5 Best Places to Snorkel in the Philippines
What is the best place to snorkel in the Philippines? You will find beautiful coral reefs all around the island nation, but these top 5 snorkeling places in the Philippines really stand out. In each of these you will see and experience something unique and unforgettable underwater.
Read about Philippines’ best snorkeling places below or check their locations on our Philippines map.
1 Moalboal – Snorkel with Millions of Sardines
This is by far the most unique snorkeling experience in the Philippines. Moalboal is most probably the only place in the world where you can snorkel with a permanent school of sardines year-round. And it’s just 20 meters off the beach, so you won’t even need a boat ride.
The school of sardines is huge, even insane, about the size of two football fields. There are millions of those little fish. The phenomenon is also called sardine run.
It’s not just the sardines, though. Corals are good too, and Moalboal is also a great place to learn freediving if you want to take your snorkeling hobby to a new level. Here the ocean floor dives 60 meters deep just some 60 meters from the shore what has made Moalboal one of the world’s hot spots of freediving. No boats are needed here, as depth records can be tried out from the beach by swimming.
Just catch a bus from Cebu City and you are all set!
2 Apo Island – Snorkeling in the Lost World
Apo Island is truly an exceptional place. When you get there, you get the feeling immediately that you have arrived somewhere unique. Call it the Lost World, if you like.
The island stands of like a giant rock just off Dumaguete. It’s little touched by tourism, and you will only find just a handful of places to stay, and even them very basic.
There is a fishing village on the island, nothing else. Not much of a beach either, but the corals surrounding the island are spectacular. And you will see turtles everywhere.
Apo Island is quite well known as a model example of marine conservation. The fishermen were compelled to protect parts of the reefs as a sanctuary, which turned the whole reef system around the island healthy and much more productive than before.
Apo Island is great for diving too, even better than diving. Once you descend to the deeper waters you will see huge schools of fish. The main guesthouse has a dive shop and the price for diving is very cheap, last time we visited just around 20 USD per dive.
From Apo Island you can continue your journey to another nice snorkeling place, Siquijor Island, just off Dumaguete.
3 Balicasag island – Great for Turtles
This little island just off Bohol is one of the best places in the Philippines to snorkel with turtles. The island is surrounded by a vast shallow reef what makes excellent snorkeling right from the shore. Good amount and variety of fish.
The island can get quite busy as it is so close to popular holiday island Bohol. Most come during day-trips but you can also stay overnight in the island at the Balicasag Island Dive Resort.
4 Surigao – Snorkel with Dolphins in the Philippines
Shh, this is still a secret. In Surigao you can swim with dolphins. There’s a resident pod of dolphins living in the Surigao Strait just in front of Surigao Dream Beach Resort. Once you are done with the dolphins you can keep on snorkeling on a beautiful and well preserved fish sanctuary just off the pebble beach.
Surigao is just next to the popular traveler island Siargao in Mindanao.
5 Pintuyan – Best Place to Snorkel with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
This is another secret. Forget Donsol or Oslob, Pintuyan the best place in the Philippines to snorkel with whale sharks. The majestic yet gentle sharks gather to its bay from November to May, and you are pretty guaranteed to see them even if they are not fed here like in Oslob. In Pintuyan you will encounter the whale sharks in their natural environment, but without the crowds of Donsol.
Pintuyan is located on the southern tip of Leyte, just a two-hour ferry trip from Surigao. This part of Leyte is also great for diving.