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Diver's Paradise 

© Art Vanchaam

Cebu is a divers paradise with its white-sand beaches, clear waters, warm climate and abundant marine life are a few reasons why it has become one of the Philippines diving hotspots. Diving in Cebu is simply fantastic. The waters off the coast of Mactan, Cebu, Philippines offer consistently great dive sites. The temperature of our clear, tropical water ranges from 27-29 degrees Celsius and diving is enjoyed year-round. Underwater visibility varies, but most divers can generally expect 15-40m. The top dive sites in Cebu Philippines are ideal destinations for novice and experienced divers alike. There is never a shortage of sun, sand and swimming in this vibrant island.

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PADI Philippine Dive Centre

© PADI

With 7107 islands (covering a land area of 299,746 square kilometres/115,739 square miles) and a coastline twice the length of the United States, the Philippines can legitimately be called Asia's beach capital. With a tropical climate, warm water, long and white sandy beaches, nearly 40,000 square kilometres/15,444 square miles of coral reefs, mind-blowingly beautiful flora and fauna, (including many endemic species) - the area is truly a diver's paradise.

 

Home to 77 million people, the Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world and has a rich history with an Asian, European and American influence. Filipinos warmly embrace visitors and are generally very friendly and relaxed. You'll often hear the cheerful salutation “Mabuhay” meaning welcome. The country has three main island groups – Luzon in the north, Visayas in the middle and Mindanao - the largest island - in the south. The national capital of Manila is on Luzon Island.

 

The Philippines offers a full range of diving for divers of all experience levels. Shore diving on the home reef - one located in front of beach resorts - is popular, but divers can also hop on a day boat or liveaboard to access the sheer reef walls and atolls offshore.

 

Dive Areas : There are numerous dive sites - all with their own merits - in the Philippines.

 

Dive Summary : Depth : 5 - 40 metres/16 feet - 130 feet.

 

Visibility : 5 - 45 metres/16 - 148 feet with strong seasonal and local variability.

 

Currents : Mostly mild, but some current is always present due to the tidal flow between the islands. In some areas, currents can be very strong.

 

Water Temperature : 23 - 30°Celsius/73 - 86° Fahrenheit depending on the season.

 

Dive Season : You can dive year-round in the Philippines but the dry season from November to June brings the warmest water and the best visibility.

 

Weather : There are three distinct seasons in the Philippines.

 

• December-March is the northeast monsoon (called Amihan). There are strong winds during this time.

 

• April-June are the summer months with dry and warm days with little wind.

 

• July-November is the southwest monsoon (called Habagat). It is wet and rainy but the water is warm.

 

Air temperatures average 25-32°C/78-90°F with a 77 percent mean humidity.

 

Access : With relatively few shore dive sites, boat diving is the norm in the Philippines. Most dive sites are within an hour of the dive shops although a number of multiday and liveaboard trips are also on offer.

 

Skill Level : With conservative depths, warm, clear water and good visibility, diving in the Philippines is suited to divers of all skill levels.

 

Technical Diving in the Philippines

With numerous wrecks from World War I and World War II in Subic and Coron Bays, the Philippines is a Mecca for technical divers. The Battles of Leyte Gulf and San Bernardino Straits were some of history's largest naval engagements, and although most wrecks are too deep for exploration, a small number have been the target of technical diving expeditions.

A number of dive centers in Subic Bay, Puerto Galera, Boracay and Dumaguete offer DSAT Technical Courses and support a thriving technical diving community. In addition to these wrecks, technical divers are also exploring the bases of reefs that form popular recreational dive sites, which are all beyond the maximum depth for recreational diving.

 

Tubbataha : Is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993, the reef supports a diversity of marine life on par with any other area in the world. Tubbataha is an exceptionally pristine coral reef and the sheer amount of underwater life can be absolutely stunning. Consisting of the the North Atoll, South Atoll and the Jessie Beazley Reef, this legendary region covering 33,200 hectares/82,039 acres boasts crystal clear waters, magnificent lagoons and sheer reef walls. Tubbataha’s underwater landscape and deep water means it is one of the best regions in the world for drift and deep diving. Here, divers can encounter a dizzying array of species.

