Diving in Dumaguete & Apo Island - Bluewater Dive Travel

Dumaguete Diving

Scuba Diving Dumaguete
dumaguete diving
dumaguete scuba diving
Diving Dumaguete

Scuba diving in dumaguete, Philippines

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Dumaguete diving highlights

Dumaguete is an all-in-one scuba diving destination, offering the perfect mix of everything a scuba diver would want--great selection of resorts, a nice-sized town, excellent muck diving with lots of rare critters along the Dauin coastline, and good wide-angle opportunities at Apo Island. What's more most dive resorts in Dumaguete offer the opportunity to snorkel or dive with whale sharks at nearby Oslob. Add in the friendly people of the Philippines and you have a winning scuba diving destination.


Intro to Dumaguete Diving

Dumaguete is located on the island of Negros, adjacent to Cebu Island, and is a quick inexpensive 1-hour flight from Manila. Most resorts and dive sites lie a few miles south of the city along the coast in an area called Dauin, and many have great house reefs.

One of Dumaguete's main attractions is its nice selection of resorts, including some high-end boutique resorts that you can stay at for a reasonable price. Although the local sites are known mainly for macro and critter dives, a little bit of travel in your boat or car brings you to great reefs and wide-angle subjects like large coral reefs, schools of jacks, groupers and the now famous whale sharks of Cebu.  

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Dumaguete's Marine life & best dive sites

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Marine Life & Photography Subjects in dumaguete

The scuba diving sites of Dauin have a number of great macro subjects, including pipefish, mandarin fish, juvenile batfish, seahorses, mantis shrimp, ribbon eels, dragonets, hairy squat lobster, snake eels, wonderpus octopus, bobtail squid, a large number of nudibranchs, blue-ring octopus, harlequin shrimp, and flamboyant cuttlefish. Nearby Apo Island has turtles, sea snakes, a school of jacks, groups, clownfish, and lots of reef fish.  


Turtle Dumaguete  Bobtail Squid Dumaguete


Whale Shark Snorkeling at Oslob 

Most dive resorts along the Dauin coastline offer a day trip to Oslob, where you can swim and snorkel up-close with the endangered whale sharks. It is located about a 2.5-hour drive away from Dauin, and sightings of these gentle creatures are practically guaranteed. 

Local fishermen are authorized to feed the whale sharks daily in Oslob, which in turn makes this area a very reliable to place to see these gentle creatures. 

Despite the criticism surrounding the feeding activity in Oslob, some marine scientists argue that it actually gives extraordinary contributions to conservation. 

As marine scientist Judi Lowe said in an interview, "Oslob is incredible because it creates livelihoods that are an alternative to fishing. The income lifts the fishermen and their families out of poverty, at the same time as protecting whale sharks and marine reserves. The tourism finances sea patrols by the Bantay Dagat, or volunteer sea wardens, who protect whale sharks and prevent destructive fishing. They are actually fishing less. Fish catch is up and the number of species of fish being caught has increased." 


Here is a great underwater video from Apo Island. Watch full-screen in high-def!


Dumaguete 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 30 - 40ft at Dauin, 60 - 80ft at Apo Island
  • Weather: Dumaguete has two seasons, the dry and the wet seasons. The average maximum temperature is 34.3 °C and the average minimum temperature is 22.9 °C.


overview of the top Dumaguete diving Areas and Best Dive Sites

Here are some of the best dive sites and what you can in and around the Dauin coastline of Dumaguete.

  • Apo Island is about an hour boat ride away from Dauin. The diving at Apo Island is quite distinct from that of the main island dive sites. Chapel Point, Cogon and The Sanctuary are popular sites. 
  • They have gorgeous steep walls with extremely healthy hard coral, large moray eels, clownfish and shrimp gobies were in the sand. 
  • You can also see blue ribbon eels, Nembrotha nudibranchs and sea snakes. At Cogon, there is sometimes a huge school of Jacks that will let you enter the school for a very cool experience. There are lots of Anthias, as well as juvenile damselfish. The visibility at Apo is very nice, more than 30 meters in most spots and it is the place in Dumaguete to go to see big schools of fish, really healthy hard coral walls and a few critters. If you are a wide-angle shooter, this is the place in Dumaguete for you. 
  • The dive sites of Dauin, near the resorts, are generally sandy slopes, that offer easy diving for dives of all levels. The sites can be reached either by boat or shore dives. Here are a few fish that you can expect to see there: triggerfish, parrotfish, moray eels, surgeonfish, snappers, groupers, Moorish idols, gobies, batfish, lionfish, trumpet fish, puffer fish, filefish, wrasses, and trevallies. 
  • The area also has several artificial reefs that attract a good number of critters and juvenile fish. These are mainly muck sites, so if you want some reef diving, make sure you let the Bluewater Travel staff know so that we can arrange for you to have a few days also at Apo Island.

