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Anilao

Philippines

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Overview

Anilao proudly calls itself the birthplace of scuba diving in the Philippines, as the first dive centre in the country was opened here in 1966. Today Anilao’s main attraction is still scuba diving and snorkelling, with many Manila-based Philippinos taking the two-and-a-half-hour drive to the area to get their underwater fix. 

Anilao is located on the Calumpan Peninsula, a landmass that separates Balayan Bay and Batangas Bay. The closest city is Batangas, and from here you can get a boat across the Verde Island Passage to another well known diving area; Puerto Galera. 

If you like being on the beach, you won’t be disappointed! There are some stunning beaches in the area, from small secluded coves to dramatic rocky coastlines. A visit to the area would not be complete without going to Taal Volcano – the only geological structure of its kind in the world; an island, within a lake, within a volcano, within a lake, on an island!

 

Anilao is a Marine Protected Area, local efforts to eliminate illegal fishing and carefully manage recreational activities has resulted in a thriving marine ecosystem, with a high prevalence of macro life. It is often regarded as one of the must-go areas in the world for macro divers, well known for its stunning diversity and thriving reefs. If you are a macro photographer, you will be spoilt for choice as to what to pick as your subject: nudibranchs, shrimps, crabs, cuttlefish, seahorses, pipefish and even wonderpus. Many marine species use the area as a nursery – almost every variety of sea creature you would find in the Philippines can be found in its juvenile form here in Anilao.  

 

While Anilao is famous for its macro and muck diving, you’ll also find yourself diving amongst plentiful numbers of fish, sea turtle and schools of jacks. Multi-hued crinoids are prolific, and the variety of nudibranchs is astounding. Night dives are the most rewarding. Unusual creatures such as snake and catfish eels, sea goblins and sea hares, ghost pipefish, blue-ringed octopus and mandarin fish reveal themselves under your torchlight.

 

The area has around 50 dive sites for you to explore, most of which are under half an hour away from shore. There are dive sites to suit all levels of divers from novice to experienced divers. Sites on the open reefs and points often have strong currents.

 

Diving

Overview

Anilao is a Marine Protected Area, local efforts to eliminate illegal fishing and carefully manage recreational activities has resulted in a thriving marine ecosystem, with a high prevalence of macro life. It is often regarded as one of the must-go areas in the world for macro divers, well known for its stunning diversity and thriving reefs. If you are a macro photographer, you will be spoilt for choice as to what to pick as your subject: nudibranchs, shrimps, crabs, cuttlefish, seahorses, pipefish and even wonderpus. Many marine species use the area as a nursery – almost every variety of sea creature you would find in the Philippines can be found in its juvenile form here in Anilao.  

While Anilao is famous for its macro and muck diving, you’ll also find yourself diving amongst plentiful numbers of fish, sea turtle and schools of jacks. Multi-hued crinoids are prolific, and the variety of nudibranchs is astounding. Night dives are the most rewarding. Unusual creatures such as snake and catfish eels, sea goblins and sea hares, ghost pipefish, blue-ringed octopus and mandarin fish reveal themselves under your torchlight.

The area has around 50 dive sites for you to explore, most of which are under half an hour away from shore. There are dive sites to suit all levels of divers from novice to experienced divers. Sites on the open reefs and points often have strong currents.

 

Water Temperature
temperature-icon

Cool Season; January to March – water temp 23°C to 26°C

Hot Season; Mid March to September – water temp 27°C to 29°C

3-5mm suit depending on the time of year.

 

Dive Season

While diving can be conducted year-round even in the wet season as Batangas is slightly protected from the tropical depressions, the better dive season in Anilao is from October to mid-June with January to May having the least threat of storms. March is the driest month. Early season rains will affect visibility, less so on the outer reefs.

Dive Highlights

Sombrero Island

The island has some nice drop-offs down to 26 metres, crevices and caverns inhabited by Red Toothed triggerfish, tunnels and piles of large boulders.  Slight to moderate current can flow from any direction. Expect some schooling action from rainbow runners and yellow tails. The reef itself is covered with gorgonians, black coral, shells and lots of soft coral. There are some beautiful staghorn coral gardens with lots of anthias and red fusiliers and bright yellow crinoids in shallower depths. Sometimes you can witness nudibranchs mating. Depth: 6 – 27 metres.

 

Bajura

An advanced dive in a strong current off the north point of Maricaban Island. This is a shallow reef in mid-ocean with prolific fish life. Home to parrotfish, butterflyfish, wrasse, lionfish, sweetlips, snapper, scorpionfish, angelfish, batfish, groups of tuna and barracuda and the occasional eagle ray. Lots of caves and overhangs provide resting places for white tip sharks. Vibrant corals thrive in the current. Depth: 12 – 30 metres.

 

Sepok Wall

Located off the westernmost point of Maricaban Island and consisting of two dive sites, Sepok Wall and Philip's Garden, this is an excellent area for macro photographers. Although, the variety of the soft and hard corals on the wall and coral covered bommies along the sandy floor means there are still lots of opportunities for wide-angle. Here you'll find frog and leaf fish, twin spot lionfish, scorpionfish, small sand diver fish and gobies. Many colourful members of the Chromodoris nudibranch family make this site their home. Depth: 5 – 30 metres.

 

Secret Bay

Also on Maricaban Island, this is a great macro spot for all levels of divers. Deeper hot water vents have created oddly coloured hot-spring sand on the gently sloping bottom attracting a variety of critters such as gobies and their bulldozer shrimp, tiny stonefish, mantis shrimp and hermit crabs. Sand anemones, Halimeda algae and sea pens sprout from the sea bed hiding small invertebrates, bobtail shrimp, octopus and seahorses. Depth: 3 – 25 metres.

 

Cathedral Rock

This Marine Sanctuary is popular with local divers from Manila. Created by transplanting live corals on previously barren twin rocks in 1967, the artificial reef has become a famous dive site in the Philippines. The site allows fish feeding, and it is common to have a frenzy of damselfish, surgeonfish and batfish swirling around you. At about 15 metres you'll see a small cross which was blessed by Pope John Paul II and placed here by ex-President General Fidel V Ramos. Around it, you'll find a variety of nudibranchs, Moorish idols, butterflyfish, clownfish, angelfish, triggerfish, wrasse and pufferfish. Depth: 9 – 30 metres.

 

Activities

Hiking

If getting back to nature is your thing, then Anilao will provide you with an abundance of opportunities to hike amongst some of the worlds most unique and beautiful landscapes. Mt. Gulugod Baboy has excellent 360° views over the peninsula.

 

Nature

If you appreciate geology, then Taal Volcano is not to be missed! This unique caldera formed when this still active volcano erupted and caused the collapse of its peak, which was then filled with water. It's the world's largest island within a lake on an island in a lake located on an island.

 

Philippines – Anilao
Nature
Philippines – Anilao
Hiking

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