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The Best Dive Sites in The Philippines

The more than 7,000 islands that make up the Philippine archipelago may be a little off the typical Southeast Asian adventure trail of Thailand and Cambodia, but as anyone who’s been here will tell you it’s worth the trip. Friendly people (many of whom speak excellent English) and incredibly diverse landscapes from emerald green rice-terraced mountain tribal villages to blue-water coral reef islands—many of which haven’t even been named yet and haven’t seen a pair of human footprints for many years are just a few examples of what makes the Philippines such a unique adventure destination. Biologically, the stunning reefs that fringe the idyllic islands of the Philippines are home to a diversity of marine species greater even than Australia’s world-renowned Great Barrier Reef. You could spend a lifetime exploring the culture of this fascinating Pacific Island nation and still not see it all.

Adventure Dive Shop is based in Dumaguete, the lively capital of the Oriental Negros province on Negros Island. Dumaguete is home to four large universities and more than 80,000 people who live here (of which 30,000 are students). The pace of life here is laid-back, but with all the activities of the universities there is also a thriving cultural community and very active local music scene. Just a short distance outside town, the buildings quickly drop away to expansive fields of sugar cane and shady palm trees set before a towering backdrop of a mountain range whose highest peak (Mt. Talinis) reaches over 4,000 feet. Dumaguete sits in the shadow of Mt. Talinis, an old volcano that’s now completely covered in dense tropical jungle and is a paradise of cave exploring, mountain biking, canyoning, waterfall hiking, and even an active volcano trek to Mt. Canlaon about five hours drive north of Dumaguete.

And just a short ride away from Dumaguete on Adventure Dive Shop’s private outrigger dive boat is Apo Island, one of the premier dive spots anywhere in the world. Apo is a volcanic island that juts like a jagged tooth out of the endless blue depths of the Tanon Strait trench, which is also an important migratory route for whales and dolphins (Adventure Dive Shop can also arrange dolphin watching day trips). Apo Island is home to the first community-run marine sanctuary and has been protected since 1982. The spectacular diversity of species and dive sites available here is proof that the community approach to coastal resource management works; at Apo you can find enormous, silvery schools of jacks (a species related to tuna), endangered hawksbill and green sea turtles, Napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrotfish, brilliantly colored soft coral gardens with thousands of fluttering clown fish, and at certain times of the year thresher sharks have even been sighted.

Also located a within about an hour of Adventure Dive Shop is Sumilon, a coral atoll with brilliant white sand beaches and a fringing reef that is home to a tremendous diversity of small coral reef fish. Hammerhead, white tip and black tip sharks are also sighted here.

The magical island of Siquijor is also within a short trip from Dumaguete. Aside from being home to several world-class dive sites, the island has a history as the home of shamanistic faith healers (witch doctors to the lay person). At night, eerie swarms of glowing fireflies can be seen among the twisted branches of the mangrove trees that fringe many areas of the island.

So as you can see, there’s plenty to do in the area around Dumaguete, and that’s not even mentioning other hot spots like Cebu’s Moalboal and Malapascua Islands! Just ask us more about these spots, we’d be happy to include them in your adventure package.

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