With over 7000 tropical islands, the Philippines makes a fantastic beach holiday, with clear blue seas, year round warm weather and plenty of diving and snorkelling opportunities.
The Philippines is extremely budget friendly, so is an ideal destination for backpackers and holiday-makers alike. If you are keen on exploring the crystal clear waters, then there are numerous dive shops that offer PADI recognised dive courses. It is an ideal destination to develop and enhance your diving skills, with beautiful vibrant coral reefs, shipwrecks and an exciting array of marine life.
Here is our selection of some of the top diving spots in the Philippines:
1.) Tubbataha Reef Marine Park
Tubbataha Reef is undoubtedly one of the best diving spots in the whole of Asia. The reef is situated 128km away from the nearest inhabited islands and due to such a remote location, it has remained relatively untouched with visibility of up to 50m. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and can only be accessed by live-aboard boat. Dive season here is short, from mid-March to mid-June, when weather and visibility is best. Boats leave from Puerto Princesa, Palawan, in the evening. It takes around 10 hours to get to Tubbataha and boats arrive early morning, often at the break of dawn. The reef here has a tendency to attract the largest of marine life. You can spot up to 600 species of fish, giant barracuda, turtles, dolphins, manta rays, hammerhead and whale sharks. Diving Tubbataha Reef is a once in a lifetime experience and is well worth the long voyage.
2.) Malapascua Island, Cebu
Malapascua is located in the centre of a coral triangle and it has some stunning reefs that surround the island. The Monad Shoal dive site is a superb place to spot thresher sharks. These sharks are quite a sight, they grow up to 6m and its most distinct characteristic is its abnormally long tail. Diving with these sharks is almost guaranteed here as they use Monad Shoal as a cleaning station, where smaller fish clean parasites away from their skin. It is considered to be an advanced dive site, so if you only have your PADI open water qualification, then you will need to have an instructor to guide your dive.
3.) Ticao Pass near Ticao Island, Masbate
This area has a number of interesting dive sites, some with huge drop offs and caves to explore. The most famous is the ‘Manta Bowl’: a popular spot where Manta rays congregate and can be seen in waters as shallow as 15m. There is a high concentration of plankton in the waters here, so Manta rays come to feed and to use the reef as a cleaning station. There are great night diving opportunities at Pasil Reef, where you can observe many elusive and nocturnal fish. Whale sharks, hammerheads and tiger sharks are also known to frequent this area.
4.) WW2 Wreck Diving, Coron Bay
In September 1944, the Japanese supply fleet sank in Coron Bay. The wrecks of this fleet provide interesting diving suited to a range of abilities. Some of the wrecks are relatively shallow with wreck diving possible at as little as 10m, whilst other wrecks offer much deeper advanced diving opportunities. Large grouper fish, scorpion fish, tuna and turtles are known to live around these wrecks. The visibility in this area is very good and experienced divers can swim through parts of the ships, many of which remain largely intact. It is an unusual and exciting way to observe WW2 history.
When planning a diving holiday in the Philippines, there are numerous health issues you should consider. Some of the best dive sites are remote and therefore, access to clean water and good sanitation may not always be possible. Take water sterilising tablets with you to ensure that any water consumed is safe. We sell our H2O to Go kits in our clinics for £15. Wash your hands thoroughly before eating and use an anti-bacterial hand sanitising gel frequently.
Ensure your vaccinations are fully up to date prior to your visit. Tetanus, Diptheria and Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations are essential to all travellers. If you are visiting remote islands then a course of Rabies vaccines should also be considered. The Rabies vaccination course gives you extra time to access medical treatment. Rabies can develop as quickly as 4 hours and is 100% fatal once it reaches the nervous system. The vaccination course gives you 24 hours, so is essential when travelling to remote regions. It is common for divers and snorkelers to sustain cuts from accidentally coming into contact with sharp coral, especially in areas where currents are strong. Bad wounds may require hospital treatment, therefore a course of Hepatitis B vaccinations is recommended. Hepatitis B is transferred via blood and bodily fluids, and because the Philippines is still considered a third world country, there is no guarantee that hospital equipment will be sterile. To be extra cautious you can also purchase your own Sterile Kit in our clinics for £20.
There is malaria present throughout the Philippines, however the risk factor varies from island to island. Plan your itinerary then check if you are visiting high-risk malaria zones by looking at the malaria map here: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations/asia-(east)/philippines/philippines-malaria-map.aspx. If you are travelling to high-risk zones, then malaria medication, as prescribed in our clinics, is necessary. Always use a good mosquito repellent containing a concentration of 50% DEET. There are many diseases that we cannot vaccinate against that are transmitted via mosquitoes, so not getting bitten at all is your only guarantee to keeping protected.
Ensure you book your diving through a reputable operator. Diving poses numerous health risks and can be dangerous, so it is essential to dive with experienced and qualified dive masters. Divers can experience ‘barotrauma’ when they are unable to equalise and regulate the pressure on their ears. This can be extremely painful and can lead to perforated eardrums. If you have discomfort in your ears whilst descending, be sure to inform your instructor immediately. Decompression sickness can occur in divers who have ascended to the surface too quickly. This is due to the build up of nitrogen in the blood and can be debilitating if it is released too quickly. Decompression sickness can potentially be fatal; ascending at a slow and regulated pace can reduce your risk.
Finally, it is vital to inform your travel insurance company that you will be diving prior to travel. Diving is often not covered in standard travel insurance policies and you may require additional cover.
Book an appointment with us now to discuss your health needs for your diving holiday.