The Philippines is an island nation located in Southeast Asia, with Manila as its capital city. The Philippine archipelago comprises 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean which are home to spectacular scenery, pristine beaches, incredible sights and lively cities. Dramatic drop offs, vibrant reefs, wrecks, caves and a richly varied marine life also guarantee fabulous diving. Combined with the renowned Philippine hospitality and warmth, an unforgettable dive holiday awaits.
Southern Visayas from Mactan - Cebu, Bohol, Pescador, Apo and Negros islands
The Visayas region is home to some of the best diving in the Philippines, with its wide diversity of marine life, steep coral covered walls, gentle sloping reefs and muck diving hotspots. These itineraries can encompass Cebu, Cabilao, Panglao, Balicasag and Pescador, along with dives at Apo Island marine sanctuary and Dauin.
The area offers fantastic macro life schooling fish, as well as the possibility of some larger pelagics too - if you are lucky you may see thresher sharks come in to feed on schools of sardines. Whale sharks may also be seen here during August and September.
Southern Leyte - Diving with whale sharks
Sogod Bay is world famous for sightings of whale sharks. These enormous filter feeders arrive here each year to feed on the swarms of plankton that bloom in the warm shallow waters. The area is perfect for both scuba diving and snorkelling. As well as whalesharks, the reefs around the bays of Southern Leyte & Limasawa Island are a haven for numerous fish species, whilst beneath the piers of Padre Burgos & Limasawa are a whole host of weird and wonderful macro creatures.
Batangas & Coron for wrecks - Anilao, Apo Reef and Coron wrecks
Apo Reef, a UNESCO world heritage site, is considered by many to be among the best diving in the Philippines. The whole North East side of the reef consists of drop offs and overhangs where Whitetip and Grey Reef sharks, turtles, barracuda and shoals of snapper are common.
The Japanese World War II wrecks around Busuanga Island, particularly in Coron Bay, are particularly fascinating, with twelve wrecks so far been located in recreational diving depths. The Batangas region is known for the many numerous smaller creatures that can be found along the sloping reefs and soft coral covered walls. It is here you will find many new and often unidentified species of nudibranchs, along with ghost pipefish, pipehorses, seahorses, octopus and frog fish.
Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park from Mactan or Puerto Princessa
Proclaimed as a National Marine Park in 1988 and inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993, in recognition of its outstanding universal value in terms of marine life species diversity and richness. 182km south east of Puerto Princessa on Palawan Island, the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea offers some truly amazing diving and is only accessible by liveaboard. Tubbataha reefs offers dramatic vertical walls and pinnacles rising out of great depths. The shallow reef tops are teeming with colourful reef fish; in many places stingrays, spiny lobsters, immature manta rays, turtles, leopard sharks and guitar sharks can be found. The walls are covered in huge barrel sponges, gorgonian sea fans, soft corals, hydroids and black corals. In deeper water, shoals of angelfish, butterfly fish, pennant fish, rainbow runners, Moorish idols, fusiliers, jacks, snappers and sweetlips follow you around. Large trevally, tuna and barracuda as well as grey reef sharks and whitetip sharks patrol. If you remember to look away from the fascinating reef wall from time to time, Giant manta rays and eagle rays may be spotted overhead along with turtles and groupers.
Malapascua to Cebu and Cebu to Malapascua
Malapascua is a tiny, picturesque island just off the northern tip of Cebu Island. It's dive sites offer some of the best chances of diving with the elusive thresher sharks that attract so many divers to the Philippines in the first place. This itinerary also takes in some great wrecks including the 100m passenger ferry Dona Marilyn, and the Tapilo, a Japanese cargo vessel sunk during WWII that is now a macro haven. This itinerary combines Malapascua with the best of the Southern Visayas itinerary above. Dive with threshers and whale sharks at Pescador Island, visit the famed artificial reef of Volkswagen cars at Dauin and enjoy the finest of Philippines diving at Apo Island Marine Reserve.
Philippines and Palau Combo
This 13 night liveaboard adventure includes up to 42 dives across the dive site highlights of the Philippines and Palau. Usually only available for full charters, this dream combination consists of 6 nights onboard S/Y Philippine Siren diving the Southern Visayas, followed by 6 nights onboard S/Y Palau Siren, with an overnight flight in the middle. This really is a once in a lifetime trip that come highly recommended.
The South Visayas, Southern Leyte and the Malapascua - Cebu - Malapascua trips all start and end on Mactan Island which is reached via Cebu international airport, where you will be transferred to the boat.
The Batangas and Coron Wreck one-way itineraries alternate the start and finish between Borocay and Palawan, and are reached via Manila, with an additional internal flight and land transfer
The Tubbutaha National Marine Park starts and finished in Puerta Pricessa, reached with an internal flight and transfer via Manila.
The Philippines and Palau Combo itinerary starts from Cebu and you will arrive at Cebu (Mactan) International Aiport before being transferred to the boat. The itinerary ends in Koror, Palau and your flight home will begin at Roman Tmetuchl International Airport.
All of the required transfers and internal flight can be arranged as part of your full travel package. All of the above, but especially those itineraries that originate in Cebu, make for a fantastic twin centre with one of Regaldive's land based resorts.
