The summer heat is on! And people are flocking to the beach in droves to cool off. Formerly with 7,107 known islands, the Philippine archipelago is now composed of 7,461 islands – many of which are worthy of a visit. The country boasts marine sanctuaries filled with majestic coral reefs and colorful marine life. So if diving doesn’t tickle your fancy, try  snorkeling when visiting any of the following spots we’ve compiled. Whether you’re a pro or newbie, these snorkeling destinations are sure to satisfy your inner mermaid.

Luzon

1) Donsol, Sorsogon

Donsol, located in the province of Sorsogon just south of Luzon island, is said to have the largest concentration of whale sharks  in the world. The most popular attraction in the area would have to be swimming and snorkeling with the gentle giants called whale sharks or butanding in the vernacular. We recommend Donsol over Oslob, Cebu – not only because of the high concentration of buntandings, but also because it’s not an entirely natural ecosystem in Oslob. The gentle giants have become dependent on local fisherman for food diminishing their ability of  hunting it for themselves. Additionally, there have been reports of the whale sharks injuries  due to fishermans boats.

Donsol Sunset
Sunset hues at Donsol, Sorsogon. Photo by Instagram User joaqocuevas1
whale shark
Snorkeling alongside Donsol’s gentle giants, the butanding. Photo taken by Instagram User Pinoy Vagabonds.

How to Get There?

There are two ways to get to Donsol. One is via Legazpi City where there are two options: a. A one-hour flight, or b. A 10-hour bus ride from Manila. The second way to get to Donsol is via Sorsogon City which takes around 12 hours by bus from Manila.

 

2) Apo Reef, Mindoro

The largest contiguous reef system in the world is the Great Barrier Reef in  Australia. But you don’t have to head down under because the second largest is found in the Philippines. Apo Reef is home to a variety of sea creatures and is considered as one of the best dive sites in the country. If you wish to encounter pods of dolphins, schools of fish, and even a bale of turtles then Apo Reef should be on your next dive list.

apo reef
A picturesque view of Apo Reef. Photo Taken by Candice Marie Villacorta
apo reef dive
Candice Marie Villacorta ready to take a dive into Apo Reef’s clear blue waters.

How to Get There?

Board a ferry at either Cubao or Alabang headed to Batangas Pier. From Batangas, board another boat headed to Abra De Ilog port and from there board a van or bus headed to Sablayan port. Hire a boat for another trip headed to Apo Island.

 

Anilao, Batangas

Another popular destination for divers, both for snorkeling and scuba diving is Anilao in Batangas. Apart from being highly accessible to Manila, Anilao is a favorite diving spot because of a plethora of marine life and corals. Jump in and get acquainted with all sorts of underwater creatures ranging from turtles to giant clams. The popular celebrity couple, Lucky Manzano and Jessy Mendiola, frequent the area for their snorkeling and scuba dives.

sunset anilao batangas
Sunset at Anilao, Batangas. Photo Taken by Instagram user PJ Giray.
scuba dive anilao
Filipina celebrity, Jessy Mendiola, taking a dive.

How to Get There?

If you don’t have a car headed out to Anilao, fret not because there are a number of buses headed to Batangas City. Board a bus at the Buendia Terminal and in five hours or less you’ll reach the Mabini or Bauan terminal in Batangas.

 

Visayas

3) Nalusuan Island, Cebu

Located in the Cebu Strait is a man-made resort island situated in between Mactan and Bohol. Nalusuan Island is a perfect spot for snorkeling as it is a marine sanctuary home to a plethora of fish species. The crystal, clear blue waters are enough to invite you for a dip. Heads up though as there is no electricity on the island so you’ll be one with nature for the entire duration of your trip. The posts on social media can wait until you get back to the city.

Nalusuan island cebu
The clear blue waters of Nalusuan. Photo taken from Trip the Islands.
snorkeling nalusuan
Snorkeling in the clear blue sea of Nalusuan. Photo taken from Islands Adventure.

How to Get There?

Once in Cebu City, take a cab or a book a van to Nalusuan Island Wharf in Tonggo, Marigondon. From there, take a boat ride going to the island.

