Boasting 7,107 islands, the Philippines is best explored by liveaboard. Expect to see thresher sharks, whale sharks and 1200 other marine species.
The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands spread over 115,000 square miles (300,000 square kilometers). Several of these islands, including Apo Island and Tubbataha Reef, are only reachable by liveaboard. In other cases, lengthy journeys on public transportation are necessary to reach the best diving areas. Because of this, it is most convenient to dive in the Philippines by liveaboard. These dive safaris have various lengths from 4 to 10 nights.
The MY Philippine Siren is a gaff-rigged Phinisi wooden boat. The MV Solitude One and the MV Discovery Palawan are both stable, steel-hulled yachts with a variety of luxurious amenities onboard. Finally, the PY Atlantis Azores is the most intimate option of the four, with a maximum capacity of 16 guests.
The Philippines is home to an astounding 1200 species of marine life. Many of these are weird and wonderful macro species, but in certain areas, the Philippines is also known as a destination for pelagic species. In particular, thresher sharks can be seen around Malapascua Island; Tubbataha Reef is home to a variety of shark and dolphin species; and Donsol has become a destination for whale shark lovers.
Because the Philippines is a vast nation, there are a huge variety of dive sites scattered among its isles. The majority of dives could be classified as reef dives, but underwater landscapes can also include pinnacles, caves and World War II wrecks.
The majority of liveaboards in the Philippines will visit either Malapascua Island, the Visayas, Apo Island or Tubbataha Reef. The skill level necessary for these excursions depends on the destination. Malapascua and Tubbataha Reef should only be attempted by intermediate divers or above whereas Apo Island and the Visayas may be suitable to beginners. Again, this depends greatly on the specific route of the liveaboard.
BEST TIME TO GO
November to April
The best time to dive in the Philippines is from November to April.
The climate of the Philippines includes three distinct seasons. From July to November, the southwest monsoon brings wet weather and warm water. December to March is the northeast monsoon which is associated with strong winds. While April to June is usually dry with little wind.
November to April is largely considered the best time to dive due to the lack of typhoons. These massive storms ravage the country from May to October.
Water temperatures throughout the Philippines vary between 73-86°F (23-30°C) while air temperatures range from 77-90°F (25-32°C).
Visibility in the Philippines also varies greatly depending on location. In the most remote destinations, such as Tubbataha Reef, visibility can reach up to 100 feet (30m) whereas sites close to Manila may only features visibility of 15 feet (5m).
Marine life is a final consideration. Whale sharks appear in the greatest numbers from March to May. And Tubbataha Reef is only accessible from March to June.
The two departure ports frequently used by liveaboards in the Philippines are Puerto Princesa and Cebu City. Transportation to and from the airport can be arranged by the dive safari or privately with use of local taxis.
The most popular airport to fly into in the Philippines is Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. Domestic flights from Manila to Cebu City and Puerto Princesa are frequent and easy to arrange.