It’s undeniable – a lot has been into freediving lately. The ocean and the activity itself is inviting for a million reasons. To start with, it provides stillness, silence, focus and calmness for everyone. As a sport, some would take it as a competition tracking his or her own progress and development paying attention to the longevity of apnea, distance (for dynamics) and the depth. As a recreational activity, some would go and search for fascinating creatures and vibrant, awe-striking reef beneath the scintillating surface of the vast ocean. Once introduced to this sport and recreation and with the appropriate gear, the next thing that divers think about is the spot to explore for fun dives. One of which and among the most accessible is the province of Batangas. With that, here are the best dive sites in Batangas!
The province of Batangas is situated in the mainland of Luzon particularly in Region IV – A CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon). It is truly blessed with a great marine biodiversity. It is actually the home of the Center of the Center of the Coral Triangle of the Western Pacific Ocean, the Verde Island Passage. Another best thing about it? It is just two to three hours away from the metro and there’s a range of budget-friendly to luxurious hotel and resorts in it. Thus, weekender divers could hit the town in an instant shall they crave for some underwater adventure.
Apart from the natural wonders of its marine biodiversity, there are several interesting diving spots put up by the nearby resorts which have become sought after by those who are doing fun dives. Some of which are located in Bauan, Mabini, San Luis and Pagkilatan. If you’re interested about this, then, you’d better keep reading the [updated] list of best dive sites in Batangas.
Freediving Gear from Decathlon Philippines
How to Get There
There are several bus liners around Buendia and Cubao that travel several times daily to Batangas. These include DLTB Co. and JAM Liner. First trip is usually at around 2:00 AM and the last is at around 7:00 PM. Be mindful of your schedule and itinerary though as you might not want to miss the last trips.
Best Time to Dive
While you can dive all year round at the province, the best time would always be during the dry season. This season usually starts at around November but the best time to dive is around late February and early May. On the other hand, Southwest monsoons that bring rains and downpours to the country are more frequent during the months of June to October.
Prior to the dive itself, the diver must be mindful of the tidal chart, too, and should often watch news to check the weather forecast.
Best Dive Sites in Batangas
1. Bauan, Batangas
The frequently visited diving spot in Bauan is one boat away from San Luis. This may also be reached through more or less an hour of trek shall the waves be rough making the traveling by sea from cove to cove impossible. Diving during Southwest monsoon season (Habagat) is not advisable in this area as it faces an open sea; hence, the ocean swells on days with bad weather. The northeast monsoon season (Amihan) and of course, the summer time, are the most awaited seasons of the year since these are the best time to dive in the area. Visibility is great on days with good weather and ocean condition. There are also times when we did freediving in the area on a rainy day but still with an exceptional visibility. If diving beyond the safety line, make sure that you have a buoy or at least someone at the surface since boats pass by the area.
The School of Jacks Haven
Bauan is famed by the diving encounter with the school of jack fish. These have become a resident in the area and would even go to the shallow part (at about five to six meters). However, on days with strong currents and waves at the surface, they usually are found at the deeper part.
This is actually a hollow narrow space between two juxtapositioned enormous rocks which served as its walls. It is located at the west side of the cove past bunker dive resort. Be careful though if you’ll decide to dive in this spot. It is a little narrow and there are barnacles and sea urchins on the walls. Be careful and watchful of the tides and currents shall you decide to explore this area. The strong current may get you washed up inside and drive you to its walls.
Photo by Mark Vincent Bolivar
There are actually a number of dive resort where you can stay at when exploring these spots in Bauan. One of which is Camp Raya Adventure Resort where we checked into during my introductory class to Freediving in Batangas.
This area is usually just passed by as most of the divers and ocean enthusiast would proceed to Bauan (specifically Binukbok area) and it is a jump off point to the dive resorts in the declared Marine Sanctuary. However, there is something more about this “jump off”. It houses a stunning coral bed of hard corals if you’ll swim to the east facing the ocean (going to Ligpo Island). There is a resident turtle at ten meters that welcomes the divers who approach it.
Swim to the east side from Summer Cruise Dive Resort, facing the ocean and this is what you get!
San Luis’ Cross
If you’re up for a challenging fun dive and you’re staying at Summer Cruise, there’s this spot that you should know about. A little swim down south from the resort past the area where the hard corals are, you’ll find a red buoy. The exact spot to dive into is when the Bauan Divers Sanctuary sits on your right and a boat parking at the nearby community is in front of you. This cross is at 16 meters.
