Anilao

4.39285714286
(7 REVIEWS)

 

Country: Philippines

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Anilao in a Nutshell

Anilao is located about 3 hours drive south of Manila on the island of Luzon, in the Batangas province of the Philippines. Divers and underwater photographers are attracted to Anilao for the incredible diversity, rich reefs, variety of fish, unexpected critters and nudibranchs turning up at every corner. The beachfront resorts are nestled against the jungle and provide exotic scenery while riding to and from dive sites.


Dive Overview

Anilao is macro heaven for underwater photographers, with great healthy reefs and a wide variety of the most sought-after Indo-Pacific critters in the local waters.  

Watch this awesome video to give you a great feel for what it would be like to dive in Anilao!

 

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Diving Information 

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Marine Life & Environment

Virtually every variety of juvenile fish and critter imaginable can be found in Anilao. Shrimp, crabs, nudibranchs, small squid and cuttlefish are arguably more plentiful than any other dive destination. Frogfish, pipefish and seahorses are also fairly common and we've even seen Rhinopias and Hairy Frogfish. Wonderpus, mimic and blue-ringed octopus can also be seen. Bobbit worms and many other critters await patient muck divers. Anilao has a large number of species of hard and soft corals - perhaps more than anywhere else in the world. Local guides take pride in locating even the smallest macro subjects living on the corals, oftentimes leaving photographers with a tough decision on which subject to shoot.

Larger marine life is also found in Anilao, including large schools of jacks, the occasional turtle and giant seahorses. At Mainit point, which has strong currents, we've seen up to 4 great barracuda hunting, along with giant and bluefin trevally. Reef sharks are occasionally seen down deep at dive sites with stronger currents and on very rare occasions people have seen small whale sharks.

Anilao has some unique soft coral forests, generally found at 70 - 130ft deep, which are mostly unexplored and can turn up rare critters such as seahorses and rhinopias.

 

Anilao Typical Dive

Diving is usually by a small open boat (bangka), which is comfortable for up to 4 divers plus a crew of 2-3. Dive sites are usually 10-25 minutes away from most resorts. The general schedule is 2 dives early in the morning, enjoying lunch and rest in the afternoon at the resort, and then 2 more dives in the late afternoon, with the last dive being a complete night dive. Frequent night dives are a must in Anilao and no visit would be complete without a muck dive at the pier! Dive time limits are less stringent than at other locations, and significant time can be spent in the shallows. Occasionally divers will encounter currents but the guides at the resorts we recommend dive according to everyone's skill and comfort levels. The guides are excellent critter-finders, which keeps photographers shooting for the entire dive.  

 

Diving Conditions

  • Water Temperature: Water temp is generally 27.5C/81F but in January and February this can drop to around 25C/77F. We recommend diving in a 3mm full wetsuit with booties. Many divers choose to wear light gloves and occasionally a hood after several days of repetitive diving. Be sure to bring a light rain jacket, and ample sun protection.
  • Visibility: Typically 40-50ft
  • Weather: The average annual temperature is 27.2 °C

 

Diving Highlights

Here are some of the diving highlights around Anilao!

  • "Twin Rocks" - one of the best. Prolific life at 10ft to 130ft and all depths between. Great for macro and wide-angle. Soft corals, schooling jacks, small fish, jawfish and much much more.
  • "Beatrice" - stronger currents, profusion of swarming anthias, great wide-angle opportunities shooting upward against corals
  • "Kirby's Rock" - great visibility, a beautiful wall filled with life, and a surprising number of good macro subjects
  • "Secret Bay" - popular muck site that sometimes has mimic octopus, wonderpus, pipefish, seahorses, frogfish and more
  • Muck sites - the "hot" muck sites change season to season, contact Bluewater Travel for the latest spots and critters seen.

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Travel Information 

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How to Get There

Anilao is about a 3-hour drive from the Manila International Airport (MNL), also known as Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Several major Asian airports run flights to MNL and serve as layovers for visitors from the US and Europe. Once clearing customs with checked bags, divers walk outside and take a tunnel down to the left where resort shuttle drivers are waiting with signs. The drive out of the city is exciting and you can catch glimpses of the colorful Manila city life through the window.  