Itineraries aboard Philippine Siren
Itineraries aboard Atlantis Azores
Regaldive can offer packages to the Philippines on a number of different airlines. Prices displayed on the website are based on boat only, not including flights. Please contact us for a full package including scheduled flights, internal flights and transfers according to your chosen date of travel. Please note some itineraries will require overnight stays due to internal flight timings.
London - Manila: Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airlines and KLM all fly daily via their national hubs.
London - Cebu: Singapore Airlines via Singapore on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong daily.
Duration: 18 hours
International flights: 750 Pesos
Domestic flights: 200 Pesos
Ferry ports: 15 - 30 Pesos
Whichever island you are staying on, you are met at the airport/ferry port and transferred to your resort. Whether by flight, jeepney or banca boat, there are fantastic sights to enjoy on your journey there and back. Although some transfer can take up to a whole day, most clients pass feedback that this was a very interesting part of their overall trip.
The below information is to give you a give you a general idea of transfer times between regions; actual transfer times may differ slightly according to individual arrangements and ferry timetables, tides etc.:
- Cebu - Dumaguete: 3 to 4 hours by vehicle, ferry and hotel shuttle
- Cebu - Bohol/Panglao/Cabilao: 3 hours by vehicle, ferry, vehicle
- Cebu - Malapascua: 3 to 4 hours by vehicle and outrigger
- Dumaguete - Bohol/Panglao/Cabilao: 3 hours by hotel shuttle, ferry and vehicle
- Dumaguete (Pura Vida) to Panglao (Alona Vida): 3 to 4 hours by Outrigger conditions permitting
- Dumaguete - Malapascua: 6 to 7 hours by vehicle, ferry, vehicle and outrigger
- Panglao - Cabilao: 1+ hour vehicle and boat
- Panglao - Malapascua: 6 hours by vehicle, ferry, vehicle and outrigger
- Cabilao - Malapascua: 6 hours by vehicle, ferry, vehicle and outrigger
- Manila - Cebu: 1 hour by internal flight
- Manila - Dimakya or Coron, Palawan: 3-4 hours by internal flight, vehicle and boat
- Manila - Puerta Galera: 3 hours by vehicle and boat
- Manila - Caticlan or Kalibo: 3 hours by internal flight, vehicle and/or boat
Full passport valid for a minimum of 6 months on date of return travel. For further entry requirements, please visit the FCO website >
British nationals can enter the Philippines without a visa for an initial period of 30 days. You can also get a tourist visa from the Philippine Embassy before you travel, which will allow an initial 59 day stay. Other nationalities should check with their own consulate.
The unit of currency is the Philippine Peso (PHP). 1 Peso = 100 Centavos.
The US dollar is the most widely recognised foreign currency. Euros & GBP are also readily exchanged.
$1 USD - 46 Pesos
€1 Euro - 56 Pesos
£1 GBP - 65 Pesos
The majority of larger towns have ATMs, however, facilities for money withdrawal or changing are far less widespread away from the main centres of population. There are bank machines at the airport. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted in most towns, but you may be required to pay an extra 3 - 5% surcharge for their use. Outside of the main towns, not all places accept credit cards. Please refer to your individual destination notes for each resort, but as a guideline, please see below:
- Malapascua, Hippocampus: Credit cards cannot be accepted, please ensure you carry sufficient cash. Bank facilities not available.
- Dumaguete: Banks and ATMs are available in Dumaguete town. Pura Vida accepts credit cards.
- Palawan, Dimakya Island Club Paradise: Accepts credit cards
- SY Philippine Siren: GBP, Euro & USD Currency. Credit card payment only possible when docking at the following ports: Cebu, Philippines. 3% charge applies
Vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure. For the most up to date advice please consult your travel clinic or GP. Further information regarding vaccinations for travel to this country can be found at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk and from your local healthcare provider.
There are no compulsory vaccinations for travel to the Philippines, but we recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and polio.
SY Philippine Siren
Return to Philippine Siren
"This was our second 10-day trip aboard the Philippine Siren and we loved it. This time we did a different route which overlapped a little with some of the land based island hopping we had tagged onto the previous trip. We were more than happy to return to these sites.
Boat: This is a different boat to the one we were on two years ago but it was organised almost identically. The main obvious difference is that the sails are white with logos rather than blue. Again we were thoroughly impressed with everything about this boat and the trip. The boat is very lovely and more than sufficiently comfortable. It is incredibly well organised in a very clear and efficient way. There was plenty of space on the boat and lockers to keep things tidy in the saloon. Cameras had dedicated wash tanks and a table for preparation with towels. Each day, the itinerary was listed on a white board with timings. At the end of the trip we were sent a map of the route and a list of all the sites dived along with the visibility,current and a comprehensive list of fish life. We would definitely recommend the boat and we plan to go on more Siren fleet trips.
Diving: The itinerary (10-days Southern Visayas) offered a good range of diving including pretty reefs, gentle drift dives, muck dives, night dives, macro dives and snorkelling with over 15 whalesharks. Hot towels and hot chocolate after the night dives was a real treat. The travelling between sites was comfortable and manageable and did not impinge on the diving. Most days we did four dives which included a night dive. We were pleased to be able to use DIN tanks.
