Covering 1,725 square miles of the Philippines Central Visayas regions, the island of Cebu offers divers a huge variety of sites and a wide range of underwater environments to explore. Popular as a 'drive and dive' destination, many visitors opt for a multi-resort vacation, diving at two, or even three of the province's famous spots.
Here are some of our favorite Cebu dive resort areas.
One-third of the way up Cebu's west coast, Moalboal is a fantastic introduction to diving Cebu. Perhaps most famous for its sardine run, this spectacular natural phenomenon attracts a wealth of pelagics including sharks, trevally, and barracuda close to shore. Often described as an 'underwater playground', the marine life in Moalboal's waters is lively and colorful offering divers an endless supply of fantastic photo opportunities. Nearby Pescador Island is also a great area to dive, offering some fascinating critters and healthy coral life.
2. Mactan Island
One of the most popular dive resorts in Cebu, if not the Philippines, Mactan island is connected to Cebu by road bridges making it easily accessible to those keen to explore its rich underwater offerings. The Shangri-La Marine Sanctuary off the island's east coast was established in 2007 and protects six hectares of vital marine ecosystem. Many of the best dive sites can be accessed directly from shore and visitors can discover an array of interesting underwater topography. Caves, overhangs, steep walls, and drop-offs provide a great base for some gorgeous hard coral formations, seagrass beds, and even a couple of wrecks.
3. Malapascua Island
Perched off the northern tip of Cebu, Malapascua Island is a great getaway destination offering not only ideal novice dive conditions but one of the world's best sites to encounter thresher sharks. These deep-water beauties visit the shallow cleaning stations of Monad Shoal early each morning, and Malapascua has now become one of the only places where regular sightings are all but guaranteed. Malapascua has plenty more to offer divers, with a range of sites from wrecks and sandy muck dives, to stunning coral gardens, deep walls, and plenty of fascinating life to photograph.
Although situation along the coast of neighboring Negros island, Dauin's dive sites are easily accessible from the southern Cebu resorts and are often dived during a Cebu trip. Arguably one of the best macro diving destinations in the world, the waters off Dauin boast an abundance of rare and unique critters. Great macro subjects such as pipefish, mandarin fish, juvenile batfish, seahorses, mantis shrimp, ribbon eels, dragonets, hairy squat lobster, snake eels, wonderpus octopus, bobtail squid, a large number of nudibranchs, blue-ring octopus, harlequin shrimp, and flamboyant cuttlefish attract muck divers to this critter-mecca.
Check out these great underwater photography tutorials from the Underwater Photography Guide.
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The Philippines is also a perfect liveaboard destination. Check out our blog on liveaboards in the Philippines.