 

Large fish, such as tuna, jackfish and barracuda are common, as are white tip, black tip and grey reef sharks. Turtles, hammerhead sharks, dolphin, marble rays, manta rays and whale sharks all round out the big animal parade at Tubbataha.

But it isn't just the big animals that draw divers to Tubbataha as the coral life here is also prolific. You can see a full 90 percent of all Philippine coral species at the reef - all waiting to be photographed. With this kind of life it isn't surprising that divers visit from around the globe to capture the wonders at this amazing reef.

 

Sea temperatures range from a pleasant 25-29° Celsius/77-84° Fahrenheit but currents can be very strong so divers should have appropriate experience and qualifications. Because it is in the center of the Sulu Sea,

Tubbataha is only accessible from mid-March to mid-June via liveaboards staging out of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. This season, however, generally offers outstanding dive conditions - clear skies, flat seas and excellent visibility.

 

Recommended Scuba Gear : Tropical scuba equipment is the norm. All dive centers and resorts offer full hire facilities, usually including dive computers. Gear hire may or may not be included in tours.

 

Recommended Length of Stay : At least two weeks is recommended as this will allow time to travel the islands.

Featured Creatures : Divers often find eels, turtles, frogfish, pipefish and mandarinfish, as well as schooling snapper and bannerfish. As part of the Coral Triangle, considered to be the epicenter of marine biodiversity in the world, the Philippines is a great place to see scorpionfish, emperor, barracuda, moorish idol, flutemouth, tuna, batfish and trevellies.

 

Some of the more unusual creatures spotted also include pygmy sea horses, parrotfish, lionfish, triggerfish, unicornfish, trumpet fish, wrasse, mantis shrimp, squid, and octopus. Bigger animals also get into the picture with eagle rays, devil rays and manta rays and sharks, including thresher sharks and hammerhead sharks, all making an appearance. From March to May, you also have the chance to encounter an occasional whale shark.

But it isn't just the big critters that draw dives - the Philippines is world renowned for its macro life.

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Mactan Island

 

Mactan Island, is among the top 5 dive sites in Cebu Philippines, is ideal for day-trip dives. This island is home to many upscale hotels, resorts and diving centers, which can be costly for the thrifty tourist but heavenly for divers wanting high-quality dive sites. Open water and advanced divers will enjoy going to Nalusuan and Hilutungan island marine sanctuaries, two of Mactans most popular areas. For excellent night diving, Kontiki, Buyong, Marigondon and Lido Point are must-visits. Some of the resorts have bustling public wharfs and motorized water sports that is why new divers are advised to go with diving professionals during their trips.

 

Moalboal

 

Moalboal on Cebus west coast is a frequently visited diving destination. Moalboal is home to assorted hotels, restaurants and dive sites that cater to budget and extravagant travelers. White Beach and Copton Point are excellent dive sites because of abundant soft and hard corals and different sea creatures. First-timers can practice diving on the reef near Panagsama while advanced divers can have a thrilling adventure on Pescador Island. Other popular dive spots in Moalboal are Saavedra, Tapanan, Bas Diot and Tongo Point.

 

Liloan

 

Liloan, on the southern part of the island, is one of the top 5 dive sites in Cebu because of its small-town vibe and sites perfect for macro diving. For tourists wanting to swim alongside whale sharks and manta rays, March and April are the best months to go. Beginners can opt for shallower dive sites, like Antenna Point or the Marine Village house reef. Sumilon Island, which is just 30 minutes from Liloan, is a piece of heaven for open water and advanced divers. There are caves, various sea creatures and impressive coral walls that make for a memorable underwater adventure.

 

Malapascua Island

 

Among the top 5 dive sites in Cebu Philippines is a vibrant island in northern Cebu. Small yet picture-perfect Malapascua Island offers many great dive sites with wrecks, artificial structures and rich marine life. Diving in small groups is not unusual here, and so is singing at one of the karaoke bars after a day of deep-sea diving.

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