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The Philippine Islands are made up of over 7500 islands, each boasting abundant coral reefs, crystal clear turquoise waters, and thousands of marine life species, making it a bucket list topper for snorkeling aficionados.
From novice to native, regardless of your your skill set, snorkeling in the Philippines is one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world and will never disappoint.
We dove into the best and most beautiful snorkeling hotspots in the Philippines and these are spots we suggest not to miss.
Kayangan Lake is a fantastic spot for snorkeling, and let me tell you why you're going to love it.
Firstly, the water in Kayangan Lake is incredibly clear and clean, which means you'll have fantastic visibility when snorkeling. The lake is home to endemic species of fish, such as the Philippine freshwater crocodile and some species of crustaceans and mollusks.
We reached out to the community on Instagram to share their thoughts and experiences about Kayangan Lake for our readers:
"We asked someone from the pier to drive us to Kayangan Lake and the twin lagoon and it was wonderful 🤩 so we had a private boat for these two spots.
The day before, we made a booked trip to some isles and it was too crowdy (we were 24 pax on that boat).
Kayangan Lake was very beautiful 😍 you have to pay a fee/entry for this spot, but it was worth it.
There are like 170 (up and down roundabout) stairs you have to go up to have a very nice view above the bay and stairs down to arrive at the lake with crystal clear water.
It was necessary to wear life vests 🙈 but it was really beautiful there 😍
The water is so clear, and you can see small fishes 🤩
The man from the boat told us the water would be 70% sweet and 30% salt water 💦 We recommend this happy place."
Another great thing about Kayangan Lake is that it's relatively shallow, so even if you're not an experienced swimmer or snorkeler, you'll still be able to enjoy all the underwater sights. Plus, the calm waters make for a peaceful and relaxing snorkeling experience. If it's your first time snorkeling, read our Complete Guide for Snorkeling Beginners.
Finally, the natural beauty of Kayangan Lake is simply breathtaking. The stunning scenery above the water continues below the surface, with coral reefs and underwater rock formations that are home to a diverse array of marine life. Snorkeling in Kayangan Lake is truly an unforgettable experience and to make the most of it bring CaliCase waterproof phone pouch with you!
Source: Siete Pecados, Coron
The most recognized and easy-to-reach snorkeling destination around Coron, Siete Pecados is a Southeast asian gem. Siete Pecados Marine Park is a protected area home to countless tiny colorful fish as well as larger sea creatures like baby sharks, small squids, and octopuses.
Crystal clear turquoise waters make it easy to see hundreds of schools of fish swarming together above the corals from the surface, making this spot truly unforgettable.
To visit Siete Pecados, visitors can book a tour or hire a private boat to take them to the marine park. Check out Marlon Island Tour, which rents boats and kayaks. Upon arrival, visitors can rent snorkeling gear and enjoy a day of snorkeling and exploring the beautiful marine life that inhabits the area.
Image source: Out Of Town Blog
The Underwater Cave is a unique and exciting destination located off the coast of San Antonio Island in Puerto Galera. As the name suggests, the cave is located underwater and can only be accessed by snorkeling or diving. It's an experience like no other!
Once you're inside the cave, you'll be surrounded by stunning rock formations and crystal-clear waters that will take your breath away. The cave itself is fairly shallow, but it's definitely not for the faint of heart. You'll need to be comfortable snorkeling or diving in dark and narrow spaces to fully appreciate this unique underwater attraction.
But trust me, the experience is well worth it! Inside the cave, you'll see an abundance of marine life, including colorful fish and beautiful coral formations. If you're lucky, you might even spot some sea turtles or other marine creatures that call the cave home.
To visit the Underwater Cave, you can book a tour with a local guide or dive operator. They'll provide you with all the necessary gear, including snorkels or scuba tanks, and guide you through the cave.
Schools of rainbow-colored fish and fascinating sea turtles that have grown accustomed to humans' attention welcome guests of Apo Island, making this a fun snorkeling destination for families with children.
Apo Island is a marine sanctuary, which means that the area is protected to help preserve the natural ecosystem. As such, visitors are required to follow some rules and regulations to minimize their impact on the environment. This includes not stepping on or touching the coral while snorkeling, so be sure to keep your flippers off the reef and respect the marine life.
Snorkelers can book guided tours with local operators or guides who know the best spots to see the colorful fish and stunning coral reefs.
We reached out to the community on Instagram to share their thoughts and experiences about Tubbataha Reef for our readers:
"During my visit to Apo Island, I was blown away by the crystal clear waters. The locals were also very welcoming and accommodating, making my stay even more enjoyable. I highly recommend visiting the cave in Apo Island during low tide as it's a unique experience that shouldn't be missed. Overall, my experience in Apo Island was truly memorable."
Source: Matinloc Island, El Nido
If there was ever an island that was made for snorkeling, it would be Matinloc Island, a thriving mecca of marine life and the longest remote island in El Nido.
