Ever since scuba diving was discovered in the 1940s, humans have been venturing into the deep to experience the mysteries of the underwater world inhabited by creatures that seem to be from another planet. Armed with diving gear that allows you to survive underwater, you realize insignificant you feel as a human being amidst the schools of fish, sharks, and other creatures of the sea. Few recreational activities provide the sense of otherworldliness that diving offers.
The Islands of Palawan
Divers flock to Palawan from all over the world just to experience the abundance of marine life, white sand beaches, and dozens of lagoons these islands have to offer. Bacuit Bay, the main bay at El Nido, with its dozens of islands and islets has the clearest blue water imaginable and is rapidly growing in popularity as a tourist destination.
Palawan islands consist of the main island of Palawan plus almost 2,000 surrounding islands and islets (about one quarter of all the islands in the Philippines), most of which are uninhabited. As such, Palawan forms a long sliver of islands that lie in between the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea. It is a natural wonder that need to be experienced to be believed.
A Brief History of Palawan
Palawan’s colorful history has resulted in a mix of cultures with around 50 languages. Malay immigrants first arrived in the 12th century followed in the 13th century by Indonesians. Palawan became a trading hub after Islam was introduced via Borneo with Arabs, Chinese, Hindus, and Japanese frequenting the ports. During the 19th century, Palawan was in the hands of the Spanish who lost it to the Americans.
Eventually, the Americans were overcome by the Japanese during World War II but soon after the war in 1945, the islands were liberated. More than half of the islands are covered in forests with extensive areas of grasslands and almost 6,835 miles of coral reef.
What to See
Healthy coral reefs around El Nido, Puerto Princesa, and Coron Island are awash with colorful reef fish like parrot fish, surgeon fish, angelfish, groupers, lunar fusilier, and yellowtail snapper. On the sand bottom, blue-spotted ribbontail rays can be seen as well as blacktip sharks that patrol the reefs. Be on the lookout for green sea turtles and other sea creatures like nudibranch, crabs, and eels that are frequent visitors. There really is a plethora of marine life on display for all to enjoy.
You will be astounded by the glory of Tubbataha Reef with its rich marine biodiversity. The strong currents bring large creatures like Whale Sharks and Manta Rays. Grey Reef and White Tip Sharks are quite common but Hammerhead Sharks and Tiger Sharks are seen more rarely. Keep your eyes peeled for game fish like Mackerel, Tuna, and Trevally as well as Eagle Rays. Whales and dolphins can be spotted from the surface.
Discover Scuba Diving in El Nido, Palawan
If you have always wondered what it would feel like to be weightless and breathing underwater while swimming with the most amazing sea creatures, Submariner Diving Center’s PADI Discover Scuba Diving program is just what you need. The recreational program is available to anyone over the age of 10 and there is no need for certification. You will learn the basic skills and safety guidelines needed for scuba diving under the direct supervision of a professional diving instructor. Our dive masters and instructors have over 50 collective years of diving experience and are all PADI certified. Conveniently located in the center of El Nido, our experienced, high-performance diving team undertake diving programs with a high level of safety. For a whole new diving experience, we offer a Seafari consisting of a four-day three-night adventure to Coron where some of the most spectacular diving spots are.
Few diving sites in the world can compare to the marine paradise of Palawan islands. Here are the top ten best dive sites in Palawan:
1. Kalambuyan Reef, Coron Bay
Kalambiyan Reef flourishes with an unparalleled diversity of coral reefs bursting with sea life. It takes 30 minutes by boat off the NW Okikawa Maru to get there and during the summer the current gets quite strong.
2. Tagbao Islands, El Nido
El Nido is rated as one of the best diving spots in the world with an abundance of coral and bountiful marine life. The two tiny Tagboa islands are situated north-west of Miniloc with three important reefs nestled in between. El Nido is a perfect spot for beginner divers as the water is shallow.
3. Tubbataha Reef, Cagayancillo
Part of the Natural Marine Park of the municipality of Cagayancillo, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, it is known as the global center of marine biodiversity. CNN Travel declared Tubbataha Reef one of the best dive spots in the world.
4. Cuttlefish Shawl, Puerto Princesa
This site is for experienced divers looking for a more challenging dive in terms of depth. You may need a local guide to help you, but your efforts will be well rewarded with sightings of barracuda, sea turtles, and the reef’s namesake, the cuttlefish.
5. The Wall, Roxas
This site is excellent for beginner divers as well as more experienced divers and can be reached by boat 20 minutes off the main island. Underwater photographers regularly explore the depths of this site for its beauty and diversity as they are often surprised by new species.
6. Bulawit Bay, Linapacan
Off the pier coast, this dive site has shallow waters and the seafloor, covered in seagrasses, is a good spot for starfish. Moving to the drop-off point you will be rewarded with spectacular sea creatures like pipefish, eels, ribbon fish, batfish, and other tropical fish.
7. Mares Rock, Puerto Princesa
This sloping reef site at the mouth of Puerto Princesa Bay drops down to 112 feet and the highlights include octopus, nudibranch, crustaceans and other interesting bottom dwellers. Popular with underwater photographers it also offers big fish like tuna, jackfish, barracuda as well as turtles.
8. Morazan Maru, Coron
The passenger-cargo vessel, built in 1907, was later commandeered by the British for WWI when she was captured by the Japanese and utilized by them in WWII. The wreck lies just under 330 feet down and holds a large engine room and steel boilers that are still intact, making it a great dive for experienced and newly certified PADI wreck divers.
9. Dilumacad Tunnel, El Nido
This 115-foot long tunnel is a spectacular dive for experienced divers. Discovered in early 1990, it starts off at 40 feet where a memorial plaque can be seen at the entrance then gradually narrows down towards the exit. The tunnel has several ceiling holes and a sandy bottom.
10. Seafari from El Nido to Coron
Submariner Diving Center offers a one-of-a-kind 4 days, 3 nights scuba diving seafari exploring the untouched reefs and hidden treasures of the Northern Palawan area, including Japanese shipwrecks from World War II. Get a group of family or friends together and experience this trip of a lifetime.
Scuba Diving with Submariner Diving Center
Our fun scuba dives and diving courses in the tropical paradise islands of Palawan will captivate and amaze you. If you have always dreamed of scuba diving, even if you can’t swim, with our recreational diving program you can make your dreams come true. With fun dives, sunrise dives, and night dives you are guaranteed an experience you will never forget.
For more advanced divers we offer PADI diving courses that include Rescue Diver, Advanced Open Water, Open Water, Master Scuba Diver, EFR, and Dive Master. We also offer speciality PADI dive courses such as Deep, Night, Sidemount, Nitrox, and others. In addition, we are a qualified PADI TecRec Center for teaching Tec 40, 45, and 50.
For your next holiday adventure why not join the thousands of satisfied divers who have practiced and honed their diving skills under the watchful eye of our team of experienced scuba diving experts who are fully PADI licensed and eager to assist you in enjoying a memorable diving experience. At Submariner Diving Center there is something to enjoy for everyone who loves exploring the mysteries of the sea. Call us today to book your underwater world adventure in Palawan.