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Diving Ticao and San Miguel Islands | the Philippines

On the eastern side of the Philippines chain, and towards the bottom of Luzon, lies the town of Donsol and just offshore, the small island of Ticao. Dive tourism is still a developing business in this little known area as there is just one attraction that drags people in – for a few short months every year, there is an explosion a whalesharks.

The mouth of the Donsol River attracts a large aggregation of these beautiful animals as they migrate here to feed. The season is quoted as being from November to May but in reality, sightings are only regular during February and March.

All is not lost though, as there is some good diving in this area too, although it is very much unexplored. Between Donsol and Ticao Island the channel is subject to currents that are said to attract manta rays. At the northern tip of Ticao, tiny San Miguel island is surrounded by healthy reefs with some interesting macro life.

Coleman's shrimp
Ticao and San Miguel dive photo gallery Scuba diving features
Marine Life Nudibranchs
Coleman's shrimp
Top dive site San Miguel
Seasons All year round
Visibility 10 – 40 metres
Water temperature 25 – 29º C
Deco chambers Manila and Cebu City
Flights to Manila then a one hour internal flight then another hour by road.
Dive operators & accommodation see opinion on the left

The Philippines are a long way from Europe or the USA but everything is cheap once you arrive so it's well worth the trip. Getting to Donsol and Ticao is easy with a short transfer flight from Manila. Accommodation options are minimal, with just a couple of very simple, guest-house style resorts at Donsol and one dive-orientated resort on Ticao.

Diving here is still in it's infancy. There is huge potential but the area is both highly undeveloped and unexplored. We were on Ticao for two days – there were no mantas despite claims that they are always seen. We dived San Miguel on our second day which was very good, nice reefs, good coral, great critters and some caves at depth. We returned to Donsol to snorkel with the whalesharks and a hurricane hit, which may also explain why we didn't see the mantas.
Seasons and weather were completely against us on this trip and we were very unlucky not to see the bigger animals that are promoted heavily for the region. However, if you do some reading online, there are reports that the marine sightings rarely live up to the publicity. Accommodation is very basic although landside attractions and the people in the Donsol area were delightful. It is a friendly region but sadly not one we would revisit until facilities have improved a little. The good news is that the resort on Ticao is under new management so check for up-to-date information.
More Philippines diving destinations
LUZON Anilao
Puerto Galera
VISAYAS Bohol/Balicasag

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Coleman's shrimp

Complete reports on this area are in
Diving Southeast Asia.

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