With reefs that have been classified as some of the most diverse in the world, ocean obsessed divers in the 70’s flocked to the Philippines to go scuba diving in Anilao Batangas, considered the birthplace of scuba diving in the Philippines.
Anilao Batangas is home to several world class dive sites and is famous for its muck diving, tourist-friendly infrastructure, and hosts international diving events, competitions, and workshops.
Thinking of planning a trip? We’ll tell you everything you need to know about scuba diving in Anilao Batangas.
Why Visit Anilao Batangas?
Located 125 kilometers (77 miles) south of Metro Manila is the Town of Mabini. This town was named after the First Prime Minister of the Philippine Revolutionary Government during the later part of the 18th century. But as time goes by, Mabini has become less known for his historial importance and more so for the reefs it hosts.
Mabini has drawn the attention of thrill seekers where out of the 34 barangays (districts), scuba divers have focused their attention on the southern tip of Mabini’s Calumpan Peninsula in a small barangay called Anilao.
If you land in Ninoy Aquino International Airport or are staying anywhere in Metro Manila, Anilao is the nearest place to go scuba diving. It’s just a two-hour bus ride away! This is also ideal for those with short layovers, who want to avoid flying post-dive.
Similar to Cebu, diving in Anilao is very organized. The moment you arrive in Anilao, you will be greeted by beach and dive resorts where you can take your pick from over 30 dive centers along the coast. Many resorts in Anilao have their own in-house dive shop. The nearest dive sites are the house reefs fronting the resort, perfect for scuba lovers who love shore entries.
Anilao is a newbie-diver friendly town and a great place to start your Discover Scuba Diving or Open Water Diver Certification course. The shallow waters and gentle slopes along the coast has become the favorite spot for newbies to learn and master their diving skills. But Anilao is not just for newbies, it is also the favorite destination for advanced scuba divers hoping to explore the 50+ dive sites around the region.
The best dive sites in Anilao Batangas
Location: East coast of Anilao
Level: All levels of certification
Max Depth: 21 meters (70 feet)
If you are into muck diving or macro-photography and hope to find a site that has a healthy population of small marine critters like nudibranchs, the Cathedral is a top choice. This small reef patch off the eastern coast of Anilao houses a quarter of the over 500 species of nudibranch identified to thrive in this popular Batangas dive site.
As you hover and cruise along the reefs of the Cathedral, enjoy the underwater structure that has become a landmark of this site–a large cement cross placed in between two rocky protrusions by no less than a former President of the Philippines. Aside from taking shots of small subjects, wide-angle photography is also popular in Cathedral as tropical fish like butterflyfish, angelfish, surgeonfish and damselfish are acquainted with our presence and will come near you as you get closer to the cement cross. You can hope for postcard quality pictures.
Location: West coast of Anilao
Level: All levels of certification
Max Depth: 20 meters (60 feet)
All divers will enjoy Koala, an amazing reef south of the Cathedral. With gentle slopes and mild currents, Koala is one of the best places to explore no matter your ability.
Look out for sea turtles at the Koala dive site, as they love to relax on the reef. The reef is a mix of soft and hard corals, home to numerous types of tropical reef fish like wrasse, damselfish, snappers and emperors. As you cruise over the reef, don’t forget to look at the surface where you may see small and mid-sized pelagic fish such as Spanish mackerel and skipjack tuna.
Location: Northwest tip of Maricaban Island near Sombrero Island
Max Depth: 27 meters (90 feet)
Does drift diving over rocky coral bommies filled with soft corals and tropical reef fish call to you? You’ll love Beatrice Rocks. Located near Sombrero island, this popular dive site in Anilao Batangas has a unique underwater topography where the rocky protrusions form small falls, channels, and canals. The good thing with diving in Beatrice Rocks is that you can cover a large area without putting too much effort in finning–courtesy of the strong current.
Where to Stay in Anilao Batangas
Aiyanar Beach and Dive Resort
Address: Sitio Looc, Barangay Bagalangit, Mabini, Batangas
This stylish resort off the southeastern tip of Anilao is strategically located along mountainside with a panoramic view of Balayan Bay. It has 16 rooms that are elegantly designed to blend with its natural green landscape. Each room has its own private balcony with a sea view. Aiyanar Beach and Dive Resort has an in-house dive center that offers gear rental, certification courses and guided dive tours where their premises is just fronting near the Cathedral and Koala dive sites.
Buceo Anilao Beach and Dive Resort
Address: San Teodoro, Mabini, Batangas
Nestled on a hill with a private beachfront at the southernmost tip of Anilao, guests re guaranteed serenity and privacy while enjoying the comforts of modern living in any of its 17 rooms.
When not in the water or in your room, go scuba diving in Anilao Batangas with the in-house dive center.
