Divesites in the Philippines
Subic Bay: Three
hours from Manila is Subic Bay. This duty-free area is a former
naval base. On the bottom of this natural harbour lies more than 20
everything from a Spanish galleon, a Japanese patrol boat, a troop
a landing craft and an American battlecruiser from first world war.
is between 5-20m. Bottomtype: Sand/mud. No, or slight current. Varied
life, few corals.
is a 3,000-ton freighter, about 130m long. The wreck is
situated near the inner channel marker of Ilanin Bay. A small
freighter, the El
Capitan lies on its port side with its stern in 5 meters while its bow
20 meters. A large hole makes it easy to penetrate
the wreck in its entire length. The wreck is home to many lionfish,
sweetlips and groupers.
In a 60 minute dive I saw four different species of nudibranches.
USS New York
(****): This vessel
is a World War I vintage battle cruiser built in Philadelphia in 1891
scuttled by the US Navy at the approach of the Japanese in 1941. She
saw action in the Philippine-American war,
W.W.I and the Chinese revolution. Situated
between Alava Pier and the northern end of the runway, the New York
lies on its
port side in 27 meters (85 feet) of water. There is no curent and the
ranges from 5-15 meters. Experienced divers can penetrate the wreck,
main attraction is the four battle guns which are still erect and in
propeller also is impressive. The hole from the dynamite makes it easy
to penetrate the wreck that can
be explored from within in its entire length. In the wreck lives lionfish, sweetlips,
groupers and cuttlefish.
Phantom (****): American jet fighter
aircraft at 43 meters on the sandy bottom at the entrance of Subic Bay. Nose and tip of wings
are missing, otherwise the plane is intact. There is little coral and
marine life on the wreck, but if you take a rest in the pilots seat
watch out for scorpion
and lionfish. Its an
openwater descent and deco so the dive are not for the inexperiensed.
LCU (**): Landing
Craft Utility sitting upright on the sloping sandy bottom at 10-21
meter. The small wreck is abouy 35 meter long and has two cramped roms
which can be pennetrated, but its hardly worth it. There are plenty of lionfish, scorpionfish, rabbitfish, jackfish and nudibranches around.
This is an easy and shallow beginners wreckdive.
Island Barges (Wreck * / Fish ***): ~15
barges which was used by the american navy for dry dock are scuttled in
front of the resort on Grande Island on the sandy bottom between 4-33
meter. Most of the barges are around 10 meter, so this is a shallow
easy dive. This is the divesite in Subic
Bay with the most marine life. Expect to see plenty of nudibranches, stingrays, lionfish, scorpionfish, schools
of smaller snappers and fusiliers. Larger sweetlips and snappers are abundant as well as rabbitfish and batfish. If you are lucky you
will see leaffish
and schools of barracuda and
St. Quintin (Wreck * / Fish ***): Spanish
warship from around 1870. She is a wooden steamer gunboat scuttled
during the American / Spanish war in
1898 in a futile attempt to block the channel between Grande and
islands against the invading Americans. She is around 100m long and
between 12-16m under water. The wreck itself
is nothing special. It has collapsed completely and not much is left,
two big boilers are still intact. The
fish life around the wreck is good with groupers, angelfish, grunts and
nudibranches. I saw a
white leaffish at
this site. Since it is the closest wreck to the open
sea the visibility is better than at the wrecks in the inner harbor.
The schools of fish
near the open sea seems to be larger and there is a more varied marine
Seiam Maru (***): This vessel is
situated between Alava Pier and the northern end of the
runway. A Japanese cargo vessel of approximately 30,000 tons sunk by
American Navy in 1945, the Seian Maru lies on its portside in 27
meters. The boat is quite damaged with a lot
of holes, good for penetration. The fish life includes schools of jackfish,
groupers, lionfish, pufferfish and nudibranches.
Visibility from 5-15 meters, depeding on the tide.
hours south of Manila in the Batangas province is Nasugbu, Matabungkay
and Calatagan situated on a coastline facing the South China Sea. In
most places the diving here is not good due to extensive damage by
dynamite, cyanide and over fishing. However a few good places
remain, mainly close to Nasugbu.
Punta Fuego (**): A small peninsula on the coast north of
Nasugbu. An impressive number of nudibranches but not
much else of interest apart from smaller fish like fusiliers. The
corals are mostly intact.
