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Philippines

SCUBA DIVING
The Philippines is a scuba diver's dream come true. Stunning coral reefs, awesome walls and drop-offs, mysterious wrecks and countless species of marine life of all shapes and sizes await diving and snorkelling enthusiasts. With 7,107 islands to choose from there is no shortage of excellent dive sites. Whether you prefer beach entries or liveaboard diving, budget accomodation or 5-star luxury, the Philippines has it all -- and then some!

There are scores of professionally-run dive centres throughout the islands, and comfortable liveaboards boats roam remote locations throughout the year. All the international certification agencies are well represented here, and prices are extremely competitive: the Philippines is one of the most affordable places in the world to learn scuba diving, or to upgrade your certification.

BATANGAS AND MINDORO
Batangas province, a few hours drive south of the capital city of Manila, has long been the centre of scuba diving in the country. Anilao, a macro-photographer's mecca, has an extraordinary variety of nudibranchs and other small, colourful reef creatures. Anilao is also a gateway to such perennial favourites as Sombrero Island's spectacular walls, Maricaban Island with its many coral gardens, walls and reefs, and Malajimbomanoc Island, with its underwater hot springs. Pelagic fish of all kinds mingle with the denizens of the reef in a dazzling kaleidoscope of underwater majesty. Cathedral Rock, probably the most famous dive in the country, is a man-made coral reef teemings with fearless, colourful reef fish demanding a hand-out from visiting divers. There's also a shrine under the sea placed years ago by a man who later became the president of the Philippines: Fidel V. Ramos.

Across the Verde Island Passage, a short ferry ride west of Batangas City -- the provincial capital -- lies Puerto Galera, the jewel of Mindoro. Dozens of stunnng coves and beaches are hidden in a landscape of such outstanding natural beauty that even the most experienced travellers are amazed when they first enter the harbour. Puerto Galera has over 25 world-class dive sites within a 20-minute boat ride of any of the many beach resorts and dive centres in the area, plus an excellent service infrastructure dedicated to diving and snorkelling.

THE VISAYAS
The Visayas, which are made up of Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and many smaller surrounding islands, boast some of the finest diving anywhere in the Philippines.

The hammerheads of Cabilao, the incredible walls of Pescador, the sunken island off Moalboal -- long a popular diver's destination -- and the incredible beauty of Apo Island, one of the country's first marine reserves, are typical of the rich variety and very high quality of diving to be found in the Visayas.

Panglao Island, a short distance from Tagbiliran, Bohol's capital city, is another favourite destination for diving enthusiasts. Panglao, with its many dive centres and stunning dive sites within a few minutes boat ride from golden beaches, is also a jumping-off point for many of the other islands ans sunken reefs throughout the area.

Mactan Island, adjacent to Cebu City, the Queen City of the South, is another popular scuba diver's haven. The many dive centres and dive resorts on Mactan (77 at last count) will arrange regular day excursions, liveaboard trips and diving safaris ro dive sites around this island as well as Olango, Hilatagan, Balicasag, Cabilao, Apo, Capitancillo, Gato and Calangaman islands. These places have some of the finest dive sites you will find anywhere in the world, with breathtaking walls, stunning corals and endless varieties of marine life -- from the tiniest coral reef fishes to the "Oh my God!" variety of pelagics.

Boracay Island, to the north of Panay Isalnd, is justly famous for its powder-smooth white sand beaches, but it also has some outstanding dive sites and over a dozen full-service dive centres operating along its gogeous shores.



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