Thriving reef life, famed macro night diving and healthy corals await all experience levels at this marine protected area. Adventurous divers can enjoy deep walls, swim-throughs and caves, whilst new divers explore pretty coral gardens busy with reef fish, macro treasures and passing sea turtles.
Diving in Siquijor
Siquijor in the Philippines is located in the central Visayas region. It is a small collection of islands, of which Siquijor Island is the capital. Locally known as the “Island of Fire” because of its fireflies, it has a rich mysticism associated with it. It is known as a place of witchcraft and legends say that the islands rose from the sea, a claim for which there is fossil evidence.
Siquijor diving has 23 dive sites to explore and features lots of healthy corals and excellent macro life. The night diving here is famed as well, partly because of the macro critters. The majority of dive sites are calm and suitable for beginners, though some have strong currents and are best enjoyed by more advanced divers. With reefs, deep walls and swim-throughs to explore, everyone will be kept happy here.
Best time to dive
Diving in Siquijor is possible all year round but the best conditions are during the dry season between December and April. As a country, the Philippines experience rain year-round, though Siquijor has less than some other islands. The rain is consistent between June and November and the seas can sometimes be rough. As all the dive sites are close to the islands, this does not affect diving but can make ferry crossings a little hairy. The water temperature is steady, between 26 and 30oC all year round.
During the dry season, prices can be a little higher for resorts as this is the busiest time. Public holidays such as New Year and Chinese New Year are even busier, so bear these dates in mind when booking.
Types of diving
Siquijor offers some exceptional diving, and it is mostly suitable for even beginner divers. The warm, clear waters make the islands perfect for dive courses and there are many dive shops to choose from. There are plenty of dive resorts as well, but dive and stay packages do tend to be more expensive. There is some variation in the dive shop prices and there are lots of differently priced accommodation available so a diving holiday on Siquijor can be catered to all budgets. There are not many liveaboards operating as all the dive sites are close to the islands.
There are reef dives which offer lots of healthy corals and reef life, including excellent macro - these are also brilliant night dives for those who like searching with the light of a torch-beam. There are deep, stunning walls that drop down as deep as 60m in the crystal waters. There are also plenty of swim-throughs and caves to explore for the adventurous. Some of the dive sites such as Sunken Island are best suited to advanced divers due to the depth and the strength of the currents.
What to see
As much of Siquijor is a marine protected area, the diversity of corals and marine life is superb. The coral gardens feature both hard and soft corals - fans, sponges, whips, hydroids and leather corals cover the rocks. Colourful reef fish like butterflyfish and damselfish dance over the reef while the eagle-eyed can spot the well-camouflaged giant frogfish, nudibranch, ornate ghost pipefish and playful cuttlefish. Big schools of fish are commonplace - mackerel, fusiliers, jacks and glassfish. In deeper water, giant barracuda and blue spotted rays can be found along with turtles, eagle rays and reef sharks.
Best places to dive
The marine sanctuary status of many of the islands dives sites mean that they are untouched and stunning. Paliton Wall is a site best suited to advanced divers. Dropping from 7m down to almost 50m, it makes for a stunning site. The wall itself is covered in sea fans and soft corals and there are a large cave and overhang to explore. This site is known for its excellent visibility so be sure to keep one eye on the blue in the hopes of seeing pelagic animals like sharks, napoleon wrasse and bump head parrotfish. Residents of the wall include beauties such as frogfish, moray eels and Spanish dancers.
Sunken Island is a boat dive only and the currents can be rough - it is best suited for experienced divers especially as a negative entry is often required. The submerged island stretches from 10 to 40m and is coated in all manners of corals. The reef boasts reef fish, sea snakes and enormous turtles and the currents sometimes bring in pelagics like eagle rays, devil rays, manta rays and even whale sharks.
Coral Garden is a perfect beginner dive that can be reached from the shore. The sandy patches and coral collections have lots of different macro life such as peacock mantis shrimp, nudibranch and other kinds of crustacean. There is also plenty of other kinds of life to spot too like frogfish, crocodile fish, turtles and puffer fish. This site can be easily dived at night for a chance to see even more.
Sawang is a gently sloping reef with lots of interesting things to look at, nestled in the coral. As the most interesting part of the site lies at 15m, it is suitable for open water divers. The turtles, peacock mantis shrimp and cuttlefish make this a great photography site. There is also a narrow swim through for those divers with excellent buoyancy!