By Billye Timbes – (Portland, OR, USA)
Has anyone snorkeled in the Philippines? What are the best places for snorkeling from the beach? What are the best boat snorkel trips? Thanks for any info you can share.
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Reg Rodriguez – Oct 2, 2016 – Snorkeling in Busuanga, Palawan, Philippines
The province of Palawan is a short flight from Manila. Most visitors there fly into Puerto Princessa, but I recommend flying into Coron on the island of Busuanga (50 min flight!) because it is more pristine and most importantly, there are many snorkeling and diving spots there! The area is also a hot spot for WWII shipwrecks if that is your thing.
Stay in one of the resorts in Coron or elsewhere along the shore of the island, and take excursions out to the myriad little islands, shipwrecks, and reefs in the area.
I stayed at the Alam Indah Beach Resort, a tiny place with only two guesthouses that is about an hour drive from Coron (and far away from most tourists).
Every day I rented a small boat, which included the captain and lunch. All day long, we visited tiny islands and sites where I could snorkel. In some places, I was the only tourist for hours (or period). Many of the islands are small and surrounded by reefs, so you can just circle the entire island. In this area I saw the biggest clams I have ever seen (many bigger than me)!
I highly recommend a visit to Busuanga if you have the time.
I also hear that you can take snorkeling liveaboard boat trips from Coron to Puerto Princessa and vice-versa, but I have yet to try this.
rosebd8 – Oct 2, 2016 – We Went in 2012
We went in 2012 and stayed at Apulit Island and Miniloc Island Resorts, both within El Nido Marine Reserve in Northern Palawan area. They both have great house reefs and nearby snorkeling. The boat snorkeling was excellent at both places too.
Club Paradise Dimakya Island, Palawan is on a private island and the snorkeling circumnavigates it. The night snorkeling just off the resort front was fantastic and all around the island was quite excellent too. We went out on boats looking for dugongs two days but saw none. The boat snorkeling was fair.
All three of above resorts have boats that go out. The shore snorkeling at Club Paradise was much better than the boat snorkeling. Donsol was a waste of time for us. There were too many people and too few whale sharks. There is muck snorkeling by boat and it was okay but not particularly good.
Snorkeling Homebodies – Oct 3, 2016 – Dauin / Dumaguete Area of Negros Oriental
The Philippines has some of the healthiest reefs we have seen. Hard and soft corals, anemones guarded by anemone fish, turtles, razorfish, sea snakes, giant clams, mandarinfish, and a lot I’m sure we missed.
As mentioned, Coron is a great destination, low rise, friendly, and local. Filipinos vacation there. Coron Town was inexpensive, with good hotel options, and no problem getting six person boat tours for the day, making several stops.
Our other favorite spot was the Dauin area of Negros Oriental, near Dumaguete. This is where I got to see a mandarinfish, though admittedly, on a shallow one tank dive, at dusk.
Apo Island is a short day trip from this area. We splurged on our hotel but there are inexpensive options, and it is 20 minutes by Jeepney to Dumaguete.
We plan to return to explore more of the Philippines. Enjoy!
Clare A. – Oct 4, 2016 – Some of the Most Beautiful Snorkeling Ever!
Yes, I’ve snorkeled in the Philippines and after living on the Big Island of Hawaii for six years, Ao Nang/Krabi Thailand for two years, and visiting multiple other sites like Palau and Roatan, I still consider my snorkel experience in the Philippines to be one of the most beautiful ever.
There is a resort off the coast of Cebu Island called Plantation Bay Resort. Pay about $20 to spend the day at the resort and they’ll take you out to the reef on their boat. I’m talking about the absolutely most colorful reef and creatures I’ve ever seen. Giant clams about 8-10 feet down.
Other top spots in the Philippines:
Nalusuan Island – Cebu
Siete Pecadoes – Coron, Palawan
Balicasag Island – off Bohol
I also hear Siquijor – Off Dumaguete is a vast and beautiful marine sanctuary, but I haven’t been there.
Anonymous – Mar 4, 2017 – Snorkeling in the Philippines
El Nido, Palawan, though a long ride to get to, has the best snorkeling I’ve seen in the Philippines. I’ve been to many Philippine islands and admit I might have missed places.
But for ease and beauty, spending the day in a small boat going to many small islands has been the best for me.
I’ve seen the turtles in Apo Island, Negros, Oriental, Batanes, Cebu, Leyte, and I love Palawan. Coron is an easy flight from Manila, I recommend this also.
