The Philippines' Puerto Galera

I have spent decades covering the Caribbean for major dive magazines. But when it is time for a personal trip, I usually set my sights farther from home. One destination that has become a personal favorite over the last ten years is the Philippines. The waters of this island nation lie within the “Coral Triangle,” a region recognized as having one of the most biodiverse marine ecosystems on the planet.

The Philippines' Southeast Bohol: Diverse Diving at Anda

A female Tomato Anemonefish hiding amongst a bubble-tip anemone

Tap, tap, tap! Our dive guide was rapping on his tank with such enthusiasm that I knew he had found something truly special. I had been searching in the muck for over an hour in hopes of finding octopus, but so far, had come up empty. As I swam over to where he was hovering, you could see the broad smile on his face as he pointed to his slate.

Capturing the Fire Dancer
The Gurnard lionfish (Parapterois hentururus) is a small, nocturnal species of lionfish common to the Philippines.

Capturing the Fire Dancer

It's large, fan-like fins wave and flare like the skirts of a Flamenco dancer, revealing vibrant shades of rust and orange with flashes of royal blue as it hunts its prey under the cover of night. As beautiful as its dance may be, one prick from one of its long dorsal spines will inflict a very painful burning sensation.

Tubbataha: Pristine Diving in the Philippines

We came up over a coral ridge and yet another vista of beautiful hard and soft corals met our eyes. It was late in the day and the diminished sunlight was quickly turning the dive into a dusk adventure. After four dives in the day, we were both tired and exhilarated, and it was time to begin our ascent and head to the boat for a well-earned dinner.

The Philippines: Southern Cebu

Cebu Island is one of over seven thousand islands located in the Philippines. It may be best known as the place where the early 16th century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan met his unfortunate end. There is a 20-meter tall monument at Punta Engaño on Cebu erected in honor of the native chieftan, Lapu Lapu, who in the 1521 Battle of Mactan, proved victorious over Spanish forces led by Magellan.