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Travel Information 

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How to Get to dumaguete

Dumaguete is about a 1-hour flight 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.  You can even find direct flights into Manila for major U.S. cities, offered by Philippines Airlines. 


How to Dive Dumaguete

Most of the hotels, dive centers, and dive sites are situated 15 kilometers south in Dauin. The dive centers offer up to four dives each day as well as Mandarin fish dives and night dives. Many divers combine Dumaguete with a trip to Puerto Galera, Moalboal, Anilao or Malapascua for thresher sharks.  

Read the recap of our 2020 trip to the Visayas


Best Time to Dive

Dumaguete is a year-round diving destination where critters and rich marine life are to be found all months of the year. April is the driest month of the year, but December to June is usually sunny. July to mid-Nov can get a decent amount of rain, and even a monsoon (Aug - Oct is peak monsoon time) but monsoons in the Philippines generally affect the north part of the Philippines, with Dumaguete affected less. We have traveled to Dumaguete in early July and the rain is short and welcome. October is a particularly good time for macro subjects, especially octopuses.

Join our July 2023 or June 2024 group trips to Dumaguete!


Topside & Non-Diving Activities

Dumaguete is relatively limited in terms of non-dive activities. There are no restaurants or nightclubs in the area. 4 dives a day and three meals is a full schedule, especially as an underwater photographer maintaining a camera rig. Bring a book, talk to new friends and take in the amazing sunsets on the days you're not night diving.

Snorkeling and diving with whale sharks at Oslob in Cebu, is also a popular day trip option offered by many resorts in Dumaguete. I

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Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

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

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Reviews (5)

  • Top Reviewer

Dumaguete is a great dive location if you are really looking to maximize your macro opportunities in muck diving, and if you want a 'quieter' vacation, it's the place for you because you won't be located in the middle of a big party town.

I visited on a group trip, and we chose to do a mix of diving between macro and wide angle Water temps were 79-82 degrees, with air temps in upper 70s to upper 80s, so I wore a 3MM wetsuit for most of the trip as I tend to get cold with us doing 4+ dives a day, and particularly with muck diving, you’re not moving a whole lot.

For dive locations, we chose to dive the Dauin coast, Siquijor Island, and Apo Island.

For macro, you will never lack for subjects. There was great muck diving and we were seeing frogfish of all varieties, scorpion fish, cuttlefish, nudies, ghost pipe fishes, mantis shrimp - and these were some of the most common critters we saw! We even saw a blue-ring octopus! Unless you're already well-trained and have developed an "eye" for spotting these subjects, you'll need the help of a good dive guide initially. Our guides also gave us tips for how to spot spot of the macro subjects, which was really helpful since it was the first time diving in the Philippines for several of us. Giant frogfish and reefs were wide angle highlights there.

For specialized dives we also opted to do the night dive to see mandarin fish matings. I found this to be probably the most difficult photography dive. Patience and fast reaction time was definitely key.

It's close enough to Cebu, that our whole group also did a half day trip to Cebu to snorkel with whale sharks, coordinated though our resort.

Other non-diving activities in the Dumaguete area included a visit to the Malapatay Market. The local market has a mix of food, handicrafts, and goods. There was also a livestock market.

For nightlife, about half of our group wanted to be out every night, and the other was more into staying in. If you were motivated to go out, from your resort you can cab to the boulevard area which has multiple restaurants, bars and clubs and you could walk up and down the area to determine which one fit your preferences.

