Anilao is regarded as the Mecca of Macro Fauna, offering some of the best scuba diving for underwater photographers in the world. Macro subjects such as nudibranchs and rare underwater critters plus discoveries of new species of fish makes Anilao an underwater photographer’s paradise.
Located in the municipality of Mabini in the province of Batangas at the southern end of Luzon Island, Anilao is an easily accessible dive location for visitors to the Philippines. The 140 kilometre drive from Manila takes between 2.5 to 3 hours depending on traffic conditions, making it a convenient option for connecting with international flights.
Anilao is one of Philippine’s Marine Protected Areas. Efforts have been made by the local governments and NGO’s to create a Coastal Resource Marine Board in an attempt to eliminate illegal fishing activities on the dive sites, to protect the coral structures from anchor damage and to educate the local community on marine preservation and conservation.
Anilao is the birth place of sport diving in the Philippines. The first dive centre in the Philippines opened its doors to scuba divers here in 1966.
The little port village of Anilao is located on the Calumpang Peninsula in the south of Luzon Island with sweeping views to the west overlooking Balayan Bay. The surrounding area is rugged and very scenic with steep, hilly and lush terrain dotted with weekend retreats, resorts and dive centres, most facing west to enjoy the beautiful sunsets.
The city of Batangas lies further to the east around Batangas Bay and is the jumping off point to catch the local ferries and boat transport to Puerto Galera across the bay.
From Anilao, you can access Maricaban Island, Sombrero Island (named because it looks like a big hat rising out of the water), Bonito Island and Verde Island which are scattered around the bays. The Verde Island Passage has previously been declared as the Centre of the Centre of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity.
Anilao is popular for scuba divers and snorkelers. Whilst the beach at Anilao is not recommended for swimming, snorkelling is possible off Maricaban’s Cemetery Beach, Red Palm Beach and around Sepok Point.
Other activities include water sports such as kayaking and turtle watching (in season). Hiking to the peak of the hills of Gulugod-Baboy which traverse the Calumpang Peninsula provide stunning views from east to west over Janao Bay, Maricaban Strait, Mindoro in the distance, Batangas Bay and Verde Island.
The area experiences two seasons: dry from November to April and wet for the rest of the year.
Whilst diving can be conducted year round even in the wet season as Batangas is slightly protected from the tropical depressions, the better dive season in Anilao is from October to mid-June with January to May having the least threat of storms. March is the driest month. Early season rains will effect visibility, less so on the outer reefs.
Anilao has a naturally cool climate. Water temperature in Anilao can be amongst the coolest in the country, depending on the season.
The Cool Dry Season is from January to March : water temp 23°C to 26°C / topside temp 23°C to 29°C. January and February are the coolest months.
The Hot Dry Season is from Mid March to May : water temp 27°C to 29°C / topside temp 29°C to 35°C.
The Hot Wet Season from June to September has water temperatures averaging 28°C and topside temperatures ranging from 28°C to 35°C.
|Crystal Blue Resort
in front of Arthurs Rock
|Wifi: Yes (in public areas)
Onsite Shop: No
Onsite Dive Centre: Yes
There are approximately 50 dive sites in the area from Janao Bay, around Bagalangit Point to the Maricaban Island area and into Batangas Bay. Most dive sites are within a 5 – 30 minute boat ride from the resorts.
Whilst Anilao is famous for its macro and muck diving, there are some memorable marine reserve dives with plenty of fish, sea turtles and schools of jacks. Multi-hued crinoids are prolific and the variety of nudibranchs is astounding. Night dives are most rewarding. Unusual creatures such as snake and catfish eels, sea goblins and sea hares, ghost pipefish, blue ringed octopus and mandarin fish reveal themselves under your torch light.
There are dive sites to suit all levels of divers from novice to experienced divers. Sites on the open reefs and points often have strong currents.
The island has some nice drop offs down to 26 metres, crevices and caverns inhabited by Red Toothed trigger fish, tunnels and piles of large boulders. Slight to moderate current can flow from any direction. Expect some schooling action from rainbow runners and yellow tails. The reef itself is covered with gorgonians, black coral, shells and lots of soft coral. There are some beautiful staghorn coral gardens with lots of anthias and red fusiliers and bright yellow crinoids in shallower depths. Sometimes you can witness nudibranchs mating. Depth: 6 – 27 metres.
An advanced dive in strong current off the north point of Maricaban Island. This is a shallow reef in mid ocean with prolific fish life, home to parrotfish, butterflyfish, wrasse, lionfish, sweetlips, snapper, scorpionfish, angelfish, batfish, groups of tuna and barracuda and the occasional eagle ray. Lots of caves and overhangs provide resting places for white tip sharks. Vibrant corals thrive in the current. Depth: 12 – 30 metres.
Located off the westernmost point of Maricaban Island and consisting of two dive sites, Sepok Wall and Philip’s Garden, this is a great area for macro photographers although the variety of the soft and hard corals on the wall and coral covered bommies along the sandy floor means there are still lots of opportunities for wide angle. Here you’ll find frog and leaf fish, twin spot lion fish, scorpion fish, small sand diver fish and gobies. Many colourful members of the Chromodoris nudibranch family make this site their home. Depth: 5 – 30 metres.
Also on Maricaban Island, this is a great macro spot for all levels of divers. Deeper hot water vents have created oddly coloured hot-springs sand on the gently sloping bottom attracting a variety of critters such as gobies and their bulldozer shrimp, tiny stonefish, mantis shrimp and hermit crabs. Sand anemones, Halimeda algae and sea pens sprout from the sea bed hiding small invertebrates, bob tail shrimp, octopus and seahorses. Depth: 3 – 25 metres.
This Marine Sanctuary is popular with local divers from Manila. Created by transplanting live corals on previously barren twin rocks in 1967, the artificial reef has become a famous dive site in the Philippines. The site allows fish feeding and it is common to havee a frenzy of damselfish, surgeonfish and batfish swirling around you. At about 15 metres you’ll see a small cross which was blessed by Pope John Paul II and placed here by ex President General Fidel V Ramos around which you’ll find a variety of nudibranchs, Moorish idols, butterflyfish, clownfish, angelfish, triggerfish, wrasse and pufferfish. Depth: 9 – 30 metres.