1. Tubbataha reef - Sulu Sea
The number one racking on our list of best dive site in The Philippines is reserved for the Tubbataha Marine Park. Large pelagics including hammerhead, reef and whale sharks, pristine hard and soft coral reefs, turtles, sea kraits and manta rays are part of the daily routine of Tubbataha. Unfortunately the park lies in the middle of the Sulu Sea and can only be reached by liveaboard between March and June.
2. Canyons - Puerto Galera
Located a short boat ride from Puerto Galera is the famous dive site the canyons. Fierce currents propel you over a series of three canyons. In the canyons you can escape the currents and find schools of trevallies, barracudas, sweet fish and angelfish. It is probably one of the best sites close to Manila to encounter large pelagics such as eagle rays, manta rays and thresher, hammerhead and white tip reef sharks. The canyons are only for experienced divers and can be dived any time of the year.
3. Apo Island - Negros Oriental
Several world class dive sites surround volcanic Apo Island. Visibility is usually excellent and strong currents bring in pelagics, such as tunas, schools of jacks and barracudas. Locals established a marine sanctuary in the beginning of the 1980’s and as a result the sites are festooned with hard and soft coral and teeming with fish. There are two small resorts located on the island that are offering diving tours. Dive shops located on the mainland are also organizing daily tours to Apo reefs. Best time to visit Apo’s reefs is between December and May. Advanced divers certification is required due to dept and strong currents.
4. Yapak - Boracay
North of Boracay is Yapak a deep wall dive site starting at a depth of 30 meter and dropping to 70 meter. Yapak actually consists of 4 dive sites, numbered 1-4 and two separate walls. Current are strong and can be fickle - pushing you down the wall. Barracuda’s, sharks, mantra rays frequently visit the wall, which is elaborately decorated with sea fans and soft corals. This is an awesome site; just keep an eye on your depth meter. Experienced divers only. Best time to dive is from December to May.
5. Balicasag - Bohol
Located an hour by banca from Panglao is Balicasag Island surrounded by pristine coral reefs in crystal clear waters. Diver’s heaven and black forest are the most interesting sites. Black forest is renowned for its black coral reefs teeming with macro life and at greater depths schools of barracuda. Diver’s heaven is a wall dive starting at 6 meter with healthy hard coral gardens and plenty of marine critters. Mild currents and a shallow reef make this site also good for snorkelers to explore. Best time to visit is during the dry season from December to May
Almost guaranteed sightings of thresher sharks are the reason why many divers come to Malapascua. Monad Shoal is the site where most of the action is happening and aside from sharks are frequently visited by manta rays and other large pelagics such as hammerhead sharks. Visibility can be fickle and varies with depth, currents are usually mild. Sharks are sighted year round, but the seas can be rough between November and January.
Donsol is attracting visitors for swimming and diving with whale sharks. Every year between February and June these massive creatures congregate in the bay of Donsol. The sharks are an impressive sight, but despite their size completely harmless to humans.
8. Olympia Maru - Coron
In the waters surrounding Coron - the wreck diving capital of The Philippines – lie more then a dozen Japanese WW II wrecks. One of the most attractive is the 112 meter long freighter Olympia Maru, resting in 25 meters of water and overgrown with sea anemones, hydroids and hard- and soft corals. Shoals of fusiliers, groupers, jacks, snappers, batfish, and surgeonfish are patrolling the wreck. Penetration is easy and doesn’t require any special certification or experience. Best time to visit is from March until June.
9. USS New York - Subic
In the immediate vicinity of Subic are numerous WWII wrecks at diveable depths. Most notable is the battle cruiser USS New York laying on her port side in 28 meters (90 feet) of water. The ship was scuttled in the beginning of WWII by US forces to prevent it from falling into Japanese hands. Visibility can be anything between 3 – 20 meters (10-70 feet) in the bay and generally best in the dry season from December to April. Deep penetration of the wreck is possible, but only for experienced wreck divers with a guide.