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Diving Apo Reef National Park | the Philippines
Pyramid butterflyfish beneath the boat

Apo Reef is the largest coral reef in the Philippines and a highly significant reef system that has a good, if small selection of scuba diving sites. The surrounding National Park consists of three tiny islands and two separate submerged coral reefs, which are divided by a channel.

Lying 33 kilometres west of the town of Sablayan on Mindoro, this isolated reef has it's benefits now that the surrounding waters are protected. For many years, Apo had attracted divers but destructive fishing discouraged marine tourism. When divers stopped coming altogether, the situation worsened. Conservation bodies are working in with the local government to have the area considered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Inside the park boundaries are coral reefs, seagrass beds and a shallow lagoon ringed by mangrove forests, which acts as a spawning ground and nursery for marine species as well as a sanctuary for birds.

anemone and clownfsih
Apo Reef dive photo gallery Scuba diving features
Marine Life reef sharks
Top dive site Shark Ridge
Seasons All year but rain from June - September
Visibility 10 – 40 metres
Water temperature 25 – 29º C
Deco chambers Manila and Batangas
Flights to Manila then a 3 hour road transfer to Anilao and overnight by liveaboard
Dive operators & accommodation Liveaboard operators are few – the ones that do exist vary their routes so it's important to search for current schedules
In much of the Philippines, it can require extra effort to reach a chosen destination as diving areas are so widespread. There is no accommodation on the Apo Reef park islands so you need to be on a liveaboard. A few of these include Apo as a two day stop en route to another area – and this is certainly enough to see these reefs.
Although there are several marine environments inside the park’s boundaries, operators tend to stick to the walls and sharp drop-offs as these are where most big animals are seen. Turtles and sharks are fairly common and the corals are mostly in good condition. The dives are deep though and it is likely you will need to go beyond 40 metres if you want to see the sharks. Currents are variable, and can be strong at times.
Apo Reef National Park is quite a contrast to other Filippino diving regions and is worth seeing if you can find a boat that is travelling this way. We went on the way to Coron and enjoyed the differing styles but wouldn't go out of our way to go back.
More Philippines diving destinations
LUZON Anilao
Puerto Galera
VISAYAS Bohol/Balicasag

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Complete reports on this area are in
Diving Southeast Asia.

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