Iain McDougall | November 12, 2014
Iain is one of our community managers here in Australia, and over the coming weeks, he’ll be sharing stories from his most recent visit to the Philippines.
The Philippines is known for amazing islands and #beaches, but it’s what’s under the water that caught Iain’s attention. Here are his top 4 picks of the underwater hotspots in the Philippines.
The Philippines has over 7,000 islands meaning plenty of beaches and underwater worlds to explore. These are some of my favourite underwater hotspots from my first trip to the “Caribbean of Asia”:
1. Whale shark encounter in Oslob
The whale shark encounter is a must see for anyone travelling to the Philippines.
After arriving at the departure dock, I was first briefed by the local experts. It’s clear that the wellbeing of the whale sharks is a priority, with strict rules to not touch the sharks and the risk of fines and other possible punishments for breaching these rules. The local experts also required us to wash off sunscreen to ensure the water remains clean for the whale sharks.
After the briefing I was supplied a life jacket, snorkel and mask and headed down to the boat. From here it’s a short ride out to the deeper waters where other boats are already waiting with swimmers and sharks. As soon as you drop into the water, there’s almost guaranteed to be a whale shark right there. When I dropped in, I was so preoccupied with one shark in front of me, I almost missed the one which swam beneath me – almost directly through my legs!
It was an incredible experience and one I would definitely recommend to anyone heading over. This video gives a sneak peek of what to expect.
2. Coron #island Hopping
With more than 20 options for island hopping around Coron you are spoilt for choice! In just one day I visited the main sites including Site Pecados, Kayangan Lake and Twin Lagoon. I recommend hiring a boat for a day as well as snorkelling gear. My guide had also arranged a lunch to be cooked on the boat during which was a great option.
My first stop was the small island of Site Pecados and one of the best snorkelling spots of all the islands. Because Site Pecados is so small, I was able to snorkel around the entire island. Site Pecados was my personal highlight of the day, with tropical fish in abundance and different coral formations surrounding the island.
My next stop was the Kayangan Lake, dubbed the “cleanest lake in Asia” which amazing views after climbing hundreds of steps to reach to the lake itself. At the peak of the ridge is possibly the most photographed spot in all of Coron, overlooking the mouth of the cove. For the actual lake I recommend taking your life vest from the boat and just floating in the middle enjoying the beauty of the country. While the lake has some interesting snorkelling sights it’s great to just swim into the deeper areas and float.
Arriving at Twin Lagoon you have two options – either to enter the lagoon by climbing over rock formations in high tide, or snorkeling under the rock formations which create a bridge in low tide. Once inside the lagoon the view is incredible!
A few hours south of Manila is the region of Anilao which is teeming with sea life and a favourite for divers and snorkelers.
I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon at one of the leading resorts in the area, Pier Uno. After a great lunch of fresh local produce including rainbow fish, it was time to jump out on a boat with the Pier Uno team to experience what all the fuss was about. The water was wonderfully warm and colourful the tropical fish seemed undisturbed by my presence.
It was a great experience and you can see a brief introduction in the video below.
The team at the Pier Uno resort were brilliant, sharing their knowledge of the area and the best spots to snorkel. The boats and gear were all very well maintained and made for a very enjoyable experience. There are plenty of accommodation options and provide multiple dives during the day. I can’t wait to head back.
4. Balicasag Island
I was lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins on the ride over which was a site to behold.
Once I arrived on the island it’s a short walk to the other side to find the Balicasag Island Dive Resort where we were based for the day. Before we had our lunch we met the dive master who prepared our snorkelling gear and booties and came out to guide us around the conservation area.
In the area there are amazing views of countless tropical fish, amazing coral formations, giant clams and even a turtle. The turtles are usually only seen on the other side of the island, but I was lucky to see one made it around before it disappeared back into the deep.
Following our trip in the water we ate at the Dive Resort and enjoyed some classic Filipino dishes for lunch then headed back to Alona Beach.
Balicasag Island is a must visit for divers/snorkelers when you are in Panglao and is a day trip you won’t forget!
About the blog
|Iain travelled as a guest of the Philippine Department of Tourism. He is apart of the team of community managers for Philippine Tourism in Australia and New Zealand and you can keep up to date with information from his adventures here or via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.|
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