Scuba diving in the Philippines
Some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world is in the 7 107 islands big country Philippines. Philippines are divided in three main areas, Luzo in the north, Visayas in the center and west and finally Mindanao in the south. The Philippines have the most diverse coral reef dives in all of Asia.
Philippines have monsoon season during June to November, so the best time to visit Philippines is November to March and April.
One of the best places to dive when in the Philippines is the UNESCO protected area Puerto Galera in Luzon. Puerto Galera has over 40 dive sites, one of them being Sabang Bay, it is a shallow dive spot with a wide spectra of marine life. You can see everything from critters to turtles here! Luzon has even more to offer than Puerto Galera, Research reef slopes down 30 m to a big cavern where you can meet lobsters and small cleaner shrimps. Also looking like a hat, Sombrero Island deserves it’s name. It´s a beautiful place to dive where you´ll see gorgonians, black corals, turtles, rays, jacks and snappers, the marine life is teeming.
In the Visaya area you can find the islands of Bohol, Palawan and Cebu. You also find the famous Tabbutaha National Marine Park.
Around the island of Bohol in the Visaya area there are plenty of divesites, among them Balicasag Black Forest, where you can dive a deep slope and meet groupers, scorpion fishes, squirrel fishes, parrotfishes and triggerfishes. Doljo Housereef is a cool wall dive, great for those of you who like underwater macro photography. You´ll have the chance to see corals, crabs, gobies and pajama cardinal fish.
Want to swim with whale sharks? In Cebu island right across from Bohol island, this is possible. Every morning the whale sharks come to the same place and gets fed by local fishermen. This is a great place even for snorkelers since this is a shallow dive. People don´t come to Cebu just go dive with whale sharks, most of the diving in Cebu is great. A nice reef with sandy bottom and a teeming marine life is the Talima sanctuary. At the end of the reef there´s a wall that drops down to 50 m, down here you can swim by the skeleton of a shipwreck. If you´d rather dive by a planewreck, we recommend the artificial reef in Mactan island outside Cebu. Lots of small reef fish will accompany you when you explore the fuselage at 22 m depth. For the more experienced diver Tingo Point is to recommend. After the slope to 25 m, there´s a wall dive down to 40m. At this depth you´ll find the shark point where tresher sharks and an occasional hammerhead is to be watched. If sharks isn´t enough for you, there´s also a cave to explore.
Outside Busuanga island in Palawan the biggest concentration of shipwrecks are, no less than 30 wrecks from the WW2 lies at the bottom at a depth of 10- 42 meters. The ships got sunk by the American navy in September 1944.
If you get the chance to dive at Tubbataha National marine park take it! It´s an old volcano sunken in the depth of the Sulu sea it´s an amazing sight! This is an UNESCO protected area since 1988 and to keep the reef in good condition, there´s a fee to pay and the money goes to preserving the reef. Tubbataha National marine park is situated in the middle of the Sulu sea between the island of Bohol and Visaya. The park contains of 10 000 hectars of coral reefs. The marine life in Tabbutaha is great, there´s over 600 different species of fish, 12 species of shark and 13 species of whales and dolphins to meet, so you´ll never be alone!
There are not many dive spots in the Mindanao area but worth to mention is the Samal and Talikud islands. At Samal island you can dive by caves and pinnacles and see a wide range of corals and gorgonians. Say hello to morays, octopus, trevally and jacks. If you´re lucky you might even meet a shark. If you want to dive a drop-off, a 45 m deep drop-off with loads of corals and schools of fisht awaits you at Talikud island.
Tourist information in Philippines
The currency in Philippines is Peso, but US Dollars are widely accepted. Changing is possible in banks and hotels and ATMs. It is possible to change at the local money changer, but the risk of getting fooled is big! Credit cards are accepted in many places. Banks are usually open Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm. it is possible to pay with card in the big cities, so just remember to bring cash when you´re going on the countryside. Notes under 100 peso is to prefer, since the line “sorry no change” is very common.
A visa is not required to enter Philippines if you´re staying for 21 days or less, then you´ll get a visa on arrival. If you intend to stay longer, you´ll have to apply for a visa beforehand. Customs in Philippines says you´re not allowed bringing firearms, pornography, drugs or substances for abortion, gold, silver or other precious metals, gambling machines in to the country.
Since Philippines a big archipelago you´ll sooner or later need to get around by boat. There´s a boat for each traveler, luxury, fast or economy. Always check the weather before you board the boat, some captains depart even though there´s a typhoon approaching. A new way of island hopping is doing it by bus, it´ pretty cheap and comfortable. Buses cover almost all of Philippines and depart quite frequent. Remember that buses with air condition are more expensive than buses without. Renting your own car or scooter is dangerous and not to recommend due to the traffic, it´s chaotic! Domestic flying is good to book in advance. But be aware of that delays are common, during the wet season, planes can be grounded. The smaller the airline is, the smaller the plane are, so if you´re afraid of flying book with one of the larger airlines.
Don´t drink the tap water, buy the bottled, it´s not expensive.
Philippines uses 220V 60hHz power supply.
Public Holidays in Philippines
|New Years Day||1st January|
|EDSA Revolution Day||22nd February|
|Day of Valor||9th April|
|Labor Day||1st May|
|Independence Day (derived from Spain) ||12th June|
|National Heroes Day||31st August|
|All Saints Day||1st November|
|Christmas Day||25th December|
|Rizal Day||30th December|
|New Year’s Eve||31st December|
Festival Holidays in Philippines
|Quiapo Fiesta||9th January|
|Constitution day||3rd week of January|
|Tondo Fiesta||3rd Sunday in the month of January|
|San Roque Parish Fiesta||27th January|
|Liberation day of Mandaluyong City ||9th February|
|Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes||11th February|
|Fiesta of Santa Marta||the 2nd Sunday in the month of February|
|Foundation day||16th February|
|People Power Anniversary||22nd to 25th February|
|Foundation Day||27th March|
|Antipolo Pilgrimage||Entire month of May|
|Tourism week||1st week of May|
|Carabao Festival||14th May|
|Obando Fertility Rites||17th to 19th May|
|San Juan Town Fiesta||24th June|
|Lechon Parade||24th June|
|Bocaue River Festival||1st Sunday in the month of July|
|Fluvial Parade||26th July|
|National Language week||1st week in the month of July|
|Town Fiesta||16th august|
|Quezon Day||19th August|
|Feast of Saint Raphael||11th September|
|La Naval de Manila||2nd Sunday in the month of October|
|Feast of Christ he king||25th October|
|Music Festival||6th November|
|Pasig Fiesta||8th December|
|Muntinlupa Day celebrations||13th to 19th December|
|Down Masses||16th to 24th December|
The festival holidays in Philippines vary according to the province and cities in Philippines.