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The Republic of the Philippines lies off the south-east coast of the Asian mainland. It is an archipelago of 7,107 islands and islets, set in deep blue waters which contain some of the richest marine life in the world. With so many islands, the Philippines have a wealth of opportunities for diving and snorkelling. Each island offers something very unique.
The Philippines most outstanding feature are its fun-loving, happy-go-lucky, warm and welcoming people. Filipinos are predominantly of Malay stock with a mixture of Chinese, Spanish, American and Arab blood. There are over 100 cultural minority groups scattered throughout the country. Over 90% of the 96 million population are Christians. Throughout the islands, there are many fiestas celebrating the feast days of patron saints and foreign guests are always welcome into the people's homes.
History: Before the arrival of the Spanish, the islands were home to Indo-Malays and Chinese merchants. In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan discovered the islands. The Spanish named the archipelago Las Islas Filipinas in honour of Philip II of Spain, and introduced Christianity to the people. In 1565 a colonial government was formed in Cebu and later moved to Manila in 1571. The Filipinos waged Asia's first nationalist revolution in 1896. They won their independence from Spain on June 12, 1898. Then came the Americans who ruled for 48 years until the Japanese invasion on Dec 8, 1941. After 4 years the US forces returned to liberate the country and finally recognised Philippine independence on July 4, 1946.
The Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world. Filipinos are probably one of the few, if not the only, English-proficient Oriental people today. Filipino is the official national language, with English considered as the country's unofficial one.
The Republic of the Philippines is blessed with a unique culture where east meets west both spiritually and culturally, blending ancient and modern ways. In the Philippines everybody knows how to smile and have fun!
The Philippines archipelago is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the South China sea to the west and north, and the Sulu and Celebes Seas to the south. The country stretches from the south of China to the tip of Borneo, covering almost 300,000 square kilometres with 15,500 kilometres of beaches. The republic is divided into 4 major island groupings: Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and Palawan. It has 17 regions, 80 provinces and 122 cities.
Most of the volcanic islands have mountainous interiors covered in rainforest, surrounded by low plains, sandy beaches, aquamarine water and coral reefs. On the highly populated mega islands of Luzon and Mindanao you'll find sprawling cities with shopping malls and fast food chains along with Spanish-Filipino colonial architecture, exquisite old stone churches and bustling town plazas.
Situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the country is prone to earthquakes, volcanic activity and typhoons and is also one of the top 10 biologically mega-diverse countries with new species of flora and fauna still being discovered.
The capital city of Manila on Luzon Island is the main international gateway to the Philippines. Cebu city on Cebu Island also has flight connections from Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul whilst Davao has connections from Singapore. Moving around the country by land is easy with national highways connecting the major islands and an extensive public transportation system. Trains, taxis, buses, jeepneys, and tricycles are the main modes of public transportation. The undisputed "King of the Philippine Roads" is the jeepney (half jeep, half bus). Since it first emerged after the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, it has become a fixture in roads all over the country. There are also many domestic flight and ferry services that can be used to travel from island to island.
The Philippines attracts many visitors due to the large range of activities on offer. The country boasts attractions to entice all types of travellers.
For the most adventurous and active travellers there's scuba diving with hammerheads and thresher sharks, whale shark interactions, snorkelling, kayaking, white water rafting, kite boarding, windsurfing, surfing, fishing, trekking over mountains and volcanoes, mountain biking, golfing and exploring subterranean river systems.
Nature lovers will enjoy the bird watching and eco touring opportunities.
City goers and shopaholics will love bustling, modern Manila with it's many different districts, shopping mega malls and markets, restaurants, entertainment areas and nightlife.
And for those of you just seeking out a tropical paradise in which to relax, the Philippines has an abundance of beachside towns and resorts in which to do so, some busier than others.
The Philippines has a tropical climate with average daytime temperatures of 25°C to 32°C.
There are generally 3 seasons:
- The hot, dry summer from March to May
- The rainy season from June to November caused by the south east
- The cool, dry winter from December to February.