Awash reef (***): A channel between two minute islands off the
coast north of Nasugbu. This site also have a large number of nudibranches and a few
territorial fish like moray eels,
royal angelfish and schools of fusiliers.
Blue Hole, Fortune Island (****): One hour west of Nasugbu is
Fortune island host to an expensive resort. Due to the resort most of
the corals around the island are intact. The Blue Hole is a cave with
an opening in the top and side.
Porcelain crabs and boxershrimps lives on the
wall of the cave and a large grouper
just outside. Several species of both moray eels and
boxfish as well as other
territorial fish hang around. I saw giant
clams, a large conch and a
manta ray near the surface.
The deep reef (***): In front of Fortune Island resort. Several
species of both moray eels
angelfish are seen. Especially pygmy angelfish are common. Giant clams, egg cowries and a few schools of
Calatagan the Wall (****): Situated on the southernmost point of
the peninsula this is the areas only wall worth diving. The corals are
nice both soft and
hard coral. Several
of nudibranches. Blue triggerfish and
schools of fusiliers are
abundant. I saw a few small
tunas and jackfish, a clown triggerfish and a
20cm helmet shell.
Calatagan Artificial reef (**): A local family concerned
about the condition of their local reef have started build this
artificial reef. A large number of hollow concrete slabs have been
build into pyramids, the largest with a cross on top commemorating the
founder of the reef who was killed by local fishermen whom opposed reef
conservation. It has attracted a good number of fish, and corals are
beginning to appear. Its not a top divesite yet but an interesting
place never the less. Blue
triggerfish and several species of nudibranches are
common. I saw a few boxfish
and a 60cm grouper.
hours south of Manila also in the Batangas province is Anilao. The
peninsula is situated opposite Puerto Galera on the strait separating
Luzon and Mindoro. The divesites here are quite varied ranging from
deep waters with strong current (around Maricaban island) to muck dives
off Anilao village.
Bahura (*****): Off Maricaban island. The reef consists of
slopes and small drop-offs down to 40 meters. Both
soft corals are in good
condition. There is a lot of feather stars
around. The current can be fierce, but the fishlife including pelagics
is proliffic. Whitetip reefsharks,
angelfish and schools of anthias. Due to the depth and
current, this is a dive for the experienced.
Layag Layag (****): A steep slope down to 15-20 meters east of Bahura.
If the current is right after diving Bahura one could
Layag Layag doing the decompression here. This site has fewer
pelagics but expect to see all the smaller reeffish and
soft corals are nice. The
currents can also be fierce here.
Twin Rock (***): A sandy slope with some boulders and nice
hard corals. Expect to
species of moray eels,
nudibranches and if
you are lucky a frogfish.
Diving Trech (***): Situated on the other side of Anilao village
this divesite is also a sandy slope with nice
hard corals and a small
pinnacle. At different locations are placed a statue of the virgin Mary
and two crosses, one on top of the pinnacle. Here are also plenty of
giant clams and
jackfish are resident in this
Beatrice Rock (****): Off Maricaban island. This site is a slope
with nice hard and
soft corals and
barrel sponges. Expect to see the
nudibranches, moray eels,
The current can be fierce.
Kirbys Rock (***): Kirbys rock is a pinnacle that sticks out of
the water. Around the rock is a small wall down to about 40 meters. The
top 10 meters of the reef is a gentle slope with good coverage of both
soft corals. You will se
all the smaller reeffish, moray
nudibranches and a
Basura (****): This literally means trash or bin in tagalog. The
divesite is just in front of Anilao village, and is therefore littered
with trash. However this sandy slope is a realy good muckdive. In one
100 minutes dive I saw several
species of pipefish,
box crabs, several species of
gobies with their associated
fireurchins and moray eels.
Mainit Point (****): Mainit (which means hot, named so after the
small hotspring) is the southernmost point on the Anilao peninsula. The
site is a sandy slope with some rocks, boulders, nice
hard corals and a lot of
Blacktip reefsharks are resident in
this area. Expect to see the usual
nudibranches and moray eels.
