Diving in Bicol is most famous for its whale sharks. Locals claim that this is your best opportunity in the entire world to swim among the graceful beasts. But don’t just come here for the big species. Take some time to appreciate the pristine beauty of the region both underwater and above it. You’ll find an abundance of pelagic and macro life as well as colorful environs to keep your eyes happy.There are four main dive areas in Bicol, namely Donsol, Ticao Island, Catanduanes and Calaguas. Of these, Donsol is by far the most popular. It is here that divers regularly spot whale sharks from November to May. The second, Ticao Island, is about a one hour boat ride from Donsol. It’s here that graceful manta rays come to be cleaned. Nearby San Miguel Island features a reef so colorful and pristine that its equal is rarely found elsewhere. Catanduanes is a large island found in the northeast section of the region. Diving is in its infancy on this gorgeous isle. As such, you can help the local dive shop explore new sites never seen by other divers. Finally, Calaguas is well off the beaten path. Most accommodation on the island consists of tents, but this is the real deal, your best shot at a Robinson Crusoe moment. The water is turquoise blue and the wide beaches remind locals of Boracay before it was discovered by the masses. Unfortunately because it is so remote, there is not yet a dive operator on the island. All diving must be completed independently and with your own gear. However, the reefs offshore are amazingly diverse. You never know what you might see. Because of the region’s tropical climate, diving around Bicol is possible year round. On average, the air temperature ranges from 80 – 96°F (26 – 36°C) and the water temperature is 80 – 86°F (26 – 30°C). November to May are the best months for diving. During this season, seas are calm and the weather is mostly dry. These are also the best months for whale shark sightings. From June until October, diving is still possible, but the weather is more unpredictable. Rain and wind may prevent dive boats or ferries from leaving the protection of safe harbor. Typhoons are also a threat during at this time.
Bicol Sea Life
Of course, the big draw to the region is the almighty whale shark. Swimming with these creatures in the clear, warm water of Bicol is the experience of a lifetime. But the whale sharks aren’t the only interesting creature found here. Manta rays, sun fish, hammerheads and thresher sharks are all seen regularly. In addition, you can explore ‘tuna alley’ through which tuna and other pelagic fish species often travel. There are plenty of reef species to keep you busy between big fish sightings. Clown fish, eels, nudibranchs, and other tropical fish are all common to the region. If you choose to dive in Bicol, which we heartily encourage, you are sure to have more than a few unique entries in your log book.
How To Get There
To reach Bicol, you must begin your journey in Manila. From there, you can arrive to Legazpi or Naga by domestic flight. It is also possible to take a bus from Pasay to Daet or from Manila to Sorsogon. There are additional bus routes from Metro Manila to Legazpi or Naga.Once you are in the region, you will need to rely on three-wheelers, taxis, jeepney or minibuses to travel from point A to point B.
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