When one thinks of diving paradises in Southeast Asia, Palawan often tops the list. With its crystal-clear waters, pristine coral reefs, and diverse marine life, this Philippine archipelago promises unforgettable underwater adventures. In this guide, discover everything you need to know about diving in Palawan, from the best spots and necessary certifications to the aquatic wonders awaiting you.
Best diving spots in Palawan
Regarded as one of the Philippines’ best-kept secrets, El Nido is a haven of natural beauty. Diving sites here feature deep coral walls, mysterious caverns, and a diversified marine life. Ocean currents also present a chance to observe large pelagics and sharks. To witness this magnificent sight and make the most of this earthly paradise, our 5 days and 4 nights El Nido to Coron expedition is perfect for you.
The waters around Coron are famous for their Japanese warship wrecks, sunk during World War II. These wrecks provide divers with a unique window into history, with almost intact ships resting at depths ranging from 10 to 40 meters. Besides the wrecks, marine life around Coron is also abundant, giving divers the chance to see schools of tropical fish, multicolored corals, and even turtles. Wreck diving requires some experience, but for those with the necessary skills, it’s an unforgettable experience.
Located on Coron Island, Barracuda Lake is a geological curiosity. The unique mix of warm freshwater at the surface and cold seawater below creates a distinct thermocline, offering a strange yet intriguing sensation during diving. The lake is also renowned for its underwater rock formations and crystal-clear visibility.
Apo Reef Natural Park
A few hours by boat from Palawan, Apo Reef is the world’s second-largest contiguous coral reef. It’s a diver’s paradise, with clear waters, dizzying coral walls, and an incredible diversity of marine life. Divers can expect to see large pelagics like sharks, manta rays, and tunas, as well as a myriad of colorful reef fish. The park has well-preserved areas offering incredible visibility, sometimes up to 30 meters or more.
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a remote marine sanctuary, offering some of the Philippines’ most spectacular dives. With astonishing biodiversity, this site is a must for macrophotography enthusiasts and those wishing to spot rare species.
Necessary certifications for diving in Palawan
To dive in Palawan, it’s imperative to have a valid certification. Here are some options available:
PADI Open Water Diver : this basic certification allows you to dive up to 18 meters deep. It’s ideal for beginners.
Advanced Open Water Diver : for those wanting to venture deeper and dive up to 30 meters, this certification is recommended.
Specialty Diver Courses : for those keen to explore specific niches, like cave diving or underwater photography.
It’s crucial to check the requirements for each dive site, as some, like Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, might require advanced certification levels.
What one can observe underwater in Palawan
Palawan’s marine biodiversity is breathtaking. The crystal-clear waters are not only famed for their landscapes but also for the abundance of marine life they shelter. Here are some species you might encounter :
The first thing that often comes to mind when mentioning scuba diving is sharks. And in Palawan, they don’t disappoint. Divers frequently get the chance to closely observe the graceful white-tip shark gliding majestically through the waters. In addition to these, reef sharks also form part of the underwater panorama, reminding divers of these predators’ wild beauty and ecological importance.
Nothing is more calming than watching a turtle move slowly and gracefully through the waters. Green turtles, with their big gentle eyes and serene demeanor, are often spotted feeding or resting on the ocean floor. Hawksbill turtles, with their distinct shell patterns, also add to Palawan diving’s magic.
Colorful Tropical Fish
One of the real joys of diving in Palawan is the chance to be surrounded by schools of colorful tropical fish. Whether it’s the bright red of clownfish playing among anemones, the iridescent shimmer of butterflyfish, or the electric blue of surgeonfish, each dive offers a spectacle of colors and movements, highlighting marine biodiversity.
But it’s not just marine creatures that captivate in Palawan. Coral formations are a spectacle in their own right. Reefs are brimming with a variety of corals, from hard brain or stag-horn corals to soft corals that gently sway with the current. These complex structures not only provide shelter and food to numerous species but also contribute to creating the enchanting underwater landscape for which Palawan is renowned.
In essence, Palawan’s underwater world offers a genuine treasure trove of discoveries for all divers, whether novice or experienced, making every dive a new adventure.
Diving in Palawan is an experience every ocean enthusiast should undergo at least once. With its world-class sites, accessible certifications, and rich and varied marine life, the archipelago is undoubtedly !