 

How to Dive Anilao

Resorts, liveaboards and dive centers are available. Many divers combine Anilao with a trip to Puerto Galera, or Cebu / Dumaguete. Puerto Galera is just an easy hour speedboat ride away, while Cebu or Dumaguete is an hour's flight from Manila.  

 

Weather

October to early June is the main diving season in Anilao. The best months are November / December and April/May, with April and May being the most crowded months at the resorts. July and August can have strong monsoons, so it's best to avoid those months. The critters and rich marine life are found year-round. If you don't mind slightly cooler temps, then Jan - March is great too, and often has more critters underwater.

 

Topside & Non-Diving Activities

Anilao is relatively limited in terms of non-dive activities.

  • Snorkeling
  • Kayaking
  • Various excursions

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Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

  • Currency: Philippine Peso
  • Language: Filipino & English
  • Time Zone: UTC+8
  • Electricity: 220 V 60 Hz

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Got Questions? Ready to Book?

Call us today at 310-915-6677 or email us info@bluewaterdivetravel.com

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Reviews (7)

  • Reviewer
Minneapolis, MN
United States
5
5
5
5

We had an EXCELLENT experience in Anilao, booking through Bluewater. Crystal Blue was a great resort for our foursome and we really enjoyed having our own boat and amazing dive guide. Macro and super-macro photo opportunities were around every corner and we were treated like family at the resort. We will definitely be coming back - can't wait!

Visited on 10/2017 - Submitted on 02/27/2018
5
4
5
4

It's hard to find anything to complain about with respect to diving in Anilao. It is very easy to get to from the West Coast of the US, and once in Manila the resort makes the last leg of the journey to Anilao very easy.

If you are into macro, this is a must-see destination. Anilao is home to some of the worlds most dense populations and wide variety of nudibranchs, in addition to dozens of other critters that are a photographers dream. In general, the dive guides are among the best I have ever been with, and they will easily keep you on subjects for the entire trip. Ask for something to see and they will deliver. Obviously it depends on which dive operators you use, and some will be better than others, but in general the guides in Anilao know the locations, the critters and the habitats.

Anilao is somewhat remote, so the topside activities are limited, but for me going to Anilao was about the diving and photography.

Overall, this desitination should be on any list for macro photographers. Wide angle options are there, but could be considered limited.

Cannot wait to get back to beautiful Anilao.

Visited on 05/2017 - Submitted on 11/03/2017
5
5
5
3

Anilao is one of my favorite places to dive in Asia. The marine life is incredibly diverse and abundant. Most of the life is small and best suited to macro photography, for example reef fish, sea slugs, crustaceans, cephalopods, and the like. What is so amazing about Anilao is that it is not uncommon to see very special and rare creatures, such as mimic octopi, wunderpus, coconut octopi, ghost pipefish, seahorses, stargazers, bobbit worms, and the list goes on. Some people call Anilao the "nudibranch capital of the world" and it kind of makes sense when you consider that it is possible to see 100 different species of sea slugs in a weeks' diving!

Secret Bay and Anilao Pier (best done as a night dive) are my 2 favorite sites for macro life, and Twin Rocks and Beatrice are my favorite wide-angle sites, but there are many many other great sites too and it is hard to go wrong. All the dive sites are located within a 15 minute boat ride of one another, so travel time between dive sites is limited. Conditions are usually good so the diving is easy and relaxed. Water temperatures can get chilly from November to April, with a low water temperature of around 24 degrees C, so bring a 5mm suit if you are planning to visit during those times. Typhoon season is around the middle of the year, when winds can be strong and there is a small risk of typhoons. This is low season and a great time to visit if you don't mind the winds. The water is also warmest in the middle of the year.

Topside activities are limited as each resort tends to be self-contained and self-sufficient. There are limited options for nightlife in the area it is really geared towards diving.

