The tiny town of Anilao provides access to some fantastic scuba diving. Sitting on the western side of the Calumpan Peninsula on Luzon Island, this section of coast is just a few hours drive from the capital, Manila. The peninsula juts into the Verde Island Passage and the landscape of steep hills edged by craggy shores leads to a series of coral-clad terraces.
The diving here may come as a surprise as years back these reefs gained a reputation for being wrecked by poor fishing practices. However, education by environmental and conservation groups led to the marine realm rejuvenating and it is now healthy and prolific. Dives sites that lie parallel to the shore are rife with soft corals and small animals like the barbiganti pygmy seahorse while the small bays that cluster around the southern tip of the peninsula are amazing muck dives fed by hot water sea vents.
Opposite Anilao are Maricaban island and the Sombrero, a flat topped pinnacle ringed by surf. These open water dives are said to be alive with pelagic fish but in bad weather, the offshore sites can be hard to reach as conditions challenging.