Regal angelfish - coral triangle adventures

About the Philippines

Snorkeling the Visayan islands of the Philippines

Map of the Philippine Islands, one of the places we visit on our Coral Triangle Adventures snorkeling tourHere is a recipe that produces tremendous snorkeling opportunities: Thousands of beautiful, beach-lined islands surrounded by warm, tropical waters that contain shallow fringing reefs teeming with life. We call this recipe: The Philippines.

There are 7107 islands in the Philippines, making this the second largest archipelago in the world next to Indonesia (which has over 17,000). The island-nation is oriented along a north-south axis and lies at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean. The origins of the islands are mostly oceanic, either volcanic—the islands forming as a result of the interaction between the Pacific and Philippine plates about 50 million years ago, or uplifted limestone. The exceptions are the island of Palawan (the western-most island in the archipelago) and parts of Mindoro Island, which have a remarkably different origin history than the rest of the archipelago. At over 250 million years old, Palawan and parts of Mindoro were once part of Asia mainland and are composed of continental rock. After breaking off from Asia, they ‘drifted’ on the Sunda Plate as the plate turned clockwise, ultimately slamming into the Philippine Islands about 5 million years ago.

The marine habitats around the Philippine Islands possess some of the richest diversity of flora and fauna. The islands are surrounded by five major bodies of water and are fringed by over 25,000 km2 of coral reef. The archipelago defines the entire northern portion of the famed Coral Triangle, an area described as having the highest levels of marine biodiversity in the world. The islands of Leyte in the Eastern Visayas and Bohol in the Central Visayas, have some of the best examples of reef life in the Philippines and it is around these islands that we focus our snorkeling activities.

Sogod bay, located at the southern tip of Leyte, is the premier destination for marine enthusiasts. The bay contains a variety of marine habitats with vibrant diverse reefs that provide snorkelers with endless hours of exploration. Between the months of December – April, dozens of whale sharks can be found in the clear, blue waters!

While the island of Bohol has several world-class attractions like Chocolate Hills and the Tarsier Sanctuary, it is the small islands around Bohol that command the attention of the snorkeler. Cabilao, Balicasag, and Pamilacan Islands offer amazing snorkeling opportunities that include visits to sea grass beds, clear-water mangroves, sloping coral gardens, and reef flats that lead to sheer vertical drop-offs!

Though blessed with a wealth of natural resources, it’s the people and culture that make the Philippines a magnificent travel destination. Several cultural influences over the centuries and the willingness of the people to embrace them and make them uniquely Filipino have resulted in a colorful and fun-loving approach to life. The incredible marine biodiversity in combination with the warmth of the people makes our Philippines snorkeling tour one of the best adventures in 2017!

Click any of the images to learn about the Philippines

The Philippine Islands have a very high level of marine biodiversity, approaching the same levels as the world's highest, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

A macro destination

Snorkeling with whale sharks in the Philippines is exciting and a must-do

Snorkeling with whale sharks

Philippine plate tectonics. The Philippine Plate is mostly convergent with all of the other plates around it.

Philippine plate tectonics


Chocolate Hills on Bohol, Philippine Islands - Coral triangle adventures

Chocolate Hills

MPA's in the Philippines - coral triangle adventures

Marine Protected Areas

Philippine tarsiers are found on several islands in the archipelago, though most commonly and famously on the island of Bohol

Philippine tarsiers


Check out these links to learn more about this trip:
Philippines snorkeling: Sogod Bay, Leyte
Philippines snorkeling: Cabilao and Pamilacan Islands

Click on a tour date below to read about trip details including accommodationspricing, and how you can join us!


Map of visayas, Philippines snorkeling adventure

Tour begins and ends in Manila. One internal flight (Manila – Cebu – Manila)

Our snorkeling tour begins and ends in Manila, Philippines. One round-trip, internal flight (Manila – Cebu – Manila). Upon arriving in Cebu, we will board the boat and begin our tour which takes a circular route around the island of Bohol, heading further east for the first few days to spend time in Sogod Bay, located to the northeast of Bohol. After our time in Dogod Bay, we will cruise south along the eastern side of Bohol to visit Anda and Pamilacan Island. Heading west from Pamilacan, we will encounter Balicasag and then finish in Cabilao, located along the southwest coast of Bohol. Please note that the following is a general itinerary and that weather, tides, and other unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances may affect the schedule at any time.

