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Commensal shrimp

Diving Dumaguete and Apo Island in the Visayas | the Philippines

DESTINATION OVERVIEW
The coastal reefs around Negros Oriental were once overfished and not considered a top dive destination but the area has had a renaissance. Small marine sanctuaries were established and local communities recognised the value of the protecting the bays south of Dumaguete City.

DAUIN BAY | The diving in these small bays is not for everybody. Certainly, it could not be regarded as classically pretty, but there is the most fantastic range of critters with seahorses, ornate ghost pipefish, frogfish, mantis shrimp, snake eels, flamboyant cuttlefish, pegasus seamoths and so on. Even the incredible mimic octopus can be seen in the amazing Dauin bay.

APO ISLAND | Directly opposite Dauin is Apo Island. Measuring just 1 km x 1.5 km, Apo sits in deep, open water and is ringed with healthy corals. The island has a community-run marine sanctuary with a protected zone on one side. The island is swept by strong currents at times so a lot of pelagic fish are attracted to the reefs as are turtles and seasnakes. The reef diving around Apo Island balances the macro diving along the coast opposite.

Pufferfish in a tin
Dumaguete and Apo Reef dive photo gallery Scuba diving features
Marine Life Mimic octopus
Ghost pipefish
Zebra batfish
Frogfish
Top dive site Dauin Bay
Seasons All year round
Visibility 10 – 40 metres
Water temperature 26 – 29º C
Deco chambers Manila and Cebu City
Flights to Cebu City then 4-5 hours by ferry and road
Dive operators and accommodation The hotel/dive centre we stayed with has gone but Atlantis resorts are well regarded.
INFORMATION EXPLORE
PROS and CONS

The Philippines are a long way from Europe or the USA but everything is cheap once you arrive so it's well worth the trip. Getting to Dumaguete takes some stamina: from Cebu airport to ferry terminal by taxi, ferry to island, drive to resort. There are also connecting flights from Manila. Accommodation is not high-end luxury but there are some good resorts and most dive centres are run by Europeans.

SCUBA DIVING When we visited Dumaguete a few years back we were delighted by the minimal numbers of people, deserted reefs and truly fantastic critter diving. We were so impressed with Dauin Bay we dived it every day and found something new on every dive. Apo was good, and makes a change to searching for small critters, but for reef diving we felt the Alona Beach area was better. And that made the two a perfect combination.
OPINION With shallow topped reefs and nice drop offs, the diving around Cabilao isn't so different to other parts of the Visayas but the incredible number of critters in the shallows are a delight. However, what really differentiates it from others nearby are the pristine hard corals around the southern coast.
UPDATE We recently returned to this region – very little has changed in the diving but there are a wider selection of shore-based hotels and the classy Philippine Siren sails this area for part of the year.
Diving video Press > to play
This video is 3 minutes long. For the full length video with diving right across the Visayas, click here.
More Philippines diving destinations
LUZON Anilao
Ticao
MINDORO Apo Reef
Puerto Galera
PALAWAN Coron
Tubbataha
VISAYAS Bohol/Balicasag
Cabilao
Dumaguete/Apo
Moalboal/Pescador
MAP
Locate Dumaguete with google maps
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