MANILA (Apr. 20) Filipino officials have been urged to help in efforts by the national government to make The Philippines into a “dive capital” of the Asian region.
Ronaldo Puno, Interior Secretary of the country, asked local government units to take measures that would standardize the collection of recreational diving fees and utilize such revenues to implement marine conservation and coastal livelihood programs.
He asked the executives of areas where dive sites are located to set up coastal resources management bodies to help preserve eco-tourism sites and conserve the country’s marine lives.
“All of us are stakeholders here and, given the new imperatives of a world under siege from environmental degradation and a deepening financial contagion, this joint undertaking promises to be an excellent vehicle for us to turn the country into a world-class dive haven despite the prevailing global threats,” said the official.
Scuba diving tourism is one bright spot in the services sector when it comes to generating revenues and livelihood opportunities during the global economic downturn, he added.
The country boasts of its dive sites in Puerto Galera, Anilao, Busuanga and the Coron Bay, considered among the best in the world.
According to trifter.com, here are some of the best, internationally recognized dive spots in the country:
Marine Park, Sulu Sea
Famous for its diverse marine life, Tubbataha Reef Marine Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world and is one of the best places for snorkelling and diving in Asia. The park covers 33,200 ha, including the North and South Reefs. It is a unique example of an atoll reef with a high density of marine species, with the North Islet serving as a nesting site for birds and marine turtles. The site has a pristine coral reef with a spectacular 100-m perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two coral islands.
Famous for its rare sharks, Malapascua is one of the least spoiled tourist spots in the Philippines. Labelled as the next Boracay by the Lonely Planet, Malapascua has everything for the travelling diver, including the only daily thresher shark sightings in the world, white tip sharks, mantas, hammerheads, wrecks, mandarin fish, pygmy seahorses, cuttlefish, beautiful unspoiled coral gardens and diverse marine life.
Puerto Galera, Mindoro
This diving site is noted for its colourful reefs. Puerto Galera is a natural harbour with fine beaches, green scenery and sheltered coves. It has grown to become a diving haven due to its marine diversity, complemented by other activities. At least two dozen sites have been identified, each providing good opportunity for photography.
Anilao’s proximity makes it a popular destination for weekend diving trips. Excursions are ideal in this southern town where resorts are situated within short boat rides to excellent dive sites. Diving is mainly in coral slopes and shallow gardens among sandy patches. Choose from any of the 24 dive sites between the coast of Anilao and Maricaban Island. The most popular site is the Cathedral (average of 60 ft.), a roofless cavern with a cross flanked by two large sea mounts.
Balicasag Island, Bohol
The waters of Balicasag are brimming with schools of tuna, snappers, groupers, mackerel and surgeonfish. Dolphins and pilot whales can also be viewed from a distance.
Apo Reef, Negros
Apo Reef National Park is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park boasts some of the best diving sites in Asia. It is a 34-kilometre reef, with a narrow channel running east to west, dividing the reef into two lagoon systems. Apo Reef is the second largest contiguous coral reef in the world and the largest in the Philippines.
Palawan’s Surrounding Islands
Coron, El Nido and Busuanga are just three of the many dive sites in Palawan. Coron Bay is one of the most popular diving destinations in The Philippines, and one of the most famous wreck diving destinations in the world due to the amount of historic sunken ships which can be visited. El Nido is one of the world class diving destinations. Its dive sites are also home to exotic and colorful tropical marine life. With its unexploited underwater scenery, divers will have a good look on the colorful tropical fishes and corals.
Boracay has the best tropical beach in the world, and is one of the most popular diving areas in Southeast Asia. It combines a wide range of dive activities with numerous quality resorts, restaurants, bars and night time events. There are 15 diving sites.