Diving in the Philippines
Part of the famed Coral Triangle, a concentration of undersea biodiversity, the southern dive regions of the
Philippines literally teems with more then 1,200 species of marinelife. The main scuba hubs are concentrated around Puerto Galera, Cebu, Bohol, Dumaguete, Anilao, Busuanga, Palawan, and Coron.
But you can find almost every underwater adventure and experience you could dream up among the 7,000 islands that make up this nation. Especially notable are the unique, and almost guaranteed, interactions with such rare marinelife as dugongs off Dimakya Island and the skittish scythe-tail thresher shark that shows up in the early morning waters of Monad Shoal off the island of Malapascua.
The crown jewel of all this diverse natural marine heritage is the World Heritage Site of Tubbataha Marine Park. This remote site is accessed exclusively from liveaboards from March to June. Well-known for its walls, dramatic drop-offs and currents, the reef system of Tubbataha revels in forests of multi-hued soft corals, pelagics such as mantas and sea turtles and several species of sharks. Plus there’s a chance of finding some new critter undescribed to science on any dive.
For land based diving, the Philippines has a large collection of dreamy resorts on idyllic islands. White sand beaches, soft breezes swishing through palm trees and light dappled lagoons are included in the package. The list of dive opportunities is almost endless. Wreck enthusiasts should head straight for Coron, off Palawan. Here, 18 WWII Japanese ships were sunk by an allied airstrike in 1944. The artistic touch of the ocean has molded these instruments of war into vigorous and life-affirming reefs. Start at the top of the best list with the Taiei Maru wreck. The Pier off Dumaguete is one of the many hot spots for macro critters, along with Apo Reef, a famous marine sanctuary that doubles down by attracting sharks, mantas and a long list of other mega-fauna. With that being said, most of the dives off almost any diver hot spot will yield a treasure trove of creatures big and small.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
All Americans are required to present a passport. U.S. citizens do not need to obtain visas for stays up to 21 days in the Philippines. EXIT REQUIREMENTS: All persons leaving the Philippines pay a Government Departure Tax of approximately USD $17.
Vaccinations are not required for entry into the Philippines. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at
Culture and Customs
A rich mixture of both primitive, island-based culture and customs and traditions derived from the Spanish colonization manifest in the folk music, dance, art, culinary scene, religions and language of the Philippines. Pre-Hispanic tribes of Malayo-Polynesian descent still thrive in the remote southern Philippines. Filipino folklore includes a diverse array of mythical creatures including vampires, goblins, mermen, and a particular monster, called the Aswang, that will lick you to death. Traditional Philippine music centers around the ancient gong-like kulintang and lyrical music that has a distinct Spanish sound and passions. These same passions can be seen in the national dance, the Carinosa, which focuses on romance through movement. There’s also the famous Tinikling dance, which utilizes two bamboo poles around which dancers navigate. The Philippine culture and people are famous for their love of visitors and their desire to share their countries heritage. So, you’ll make Filipino friends everywhere you visit.
Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access
Electricity in the Philippines is 220 volts, 60 cycles, so an adapter will be needed for US visitors. The
country code for the Philippines is 63 and direct dial service is fast and clear. Check with your service provider for long distance/roaming information and costs. Internet service is widely available in the Philippines and most hotels offer it to their guests.
The water is safe to drink at the larger chain hotels, but it is recommended to drink bottled water while in the Philippines.
Language & Currency
Filipino and English are the official languages. The local currency is the Philippine Peso (PFP) but U.S. dollars are accepted in most places. Check the currency rate here.
The Philippines are GMT + 8 hours.
History, Art, and Culture
Filipino human culture began more than 30,000 years ago according to archeological data. The first Westerner to visit was renowned explorer Ferdinand Magellan who arrived in 1521. At the time of his arrival, the dominant ethic group was the Austronesians, a mixture of Melanesians and Polynesians. Also scattered throughout the southern archipelago several kingdoms, sultanates and other ethic divisions flourished as small, independent states.
The first settlement from the west began with the arrival of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565 on the island of Cebu. They eventually moved north to what is now Manila and 300 years of Spanish rule ensued. After several bloody battles, the US Colonial rule of the Philippines began in 1905, with full independence granted in 1935, but did not happen until after WWII.
Weaving, wood carving and pottery are the main authentic forms of Art that find their roots in pre-Western history. And folk dancing called Tinikling, where dancers skip over two long bamboo sticks, or singkil, utilizing four bamboo poles, remains popular outside of urban areas. Read more about the Philippines here.