Amazing facts about Philippine diving sites


Dotted with 7,107 islands, the Philippines is truly a paradise of natural wonders. World-class beaches abound, and underneath the Philippine seas lie our diving sites that are a dream come true for every diver. The Philippines is part of the Coral Triangle, for starters, and diving sites in Subic Bay and Palawan are museums in themselves, home to warships from World War II. 

To show you the beauty our country has to offer aside from our beaches, we round up 8 amazing facts about Philippine diving sites that every aspiring Filipino traveler has to know. 


1. The Philippines is part of the Coral Triangle, with more coral reef species than anywhere else on Earth


Philippine diving sites
Image credit: @andymadill

To start with, the Coral Triangle forms the triangular, expansive ecosystem of coral reefs across the regions of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. It’s this vast that numerical facts about the triangle would turn your head upside down: 605 (76%) of the world’s 798 coral species live here, where more coral reef species reside than any place on Earth. 

If you’re lucky, you might find yourself diving with the largest living turtle in the world too – the leatherback sea turtle. No wonder – the coral triangle is also home to 6 of the world’s 7 marine turtle species.


2. Philippine seas are home to Tubbataha Reef, one of only 29 marine wonders that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites


Philippine diving sites - Tubbataha
Image credit: @kmyfrks

Named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and lying in the middle of the Sulu Sea, Tubbataha Reef is often considered the best diving site in the country, and for good reason. It’s a paradise of marine life, home to about half of all known tropical fish and coral species. This is home to whitetip reef sharks and large pelagics including manta rays, tunas, and whale sharks. 

Diving here is exclusive though. You cannot just decide to dive on a whim: it’s incredibly regulated such that dive trips are booked one year in advance. Travel time to the reef is around 10 to 12 hours from mainland Palawan, because it’s only reachable by a scuba diving liveaboard boat.


3. Apo Reef is the largest in the Philippines and second-largest contiguous coral reef in the world, after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef


Philippine diving sites - apo reef
Image credit: @philippines_uk

Just trailing behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef that’s big enough to be seen from outer space, Apo Reef is a 34-square kilometer coral reef system that’s often called “mini Tubbataha” by travelers.

It’s a perfect alternative for Tubbataha if you couldn’t wait for a year before getting to experience a world-class diving paradise for yourself – various species of fish, marine mammals, and invertebrates abound here as well.


4. World War II shipwrecks can be found in Subic Bay and Coron – including the world’s deepest shipwreck


Philippine diving sites - Coron Bay
Image credit: @3dw1na5

As if our rich marine biodiversity isn’t enough, you can see tangible remains of history right before your eyes in our diving sites. There are 19 known shipwrecks underneath Subic Bay dating as far back as the Spanish colonial period until World War II, for starters. 

The Coron Bay in Palawan, once a harbor for Japanese warships during World War II, is now the resting place of ships sunk during an air attack in September 1944. Our seas are full of surprises that even the world’s deepest shipwreck, the remains of a World War II Fletcher class destroyer, is lying deep below the surface of the Emden Deep.


5. Malapascua Island is the only place in the world where thresher sharks are constantly seen


Philippine diving sites - Malapascua
Image credit: @laura.maringo 

It’s as real as it gets in Malapascua Island, the only place in the world where thresher sharks, surface-living sharks unique for their upper tail lobe, are constantly seen.

While diving with sharks might not immediately appeal to anyone, considering their scary reputation as portrayed in films, the shy thresher sharks are actually kind to human beings – they do not recognize us as prey.


6. You don’t have to travel to South Africa to experience a Sardine Run – millions of sardine reside in Moalboal too


Philippine diving sites - Moalboal
Image credit: @beapdionisio 

While South Africa’s Sardine Run might be more recognized in the world, the diving site in Moalboal, Cebu proves to be a contender.

Be mind-blown when you encounter a huge, swirling mass of sardines swimming together in sync because millions of sardines live here. Being able to dive with these schools should be an unforgettable experience.


7. Donsol Bay in Sorsogon is home to Whale Sharks, the largest shark – and fish – alive today


hilippine diving sites - whale shark
Image credit: Bicol Tourism

Whale sharks, the largest shark and largest of any species of fish alive today, each stretching up to 40 feet in length, find a home in Donsol Bay, Sorsogon.

Despite their enormous size, they’re known to be the gentle giants of the sea whose favorite meals are, fortunately, not humans, but plankton.


8. Anilao is considered one of the best spots in the world for underwater macro photography


Philippine diving sites - Anilao
Image credit: @napsackscuba 

The smallest of sea creatures thrive in the diving sites of Anilao, Batangas, often lauded by professional divers as one of the best spots in the world for macro photography.

You’ll get to see rare sea critters such as the Alleni nudibranch that you might not have even known before.


Philippine diving site facts


Considering these amazing facts about our diving sites, diving in Philippine waters is indeed a world-class experience.

Our marine natural wonders are something for the world to see, brimming with facts after facts of record breaks and mind-blowing numbers. Discover these facts for yourself as you begin your scuba diving courses.

Also check out:


Cover image adapted from: @3dw1na5 and Bicol Tourism

Follow The Smart Local Philippines on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Telegram for more stories like this. If you have a story to share, email us at pressph@thesmartlocal.com.