La Chevrerie Resort and Spa
Address: 052 Barangay Ligaya, Anilao, Mabini, Batangas
From a French diver’s dream of raising his goats while enjoying the picture perfect view of the sea, La Chevrerie Resort and Spa is now a 5-star resort hotel that fuses comfort, style, recreation, relaxation, simplicity and indulgence all in one place. This resort has a subtle yet elegant French design. It has 13 rooms presented in a modern tropical style.
The resort has an in-house dive shop that offers full SSI certification courses from Open Water Scuba Diver, Advanced and Nitrox Diver. What’s best with this resort is that you can further indulge yourself in a relaxing spa experience right in front of the beach.
The best time to go diving in Anilao Batangas
From March to May is the best time to go scuba diving in Anilao Batangas, but it is a decent year-round destination. During these months, the waters are generally calm with visibility reaching 30 meters (100 feet). Monsoon season spans from June to September, with the occasional typhoon.
The water temperature in Anilao Batangas ranges from 24°C (75°F) to 27°C (80°F). You can experience a 24°C (75°F) water temperature from November to February and 27°C (80°F) during the summer months from March to May. Wearing of wetsuit is highly recommended during the cold months while rashguard and a bathing suit will be fine for summertime dives.
What marine life you can expect to see in Anilao Batangas
Anilao sits at the Center of the World’s Marine Biodiversity. The main reason why it is called as the Muck Diving Capital of the Philippines is due to its tremendous marine critter population.
The sea slug population alone will require macro-photographers to do multiple dives per day if you want to even come close to documenting over 560 species of nudibranch. On top of this, Anilao houses some rare species like the pygmy seahorse, bobbit worms, and several small-sized octopus that includes the highly venomous yet highly attractive blue-ringed octopus.
The best dive centers in Anilao Batangas
Aiyanar Dive Center
Certifying Agency: PADI
Address: Inside Aiyanar Beach and Dive Resort, Mabini, Batangas
This large dive center inside Aiyanar Beach Resort has everything a diver needs. It has an open deck gear storage just steps away from an infinity pool, where confined water sessions are typically held. Their dive operations are not limited to the dive sites surrounding Anilao, but also nearby diving destinations like Puerto Galera and Verde Island.
Four custom-designed fast boats that significantly decrease your travel time from one dive site to another. And what’s best, Aiyanar Dive Center is that your dive instructor has a Bachelor’s Degree in Marine Biology. Joedyn, my mentor in college, is very knowledgeable about Anilao’s marine life.
Eagle Point Resort Scuba Diving Center
Certifying Agency: PADI
Address: Barangay Bagalangit, Anilao, Mabini, Batangas
Located at the southern tip of Mabini plus a private beachfront access at Maricaban Island, Eagle Point Resort Scuba Diving Center is one of the most popular dive schools in Anilao. On top of PADI certification courses, this dive shop specializes in dive tours where divers, both local and foreign, flock this part of Anilao during weekends. The site is also your best jump off when you go boat and drift diving in Beatrice Rocks. Just in case you need to spend the night, do not worry as Eagle Point Resort has 75 rooms where your choice includes cabanas, overlooking rooms, cottages, villas and suites.
Halo Anilao Dive Resort
Certifying Agency: PADI
Address: Barangay Ligaya, Mabini, Batangas
If you want a quiet place to learn scuba diving with a homey mansion ambiance, then Halo Anilao Dive Resort is the place to be. This is highly recommended if you are traveling with your family or if you are in a group. If you wish to take the certification course, your confined water session will be conducted at the pool located right at the center of the resort while your open water dives are held at the house reef in front of the resort. Your check out dive is usually done in one of the many newbie-friendly dive sites like the Cathedral. Fun dives are available as well.
Aquaventure Whitetip Dive Supply
Address: Units 9 & 10 R+M Center, Anilao Market, Mabini, Batangas
Aquaventure is not a dive school, but a dive shop that sells an extensive line and choice of scuba equipment. You can buy anything at Aquaventure from the smallest item like a snorkel keeper up to the large air compressor with manifold system and four-filling hose. Knowing this information will come in handy in case you need to buy brand new scuba equipment and accessories in this remote part of Batangas.
Freediving in Anilao Batangas
Freediving is a growing sport in Anilao. While there are no establishments that fully and permanently offers freediving lessons in Anilao, getting a certification is unique. Lessons and lectures are usually conducted in Metro Manila and you can choose to do the confined water session either still in Manila or in Anilao. Whichever you choose, your confined water training involves freediving in a 5-meter (16 foot) deep pool. All open water freedives are done in Anilao.
How long to stay in Anilao Batangas
A week is enough time to explore Anilao’s most popular dive sites. But if you hope to document all the small marine critters, or go scuba diving in nearby diving destinations like Puerto Galera and Verde Island, you might want at least 10 days.
Because of its accessibility and comfort, scuba diving in Anilao is addictive. And this positive way of addiction is the primary reason why many expats have decided to settle down in this small diving village of Batangas. And mind you, many of these expats have already learned the local dialect where you can clearly hear a phrase distinct to the Batangas language – Ala Eh.
Would you want to go scuba diving in Anilao, Batangas?