The Boat Wreck
At around 11 meters somewhere around the same spot where the cross is, you’ll find the boat wreck. This steel boat lies at the sandy part underwater. If the currents are on your favor, you may swim from Summer Cruise to this spot. If not, you may opt to walk on the rocky shore beside the resort or go on a boat dive.
3. Mabini, Batangas
Mabini, Batangas has Anilao which has been considered as the birthplace of SCUBA divingin the Philippines. A large number of marine species in the Philippines is said to be found in this area. Aside from this natural wonder that promises a spectacular sight, the following are the different Anilao dive sites that you can enjoy:
Fins from Aquamundo Sports
The Tables are located in front of Vista Mar Resort in Anilao. This underwater attraction has several concrete tables and benches with bottles of booze; thus, an underwater bar. It is seated at 6 to 7 meters depending on the tide. Waves tend to get rough on this side towards the afternoon to evening. The spot is mostly sandy but there are coral reefs nearby. The most interesting coral garden is on the west side facing the ocean.
The Jeepney Wreck
Fins from Aquamundo Sports
The Jeepney wreck is among the newest interesting diving spot in Batangas. It is some 7 to 8 meters deep and is situated at Pier Uno in Anilao. Going inside was possible before but the jeep’s roof has now collapsed probably due to underwater currents. It has been moving backwards and deeper. On our visit, we were still able to get in but only at the driver’s seat.
The motorcycle wreck sits at 6 to 7 meters across Monte Carlo Hotel and Resort in San Jose, Brgy. Anilao, Mabini, Batangas. Waves tend to get a little rough on this side in the afternoon. There are no buoys nor marks, too. Thus, it is advised that divers bring a buoy if they are doing a shore entry for safety purposes as well as boats usually pass by this area as well.
The office is also at 6 to 7 meters just beside the motorcycle wreck across Monte Carlo. It is a table with bottle of soft drinks and booze and a telephone on it, too.
When you had chocolate drink before dive. lol
The toilet is located just some seven to eight meters away from the motorcycle and the office.
The Speed Boats
The sunken speedboats of Monte Carlo are at some nine or ten meters from the surface. There are two white speedboats are adjacent to one another.
By snorkeling from the surface at the waters across Monte Carlo, the different dive spots such as the speedboats, the office, motorcycle wreck toilet could be seen. Apart from this, there are also two televisions seated near the speedboats.
NOTE: You can actually take a tricycle or walk to the public jump off to the the different Anilao diving spots including sunken Television, underwater office, jeepney and motorcycle wreck, underwater bar and the toilets. What we did was we checked into a cheap dive resort in Anilao, Batangas (more like a home stay) called Hayahay Divers Inn.
The sunken Buddha is just a few meters away from Dive 7000 resort. It is seated at 8 meters below the surface. The reef on its both sides are are diverse and beautifully thriving. Corals are mostly the hard ones. There are also lots of fishes in the area. If you get lucky, you may spot and swim with the two resident turtles. The other one is aloof while the other one doesn’t care at all if divers swim after them. Just don’t touch and disturb them as they eat and rest.
If blessed with good visibility, swim to the west from the public entrance in Bagalangit near Dive 7000 and you’d see the jet ski at 20 meters.
The Cathedral Rock/ Cross
The Cathedral rock is said to be seated at 17 to 20 meters below the surface. It is actually a small cross that has sunken at the ocean. It is surrounded by thriving and undisturbed marine creatures and corals.
The Twin Rocks Sanctuary
Picture this out, two giant boulders wrapped with colorful soft and hard corals and several school and species of fishes swimming around and in between. This is the Twin Rocks in Anilao.
We visited this diving spot seated at the Balayan Bay. It is located just across the Maricaban Island, another island with a stunning underwater sight. Weather was a little rough prior to our trip. Clouds were heavy and there was light to moderate rainfall. Water was murky and currents were strong that time. Visibility was ever-changing. Thus, it is not advisable to dive in the area during Southwest Monsoon season or with an inclement weather. The underwater life, though, is promising on times with good visibility. The reef at the foot of the twin rocks are also thriving.
We stayed at Planet Dive Resort as it is just literally few meters away from the Twin Rock Sanctuary. It was quite a lovely and laid back resort. For a detailed review and travel guide, read Planet Dive Resort in Mabini, Batangas. This resort is also considered by the SCUBA divers to be among their most favorite diving centers in Anilao, Batangas.