The Cathedral (***): Sandy slope with nice
hard corals, especially
the top 8 meters. From the bottom at 30 meters two pinnacles rises. In
between a small cement cross has been erected. The cross was blessed by
the pope Johannes Paut II before it was put in place by former
president Fidel Ramos at the time when he was chief in command of the
Philippine army. Around the pinnacles you will see moray eels,
frogfish if you are lucky.
the north coast of Mindoro, just 4 hours from Manila this is the dive
of the Philippines. Although not the best divesite in the Philippines,
this is certainly the most popular with around 30 dive operators. The
are prolific and there is a good variety of fish life. Visibility is up
to 30m. Some places have strong current.
The Canyons (*****): This
is the best divesite in Puerto Galera. The strong current attracts
of big fish like sweetlips,
snappers, long nosed emperors,
jackfish and barracuda. Solitary groupers,
angelfish, moray eels and clown
triggerfish hide near
the bottom. The corals are prolific and
host to numerous species of nudibranches.
Dungon (****): This is a
beautiful coral garden on a gentle slope. There is no reason to go
than 20m. Schools of big sweetlips,
jackfish patrol below 10m.
Small La Laguna (**): This
house reef should only be used for training. There is a small sunken
Sabang Point (****): Prolific
coral garden on a gentle slope between 5 and 20m. Feather stars, sea
sea pens, anemones and sponges hosts
numerous species of
Crustaceans are also numerous especially
Monkey Beach (****): An
of Sabang Point. At 30m the slope becomes a sandy bottom where bluespotted
stingrays hide. If you are lucky you may see turtles, and schools of tuna and jackfish.
Eanies Cave (***): An
of Monkey Beach, but the corals are not as good.
Shark Cave (**): Some
at 28m. The current is strong but the coral and fish life are not
It might be worth the effort if you get to see any sharks. Try instead
or combine this divesite with the nearby
The Atoll (****): This
rock jutting out of the water at around 25m is encrusted with corals, sponges
and anemones. Both the coral and fish life is prolific. Big
lurking everywhere and groupers
and other big fish hang
around. Its not
so big and you can circle it in about 10 minutes.
Sinandigan Wall (****): Its
a bit of an exaggeration to call this a wall, newer the less its a good
divesite. The corals and sponges are
prolific, and there is a abundance
crustaceans, shells and smaller fish.
Moray eels, mantis
batfish hide among the
are especially many three-spot
West Escarceo (***): Slope
whit nice corals ending in a sandy bottom around 30m where bluespotted
Pink Wall (***): This
wall is covered in soft
cauliflower corals. Its fun to swim around the
rock formations close to the shore. Especially if the weather is rough
can feel the powerful surge from the waves above.
Hole in the Wall (*****): This
is some rock formations at around 12m where there is a hole big enough
for one diver to swim through. The current is strong so schools of sweetlips,
snappers and jackfish hang around and some
and moray eels hide in the
MV Alma Jane (***) and Small
Laguna (*): This purposly sunk wreck is
standing upright at the sandy bottom at 30 meter. The wreck is only
around 30 meter long. Pennetration of the cargo rooms are possible, but
its only a minut swimm through. Snappers,
sweetlips, moray eels, cleanershrimps and a school
of batfish live in and around
the wreck. It is a 100 meter swimm to the coral reef in front of Small
Laguna which start at a dept of 15 meter (comming from the wreck). The
few hardcorals are
nothing special and there are few fish but many mantisshrimps.
Spend as long time on the wrech as possible and swimm to the reef for a
(***): Similar to Coral Garden (See below)
but the channel have protected the corals from damage. Corals down to
around 18 meter. Easy dive for beginners and macro photographers.
Garden (**): Patches of coral on a sandy
bottom between 2 and 12 meter. The corals were damaged by a typhoon,
but many nice both hard
and softcorals remain
intact. Few large fish like snappers
and sweetlips and moray eels. If you are lucky
you can see a turtle. Many mantisshrimps, nudibranches and small
Wall starting at 18 meter ending below 90 meter. It is
an openwater descent to the plateau at 16-18 meter. There are usually a
light to strong current. The hardcorals
are nice and there are som large gorgonian seafans. A whitetip reefshark are often seen
around a small cave where the wall starts. Turtles, tuna, jackfish and frogfish are common as well as
the usuall smaller reeffish.
Island Dropoff, Verde Island (*****): This
dropoff is situated on the south-east side of Verde Island which is a
one hour sail east of Sabang. Nice hard and softcorals but strong and
unpredictable currents including up and down currents. Not a beginners
dive. Expect to see tuna, large jackfish, snappers, sweetlips, groupers, moray eels, angelfish, millions of anthias and blue triggerfish. All the
smaller reeffish and nudibranches
are prevalent. If you are lucky you
will encounter mantarays, turtles and napoleonfish.
