The dive sites around Siquijor Island are well-known among regular divers in Southeast Asia. And there´s a good reason why: located just 15 km off Apo Island, it is the rival that was left without much attention after Apo Island had become a world-class diving destination. Today, being less popular and less touristy than Apo Island is Siquijor´s main feature when it comes to diving and the sole reason why numerous divers return to the mystical island in the Bohol Sea. The reefs around the island are rich in corals and aquatic life. As a lot of the dive sites were declared marine sanctuaries, they are cared for and not destroyed by dynamite fishing or similar activities. There are over 15 dive sites to choose from, including several coral walls, coral gardens and a sunken island.
I got the chance to explore many dive sites for several times when I was working in Siquijor as a Divemaster in 2017. In this post, I am going to share with you 3 magical dive sites in Siquijor and why you should include them on your next trip to the Philippines.
My Top 3 Dive Sites In Siquijor:
1. Coral Garden
Beginner – max. depth: 20m
This is one of my personal favorites and a top-secret dive site! Located between Maite and Tubod Marine Sanctuaries, this dive site is in perfect condition and even accessible by shore.
This colorful dive site is characterized by beautiful coral formations with plenty of soft and hard corals and sandy patches in between. Coral Garden is a great site for macro diving offering different kinds of nudibranch, flat worms and mantis shrimp, just to name a few. The good thing about this dive site is that it also offers plenty of “bigger” aquatic life, such as ribbon eels, pipe fish, frog fish, crocodile fish, puffer fish and numerous sea turtles. Being also a shore dive location, Coral Garden is a fantastic site for night dives as well.
As this is not an official dive site, you will only be able to dive there with Sea Pearl Divers or Apo Diver, dive centers close to San Juan. Apo Diver have their boat near Coral Garden and therefore offer dives here on a regular basis.
Beginner – max. depth: 18m
You can access the Sawang dive site by boat. It´s best to anchor in the small bay. Depending on the currents you can do a one-way dive either towards the left or the right of the bay.
Sawang is a nice dive site with some interesting coral formations, canyons and small underwater tunnels for experienced divers good on buoyancy control. While the route on the left mostly offers hard corals and canyons, the route on the right takes you through sections with colorful soft corals and coral fields with plenty of reef fish. This dive site is also home to an impressive number of sea snakes and turtles. I would say chances are almost 100% you get to see at least one turtle here. Between soft and hard coral patches you may also find mantis shrimp, nudibranch and cuttlefish making this dive site great for underwater photography as well.
3. Sunken Island
Advanced – max. depth: 40m
Sunken Island is only accessible by boat. Since currents here can get pretty rough, this dive site is for experienced divers only. Once having found Sunken Island, you´ll have to descend very quickly in order not to be taken away by currents. The underwater island has its top at a depth of 10m and reaches down to 40m.
The dive site is characterized by soft and hard corals, whip corals and sponges that cover the island´s walls. Sunken Island is home to all kinds of reef fishes, jack fish, sea snakes and turtles. In fact, I once encountered the biggest turtle of my life at this dive site. If you´re lucky, you may also see a pelagic fish, a manta or devil ray or even a whale shark.
There are at least 12 dive centers in Siquijor by now. A couple of them are part of resorts and offer pricey accommodation and dive packages. Around San Juan, you´ll find a few individual dive centers that offer moderate prices and may help you find a budget accommodation nearby.
German-owned dive center with a couple of bungalows for rent on the premises. They also have cooperations with nearby budget resorts and hostels. Pool, bar and beach facilities may also be used by dive guests. With relaxed vibes and all-inclusive day packages, this dive shop may not be the cheapest option on the island, but, in my opinion, the one where you get most value for money.
Dutch-owned dive center with direct beach and boat access. This dive shop has pretty good prices and is still maintaining European quality in everything they do: briefings, courses and dive excursions.
Filipino-owned dive center with a relaxed mentality. The dive team has a special love for macro life, does solid dive briefing and is very attentive to its guests. Prices are very attractive as well.
For more things to do in Siquijor apart from diving, check out this budget travel guide including TopTips and accommodation recommendations. For more diving in the Philippines, read this Panglao Island Dive Guide. Also, browse through my other dive guides for dive sites off the beaten path and tipps & tricks on budget diving.