Anilao Diving

Anilao (in Mabini, Batangas) has been known for years as a choice weekend getaway spot by Manila locals; at only 2-3 hours drive south from Metro Manila in the Philippines, it provides a perfect location for city dwellers to relax on the deck of a resort and occasionally pop their heads in the water for some snorkeling or scuba diving. However, Anilao is a hidden gem that offers world-class diving and incredible macro photo opportunities. Anilao has some of the highest concentration of diverse marine life on the planet, including over 90% of the coral species on the planet and a staggering number of different species of nudibranch.

anilao cathedral diving

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Anilao experienced a dive "boom" in the early 80s, as divers from around the world were attracted to this amazing hotspot of marine activity. However, the diving infrastructure was not developed at that time, and the area suffered from explosive growth and destructive local fishing methods and garbage dumping. Anilao.s reputation suffered, and foreign divers travelling to the Philippines started focusing on more remote locations in the Philippines, such as Tubbataha or Palawan. Anilao still has one of the highest concentrations of marine life in the Philippines, and is slowly recovering after local efforts (garbage cleanups, creation of a marine sanctuary and local enforcement and patrolling) to preserve the natural habitat have ramped up.

The Diving

The diving conditions in Anilao are ideal for beginner to advanced divers. The water temperatures are very comfortable year-round, ranging from about 26-28C during summer to 22-26C during the winter, allowing for diving in skin suits or 3mm wetsuits. The visibility is very good, about 60ft. on average, and underwater currents can vary from virtually non-existent to strong, although the surface tends to remain relatively calm. The customer service is excellent, and usually the local staff will handle set-up and transport of your equipment to and from the boat. The local boats used for reaching the divesites, called bangkas, are small outrigger-style boats that allow for a personalized diving experience (max of about 8-12 divers per boat). With outstanding divespots at a below-average price, Anilao provides great diving value.

anilao diving

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Usually beginner dives in an area don.t yield very memorable experiences, but Anilao has a number of excellent beginner dives a stones-throw from one of the many resorts lining the coast. One of the most popular local dive sites is Cathedral, a local marine sanctuary and a favorite check-out dive for local divemasters. Its main feature is a concrete cross planted by former President Fidel Ramos (there is also a miniature castle). There is an abundance of "friendly" sea life here, with clown fish, butterfly fish and Moorish idols well represented. It used to be barren but it is now fully overgrown with corals. Another great divesite close to shore (near the Balai Dive Resort) is Twin Rocks, with a colorful display of different sea fans, nudibranches and soft/hard corals lying near the remains of a capsized barge. Schools of small fish, surgeon fish, a large giant clam, and lionfishes are likely encounters here.

Further out from the coast across the Maricaban strait are a number of dives near Sombrero Island (underwater, the island looks like an upside down hat) Here are dive spots like Beatrice and Sepok Point that offer better opportunities for seeing larger animals, including sharks, jack fish, turtles and occasionally octopii.

Other Things To Do

Anilao is primarily a resort and diving destination. The beaches tend to be rocky, but the resorts offer a number of other services to keep the non-divers in the travel party occupied. Spas, massage treatments, etc. are common offerings. Snorkeling right next to the resorts is also very popular and easily accessible. Northeast of Anilao is Lake Taal, containing the world.s smallest volcano. Another popular weekend destination for Manila residents, this unique volcano sits in the middle of the lake, with another lake inside the crater of the volcano! Hikes are available up the slope of the volcano, with a lot of tourist attractions around the outside of the lake (resorts, golf courses, etc.).


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