This peaceful water sports hotspot, with white sands and clear waters, offers easy diving and beach resorts for true relaxation. Discover pretty reefs, walls and gentle drift dive sites busy with abundant reef fish, macro treasures and schooling pelagics. It’s simply paradise.
Diving in Boracay
Boracay is located in the Visayas region of the Philippines. Found off the northwest tip of Panay island, it comprises of Manoc-Manoc, Balabag and Yapak all in the municipality of Malay in Aklan Province.
The island is known simply for its paradise island status. The perfect white beaches and the clear, turquoise waters are the stuff of postcards. The island became known as well for its “party island” status, and as a result, the government shut the island for 6 months in 2018 in order to reset. It has since reopened, but with no drinking or partying. This means that it is now a peaceful watersports hotspot with resorts on White Beach and Bulabog Beach.
The diving in Boracay is some of the easiest diving in the Philippines. The predictably warm and clear water and relatively easy dive sites make it popular with beginner dive courses. It has won numerous awards as the best island in the world and for being so relaxing, so if a laid back diving-come-beach holiday is what you are looking for, Boracay is perfect.
Best time to dive
Boracay can be dived year-round, but the optimal season is from October to June. This is the driest season and the weather can be slightly wetter for the rest of the year.
During the warm, dry months between April and June is when the visibility is best, sometimes exceeding 50m. Between December and February, cooler water comes in which encourages a plankton and algae bloom, reducing the visibility to as low as 5m at times.
The air and water temperatures are fairly constant year-round at about 30oC. The water can drop as low as 26oC in December - February. The wet season from July - October has the biggest variations in air temperature, they can soar to 38oC and plummet to 20oC during storms.
Types of diving
Most of the diving on Boracay is reef diving, with a backdrop of fine white sand everywhere. There are wall dives to enjoy too. There can be gentle drifts along the longer (East and West) sides of the island which are good for beginners. The currents in the channels between Boracay and Carabao, and Boracay and Panay can be fierce, so be sure to follow a guide.
The island is well catered to tourism and there are plenty of dive centers and dive resorts to choose from. Some dive resorts cater to the luxury end of the market and some have cheaper options available. There is lots of accommodation, of varied pricing, all over the island for those wishing to dive at a center. It is a popular island for dive courses, especially for beginners as the water looks so appealing! The dives are fairly easy and provide great training opportunities. Some liveaboards pass by this area, but as most dives are very close to shore, it may be easier to stay on the island.
What to see
The coral reefs of Boracay are healthy and very pretty. They play host to an abundance of reef fish. More than 25 species of boxfish can be found in Boracay’s reefs. Other common sites are anemonefish, damselfish, angelfish, parrotfish and triggerfish. Macro photographers will be kept happy with all the nudibranch, peacock mantis shrimp, ribbon eels and pipefish. Bigger fish are seen often too like stingrays, moray eels and sea snakes. Schooling fish like fusiliers and jacks swim in the blue above the reef with the hunters like tuna, trevally, white and blacktip reef sharks and grey reef sharks accompanying them.
Best places to dive
Boracay has over 20 dive sites to choose from and here are some of the best. The Camia is the resident wreck of Boracay. It a 30m long cargo boat which was sunk to create an artificial reef. Ranging in depth from 18 to 30m, it is best suited to advanced divers. Not only is it covered in corals, but there is also a resident school of batfish that hang out here.
Laurel Island is divided into two sites, both of which are sloping walls with abundant coral and fish life. It is best suited to the more advanced diver as the currents can be strong. There is a tunnel which can be explored to look for macro critters and which provides some dramatic photo opportunities.
Crocodile Island is a little deep for open water divers but is still good for beginners with an advanced qualification. There is a lot of beautiful corals here which play host to masses of fish life. Free swimming lionfish, morays and sea snakes are common here, as are playful cuttlefish. The current can be strong, but when it allows, there are many small caves to peer into and look for nudibranch and other hiding fish. It’s important to note that the name derives from the shape of the island, not the local wildlife!
Yapak is a deep wall ranging in depth from 30 to 70m. Its depth will reward divers with close encounters with white tip and grey reef sharks, napoleon wrasse, giant trevally and dogtooth tuna. Though the surface conditions here can be rough, often necessitating a negative entry, the visibility here is some of the best on the island.
Friday’s Rock is a great beginner site, bottoming out at 18m. It has lots of bottom dwellers like blue spotted stingrays and ribbon eels to look for. Brightly coloured reef fish like parrotfish, clownfish and angelfish, along with schools of silvery fish make this an unforgettable first dive.
The Bat Cave is a cave system with both above ground and below water access points. Though shallow, it is a very challenging dive suitable only for those comfortable in confined spaces and confident in their buoyancy.