Visited on 03/2013 - Submitted on 01/27/2014

Dumaguete is known as the city of gentle people which serves as an apt descriptor for the atmosphere. The four universities keep the local population well educated and friendly. The majority of visitors we encountered were from Europe and China. I hear that the area has a rich night life, but our time was limited so we spent most of it underwater.

We made it out to Apo Island on our first day and I cannot help but write about it in dramatic tones. Soft and hard corals competed fiercely over the limited real estate creating a dynamic environment full of colors that would seem unnatural anywhere else. And while the diverse coral cover at Apo was nearly 100% in places, the wildlife was even more spectacular. There were times when I had to choose between the in-your-face humphead parrotfish and the hungry hawksbill sea turtle, all against a staggering backdrop of unimaginable colors. Apo Island ranks alone as the single best dive I have ever done.

If Apo is all about sweeping seascapes, the local sites at Dauin are as impressive on a macro scale. The local dive spots are very close to the resorts with our farthest near-shore site being a brief 10-minute boat ride away. At first the dark volcanic silt seems an unlikely place to find tropical creatures, but then armies of cryptic animals start appearing from the muck. Within one day, I had checked many dozens of animals from my macro bucket list. In my first dive alone we came across a warty frogfish, seahorses and all 3 species of ghost pipefish. It was uncanny. Before each dive I started asking the DM to find something rare and specific like a blue-ringed octopus or a stargazer and without fail, they picked one out of the muck. They claimed that flamboyant cuttlefish hadn't been seen for months, so I requested we try and sure enough, I was playing with a pair of them on the next dive.

Visited on 08/2014 - Submitted on 08/23/2014

Dumaguete, Philippines is a pretty good distance from the US but well worth the travel to get there if you're in to muck diving and macro photography. The marine life was incredible and way too much variety to mention them all. I went there with a list of 25 different species to photograph and I got them all but 2 and one I missed was there I just ran out of air.

My favorite sites were Ceres, and both Cars sites - Ceres for the Hairy Frogfish and Nudibrachs and Cars for the various Pipefish and Tiger Shrimp. I went to Deep Cars twice to make sure I had at least one good photo of the Tiger Shrimp. But to be honest all of the sites were great we saw at least one different creature at every site.

There's not a whole lot to do between dives but that's not really a problem when you're making 5 dives a day, but we did find time to go to the local market (only open Wednesdays). Don't skip it! The sights, sounds, and smells are a once in a life time experience.

It's also well worth giving up a day of diving to go snorkeling with the Whale Sharks in Oslob and if muck diving gets to be too much you take a day trip Apo Island for some amazing reef diving and turtle encounters.

All in all a great place to spend 10 plus days shooting macro marine life.

Visited on 04/2014 - Submitted on 09/07/2014

Dumaguete is not just macro although the macro is great. With a macro lens one can also shot fish and critter portraits. Mandarin fishes are easier to shoot than in many other locations.There are nudibranchs ,seahorses, pipe horses. blue- ring octopus, etc.Most dives were boat dives but the shore dive was as good as any boat dive. I suspect the dive master knew where to look. The dive masters have incredible ability to find small animals and are very cooperative. For wide angle there is Apo Island with schools of fish and beautiful corals. The water was warm in the 80s with little to no current.

Visited on 05/2012 - Submitted on 01/28/2015

Dumaguete is the perfect place to experience what the Philippines has to offer. Most of the dive resorts in the area visit all of the most popular dive sites, the house reefs have everything imaginable, seahorses, octopus, clownfish, etc. There is so much to see at every dive site it was hard to pick a favorite. Apo Island is a different experience every time you go. There are plenty of sharks, and sea turtles on every dive along with the most spectacular coral you will ever see. We stayed at a dive resort that was beautiful and the food was delicious. There are several small bars that you can safely walk to and most resorts will drive you into the city of Dumaguete. There are a lot of nice restaurants to try. We went to Oslob to swim with whale sharks, it was a fun experience and a very controlled environment. Not the same as seeing them come out of the blue, but still fun to get very close to them. The people who manage the dive resort were very familiar with photography and willing to help you fine tune your skills.

Visited on 05/2020 - Submitted on 05/12/2020


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