive.
1. Pescador Island
The waters’ visibility at the Pescador Island is clear and you can enjoy the abundance of beautiful corals in the area. The reef plateau that surrounds the island slopes down to around 8 to 10 meters before it drops down into the abyss. It is a wall dive covered with corals, small caverns and holes in the reef wall where one can enter and exit. Dive deeper to catch a glimpse of the majestic white tip sharks and hammerhead sharks. If you are lucky, you can spot the less-frequent tiger sharks and thresher sharks.
2. Tongo Point
This dive site is popular for its beautiful large clams, lame ire shells, sea turtles and even whale sharks. In addition to this marine life, there are also various nudibranchs, barracudas, snappers, parrotfishes and pipefishes. The caves are full of hard and soft corals, gorgonians and colorful sponges.
3. Sunken Island
The Sunken Island features an underwater pinnacle, with its summit at about 25 meters below the surface, Sunken Island is a must-dive destination. This dive is best suited for advanced and certified divers due to the strong and unpredictable currents. Sunken Island is home to large schools of jacks, sponges and gorgonians. Divers also can encounter barracudas, lionfishes, snappers, groupers and many more reef fishes.
To read more, do check out our Discover the Philippines e-Newsletter series! Both Bicol and Cebu have plenty to offer for all divers, so do consider them as your next travel destinations to fully immerse yourselves in the tropics and experience all the diving adventures that the Philippines has to offer to you!