Diving in the Philippines

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To divers around the world the Philippines is a very little known and understood dive destination; those that have visited and got to appreciate the diving options and experience the culture invariably think:

‘WOW, I love the Philippines!’

PG-BWatson-Sabang-by-Night

What we have tried to do in our website is explain the main dive destinations throughout the country and to help you come to the right choices for your holiday.

Here we want to give you an insight to what the Philippines is like from a day to day perspective as a diver and to hopefully answer many of the questions you may have if your dive experience has not included tropical diving before.

Starting with the most commonly asked question of all:

When is the best time to go diving in the Philippines?

The typical diving season is from October through to May, however all year round diving is possible in most of the destinations. For the very best months for giving a higher chance of classic tropical blue skies, calm seas, dry and hot and good visibility, are the 3 months of the Philippine summer – March to May. But that’s only part of the story…

Weather explained….

It’s all about the winds, which direction they come from and where you are…

The Habagat, the southwest monsoon, traditionally runs from May through to October, moisture laden wind comes off the Pacific ocean and sweeps up the western side of the country towards Luzon in the north. It’s at this time weather systems can get hugely powerful and turn from Low Pressures to Tropical Depressions to Typhoons and even Super Typhoons.

The Amihan, the northeast monsoon from November through to early May, for the majority of the country this will bring dry weather, except for the eastern side of the country, which takes a little longer to dry out.

 

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
LuzonManila 6 3 7 9 100 273 341 398 326 230 120 49 1863
Central VisayasCebu 110 70 20 30 70 170 180 110 160 200 110 110 1540
Eastern VisayasSamar 640 430 320 260 240 230 180 140 180 330 530 640 4120

Average rainfall in mm   Source: Wikipedia

 

So what does this mean for the main diving areas?

Manila & Anilao

Places in the north like Manila and Anilao will start to get rain from June onto October, sometimes this can be weeks on end rain, other times it’s more like sun an showers. From November all the way through to May, even June can be beautiful weather, sunny, not much wind and it can get seriously hot in April and May.

Puerto Galera

As it is on the west side of the country it can get rainy from June through to October, but as it is protected from the south westerly winds from the island of Mindoro it doesn’t receive anywhere near as much wind and rain as Manila.

Other than when a large weather system passes by, it’s possible to carry on diving regardless. From November through to June, it is likely to be classic tropical paradise weather.

Coron

Coron forms the western boundary of the country. During the peak of the Habagat monsoon season strong winds, but not necessarily rain will hit the archipelago. Some resorts will close in July and August as getting to the wrecks can be a bit rough. From November through to June it can be absolutely stunning there.

Apo Reef

It’s a very exposed area between Coron and Mindoro and will follows the same weather as Coron. The Liveaboards offering trips here will only run from October through to June. Dive Centres in Coron offering day trips will have to choose their days in June to September very carefully to avoid bad weather.

Tubbataha

Being in the middle of the Sulu Sea, it’s a long way to any land from Tubbataha, consequently with safety in mind, Dive operators/Liveaboards are only allowed to offer trips there between mid March and early June.

Central Visayas area – Malapascua, Moalboal, Panglao, Cabilao, Dumaguete

This area will receive less wind and rain during the Habagat monsoon than other areas, mainly because it is protected from all sides by other islands.

Diving will be possible all year round in every location and very few dive days per year are lost due to weather. Even in the so called rainy season, it can be clear blue skies for the morning, cloud over in the afternoon and throw it down for an hour or so then clear up in time for picture perfect sunsets.

Some destinations that face southwest, for example Panglao, will be more effected by the Habagat than others, experiencing wavy conditions around the dive sites.

Eastern Visayas area – Southern Leyte

Kind of in the middle between the true Eastern Visayas and the Central Visayas, Southern Leyte will be more affected by the Amihan monsoon, meaning that whilst other areas become drier and less wind from November, the Amihan will still bring wind and rain from the East, persisting till about February. Although it might experience more rain in this period, the Amihan is generally not as severe as the Habagat and diving is still perfectly possible. On the more positive side, the rainy season of the Habagat has much less impact here and the summer months can be extended even into September, when there’s hardly a tourist to be seen as some of the most beautiful diving conditions you could wish for!

 

And the temperature?

As far as temperatures are concerned, all you really need to know is: pack shorts, T-shirts and a sun hat!

 

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
LuzonManila 30 31 33 34 34 32 31 31 31 31 31 30
Central VisayasCebu 29 30 31 32 33 32 32 32 32 32 31 30
Eastern VisayasSamar 28 28 29 31 31 32 32 32 32 31 30 30

Average high temperatures in celsuis        source: Wikipedia

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