The Philippines is an exceptional diving destination, it seems that it is not so unknown for european divers, little by little it is becoming an increasingly demanded destination and it does not surprise me, it is a marvel. I have had the opportunity to visit the Philippines six times and would go tomorrow again. It is a country with more than seven thousand islands so as you can imagine, a lot of areas to dive, and therefore in this article I will talk about one of the provinces, possibly the most visited by us for diving, the Visayas Islands .
To begin with and in a general way I will say that diving in the Philippines is possibly the best in Asia because of its quality / price ratio. There are diving areas very similar in quality with Indonesia or Malaysia but at a lower price for immersion as well as lower price for accommodation and let alone meals. To this we can add that as a Spanish ex-colony we have more affinity with the Filipinos than with the rest of Asians, Catholics for the most part. Many with Spanish surnames such as García, Pérez, etc. The Spaniards like them and that shows in their treatment. To this comment we can add that although it is far away there are good air combinations to get there and at a good price because the main airlines in the world fly at least to Malina via a European or Middle Eastern point. Domestic flights in the Philippines are very cheap in most cases.
The Visayas are the set of islands found in the south of the country, with Cebu as the main island and capital. It is a large city (of about four million inhabitants) on a huge island and with a major airport that you can reach from other points in the Middle East, without going through Manila. As anecdote say that on this island is where “Lapu Lapu” killed Magallanes, giving way to Juan Sebastian el Cano who completed the first circumvallation to earth. I also find it curious that everything and the Spanish presence of more than three hundred years, there does not speak Spanish or the tato. It costs a lot to find someone who speaks it, I mean people on the street, it is not clear to tourist guides etc.
In the Visayas there are many and varied dive sites, it is a good destination for diving from the hotel because in most cases the boat trips from the Resort to the dive site last a short time. Its crystalline and calm waters always of pleasant temperature make this area of the Philippines a good place to start diving, for beginners or divers who want to improve level.
The most famous islands for diving are the island of Negros, which is a very large island and where in the South, in Dumaguete is where the best diving is concentrated. The own island of Cebu where in its western zone we find the population of Moalboal and Oslob further South. To the north of Cebu we find the small Malapascua Island, which owes its name to the fact that a Spanish ship ran aground here on Christmas Day of the year 1,500. The other island of great attraction for diving is Bohol, which is also possibly the most beautiful in the country. Here to the South we find a small island connected by wagon with Bohol called Panglao, famous for its quality diving, especially the island of Balicasag located south of Panglao. There is also good diving on other islands such as Apo Island.
Within all this variety of diving points, I will highlight some of those that I find most curious, everything and as I repeat there are many and very varied.
Moalboal, is a fishing village famous for its excellent diving. Just in front of Moalboal there is an island called Pescador where we can find several interesting diving but the attraction here lies in that there is an important sardine settlement, a “sardine run” that attracts many predators such as dolphins, sharks etc. It is a unique spectacle to cross with the bank of sardines (that can contain hundreds of thousands) and to see their movements in group. The water, as in the rest of the Visayas, we will find it at a pleasant 27º minimum, with good visibility and in general absence of currents. The Nocturnas in Moalbaol to see the Mandarin fish are also highly recommended. Near Pescador Island we find “Sunken Island” a “dry” that rises up to about twelve meters from the surface approximately and where the six days after the full moon can not dive by the strong currents. The rest of the days there is current but bearable. Here a large amount of fauna is concentrated and it is impressive to see how the yellowfin tunas enter “a saco” to hunt the schools of crystal fish.
If we go up to the North of everything of the island of Cebu, in Maya we can embark until the small island of Malapascua, when I say small I speak of an island of 2.5 kilometers by 2 kilometers. This island is famous for having a cleaning station for the shark fox, “Mondad Shoal” where at the very first hour of the morning (diving at 5.30 AM maximum) we can see the majestic foxes that go up to deworming and eat something before the first ones come out rays of the sun, with them disappear in the depths (it is believed that they live over 300 meters deep). There we can also see some Mobula Blanket that comes to be cleaned. The nocturnal ones in Malapascua are very recommendable and in addition the lovers of wrecks diving can enjoy of the pretty thing, in the “Pioneer” Japanese ship sunk during the Second World War or the Doña Marilyn, a ferry that went of Cebu to Manila and a typhoon sent to the bottom of the sea …
We changed the third, now we go to Bohol, another huge island famous for its “Chocolate Hills” a curious mountain formations and also for having the smallest primate on the planet. To Bohol we can get in flight from Manila or Cebu or also by ferry from Cebu, they are comfortable and in just over two hours you get there. South of Bohol, we found the island of Panglao, here there are several resorts because it is an area with a beautiful beach. From there we can go to Balicasag, a small island surrounded by a spectacular reef where you can see large concentrations of barracudas and an incredible variety of coral.
Finally, mention Negros, a large island with its diving area concentrated in the south, in the town of Dumaguete, with a dive similar to Moalboal, yes, without Pescador Island …
In short, the Philippines is far but well connected, has good hotel offer and diving centers at very interesting prices, great diving quality with water at 27 ° minimum, generally without currents and with excellent visibility. Well and when to travel?, Because the ideal is our winter, especially between February and May, humidity is lower and lack of rain (in theory). In summer it rains and especially at the end of summer until November is when it rains most and it is also when the Typhoons enter, which luckily they usually pass through the North of the Visayas. So from December to July we can dive in these wonderful islands.