Coron: The wreck divers
On the 24.september 1994 American carrier based dive bombers sunk 12
ships in Coron bay. 8 ships have been found and 6 of these are within
reach of Coron town. The wrecks are in good conditions although
and engines have been salvaged. Fish life around the wrecks is
The visibility is up to 20m, but usually much less. Inside the wrecks
is not less than 15m. Coron town can be reached
plane or boat from Manila.
Kogyo Maru (****): Cargo
ship lying on the starboard side at 34m, hull side at 22m. Length 160m,
tonnage 6352t. The wreck is home to groupers and
and lionfish and leather
jackets hide among the
corals. One of the cargo
holes is filled with bags of cement and a small bulldozer. Its possible
to enter/exit the propellershaft although the hole is narrow.
ship lying on the starboard side at 25m, hull side at 12m. Length 140m,
tonnage 5617t. The wreck is encrusted in corals, sponges and anemones.
Lionfish and scorpionfish hide
among the corals as well as pipefish,
nudibranches and other sea slugs. Groupers and batfish hide inside the
The engine room and bathroom is easily accessible.
ship standing upright at 32m, main deck at 21m. Length 120m, tonnage
5000t. Except for the bridge the wreck is intact. Good variety of
especially soft corals
and sponges. The wreck is home to
flatworms, leaffish and nudibranches. Around
the stern and bow schools
of fusiliers, bigeye jacks
and golden jackfish hang
around. The wreck is
Irako (*****): Refrigeration
ship standing upright at 42m, main deck at 34m. Length 152m, tonnage
The cargoholes is divided into two decks, some of them containing a lot
of rubble. The wreck is in very good conditions with few holes for
except the cargo holes. Since it is also quite deep it is very dark
A few groupers hang around,
otherwise there is not many
a dive for beginners.
tender lying on the starboard side at 36m, hull side at 20m. Length
tonnage 4665t. This is the only warship among the wrecks. The
wreck can be penetrated in its entire length. The hydraulic room and
engineroom are interesting. The big crane used to put the flying boat
the water is intact. Schools of
snappers, batfish and
jackfish swim around
the wreck and inside groupers,
Taei Maru (*****): Oil tanker
standing upright at 26m, main deck at 16m. Length 160m, tonnage
10,045t. Usually the current is
strong, otherwise its a easy dive. The wreck is covered
in corals, sponges and anemones. The
fish life is prolific with schools
of jackfish, snappers and fusiliers
hanging in the current. Batfish,
lionfish, scorpionfish and sixbanded
angelfish hide inside or among the corals.
The bow and
top deck is badly damaged. The
wreck is easily penetrated. Inside pipes and pumps can be seen. Look at
the top of the oiltanks where some oil can still be seen.
Baracuda Lake on Coron Island (*****): To
get to the lake, you have to climb limestone cliffs for around 15
with all your gear. Not an easy task! The lake is volcanic and the
varies between 27°C at the surface and 38°C below 12m
The lake is host to a 1.2m very curious barracuda that will
follow you during
the dive, tiera batfish and cleanershrimps. The real
attraction here is
the limestone cliffs. Diving in the lake is like swimming around stone
forest in Kunming. The Island itself is reminiscent of Halong Bay.
The rock (**/****): Wall/Slope.
The corals are very disappointing. Most have been killed by El-Nido,
fishing and typhoons. But fish life is surprisingly good. I saw several
schools of squid, bumphead parrotfish,
razorfish, batfish, a green turtle,
a mantis shrimp
and six species of nudibranches.
hour from Cebu City is Bohol, known for its Chocolate Hills. The
are varied with walls, slopes and an undersea island. Many belong to
best in the Visayas. Visibility is 10-40m. Some sites have strong
Shark Point, Cabilao (****):
A gentle slope ending in a drop-off at 10 meters of water. On the slope
lives dragonfish (pegasus), scorpionfish,
schools of squid, hermit
crabs, porcelain crabs, banded
pipefish and shrimps.
Along the drop-off
are schools of barracuda, Spanish
mackerel, and nudibranches.
On both my dives
at this site I saw several juvenile Pinnatus
South Point, Cabilao (****):
Drop off. Below 15 meters big leopard
big snappers, schools of barracuda
and big mackerel are seen.