Visited on 05/2011 - Submitted on 08/24/2014
Amsterdam,
Netherlands
4
3
4
3

I was only able to dive for three days in Anilao. The resort I stayed at was good, the staff was wonderful, the food was great, and rooms and grounds were clean. I like that they had a separate camera room for camera gear. The resort I was at in Anilao was very quiet, I was not near the "town". I was just on the side of a hill with the ocean in front of me. Weather was hot and dry with minimal breeze while I was there. The one thing that is concerning is the built up of villages along the coast. There was a lot of trash near the shore in some places. If that continues the dive sites may deteriorate there which will be very sad.

The dives guides were very good finding many small creatures, such as rhino shrimp, harlequin shrimp, frog fish, and lots of nudies. I liked the Darllout, twin rocks, and the pier was good for night diving. Snorkeling was good at Bethlehem. I liked that Anilao had lots of small stuff and you could just putter around looking. There were no big critters like in Australia (e.g. sharks) which can be good or bad depending on what you are looking for. I was not looking for that so it was perfect for my needs. In many ways I thought the sea life was better than Thailand.

Diving was fairly easy and great for taking photos.

Visited on 03/2014 - Submitted on 06/14/2014
5
5
5
2

Never miss a night dive. Never. Ever. You never know what you'll find on a night dive in Anilao. The Pier, Arthur's Rock, Twin Rocks, Secret Bay - these and other sites have plenty of weird stuff out and about. Common and mimic and blue ring octopus, bobtail squid, magnificent and common cuttlefish. Spiny devilfish, stonefish, waspfish, a variety of scorpionfish including rhinopias. Stargazers and flatheads hiding under the sand. Anemones, some actively feeding, all enjoying the dark. Crabs and shrimps peeking at you from everyplace. An astonishing assortment of nudibranchs, including some mind-blowing mimics of various plants and corals. Flatworms and various mollusks out looking for love, or a meal, or both. Bobbit worms standing there with their jaws wide open, waiting for something to blunder into them.

But don't miss the daytime dives either. Most of the time, you are muck diving. No matter how bleak things may look from a distance at a particular site, sand and silt as far as you can see with only an occasional island of "life", take your time and look around slowly. There is plenty of life waiting for you to discover. Other sites may have coral rubble and nothing taller than a few inches standing above the plain. But critters are all over. Ghost pipefish, ornate and robust and hairy. Frogfish, seemingly scattered all over, some quite well camouflaged against the sand or a small outbreak of life among all that sand. Seahorses and pygmy seahorses, tiny pipefish anchored to a blade of seagrass. All types of dragonettes. Nudibranchs, some just out for a stroll, others having a meal of a sponge or some bryozoans or some coral ... or making a meal of another nudibranch. Or maybe enjoying the company (wink wink) of another nudibranch of the same species. Just look around carefully, and be astonished by what you, your dive buddies, and your divemaster find.

But then there are the lovely reefs of Anilao: Sombrero, Layag Layag, Mainit's Point, Beatrice, and many others. Corals of uncountable types as far as you can see. Clear blue water. All types of small fish flitting about. Anemonefish of nearly every type, inhabiting a stunning number of types of anemones. And still, there are small things to look for, if the beautiful reef hasn't distracted you.

The water temps when we visited in April/May were typically 82 degrees F, but some sites had upwellings of colder water at 78 F, and there's always the chance that you'll go deep enough to find some specific critter that you'll encounter a significant thermocline. Usually, there is no major current to deal with at most mucky sites, but some of the more clear water, wide angle sites could have strong currents if they are dived at the wrong time. Your topside activities will consist of whatever your resort has to entertain you, and walks through some of the little villages and small towns during your surface intervals. That's it. The Filipino people are wonderful hosts, happy to see you and glad to help you. And the Philippines are a bargain destination, when you consider the quality of diving.

If a diver is looking for lots of big fish, maybe even some pelagic life, and diving in clear blue water ... Anilao is not a suitable destination. If a diver wants to enjoy lots of shopping and nightclubs and casinos with major entertainers when not diving, Anilao will disappoint. If a diver really want to dive, and is looking for a place that has lots of critters, some really weird stuff, and is willing to look around in muck and sand and coral rubble carefully to find these strange animals .... Anilao is a destination that should be visited. And then visited again.

Visited on 04/2014 - Submitted on 05/25/2014

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