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Diving in Dumaguete & Apo Island

Famous for its muck diving and rare critter species, Dumaguete is a mecca for underwater macro photographers. Expect to see some of the most unusual marine species on the planet in the most unexpected of places. Dumaguete’s colourful reefs should not be overlooked and passing pelagics including barracuda, turtles and schooling fish are also a highlight.

Diving in Dumaguete & Apo Island

Quick facts

Known as “the City of Gentle People”, Dumaguete is home to around 120,000 locals and has a cozy small town vibe. This friendly destination is ideal for those who want to combine excellent muck diving with the chance to experience the Filipino way of life. This chilled out sea front town offers nearby trekking, gardens, hot springs and easily accessible coral reef islands. You’ll find everything you need to soak up the culture in comfort.

When to go

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USD 1,002Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers
USD 675Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers
USD 1,579Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers
Mainit – This site takes its name from the hot yellow sand patches towards the end of the dive. The patches are by-product of a nearby hot spring and ‘Mainit’ literally means ‘hot’. The wide variety of marine life here is the highlight. Schooling barracudas, fusiliers and snappers, dogtooth tuna, snake eels and stingrays through to jewel like nudibranch and miniature critters. Masaplod North – This Dauin dive site offers a good mix of reef life and critters. Critter life is as you would expect from the region. Frogfish, ghost pipefish, cephalopods, crustaceans, nudibranch and the highlight is the tiny, yet sought after, flasher wrasse which intensifies its colour while courting. Also look out for turtles, barracuda and plenty of reef fish. Bonnet’s Corner – This muck diving site is a treasure trove of unique critters that will impress even the most seasoned of divers. Macro photographers will have a field day with the range of cephalopods which are known to frequent here including blue ring, mimic, wonderpus and mototi octopi and flamboyant cuttlefish. San Miguel Tires – The artificial reef, formed from old car tyres, gives this site its name. This is an incredible site for macro photographers and special sightings include Ambon scorpionfish, mimic octopus, pygmy squid, flamboyant cuttlefish, blue ring octopus, bumble bee shrimp and even striated frogfish. Don’t miss night dives and the chance to see stargazers. The Chapel (Apo Island) – One of the areas best coral reef dives, this wall dive is packed with marine life. Look out to the blue for schooling fish and on the wall for vibrant corals, leaf fish, nudibranch and frogfish. A small cave at 20 metres / 65 feet provides shelter for small fish. Turtles, trevally and banded sea snakes are common.

What to see

Dumaguete is world-renowned for its muck diving and critter life but it is also home to stunning reefs and passing pelagics including barracuda, turtles, sea snakes, schooling snappers and jacks. The list of macro critters is almost endless with flamboyant cuttlefish, frogfish, blue ring, Mototi and coconut octopus, seahorses, flasher wrasse, ghost pipefish, nudibranch and soft coral crabs, just to name a handful!


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Dumaguete is the capital and largest city of Negros-Oriental province of Philippines. It is also an important port city of the country. The Dumaguete-Dauin area is considered a paradise for macro-photography. It hosts photographers from across the world. None leaves Dumaguete without a plethora of amazing photographs of first time seen exotic creatures. The most bio-diverse areas in the vicinity of Dumaguete is perhaps the Coral Gardens of Apo Island. Considered among the first ever protected marine sanctuaries, this area is a diver’s idea of heaven. Apo Island also has amazing white sandy beaches. Another interesting place is town of Dauin, the site of famous El Dorado beach. This beach is world famous for its natural beauty, rock formations and marine life in the vicinity. The site was declared one of 100 best diving sites in the world by Sport Diver magazine in 2008. Memories of time spent in this stunningly beautiful place will surely remain a part of your life. The romantic locale coupled with a close graze with most exotic marine life will blow your minds away.

Getting there

There is a small airport in Dumaguete known as Sibulan Airport or Sibulan-Dumaguete Airport. There are daily flights from both Cebu and Manila, making Dumaguete one of the more easily accessible diving areas in the Philippines.

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