Typhoons mostly occur from July to October hitting the north and middle of the archipelago the hardest.
There are 4 different climate zones in the Philippines so the seasons will vary amongst the regions. The above is just a general overview. Rain can be expected at any time in the Philippines.
If you are planning on travelling during Christmas, Chinese New Year or Easter, plan your trip well in advance as this is when both foreign and local travellers will be moving around the country.
For a diver, the Philippines has just about everything one could ask for. Thought by many to be the apex of the coral triangle, diving in the Philippines offers a wide variety of marine environments to choose from. Dive on steep walls and offshore pinnacles, critter hunt and night dive on coastal reefs, wreck dive on a sunken Japanese fleet, be surrounded by pelagics or take the opportunity to get up close to the World's largest fish - the whale shark. Whatever your experience level - from novice to technical and rebreather divers - the Philippines has a suitable environment for you.
The Philippines is also the ultimate destination to consider a liveaboard dive vacation as the country has so many different dive regions spread out through the archipelago. Liveaboard diving is a great way to experience the amazing natural and historical dive sites the region has to offer and will take you to the best dive sites on offer at the optimum time of the year. Not only will you enjoy enjoy spectacular diving, you will have a chance to visit some remote reefs and meet their people. Liveaboards allow divers and snorkellers to experience the full range of what the Philippines has to offer.
Beautiful Puerto Galera on the north of Mindoro Island has over 30 dive sites in close proximity to the resorts. Strong currents in the Verde Island Passage make for exhilarating drift dives and attracts a diversity of marine life. The deep passage offers options for technical diving.
During the WWII Battle of Coron Bay in 1944, 24 ships of the Japanese supply fleet were sunk including the armed Arkitsushima and the oil tanker Olympia Maru. Up to 12 wrecks within recreational diving depths are scattered in the area, all set in a backdrop of the astoundingly beautiful Calamian Islands in northern Palawan.
Apo Reef is the world's second largest continuous reef system and the largest reef system in the Philippines. Located 33 kilometres off the coast of Occidental Mindoro, Apo Reef is considered to be one of the Philippines best dive sites, The reef teems with marine life. Rocky walls with huge seafans and barrel sponges attract schooling snappers and white tip reef sharks. Manta rays and eagle rays also visit the reefs for cleaning.
On the north side of Busuanga Island, at Dimakya Island, not only can you reach Apo Reef but you may also be lucky enough to dive with dugongs.
A few hours south of Manila is the muck diving area of Anilao where you can find many different species of nudibranchs and odd looking critters.
The UNESCO World Heritage Listed Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is the crown jewel of diving in the Philippines. Due to it's remote location, 150 kilometres (10 - 14 hour boat ride) south east of Puerto Princesa city on Palawan island, Tubbataha is only dived by liveaboard from mid-March to mid-June when there are clear skies, calm seas and 30 - 45 metre visibility.
Tubbataha boasts a pristine coral reef with a spectacular 100 metre vertical wall and a great diversity of marine life. It is one of the last guaranteed shark dives in Asia with the highest population of white tip reef sharks, an important nesting and resting ground for the endangered green and hawksbill turtles and a breeding ground for endangered seabird species. Schools of barracuda, tuna and jacks abound. The shallow reef tops teem with colourful reef fish. Currents can be strong and unpredictable.
The nutrient rich waters of the Central Visayas supports a variety of eco-systems and a wide diversity of marine life. Sites range from steep coral covered walls to gentle sloping reefs and muck diving hotspots. Dive areas include:
Cabilao Island where steep reef walls are covered with sea fans, corals and sponges. Pygmy seahorses and frogfish are common sightings.
Balicasag has a variety of sites around this tiny island where you can see turtles and schools of jacks, barracuda and snapper.
The dark sand slopes of Dauin are the place to find a myriad of tiny odd shaped bottom dwellers from robust ghost pipefish to pipehorses, waspfish and skeleton shrimps.
Apo Island is testament to the success of the marine sanctuaries in the Philippines. Pristine corals abound with numerous fish species including redtooth trigger fish, pyramid butterfly fish and blue lined fusileers. Friendly turtles approach divers and at least 8 species of anemone fish can be found here.