Crew: The crew were very friendly and very helpful without being obsequious. They were always ready to help on request or if we looked as if we needed help but they didn’t force help on us. Our suits were washed after every dive and replaced ready for the following dive. At the end of the trip they washed and dried all our kit for us. This was an achievement as it was stormy weather. We were relieved that they have a back-up plan to dry kit in the engine room in such circumstances.
Guides: The boat was very well run by Jan. He encouraged people to behave well and share sightings with one another in his relaxed style without being authoritative. All the guides were experienced and knowledgeable and went out of their way to point out things of interest that we would not have seen on our own. They encouraged sightings to be relayed through all three groups. We particularly appreciated Donato the local guide who has been our guide on both our trips now.
Food & drinks: The food was great and there was plenty of it with five scheduled meals a day and snacks available at all times. The chefs took pleasure in briefing us in an entertaining fashion before each meal and catered for any special diets or requests. At breakfast they had an egg station which made omelettes and eggs to order. They clearly worked very hard and were very proud to show us round their kitchen. A highlight for us was having a proper coffee machine supplying unlimited inclusive coffee.
Travel and transfers
Flights: This time we flew premium economy with Cathay Pacific Heathrow – Hong Kong – Cebu. This was the best long haul journey so far for efficiency and comfort. In future we would seriously consider flying a similar route with Cathay Pacific if at all possible. Premium economy was worth every penny. In many instances we were treated more like business class with a separate check in along with priority on boarding and leaving the plane.The seats were much more comfortable with more space and reclined further. We were able to check in our luggage at Heathrow and it went straight through to Cebu. We had 25kg allowance for hold luggage and 7kg for hand luggage.
Hotels: The Marco Polo hotel in Cebu was fine but we would have preferred to stay in the Mövenpick where the boat was moored and where everyone met for the transfer to the boat. This would have been a shorter journey from the airport on arrival the evening before and would have avoided a thirty minute car journey on the day we boarded the boat. The traffic is very busy in Cebu town and somewhat unnerving so it is best to minimise it. We had paid extra for a day room at the Mövenpick on the last day and this worked out well.
Margaret Johnston - UK | 28 October 2014
SY Philippine Siren
Philippine/Palau Siren combo 21/06 to 06/07/2013
"Just returned from another great trip organised by Regal. I want value for money so before I got Steve to quote I had priced up each individual segment of the trip myself but Steve managed to come in cheaper!
The first leg of the journey LHR to Doha and Doha to Manila was on Qatar Airways, my first experience of business class and highly recommended. Then a short internal flight Manila to Cebu to meet the Philippine Siren at Moalboal.
The boat was really nice with spacious cabins and a very helpful crew; great food and beer included.
The diving in the Southern Visayas was really varied,expect to see Blue Ringed Octopus, lots of different frog fish, Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Nudis, Turtles etc etc along with some very healthy reefs with minimal current. All in all a photographers dream, especially with Eva the cruise director providing me with help composing pictures and even modelling in them!
One of the highlights of this leg was an unforgettable hour or so snorkelling with over 10 Whale Sharks in Oslob. This is a little controversial as the fisherman feed the animals shrimps; the consensus among the guests on board was that this is better than them killing and finning the sharks which has happened in the past. Overall we felt that the experience was well run and we saw no evidence of boat prop damage on the sharks and the fisherman operate from canoes with oars.
We said goodbye to the Philippines and headed to Palau in the West Pacific, again via Manila.
The Palau Siren is a newer more luxurious boat and I have to say the food was a little better (overall the food on the Siren Boats was better than I have had on any other liveaboard).
The diving here provides a good contrast to the Philippines. You can expect a cave dive to Chandelier caves, mating Mandarin Fish, two WW2 Japanese Wrecks, Nautilus dive,A WW2 US Seaplane almost intact and many other top dive sites. The highlight of Palau in my mind is Blue Corner, regularly voted one of the best dives in the world; expect current, Reef Sharks, White Tips, Jacks, Turtles and some of the biggest and friendliest Napoleons I have ever seen. We dived this 3 times and I would have been happy with double that!
If I have to make some criticism, the Philippine Siren has three Dive Staff and the Palau Siren only has two for 16 guests. I think they would benefit from another from a flexibility, safety and customer experience perspective. Also this time of year is low season in Palau. We were lucky with the weather but we were warned in the Philippines that we could be stuck in Palau harbour. This time of the year also affects the animal sightings, the Mantas were not there and we were told in 'high season' there were twice as many sharks.The Siren Website doesn't make it clear that this is the 'low season'.
Overall an excellent trip and I would recommend the Siren Fleet wholeheartedly.
Thanks to the crews of both boats for a trip to remember and to Steve at Regaldive who arranged it all so it went without a hitch. "
- Area: 5,620 sq. km
- Population: 76,750, 000
- Language: Filipino, English widely spoken.
- Time: GMT + 8 hours
- Electricity: 220v; 110v also widely used