Advanced Diving in the Philippines

The 7,000-odd islands that make up the Philippines sit on the western edge of the Pacific Ocean and form the northern point of the Coral Triangle – the global centre of marine biodiversity. In addition to the unbelievable diversity of marine life, the Philippines is equally diverse in its dive sites – think WWII wrecks, fast-paced drifts, muck diving, pristine coral gardens and a smattering of deep and steep walls. While there are plenty of excellent dive sites to suit divers of all levels, if you’re looking for something a little more challenging, there is also plenty of advanced diving in the Philippines to choose from...


If sunken ships float your boat then the wreck diving haven of Coron, off the northern tip of Palawan Island, has plenty of dive sites to keep you entertained. The province of Palawan is famed for its virgin forests and untouched beaches, and the waters surrounding Coron itself are noted for being the final resting place of a dozen Japanese WWII wrecks. Lying at depths between 10 and 40 metres, these wrecks offer some of the best opportunities to enjoy the more advanced diving in the Philippines and are touted for being the best wreck diving in Southeast Asia. Often described as a mini Chuuk Lagoon due to the sheer volume of wreckage in a small area, Coron is a wreck diver's dream. But their depth means they fall into the category of advanced diving in the Philippines so you will need the correct experience and certifications to get the best out of the area.


The small island of Malapascua sits off the northern tip of Cebu in the Visayas region and is very much a diver's island. It is most famous for its daily thresher shark sightings and is considered the planet's premier place to encounter these distinctive sharks, as well as a great location to enjoy the more advanced diving in the Philippines.

The thresher shark is a deep-water species, spending most of its time a few hundred metres below the surface. They are used to the low-light conditions at depth and have large eyes to help them see in the upper reaches of the mesopelagic zone (also known as the twilight zone). As with many other fish, the thresher shark needs the help of cleaner fish to remove parasites from its skin, which is why they can be seen with such regularity in the waters around Malapascua.

Diving with threshers in Malapascua is a truly unforgettable experience, but it does require a certain skill set. The first you'll need will be to set an early alarm - a skill that often abandons us when on holiday. You'll be rewarded though. Divers can watch the sharks and their mesmerising long tails circling the cleaning stations while remaining still and quiet on the bottom at a depth of between 22 and 26 metres deep. The flat terrain atop the shoal means there is no chance to shallow up as the dive progresses. All divers should have an advanced-level certification.

With a few deep wrecks and swim-throughs lined with white-tipped reef sharks, Malapascua has a pleasant mix of easy shallow dive sites and a few that rank among the more advanced diving in the Philippines.

Puerto Galera

Within easy reach of Manila on the southern side of the Verde Island Passage, Puerto Galera has long been a popular destination in the Philippines thanks to its white-sand beaches and impressive diving. The Verde Island Passage separates Luzon Island from Mindoro and has been dubbed the "Centre of the Centre of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity" by marine biologists.

The island sits in the centre of the channel where divers can witness the unbelievable marine diversity firsthand when currents allow. It features a few different dive sites, but with one named 'The Washing Machine,' you should expect some current, especially if you visit just after the new moon.

A dive in these waters should bring sightings of three different turtle species: hawksbill, olive ridley and green turtles. You'll also be sure to spot humphead wrasses who create gaps in the clouds of orange anthias as they glide by. The reef is blasted with nutrient-rich water, and the reef is festooned with colourful hard and soft corals. When the current is pumping at Verde Island, you'll have little doubt why it's considered among the more advanced diving in the Philippines. But with plenty of more relaxed dives and excellent macro life in and around Puerto Galera, it's also one of the country's best-loved dive destinations.

Our team of dive travel specialists have dived extensively throughout the Philippines' archipelago and are on hand to help you put together your dream Philippines itinerary. The Southeast Asian nation is ideal for island-hopping, and the diversity of its dive destinations means each one has its own charm, character, and uniqueness below the waves. If you're looking for some more challenging dives on your next holiday, the advanced diving in the Philippines may just be what the doctor ordered...

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Emily C, Eleanor and Jacqui are our 'Advanced Diving in the Philippines' experts and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

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