Just recently, Philippines bagged the World’s Leading Dive Destination award from the 2020 World Travel Awards (WTA). Actually, this is already the Philippines’ second time to win this world title, besting eight different popular dive hubs, such as the Azores Islands, Bora Bora, French Polynesia, Cayman Islands, Fiji, Galapagos Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Maldives, and Mexico. These citations prove that diving sites in the Philipines are really world-class.
Philippines has numerous stunning diving sites and one of these is in Batangas. This province is considered as a scuba diving haven because it is a short drive by car, around three hours, from Manila. It is recognized as one of the favorite hangouts of people looking for a weekend dive and getaway. Diving is possible all year round. But it is best to dive between the months of November until June.
Diving conditions in Batangas, specially in Anilao, are perfect for rookie to experienced divers. Water temperature ranges from 22 to 28C, which makes diving in 3mm wetsuits an ideal skin suits. Average visibility is at about 60 feet. Below the water surface currents can change from nearly zero stream to a powerful one. But the surface tends to stay relatively still. It is advised that expert divers or novice should check the tide tables before diving.
Diving sites consist of coral slope of small drop-offs and shallow coral gardens among sandy patches. It is also a supreme place to observe marine life and macro photography. Devoted naturalists are able to discover a lot of varieties of nudibranches, frogfish, sea horses, sea cucumber, pipefish, and other colorful fishes.
Every scuba diving site has something to offer. Here are the five dive sites in Batangas that are already open for tourists or divers ( remember to secure proper travel document before going on a road trip):
- The Cathedral
Around 60 to 90 feet south of Bagalangit Point lay a giant rock formation that looks like a roofless underwater amphitheater. Between is a small cross planted at 50 feet by now ex Philippine President, Fidel Ramos and blessed by Pope John Paul II. It’s a Marine Park Sanctuary and the best-known Philippine dive sites. Divers suspect that there’s something in this site that is charming to fish. One of the exciting part is when the flocks of fish eagerly congregate around the divers, waiting to be fed. Fish come in different sizes, shapes, colors, and types, like, angelfish, butterfly fish, wrasse, surgeonfish, and anemones with clownfish to name a few.
Diving conditions are generally calm, but can have some strong currents. Visibility can reach 80 feet, and the site is best dived at neap tide. One tip for an enjoyable and safe diving, specially for beginners, try to avoid stepping on corals, rocks, or even the seabed itself. The sea has a lot of unknowns, and not respecting the presence of those unknowns can be very harmful.
2. Layag-Layag Reef
Layag Layag, also known as Layag Layag Reef is one of the top diving sites in Anilao and has an extensive shallow area of scattered big boulders, rocks and widespread of coral formations on a steep. You can find loads of marine life and often very good visibility.
Located at the northwest corner of Caban Island, Layag-Layag can be reached by banca or boat from Eagle Point pier southwest across Maricaban strait. On the south side of this open-water area, is a ledge drop to about 90 feet from the surface. Big jacks swim to within a few feet of the surface, although the larger fish tend to be somewhat coy. Scuba diving conditions is calm with medium to fierce currents. It is considered to be a good snorkeling site. Average depth is 33 feet and visibility can reach 100 feet.
3. Ligpo Island
Ligpo Island is one of the most visited dive sites in Batangas and is a small island located at the province of Lemery Batangas, close to the coastal area of Anilao. It can be traveled around on one dive. Location is 40 minutes north by banca (motorized boat) and west of Ligpo Point. Diving conditions are generally serene but could have some ferocious currents that change rapidly. Beginner divers should be accompanied by dive guides and are warned not to dive when currents are running. Average depth is 90 feet and visibility can reach 80 feet. Corals of different types and colossal gorgonians bound in the vicinity. The eastern shore has all the reef fishes, but when the current is running countless pelagic species can be seen out in the deep. Ligpo is a fine night dive at neap tides.
4. Twin Rocks
Another exciting dive spot and the most in demand dive site, specially for underground photographer, in Anilao is Twin Rocks. This dive site was named after the two giant boulders wrapped with colorful soft and hard corals and several species of fishes, swimming around and in between them. With an average depth of 20ft and maximum of 40 ft, this dive site is accessed thru a 20-25 minute banca ride.
In Twin Rocks you get a little bit of everything. Here you will be stunned by colorful and vibrant corals, turtles, thousands of species of tropical reef fish, residents schools of batfish, juvenile barracudas, yellow snappers, mackerels, fairy basslet, and the school of jackfish. Also, Twin Rocks is a home to so many macro predators, like the Ribbon Eels, Jawfish, Mantis Shrimps, and frog fishes.
5. Mapating Rock
This open reef is for experienced divers only and its exploration may require assistance from a local dive guides.This diving spot is quite challenging. The submerged rock is surrounded by a fairly shallow area, which ends in a series of drop-offs descending to about 60ft/20m and more. There is a great variety of marine life including sharks and pelagic fish. Current is strong most of the time.
It could be accessed by banca (motorized boat) southwest across the Maribacan Strait and around the northwest end of Maribacan Island. The rock itself is bounded by a fairly shallow area at about 35 feet, ending in a series of drop-offs running down to about 60 feet. The area is huge and the currents are ferocious. Marine life is abundant with different species of fish and quite a few pelagic varieties. Grey reef sharks and white tip reef sharks are occasionally seen in the area.