Diving Apo Island And Dumaguete: A Quick Guide

Want amazing muck diving and lush coral reefs? Apo Island and the coastline of Dumaguete provide the best of both worlds at one of the Philippines’ best dive destinations

Frog fish in a paint tin, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines
Frog fish in a paint tin, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines

What’s special about Dumaguete? Why would you go there for diving?

Diving Apo Island and Dumaguete is the best of both worlds: staggering abundant macro life along the Dumaguete coastline and outstanding coral reefs and wide angle vistas around nearby Apo Island. The coastline – especially the Dauin area – acts as a nursery for all manner of usually hard-to-find critters. They’re everywhere – if you’ve got a sharp-eyed guide to locate them for you. Meanwhile, just 30 minutes boat ride away, the protected reefs of Apo Island provide a complete contrast, with lush seascapes of hard and soft coral, with slopes and walls carpeted in sponges and bommies. As such, it’s the perfect diving destination for divers who like to mix it up.

Coral bommie, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines
Coral bommie, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines

What can I expect to see diving Dumaguete?

You can arrive at Dumaguete with a critter list and expect to see at least 80% of it. Ghost pipefish, octopus, sea snakes, Frogfish big, small, painted, angry, jawfish with eggs, cardinal fish with eggs, sea horses… it’s all there. Around Apo Island itself you may see big schools of fish like barracuda and jacks, but the main attraction which is always there are the lush coral gardens.

Cardinalfish with eggs, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines

Dumaguete Liveaboards

Dumaguete is part of the schedule for several Philippines liveaboards:

  • Atlantis Azores is the liveaboard of the Atlantis chain of diving resorts in the Philippines
  • Philippines Siren is part of the luxury Siren fleet and explores Dumaguete as part of its Visayas liveaboards.
Sea snake, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines
Sea snake, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines

Diving Resorts In Dumaguete

Follow the links to check pricing, availability and to read previous guest reviews to get a feel of the place.

Coral bommie, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines
Coral bommie, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines

How To Get To Dumaguete?

It’s relatively easy to get to Dumaguete. There are daily domestic flights from Manila to Dumaguete with Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. Check Skyscanner to compare prices and flight timetables. Flights are around 1 hour from Manila and transfer to the resorts is typically 45 minutes. Dumaguete itself is a fairly big city with several smaller towns like Dauin stretching along the coastline. The resorts are all on the same stretch of coastline outside Dumaguete city.

Ghost pipefish, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines
Ghost pipefish, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines

What Dive Insurance Do I need For The Philippines?

World Nomads provide travel insurance if you’re travelling in the Philippines that covers you both on land during travels to and from Dumaguete and also while diving. Their insurance policy provides coverage for certified divers who don’t go below 40 meters and are diving with qualified guides or instructors. World Nomads are recommended by Lonely Planet and National Geographic among others. Diving insurance is mandatory and proof of purchase needs to be shown along with certification cards and log books.

How Much Time Should I Spend In Apo Island and Dumaguete?

If you’re fond of macro diving, you are going to want to spend at least a week in Dumaguete. It’s a macro photographer’s paradise. If you’re more casual and not on a mission to find/photograph a specific critter, around 4 to 5 days full diving split between the Dumaguete coastline and Apo Island would be enough.

Jawfish with eggs, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines
Jawfish with eggs, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines

When’s The Best Time Of Year To Dive Apo Island and Dumaguete?

October to May is the main season for diving Dumaguete and Apo Island. June to September is monsoon season so there can be strong winds and waves. Also be aware there are very strong currents at Full Moon – make sure your dive guide checks the current before going in.

What are the stand out dive sites at Dumaguete?

This is obviously very subjective, but the sites I enjoyed along the Dumaguete coast were the house reef in front of Atmosphere and next door at Bahura, along with (place we saw the jawfish etc). // Also cite some of the places from my SDAA article

Sea horse, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines
Sea horse, Apo Island and Dumaguete, Philippines

What Should I Pack For A Dive Trip To Dumaguete?

See the Divehappy Liveaboard Packing List to help you remember to bring everything you need.

Dumaguete and Sogod Bay Map

More About Dumaguete

Apo Island and Dumaguete is one of the featured destinations in the Best Scuba Diving In The Philippines roundup.

Scuba Diving Philippines Map

Other Places For Macro Photography

If you like diving to small critters you should also check out:



Make Sure You Have Diving And Travel Insurance

World Nomads is one of the leading travel insurance providers and their coverage also includes scuba diving to 40 metres too if you select the relevant options. Make sure you're covered insurance-wise both above and below water.



Start Planning Your Philippines Dive Trip Now!

:: Check the availability and pricing of liveaboards in the Philippines and book online.


:: Find the cheapest flights to the Philippines with Skyscanner - one search will show you the prices and times from scores of airlines for your trip. A real timesaver.


If you need a good transit hotel near Manila airport, try the Marriott or Nichols Hotel. The actual Manila Airport Hotel is very run down and not recommended.


:: Make sure you don't forget to bring any of the essentials for your scuba diving trip with our comprehensive Liveaboard Packing List


:: Get dive and travel insurance for the Philippines from World Nomads - make sure you're covered above and below the water. World Nomads lets you buy insurance online quickly and easily.


:: Find available places to stay in the Philippines on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.


:: Need inspiration? See our Best Places To Dive In The Philippines for ideas of where to go and what to do.


:: Explore our Philippines Dive Travel Guide for more Philippines must-dive destinations.