Steve Hugel – Apr 4, 2017 – Some Bicol Region Snorkeling
Have been to Bicol 15 times now and the best snorkeling (so far) has been in Caramoan the one time I was there. You’ll have to take a boat to the port and get jeepney, tricycle or motorcycle transportation from there. Less trash there than other places I’ve snorkeled and plenty of marine life.
Another good spot is Daruanak Island south of Pasacao which is west of Naga. I believe it’s a volcano core, and takes a 10 minute bangka boat trip from the beach resorts south of Pasacao. We always stay at Maria Maruja Resort there. Nice place to stay and snorkel. Still researching there so don’t know all the spots.
Hope this helps.
Jeff B…..California – Jun 27, 2017 – Snorkeling the Philippines
I’ve been living here three years and done much snorkeling throughout most of the western visayas, Palawan, El Nido. You can just take the tour; A or C are the best. They will take you to five plus sites every day plus a lunch for under $30.
Coron is the same. You can stay at a budget hotel and schedule a couple of their tours for snorkeling. There’s some hiking involved to some beautiful lagoons but the fish are amazing.
My last recommendation would be Alona Beach. Book a place at Harold’s Mansion and they will take you where there are shallow reefs and turtles. They’re protected reefs.
Check these places out online first but these are three of my favorite spots here in the islands. Enjoy!
Anonymous – Nov 23, 2017 – Southern Leyte
I stayed in Philippines from 2013 to 2017. We went snorkeling at Balicasag, Apo Island, Tubod Marine Sanctuary in Siquijor, Lusong Island near Coron, Club Paradise in Busuanga, Port Barton in Palawan, Manila Channel in Puerto Galera…
Those were really fantastic, however, snorkeling at Limasawa Island and off shore of Padre Burgos in southern Leyte was most impressive since there are less fishing boats and divers and tourists. Just pristine corals were there! Great!
Lynne – Jan 31, 2019 – Coron and Busuanga Islands Palawan
My husband and I just came back from Coron, Philippines, having spent the first week of January 2019 there at Discovery Island Dive Resort.
We recommend two snorkel sites very close to Coron Town proper: Siete Pescados and Coral Garden. You can still see the town from those sites, and there was so much to see there that we did not feel the need to venture out to the farther sites. The corals were very large and colorful.
At Coral Garden, the reef was very shallow near the shore then slopes down like a wall into the deeps. It makes it favorable to see a lot regardless of the high or low tide. We saw clownfish hiding in anemones, sea urchins, parrotfish and angelfish, pufferfish, pipefish, and lionfish. I had previously read reports of Coral Garden and Siete Pescados sites as being “not as pristine as before” but both looked very healthy and were teeming with life.
In addition, the two sites are close to the Kangayan Lake and Twin Lagoon swimming areas. The swimming areas are calm, protected waters that are good for relaxing or allowing children to have a splash, but nothing to see there if you’re a snorkeler.
If you get easily seasick as I do, know that the waters are usually calm and protected, not like the open ocean. Seasickness is another reason I prefer to book a private boat, and given it was so reasonable in price, I’d recommend it to any snorkelers, since the other passengers on a group tour may vote to spend more time at the beaches or swimming holes rather than the scenic coral reefs.
We mostly used the hotel’s boats and staff, which were more expensive than hiring a boat at the town marina. It was still very reasonable, less than $60 USD for a half day private excursion.
One day we met up with family and did a large group tour using one of the many boats for hire at the Coron town marina. At the marina or at the hotel, you can opt to join a group or hire a private charter. Private was very reasonable, about $50-$100 USD for the day or half day depending on your destinations.
The tourism board has a standard menu of destinations priced, but you can still negotiate downwards, especially if there are boats available mid-morning or later. Note there are additional $5-$10 fees per person at each snorkel site which help keep the islands undeveloped and monitored for pollution and careless dive boats.
We’d also recommend staying at Discovery Island Dive Resort for the quality of friendly attentive service, delicious western and Filipino menu, and the laid back, relaxing vibe. It’s not a four star resort, just really more of an inn, but it’s on a private island just a 10 minute boat ride from the Coron town marina.
If you want to avoid the nightly and pre-dawn street noise in the form of cocks crowing and motorcycle revving, don’t stay in the downtown area near the marina. Coron WesTown Resort is where my family members stayed and it was a true resort by western standards. We preferred a more local vibe and highly recommend Discovery Island.
There are one or two resorts that offer snorkeling right offshore from their resort, but they were much higher priced than Discovery Island, and either a long car drive or boat ride from Coron town proper.