Especially the top 10
meters have excellent and varied hard coral growth, while
there are a lot
of big seafans deeper.
Looc, Cabilao (****): Wall.
At 20 meter of water big groupers,
and mackerel hang around. In the top
the hard corals are
exquisite and plentiful. Besides the usual reeffish
are lots of nudibranches,
Coco Point, Cabilao (****): Wall.
Below 10 meters mackerel, batfish,
and other big fish are seen. Beautiful hard corals. In the surface
schools of razorfish and
Heaven, Balicasag (****): Drop
off to more than 100 meters. Many scorpion-
and lionfish. Schools of trevaly
(big eyed jacks), snapper,
batfish and angelfish.
Beautiful and varied corals, both hard and soft coral.
Black Forest, Balicasag (*****): A
gentle slope ending in a bottomless drop-off at 10-14 meters of
At the slope there is a varied fish life with garden
eels and many schools of smaller fish and juvenile batfish
(tallfin, Pinnatus platax) , nudibranches
and shellfish. Along the drop-off schools of trevaly,
angel- and batfish
Snake Island (**): A
island 10-12 meter below the surface. The corals are damaged because of
dynamite fishing, but it is the seasnakes
is the big attraction. In a 75 minute dive I saw more than 20 banded
seasnakes. Besides the snakes there is a lot of cowrie
shells and moray eels.
Napoleon Point, Pamilican (*****): Slope.
The name is no coincidence. In a one hour dive I saw
than 20 napoleonfish,
the biggest 130 centimetres.
Below 15 meters of water a lot of other big fish hang around, like batfish,
jackfish and groupers.
Three hours by bus
from Cebu City on the west coast is Moalboal. This is one of the first
divespots in the Philippines, and there are about ten diveshops on
beach. Here I worked as a divemaster for Savedra Great White.
10-50m. Some places very strong current.
Pescador Island (*****): Moalboals
jewel. Extremely varied drop-off until 40 meters ending in a gentle
There is a cave called "the cathedral" between 20 and 30 meters.
soft corals and many sponges. On 10-20 meters
a lot of groupers, big snapper,
leopard sweetlips, angelfish,
tuna, trevally, moray
and ribbon eel is seen. Scorpionfish
and frogfish hide in the
corals. At 30-35 meters
king barracuda and 40-50
can be seen.
Sunken Island (*****): World
class diving, only for the experienced. The top of this underwater
is 27 meters under the surface, usually with a lot of current. On a 30
minute deco dive you will see king barracuda
several species of tuna and mackerel,
big groupers, schools of trevally,
octopus, 60 centimetres Spanish
dancers and lots of smaller nudibranches.
The biggest lionfish you
will ever see hoover
above the bottom and scorpionfish,
eels and frogfish (giant
angler) in all
colours hide on corals and sponges.
Here all the fish are bigger!
Airport (***): A small
have been sunk here therefore the name. Slope until 20-25 meters ending
in a drop-off. Turtles are
often seen at this
site. Like White Beach.
Housereef (*): Drop off.
Big gorgonians. With a
little luck you will see
a turtle, but nothing special.
White Beach (****): Slope
until 10-15 meters ending in a drop-off. Nice hard
corals in the top 10 meters. Many big gorgonian seafans
(some more than 3 meters wide) at 20-25 meters.
Tongo Point (****): Drop
off. At 10-20 meters green turtles
by suckerfish) are usually found. Deeper tuna,
trevally, schools of small barracuda,
groupers are seen.
Tuble Point (***): Slope
until 10 meters ending in a drop-off. Schools of
swim around in the surface. Juvenile bat- and
angelfish lives on the
slope. Deeper groupers,
tuna, big angel- and batfish
Badian Garden (**): Slope.
Big titan triggerfish
guards their territory.
The corals are slightly damaged possibly by dynamite fishing. Most
reef fish especially many spotted
Looc (***): Slope until
meters ending in a 60-70 meters drop-off. Beautiful hard corals grows on
the slope. Schools of razorfish
swim in the surface. Often you will see turtles.
Along the drop-off batfish, mackerel
and groupers are seen.
Ronda Bay (****): Slope
15 meters ending in a drop-off. In the top 10 meters Moalboals most
hard corals grow. Watch
out for the big titan
(up to 50cm).