 

4) Moalboal, Cebu

Another gem in Cebu is Moalboal which is located down south. It is best known for the Tuble Marine Sanctuary where you’ll be greeted by clear blue water teeming with colorful fish and corals. Aside from the beaches in Moalboal, the area is filled with underground springs, caves, and waterfalls such as the Kawasan Falls.

Moalboal cebu white sands
The white sands of Moalboal, Cebu. Photo taken by Ian Ong.
moalboal freediving
A magical view from under the sea. Photo by Instagram user Sino Pinas.

How to Get There?

From Cebu City, take a bus headed to Moalboal via Badian or Barili. There are also vans available at the One Citilink Terminal. Once in the town of Moalboal, hire a tricycle driver to take you to Moalboal Beach. A habal-habal is also an alternative ride.

 

5) Siete Pecados, Coron

Also known as Seven Sins, Siete Pecados is an extremely popular snorkeling site in Coron. The name was taken from the Spanish word Siete which represent the seven small limestone rock formations around the site. 

Tourists flock to this area of Coron because of the crystal clear water which is home to a wide array of fish species and amazing corals. There are even small squids, baby sharks, and octopus clearly visible in the area. Unlike other islands in Coron, fish feeding is prohibited in Siete Pecados so as not to disrupt the natural food chain.

siete pecados coron
Siete Pecados of Coron. Photo taken from Flickr.
snorkeling siete pecados
Snorkeling in Siete Pecados. Photo taken from Two Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel.

How to Get There?

There are two ways to get to Coron: by plane or by ferry. If you choose the plane route, from Coron Airport you can easily ride a van headed to the town of Coron. From there, take a boat ride to the island which takes 15 minutes.

 

Mindanao

6) Mantigue Island, Camiguin

Mention Camiguin and people will immediately tell you to visit the White Island. However, there is one other popular destination which is free from the throngs of tourists. This is none other than Mantigue Island. The island boasts of a section they call the marine sanctuary where giant clams and corals thrive.

Mantigue Island Camiguin
Mantigue Island in Camiguin. Photo from bahaybakasyunan.com.
snorkeling mantigue
Snorkeling in Mantigue Island, Camiguin. Photo from Trailsurfers.

How to Get There?

By air, there are direct flights from Manila to Camiguin. If you’re coming from Cagayan de Oro or Cebu, there are also flights from there to Camiguin. By water, there are ferry boats from Cebu headed to Balbagon Port in Camiguin. And to get from Camiguin to Mantigue Island, it takes only a 20-minute boat ride from the port.

 

7) Punta Bilar, Surigao

Another sanctuary teeming with marine life is found in Punta Bilar. It is filled with humongous tabletop corals, exotic species of fish, as well as sea fans. However, the area is more popular as a scuba and cave diving site. From the Punta Bilar Dive Center, expeditions include Lake Bababu and the Hinatuan Enchanted River.

punta bilar
The view at Punta Bilar Dive Center. Photo by Instagram user Cindy Gel.
clown fish
Black clown fish, aka Black Nemo. Photo by Instagram user Joshua Pacheco.

How to Get To Punta Bilar, Surigao?

There are two ways to get to Surigao. One is via plane either from Manila, Cebu, or Davao. The second option is by land from either Butuan or Davao City.  From Surigao, you can either take the bus or hire a tricycle driver to take you to Punta Bilar Dive Center.

 

8) Samal Island, Davao

Davao City is a traveler’s dream destination with countless tourist spots to visit. But one mustn’t miss a trip to the beautiful island garden that is Samal Island which is considered a little paradise on earth. Whether it’s snorkeling or hiking, the island has attractions fit for any type of adrenaline-seeking traveler.

snorkeling samal
Snorkeling in Samal Island. Photo taken from Awrah Tours and Travel.
samal island
The view from the top. Photo taken from Cush Travel.

How to Get There?

From Manila or Cebu, there are daily flights headed to Davao. Ferry rides by Sulpicio Lines or the Superferry headed to Davao are also available in Manila or Cebu. Once in Davao, take a taxi going to Sta. Ana Wharf where there are boats and ferries headed to Samal Island every hour.

So, what are you waiting for? Add these destinations to your bucket list! If you need snorkeling gear, we’ve got you covered in our upcoming store for all your fun under the sun and in the sea.

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