5 Unforgettable Snorkelling Spots In The Philippines

Having one of the longest coastlines in the world, the Philippines offers many spectacular snorkelling spots rich with marine life and astonishing corals. As we toured around the country, we always chose to explore the underwater world whenever we had the chance, which left us with 5 unforgettable snorkelling spots:
Sumilon Island

After we swam with the whale sharks in Oslob, we took a boat ride to neighbouring Sumilon Island where we snorkelled in crystal clear blue waters. The shallow reef, slowly fading into a dark blue background, englobes thousand of colourful vibrant species. To take a break from this hypnotising snorkelling session, we swam to a tiny private beach carved within the island. Simply magical!

Getting there

Next to the Oslob Whale Shark Watching Center many boats offer the trip to Sumilon Island. There is a boat that leaves almost every hour. So bargain the price and you can get the trip for around 250 (5 USD) pesos per person.

The Marine Sanctuary Of General Luna

The highlight of our island hopping trip in Siargao was the amazing marine sanctuary near Daco Island. As the area was recently classified protected against illegal fishing techniques, we found new coral gardens rising above the broken ones, becoming the home of countless marvellous species.

Getting there

In order to arrange a cheap tour in GL, you simply have to go to the deck next to the local market where you can bargain for an island hopping tour package. The boat should cost around 1500 pesos (33 USD) and it fits around 8 people.

Mactan Reef

A 10km coral reef stretches out the shores of Mactan in Cebu. Over Nalusuan Island, we had an exquisite experience of swimming between countless fish colonies as we fed them along the way. However, due to the extreme shallowness of the spot, corals are quasi-inexistent as many people have probably stepped on it. Therefore, we had the guide take us to a different and richer spot. Over there, the grassy bottom makes the whole scenery looked like an underwater city where fish roamed in pathways between coral buildings.

Getting there

Head to the deck of Mactan, many boats will be available there ready to take you to the spot. The cost is usually 1500 pesos (33 USD) per boat so the more passengers on-board the less you pay.

Porte Barton

The less visited village of Porte Barton hides tremendous snorkelling spots which we explored as we went for an island hoping day trip. Despite the Captain's promise, we didn't get to see any of the sea turtles but we encountered some interesting species such as sting rays and flatfish. And one cannot miss the starfish island filled with "chocolate chip sea stars". On our way back, we got to taste the delicious and freshly picked Lato sea weed which we mixed with salt and vinegar.

Getting there

In Porte Barton, it is more convenient to ask your guesthouse to arrange a boat tour as the prices there are fixed by the government leaving no room for bargaining. The total cost is 750 pesos (16 USD) per day per person including lunch and the eco-card*.

El Nido – Palawan

Taking the tour to visit the famous lagoons of El Nido is also complemented with beautiful snorkeling spots where marine life remains untouched. Besides the transparent water you'll get to swim inside random caves carved in the rocky walls of the lagoon. Be carful, the fish there are overprotective of their habitat and despite not having any teeth, their bite can be quite painful.

Getting there

Many tour operators offer different kind of boat tours in El Nido. The price differs depending on the tour you choose, the season and your bargaining skills. Your lunch and snorkelling equipment are also included in the price. However, you will have to purchase the eco-card* separately

All in all

Basically, snorkelling in the Philippines is always a good idea. You'll get to encounter all kind of marine life and you will always find NEMO. Hard and soft corals will blow your mind with their diversity, shiny colours and psychedelic structures. This said, sometimes you might be disappointed by the amount of broken corals as illegal fishing techniques – especially dynamite fishing – have left some spots in ruins. But don't be discouraged, the Filipino government has been implementing conservation measures since the 1980s which improved the underwater conditions tremendously.

Any other snorkelling spots you would like to recommend? Leave your comments below.

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