Designed specifically for snorkel exploration, swimmers can safely get face-to-face with the fish. Like a life-sized aquarium, Matinloc Island offers a truly immersive technicolor experience.
The seafloor adjacent to the beach slants gradually, deepening at only after about 32 feet from the shore, beginners are encouraged to stay close to the shore where there is such an abundance of marine life that there's no need to swim out to the more challenging depths.
Sombrero Island is one of the most popular destinations in Anilao, Batangas, Philippines. The island is named after its distinct shape, which resembles a hat or "sombrero" in Spanish. If you're planning a trip to Anilao, then snorkeling at Sombrero Island is an absolute must-do activity!
When you snorkel at Sombrero Island, you can expect to see a wide variety of marine life, including colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and even some reef sharks if you're lucky! The coral formations in the area are also quite impressive, making for some truly breathtaking underwater scenery.
To get to Sombrero Island, you can hire a boat from the mainland in Anilao or join an island-hopping tour. Many of these tours also include stops at nearby islands like Lipo Island and Sepoc Island, so you can make the most out of your day trip. Just make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, a hat, and a waterproof camera so you can capture all the amazing sights you'll see!
An exceptional snorkeling abode with plentiful marine life and few crowds, Balicasag Island is home to some of the most magnificent marine life. You can see sea turtles feeding on seagrass, over 600 species of fish, including clownfish, parrotfish, and angelfish, and reef sharks are also occasionally seen.
If you're looking for a vacation destination that's still relatively unknown and reasonably priced, Balicasag Island is a great option.
Are you daring enough to come face to face with the largest fish in the world? If so, visit Oslob in the Philippines to see whale sharks up close. These mythical sea giants can be found swimming along the island of Cebu in the tiny village of Oslob.
Growing as large as 50 feet long, swimming alongside these creatures is a bucket list experience and certainly an adventure you won't soon forget. For the faint of heart, shark feeding from tour-guided boats is also an incredible experience for those who'd rather look from a bit of a distance.
Oslob Whalesharks Watching Tour proposes a snorkeling tour with whale sharks for USD 115 and accepts children.
Very accessible with the greatest opportunities to spot a variety of starfish species, Tubod Marine Sanctuary in Siquijor is an exquisite spot for snorkeling adventurers and underwater photography enthusiasts. Don't forget to bring our CaliCase waterproof phone pouch with you to capture the marine life there.
Snorkeling Report made a complete guide about Tubod Marine Sanctuary, the marine life and how to get there.
Southwest of Cebu Island, Moalboal is a relatively remote snorkeling hotspot for enthusiasts who don't want to fight the crowds. Not as touristy as some of the other Filipino snorkeling destinations, the six-mile-long deep steep wall of healthy coral reef on the peninsula of Moalboal offers exciting green turtle sightings and exotic sanctuaries of vividly colored fish.
But, Moalboal is known best for its famous sardine run. Off the coast of Panagsama beach, visitors can watch schools of over one million sardines dance and perform.
Image Source: WorldWildlife.org
Our bonus one and maybe the best yet! Tubbataha Reef is part of the Coral Triangle and one of the most extensive coral reefs in the world and home to thousands of fish species. The reef is a protected area by UNESCO World Heritage, and snorkelers can see Barracudas, Parrotfishes, Groupers fish species, and many species of sharks. Tubbataha Reef is also a huge nesting site for Sea turtles. The best period of the year to snorkel at Tubbataha Reef is between March to June.
We reached out to the community on Instagram to share their thoughts and experiences about Tubbataha Reef ffor our readers:
"Tubbataha Reef is a truly remarkable place to dive. The abundance of fish species and the crystal-clear visibility are just some of the things that make this place so special. The healthy reefs are a sight to behold, especially when the sunlight hits them just right. Observing fish behavior and appreciating the underwater scenery is a truly immersive experience. Although I can't remember all the spots we visited, the Malayan wreck was a highlight. Our dive guide led us to find "dory", which was exciting. The deep blue of Ko-Ok and Jessie Beazley was breathtaking, and seeing it next to the reef was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. One of the most memorable aspects of the trip was the overall dive experience. The underwater seascape was beautiful, and the abundance of fish was astounding. We saw so many schools of fish and even baby sharks. The healthy reefs and thriving fish population allowed us to observe fish behavior and appreciate their role in nature. During the trip, I saw a pigmy seahorse for the first time, as well as a shy pufferfish. Although we didn't have any luck spotting a hammerhead shark, we did catch a glimpse of a whale shark's shadow. There were also plenty of jackfish, sharks, and barracudas, but what really stood out was the number of triggerfish (I did not go to trigger fish city😝). The morning dives were particularly enjoyable, as the fish were busy and active. Overall, Tubbataha Reef is a must-visit destination for any diving enthusiast looking for a truly immersive and unforgettable experience."