The Philippines is known to have some of the best diving spots in the world. With over 7,000 paradise-like islands and countless beautiful beaches, the country offers an exciting diving experience for scuba divers and marine wildlife enthusiasts.
One of the most popular diving destinations in the country is Anilao, Batangas. Located on the northern coast of Mabini, it’s only a three-hour drive from Manila. Many divers and beach lovers visit the place for its pristine waters, stunning islets, and rich marine life.
Premier dive spots
Anilao, Batangas is believed to be the birthplace of scuba diving in the Philippines. Blessed with the rarest, smallest, and most vibrant nudibranch and sea critters you’ll ever see, Anilao is recognized as one of the top muck and macro diving destinations globally. It is even coined as the “Nudibranch capital of the world.”
Nudibranchs are a group of shell-less marine mollusks. They are commonly referred to as “sea slugs.” These creatures are generally oblong in shape, and are known for their often extraordinary colors, striking forms, and intricate patterns.
There are about 40 dive sites in Anilao, with some of the most popular being Twin Rocks, Secret Bay, Cathedral Rock, and Basura (or “trash”—don’t worry it no longer deserves to be called as such).
Twin Rocks is an underwater haven for muck divers, as well as macro and wide-angle photographers. It consists of two large rocks that sit a meter apart, surrounded by a vast coral garden teeming with a variety of small fish, schooling jacks, and even resident juvenile turtles.
Also known as “Mainit Muck” (hot muck), Secret Bay is another popular spot for macro and muck diving aficionados. It was initially named that way due to some underwater photographers who wanted to keep newly discovered critters for themselves until word about it came out. Diving is considered relatively easy here due to its shallow depths and absence of strong currents. This is also a recommended spot for night diving.
Meanwhile, Cathedral Rock is where you’ll find a cross blessed by Pope John Paul II in the 1980s, located between two large boulders. The site was originally barren until live corals were transplanted in 1967. Today, it’s a popular diving spot filled with a myriad of fish species, soft corals, colorful sponges, and nudibranchs.
Another favorite among muck and macro divers is a place called Basura. It was initially named as such due to the rubbish that had previously found its way there. However, the site is now clean and is protected by the local community. You will be amazed to see the variety of aquatic life it holds. It is recommended to visit during summer if you’re planning to scuba dive there.
If you’re planning to go scuba diving in Anilao, you can start by booking your stay in a dive resort. There are plenty of resorts to choose from, so you won’t run short of options. What sets them apart from a regular beach resort or hotel is that these establishments offer a wide range of dive courses and dive packages on top of the services and amenities they offer on-site.
There’s Solitude Acacia Resort and Dive Center, a modern tropical resort that offers spacious rooms, outdoor pool, restaurant, garden, bar, and even a state-of-the-art dive center. The place was renovated in 2019 to upgrade its amenities and expand its services before re-opening its doors to local tourists in October 2020.
They also have a Dive Bar where you can hang out and enjoy drinks while enjoying the Anilao sunset. Try to drop by Oliver’s Restaurant, which offers fusion cuisine as well as vegetarian and vegan options.
Day tours cost Php 2,900 per head and already include lunch. Children aged 5 years old and below are free of charge, while the rate for kids aged 11 years old and below is Php 1,450.
Another dive resort in the area is Anilao Awari Bay, which is located on a private beach stretch in Mabini that offers a view of Balayan Bay. The resort offers fully-furnished rooms with air conditioning and flat-screen televisions. If you’re staying overnight, you can choose to lodge between their deluxe rooms or modern Ifugao cottages.
There are three Ifugao cottages in the resort—Kiangan, Banawe, and Lagawe. Each room is fully furnished and can accommodate a maximum of four people. The only difference between the rooms is the bed setup.
Kiangan features a queen bed that is good for two people. You have an option to add two extra beds for a fee of Php 2,420 per night which comes with complimentary breakfast.
Meanwhile, Banawe and Lagawe feature bunk beds that are good for four people. However, you can request to reduce the number of beds if you’re planning to share any of these rooms with only one person.
You can also visit their Sky Bar to sip a cocktail while taking in a view of the coast, which has an area for beach volleyball. They even have a KTV lounge and a game room where you can play billiards, darts, table tennis, and board games.
A few minutes away from Anilao Awari Bay is Arthur’s Place Dive Resort, one of the first dive resorts in Anilao. Their accommodation is also one of the most affordable that you can book around the area. The resort features 12 fully furnished rooms alongside a restaurant and bar.
Arthur’s Place Dive Resort currently accepts day tours for only Php 200 per head for guests aged 13 years old and above. Children who are 12 years old and below are free of charge.
Formerly known as Tanya Dive University, Pier Uno Dive Resort first opened its doors to the public in 2005. It is one of the most established dive resorts in Anilao.
Apart from their spacious lodging, they also have an outdoor pool and jacuzzi, dive pool, restaurant, al fresco dining hall, spa, and dive center.
If you’re looking to explore the great outdoors, you can avail of the boat tour services for a fun island hopping experience. Room massage service is also available by request.
If you’re not planning to stay overnight, you can avail of Pier Uno’s day tour package for only Php 950 per person which is already inclusive of lunch. Children who are 3 years old and below are free of charge. You can also avail additional snacks for only Php 150 per person.
These dive resorts offer various dive programs, from introductory courses for beginners to open water diving for more experienced hobbyists. They even have on-site dive training facilitated by certified dive instructors and divemasters.
Courses on Intro Diving and Advanced Open Water Diving are currently available. Additionally, you can enroll yourself in a more advanced course like Rescue Diving, which is currently being offered at Pier Uno Resort.
If you’re a rookie diver, Anilao Awari Bay and Pier Uno Resort have dive pools where you can learn and train for scuba diving. These pools measure 15-feet and 10-feet deep, respectively.
You can also take advantage of their dive packages including, but not limited to solo, group, shore entry, and night diving. These are inclusive of complete gear rental and a round trip boat ride to your chosen dive locations. Each dive trip will have spotters to assist in underwater photography as well as boat and land support crew.
At Solitude Acacia and Pier Uno, there is a designated camera room where you can review your underwater footage.
The resorts only employ professional divers and experienced trainers to ensure a safe diving experience. While the resorts encourage guests to bring their diving or snorkeling gear, especially for first-timers, they have a dive shop where you can rent diving equipment.
All tourist destinations in Batangas have health and safety regulations in place to protect locals and visitors. Everyone is encouraged to wear face masks, wash their hands often, and maintain proper physical distance.
Visit www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app on app.philippines.travel or on Google Playstore for the most up-to-date information about re-opened local destinations as well as the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location.