Near Moalboal is tiny Pescador Island where schools of sardine bait balls pass through and the occasional thresher shark and whale sharks can be seen. Smaller creatures including a wide range of nudibranchs, shrimps and crabs can also be found on the reefs.
Malapascua Island has one of the few dive sites in the world where you have a good chance to see Thresher Sharks.
Sogod Bay is famous for sightings of whale sharks. These enormous filter feeders arrive here each year to feast on the swarms of plankton that bloom in the warm shallow waters. Only snorkelling is allowed, however whale sharks may also be seen during the dives.
The coral reefs around the bays of southern Leyte & Limasawa Island provide havens for numerous fish species and a whole host of weird and wonderful creatures. Dive sites vary between steep reefs with soft corals, sponges & black corals to the critter dive hot spot of the Padre Burgos Pier, where seahorses, frogfish, pipefish and mandarin fish can all be seen. The Marine Sanctuary at Napantaw offers stunning soft corals and a great opportunity for over and underwater photography in the hard coral garden. The walls in Padre Burgos shelter numerous reef fish species, including grouper and sweetlips. Pygmy seahorses are commonly spotted in the seafans. Occasionally eagle rays visit the reefs and research is on going to find the manta ray cleaning station that has been reported by local fishermen.
|S/Y Philippine Siren
Length: 40 metres
Max # of guests: 16
No. Cabins: 8
|Approx dives per day: up to 4
Tech Dive: No / Rebreather friendly
Length: 49 metres
Max # of guests: 40
No. Cabins: 20
|Approx dives per day: 3-4 dives
Nitrox: Yes (extra cost)
Tech Dive: No
Length: 34 metres
Max # of guests: 16
No. Cabins: 8
|Approx dives per day: up to 4
Nitrox: Yes (extra cost)
Tech Dive: On request
|Atlantis Azores||Budget: $$$
Length: 32 metres
Max # of guests: 16
No. Cabins: 8
|Approx dives per day: up to 5 dives
Nitrox: Yes (extra cost)
Tech Dive: On Request
With over 7,000 islands, the Philippines is the second largest archipelago in the world. Located
off the southeast coast of Asia, the nation is divided Into three major island groups - Luzon, Mindanao and Visayas. Each island offers something unique and activities range from visiting the beautiful white sandy beaches of The Visayas or diving the World War II wrecks of Coron (Luzon).
The international country code for Philippines is
63. Philippines is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
(subject to change)
Australian Passport holders do not require a visa for stays less then 30 days.
The currency is the Philippine Peso. Major credit cards are accepted at most hotels and restaurants.
1 AUD = approximately 33.0 Pesos (Feb 2015)
Travelers cheques in USD and credit cards are the safest way to take money with you on your holiday (proof of identity will be required). ATM’s are available but when travelling to outer island it is recommended to carry sufficient amount of Philippine pesos. Banking hours are 09.00am to 3.00pm Monday to Friday.
ATM’s are available in the cities. Most foreign currencies can be easily exchanged at banks, hotels and at authorised fx dealers. Outside of Manila, it is recommended to carry sufficient amounts of Philippine pesos. Credit cards are accepted at most hotels, resorts, shops and restaurants. Fees apply for use of credit cards and at ATM’s. Banking hours are 09.00am to 3.00pm Monday to Friday.
Stunning coral reefs, walls and drop offs, fantastic wrecks and an endless array of marine life await snorkeling and diving enthusiasts. With 7,107 islands to choose from there is no shortage of dive sites.
Water temperatures range from 23°C in winter to 28°C in summer. A 3-5mm wetsuit is recommended. Dive operators supply tanks, weight belts and dive guide services. There will be an extra charge if equipment hire is required.
Airline tickets issued from 1 Feb 2015 will include the International Passenger Service Charge. For tickets issued prior to this date, the Philippines Terminal Fee of PHP 750 needs to be paid on departure in cash at the airport.