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World | Diving Philippines:

Philippines overview


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Boracay

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Philippines dive site map

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Scuba Diving in the Philippines


Water temperature:

25 - 31°C (27 - 88°F)

Suit:

3mm wetsuit - shortie

Visibility:

10 - 30 metres (30 - 100 feet)

Type of diving:

Shark dives, reefs, walls, wrecks

Marine life:

Hammerhead sharks, thresher sharks, sea snakes, seahorses, remoras, filefish, batfish, catfish, stonefish, lionfish, clownfish, glassfish, sweepers, feather stars, nudibranchs etc

When to go:

Any time of year, although the dry season runs from November to May so offers better visibility

How to get there:

From the UK– Various European airlines fly to Manila with a typical flight time of 13 - 14 hours. Once at Manila, you will have to transfer to your final destination using a selection of internal flights, taxis and boats. Alternatively bypass Manila by changing in Hong Kong for Cebu


Dive boat in the Philippines - Courtesy of Rik Vercoe

The Philippines is a fantastic diving location, providing remote dive sites for the slightly more adventurous. It offers diverse marine life in a broad range of diving conditions. Whether it's reefs, wall dives, drift dives or wrecks you are after, then it's all here. What keeps many areas of the Philippines off the beaten track and less commercial are the challenges to be faced when navigating its many islands and diving resorts. It seems highly advisable to bypass Manila upon entering the Philippines, made possible by flying direct to Hong Kong and catching a connecting flight to Cebu Island. From Cebu you can travel on smaller planes, by road and by boat (or most likely a combination of these) to the far reaches of the surrounding islands. During our 2 weeks in the Philippines we explored several top diving spots around Cebu and its neighbouring islands.

Cebu

Travel around Cebu itself was easiest by taxi. Whilst more expensive than the bus, this method allowed us to travel outside of our diving day, using the latter part of an afternoon, evening or even night to cover the miles between diving resorts. Arriving late to some areas can be daunting though. Having flown into Cebu City for an 8pm landing we took a 3.5 hour taxi ride straight to the west side of the island to Moalboal. The quieter south end of Moalboal has slightly better beach huts (around 5 - 7 per night per room), but tends to be completely devoid of life after around 7pm. Entering by the northern road (only about 0.5km north of the south road) brings you to the busier end of town - there are a few bars and seafood restaurants here. A cheap room with a fan and fridge is around 3 - 4 per night per room. Generally accommodation in the Philippines is beach huts on the seafront with a fan for cooling at night and coldwater showers (the water is generally hot from the day's sun though). Not all accommodation has 24 hour electricity as many are run on generators. It is more difficult to find air-conditioned huts and the one resort we did find them in (Malapascua Island) the price was 25 per night per room (still not much, but really not necessary). We comfortably lived in fan cooled beach huts for a round 7 per night between the two of us.

If you are planning to maximise the number of dives during your stay here, in our limited experience travelling after dark seemed fairly safe. After a couple of days diving Moalboal we took an afternoon taxi for the 5 hour plus drive back though Cebu City (traffic was bad mid to late afternoon and it took around a hour to get through the busy city) and onwards to the most northerly town on Cebu Island, Maya. Arriving here after dark gave two choices - find a room, or arrange a "special" boat crossing to Malapascua Island to the north. Maya is completely uninspiring and getting overnight accommodation here means loosing valuable diving time the next morning. We arrived in Maya at 7pm, around an hour after dark (the regular ferry runs up to around 5pm). It was also a full moon and the tide was very low. The road simply ends at the seas edge and there were several shady characters who agreed to carry our bags a few metres to a small wooden rowing boat. We tipped them 100 pescos (1) between them (well over the odds). Then two equally shady characters pushed the boat in a few inches of water and then punted it in waist deep water quite some distance to a larger fishing boat (they got 150 pescos (1.50). The fishing boat then made the 30 minute "special" crossing for 1500 pescos (15). The crew seemed friendly and helpful, but I would suggest caution if electing this type of travel. If you are not sure, then go with your instinct. We had problems docking at Bounty Beach on Malapascua Island due to the shallow neap tide, although this would not normally be a consideration, and ended up disembarking across another boat which was already docked in the shallows. Keep your eyes on your bags at all times and expect to get your feet wet.


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