4. Pagkilatan, Batangas City
I have considered Pagkilatan as one of my most favorite dive spots in the Philippines. It sits across the Verde Island which is considered to be the Center of the Center of the Coral Triangle. I personally love how diverse and vibrant the underwater life is on this side of Batangas. It houses several species of soft and hard corals, sponges and fishes that I have only honestly only seen on pictures and books. What I love about it is that there is a wall or drop you can explore in depths and a vastness of white sand you can play at underwater.
Visibility is exceptional. I’ve tried freediving in there during southwest monsoon season but the visibility remained crystal. However, trash from the nearby island and communities would go to its shore and area. Most of the time, I’d retire with a lot of stings as well as there are rare instances that I’d hit a swarm of stingers and small jellyfishes. Best spot is nearby the grotto but currents at the surface and underwater are a little crazy.
Among the interesting spots in there are the sunken log at six meters and a naturally formed hole underwater which is at eight meters.
There are aloof resident hawksbill turtles in this area. Also, There are times when migrating dolphins and rays could be seen roaming or passing by.
We usually stay in Maris Coral Garden (formerly known as Danke Laia Diving Resort) every time we dive at Pagkilatan. For a detailed guide and review about this diving resort, read Danke Laia is a Diver’s Paradise!
5. Nasugbu, Batangas
Believe it or not, Nasugbu is more than just its pristine islands and beach hotels and resorts. It is also a home to some of the best dive sites that are known to a few only.
One of the best dive sites in Nasugbu is that of Santelmo cove – a protected marine sanctuary along the expansive Hamilo coast. This dive site is characterized by a healthy reef that is composed by hard corals at large, a nursery to black tip sharks, nesting beach to olive ridley turtles and a home to school of jacks, batfish, mackerels, giant clams and more.
Another underrated yet best div site in Batangas is that of Fortune Island’s. The reef promises an alive and gaudy marine life surrounded by white sand. Be careful, though. While it’s fun to be snorkeling and diving around, the waves and the currents are something to be watched out for.
One of the freedivers’ top favorite dive sites in Batangas is that of Sepoc Point’s. They would love to embark on a boat ride just to get to this spot since it is the best place to shoot those dreamy sand shots. While its one of the best spots in Tingloy for those shots as it has a vast sandy part, this dive site also has a stretch of coral reef around. The sandy area is actually surrounded by a hard coral reef system with various species of fish.
Another top favorite dive site in Batangas that can be reached through a boat trip is Sombrero Island. It has the most refreshing reef in the area as it got a wide soft coral reef system around its hat-shaped island. Be warned though as the current in this island most of the time would carry you out in the open water. On the other hand, even the snorkelers would enjoy it since it has corals at the shallow part.
Tips and Reminders
1. For safety reasons, never dive alone.
2. Bring your own buoys. Boats usually pass by these spots so might as well stay safe through it. There are areas though where you can tie and lock the end or drop the weights and station it at these identified diving spots. Never tie the end of your buoy or lock it on corals.
3. Wear reef-friendly sunscreen. These dive spots have marine life thriving around them. Also, be aware and careful of your fins as it might hit them.
4. Refrain from stirring the sediments or playing with the sand on areas with corals nearby.
5. Refrain from touching or stepping on the corals.
6. Best time to visit these dive sites is from November to May – the Amihan and dry season in the Philippines. Best time to dive, on the other hand, is at the morning til around 3:00 PM. Currents and waves tend to get strong in the afternoon.
7. Look for the public entrance to the ocean if you would want to visit these diving spots but would not check into the resort nearby. There are no entrance fees to these dive spots if you are entering the shore through the public areas (except from the dive spots mentioned in Binukbok area).
8. Every dive is a clean up dive! Take with you the trash that you’ll see afloat or stuck in the corals as you leave the diving spot.
Playing with the SCUBA divers’ bubbles at Bauan!
Freediving Gear from Decathlon Philippines
There are actually several schools of freediving in Batangas and of course, in the Philippines that offer introductory classes and training for those who are interested in this sport and recreation. Among those is Ocean Limits PH that is based in Anilao, Batangas. If you’re interested in learning how to freedive with them, click here.
Anne Elizabeth Gumiran, also known as Queenie, is a 20-something, full-time public school teacher, a part-time travel blogger and a freediver. She started putting her stories of adventures and misadventures into words and pictures in 2017 and continues to do so as she shares her advocacy, Sustainable Traveling.