Day 1: Manila / Dusit Thani
Meals provided: D
Meet in Manila at our group resort, the Dusit Thani for the expedition orientation and welcome dinner.

Day 2: Cebu / Philippine Siren / Olango Isand
Meals provided: B,L,D
Fly to Cebu and transfer to the Philippine Siren. Our first stop is at the nearby island of Olongo. The rich reefs that surround this island offer us the chance to see numerous species of fish and corals, and spend time in sea grass habitats. If time permits, we will visit the bird sanctuary on the island and have the chance to see hundreds of species of both resident and migrant birds.

Day 3 – 7: Sogod Bay / Limasawa / Napantao
Meals provided: B,L,D
Sogod Bay in southern Leyte is a deep-water bay that possesses some of the healthiest and diverse reefs in the Philippines. It has nearly a dozen marine sanctuaries, some which have been actively managed for over a decade, and a favorite stop-off for whale sharks as they migrate through the archipelago. To date, over one hundred individuals have been catalogued as frequent visitors to the area. We will spend several days visiting snorkel sites like Napantao, Santa Sofia, Limasawa Is., and Tankaan. Of course, we will also dedicate some time to look for the whale sharks for the incredible opportunity to swim with these gentle giants!

Cabilao Island near Bohol offers some great snorkeling with lots of colorful coral and fish

Reef fish…

Day 8: Anda
Meals provided: B,L,D
The municipality of Anda and Guindalman Bay are located along the southeastern tip of Bohol. The rugged, limestone cliffs that create the coastline make for a spectacular backdrop to the rich reefs that grow right up to the edge of the cliffs. Coral coverage, consisting of both soft and hard corals, is nearly 100% and remains well protected, as these sites are part of the network of local marine sanctuaries. Our day will be spent drifting over the dazzling assemblage of colors and shapes, truly a snorkeler’s dream!

Day 9 – 11: Cabilao / Pamilacan / Balicasag
Meals provided: B,L,D
Our next three days of snorkeling will take place around the islands of Cabilao, Balicasag, and Pamilacan Islands. Each island offers amazing the chance to explore an amazing diversity of habitats including sea grass beds, sloping coral gardens, and reef flats that lead to sheer vertical drop-offs! We will spend our days exploring all of these amazing habitats as well as visit the Tarsier Sanctuary where we can view one of the smallest primates in the world in their natural habitat.

Day 12: Cebu / Manila / Dusit Thani
Meals provided: B,L,D
Disembark and transfer to the airport for our flight to Manila. Upon arrival, transfer to Dusit Thani. Farewell dinner in the evening.

Day 13: International flights or extensions
Meals provided: B

What to Expect

The Philippines are located in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Temperatures year round average around 31º C (88º F). During our February departure, we may experience slightly cooler temperatures due to cool air associated with the tail-end of the northeast monsoon that may persist around the archipelago.

Water temperatures average around 28º C (82º F), though cooler temperatures may be experienced. We suggest that everyone should have at least a 2-3mm shorty of full wetsuit. In addition, a lycra skin or shirt as an under layer would not only aid in thermal protection, but if the wetsuit proves to be to warm, the lycra suit will protect against the sun and any no-see-um stingies that may float by. Our snorkels are 100% boat supported and will be near us to assist anyone with anything at any time.

There will be several opportunities to visit some of the magnificent beaches around the Visayan islands. Our visit to the Tarsier Sanctuary will include ground transportation from Panglao Island and not require any special foot wear or clothing. The paths at the sanctuary are well established and may only require a brief walk on uneven trails.

Please click on our page About our Tours to read about what a typical day of snorkeling looks like on most of our tour programs.

Join Us!

Click on the tour date to read about trip details including accommodations, pricing, and how you can join us!

Feb 4 – 16, 2017
From $6590 USD per person, double occupancy
Accommodations: Philippine Siren

Please email us with any questions you may have about this trip.