I struggled to find up to date info prior to our trip, so I hope this is useful. We would certainly repeat this trip again, and mix in some additional Asian snorkel sites.
Anonymous – May 13, 2019 – Coron
Discovery Island Resort is wonderful yes! Been there. The staff and restaurant I liked. The snorkeling in Coron… wow!
Kieran – May 21, 2019 – Best Spots in the Philippines
I have snorkeled all over the Philippines over the past 10 years and loved every spot. Based upon water clarity, coral formations, fish variety and ease of access, I would rate Puerto Galera very highly.
For longer trips I would rate Coron as very good as you get great coral formations, WWII Japanese wrecks, snorkeling in lakes inside limestone islands and good fish varieties.
For amazing locations to be snorkeling in then El Nido is in a league of its own and once again the sites are long days on local bangkas (boats) that get you to secluded beaches, caves and other very cool rock formations.
Up until a few years ago snorkeling at Sohoton Cove on Bucas Grande was very interesting in amongst the jellyfish.
Malapascu has the coral gardens which are good as well as its own WWII Japanese wreck.
Apo Island is good for abundant turtles in a relatively small area.
Jeff – May 21, 2019 – Puerto Galera “a different view”
I live in the Philippines and snorkeling is a daily activity, weather permitting. The mention of Puerto Galera reminded me of an island tour I did last year.
A smaller boat followed us to a reef at one point, and I was told the best snorkeling experience is to hold onto a little handle off the side🤔. Speed snorkeling! Very interesting experience. A few times I wished I could have stopped and checked out turtles and groups of reef fish. Definitely a different snorkeling experience🐠🐟.
Andy – Mar 2, 2020 – Best Snorkeling Place in the Philippines
The best snorkeling I ever found in the Philippines over the past 14 years is NoaNoa Island in Taytay Bay of Sulu Sea in northeast Palawan. I’ve been to a lot of places in the Philippines but I can’t say that I’ve been everywhere, so for the record I say NoaNoa Island snorkeling is one of the best in the Philippines.
Anonymous – May 6, 2020 – Lusong Coral Gardens Was the Best!
In May 2019, I snorkeled in Moalboal (Cebu Island), El Nido, and Coron (Palawan), and each were unique. Moalboal had great shore snorkeling, lots of turtles, and the sardine run was really unique. Seeing the Whale Sharks off the coast of Oslob (Cebu) area was also a really cool experience.
El Nido was good too. I did standard tours A and C from El Nido (the tours are regulated — all companies offer the same routes) and found the fish and reefs to be good and enjoyable, though not my top-rated. The island scenery on the boat trips was lovely though and made the boat trips absolutely worth it no matter the quality of the snorkeling.
But in terms of most incredible snorkeling of places I visited in the Philippines, it would be Lusong Coral Gardens, which was part of a boat trip from Coron (the “reefs and wrecks” tour most companies offer). I probably snorkeled about 20 different spots all around Coron and the surrounding islands during my time there, and while some were really good (Siete Pecados, as someone else mentioned, was great, as was Balinsasyaw Reef for giant clams), the absolute best was Lusong Coral Gardens. I have never seen such an incredibly colorful healthy and dense reef with so many types of vibrant and thriving coral, and packed with a ton of fish.
In terms of favorite snorkeling spots in the world that I’ve been to (and I’m an admitted snorkel snob at this point), it ranks a close second after Amed, Bali.
John – Sep 2, 2020 – Grande Island
I snorkeled at Grande Island occasionally when I was in the Navy. I was told that the sharks stayed over on the other side of the island because they were well fed with kitchen scraps.
I would see an occasional sea snake and small octopus. Many beautiful angelfish around. The water was semi-clear usually, visibility about 80 feet or so. I would sometimes encounter scuba divers coming over from across the bay, which was interesting because I could hear them breathing before I could see them.
The Island has been further developed, with more amenities and still has plenty of fun swimming and hiking, history to see.
Anonymous – Nov 23, 2020 – I Beat the Pandemic Snorkeling Moalboal Philippines
In early 2020 I went to Moalboal, before the pandemic closure in March. This is a must for snorkeling. You can walk or swim over shallow reef from the pier to where a few boats and other snorkelers are. Once at the edge of the reef it drops off to millions of sardines! Dive into the ball of fish and they totally surround you! It was a once in a lifetime experience! 😁🐟🏝️
Marifel Fernandez – Aug 14, 2021 – Hundred Islands Alaminos, Pangasinan
Best snorkeling place north of Manila is in Hundred Islands Alaminos, Panagsinan.