Anilao hits the top 10 dive destinations for 2 reason. 1st its the closest dive location to Manila and a diver pressed for time can actually do a dive in the day and be back in Manila for a 4pm business meeting. The other reason its on the top 10 list is because there are over 50 dive sites around Anilao some of them are breathtaking. These dive sites are primarily located in the southern area. It’s best to pick an accommodation located in the the south so that you have shorter van or boat rides to diving sites. One thing needs to be mentioned here and its the strong ocean currents that frequent these waters. Even the most experienced divers have gone missing so extreme caution must be exercised.
Peak tourist season in the Philippines coincides with peak diving season. Technically it’s possible to dive all year around, however, if you’re looking for the main season to dive, it’s from mid October to end of May or early June with the absolute best months being March till May. As mentioned these are also peak tourist months and some dive sites also cater to snorkelers and swimmers/floaters so be prepared for crowded areas. This is actually even more important with Anilao since it’s so close to Manila the city people just flock to the beach for the weekends.
For months to avoid, that would be July and August and that’s mainly because of the monsoons — it’s typically the rainy season and typhoons can happen any time , anywhere; therefore, the seas can get very choppy and visibility can be very poor.
Diving is usually done with a wooden outrigger boat called a bangka that can take between 4 and 12 divers and crew. when the diving conditions in the Anilao are at its best and the currents are mild, dive sites are clear and ideal for scuba diving. Strong currents inn certain places like Mainit Point need to be avoided by beginners.
The water temperature ranges from colder – November to February at around 24°C and then approximately 27°C from March to May. Meanwhile visibility ranges from 3m to 25m depending on the season and the tides with visibility being at its poorest during the rainy months of July to September.
Diving packages are offered by small dive shops but also by hotels and resorts around Anilao. The more fancy the place the more expensive the price. If you’re diving on a budget it might be wise to book your accommodation separate from your diving.
The average cost for a single dive is around $30 or Php 1,500+ but this is for experienced or certified divers. Most companies offer experience Open Water or Advanced divers a daily package which includes 3 dives, all the dive equipment and a lunch between $60 to $8 or 3000 to 4000 Php. For beginners with no experience a trial or test dive, commonly referred to by PADI as a Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) costs usually start at $84 (Php 4,400+) which includes complete diving gear rental, 2 to 3 hours of diving, and a diving instructor. The Hub In Coron, Palawan offers this DSD for people with no experience for 3,600 peso which is the cheapest in the Philippines.
Sea life in Anilao
Virtually every specie of small fish imaginable can be found in Anilao. Shrimp, crabs, small squid and cuttlefish, nudibranchs, are arguably more plentiful than any other dive destination. Frogfish, pipefish and seahorses are also common and even Rhinopias & Hairy Frogfish., mimic and blue-ringed octopus, bobbit worms and many other critters await divers. Anilao also has a large number of species of hard and soft corals – perhaps more than anywhere else in the world.
Larger marine life is also found in Anilao, including schools of jacks, the occasional turtle and giant seahorses. At Mainit point, where the currents are strongest, you can see giant barracuda and even bluefin hunting for food. The occasional Reef sharks are seen down deep at dive sites with and on very occasions people have seen whale sharks.
Anilao has some unique soft coral forests, generally found at 70 – 130ft deep, these coral forests are some of the best in the world, turning up rare life such as seahorses and rhinopias.
The Cathedral is located just off Bagalangit Point close to Eagle Point pier. The conditions range between calm and strong currents. The depth average is 25 meters but can go as deep as 65 meters. Visibility during calm weather is 20 meters or more.
The Cathedral is a Marine Park Sanctuary and the best known dive site in Anilao. Originally barren, it has been seeded with coral from elsewhere and is now teeming with fish. From the pier of EAGLE POINT you can swim to this spot in about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the current or you can hire a boat.
Once you arrive you can swim down a little and out across to the small coral heads. There you will be met by schools of fish hoping to be fed. The site itself resembles a cavern consisting of two sea mounds, between which is a small cross planted at 15m by the then Philippine President, Fidel Ramos, in 1983. The site drops away in small steps, and becomes much less interesting below 24m. Lots of colorful sponges and nudibranchs, hydroids, sea squirts, Feather Duster Worms inhabit the rocks in between stony corals All kinds of smaller fish beg you to be fed including angelfish, butterflyfish, wrasse, triggerfish, damselfish, Moori
Kirby’s Rock is located on the Northeast face of Caban Island and is accessed from Eagle Point a 10 min by boat from ride. Its average Depth is 11 meters and a maximum depths of 33 meters. As with most places in Anilao, it can be calm or strong currents. Snorkelers and beginner divers should exercise caution and stay on the shallow reef, not venturing far out. Several crevices harboring moray eels can be found at the bottom of the wall and there are many whip corals and anemones and clownfish among the coral heads on the sand. Also there’s lots of colorful wrasse, most spe reef fish and the occasional predator. An ideal dive for photographers and novice divers, if you are able to have calm water.
Twin Rocks is located at the southeast tip of Dead Point and is accessed by a 25 min boat ride.The average Depth: 6 meters and maximum Depth is 12 meters.Twin Rocks has calm conditions almost always and is known as a great beginner learning area with just a slight current and visibility up to 20 meters. It has good slope very close to shore
There are the remains of a capsized barge here lying on a gradual slope with sponges, hydroids and algae, lots of feather stars and reef fish, and schools of barracuda and squid.
As mentioned it’s one of the most interesting dive sites for novice divers. It’s a definite favorite for aquatic life as well as a great place for macro shots if you’re a photographer. It’s a nice relaxed dive one of a few in Anilao.
Verde Island and Puerto Galera are all just a shot boat ride away which is a great bonus.