Philippines Liveaboard: My Review in 2020


If you’ve never visited the Philippines before, you’re in for a fantastic surprise – especially if you’re a scuba diving enthusiast. Diving in the Philippines has grown massively popular over the years, and for plenty of good reasons.

The waters are tropical, crystal clear, and you’ll be able to spot all kinds of unique marine life you’d only dream of, check out the Coral Triangle, World Heritage Site, Jessie Beazley Reef and Tubbatah Reef.  I take a look at Philippines Liveaboards in this full review and guide.

Philippines liveaboard diving are growing in popularity, too. Essentially, it’s getting more and more popular for people to book special cruises to explore the Philippines’ depths and to try one of their scores of dive sites.

But what are the best liveaboards in the Philippines operating right now? Which ones are likely to give you the best deals, and which are going to get you up close and personal with the most stunning creatures of the deep?

In this guide, I’ve lined up a complete overview of when and where to book a liveaboard Philippines divers can relax in and dive from at their leisure. Here are six great picks – with links to everything you need to know.

“One-stop booking with a liveaboard makes the entire experience effortless and more enjoyable.”

Best Philippines Liveaboards

5/5

Pictured: Seadoors & Lounge Area

What We Love

What We Don't

Seadoors is a fantastic Philippines liveaboard which gives you access to some of the most stunning and exciting diving experiences across the bays and coves. It’s a sizeable boat which will welcome up to 16 people, and what’s more, there are plenty of luxury upgrades available, too.

This liveaboard offers some incredible views across Tubbataha Reef, where you’ll be able to go diving with local sharks, and you might even get to see a whale shark or two on your way to spectacular diving fun in Leyte.

I especially love the fact that this liveaboard has an attentive and qualified diving instruction team, meaning if it’s your first time spotting whale sharks and drifting in the deep, you’ll have plenty of diving support on hand.

  • 8 cabins available
  • Luxury upgrades
  • Full local dining menu
  • Lots of diving equipment
  • Purpose-built vessel

Read about Liz’s Experience of Diving in Asia.

I interviewed Elisabeth Lauwerys, an experienced underwater photographer who has spent most of her career in Asia.

4.6/5

Pictured: Solitude One & Their Jacuzzi

What We Love

What We Don't

I love Solitude One – it’s actually a former merchant vessel, meaning that it’s got an authentic seafaring look which is likely to appeal to plenty of diving enthusiasts. Inside, the experience on this liveaboard is truly luxurious – perhaps surprisingly comfy to some people who expect it to be fairly rustic!

This Philippines diving liveaboard will take you to some of the most exciting sites across the Micronesian area, not just surrounding the Philippine coast. Strap on your gear via the dedicated diving suite and get ready to explore some of the exciting watery wildlife exclusive to the area.

This is a sizeable boat – bigger than many liveaboard diving experiences you might find across the east – meaning that you have plenty of opportunity to stretch out, sit back and relax in between your dives.

  • 10 cabins
  • Space for 22 guests
  • Refurbished in 2013
  • Full housekeeping and laundry services
  • Indoor and outdoor dining available
4.2/5

Pictured: Discovery Palwan & Indoor Dining Area

What We Love

What We Don't

The Discovery Palawan extends to 50m in size, making it one of the biggest liveaboard diving options on this list. It’s a roomy cruise which won’t just take you around the marine life delights waiting for you at the Tubbataha National Park, but also around its immensely popular and colourful reef. You can even dive down and meet manta rays and hammerhead sharks, if you’re feeling adventurous, in and around the Apo Reef and Apo Island.

This is a very popular cruising option for diving across the Philippine waters, meaning that some of the cruises are bookable with pricing on request only. However, it is certainly worth it. The Palawan benefits from a recent renovation, and offers spacious, comfy rooms that are not only luxurious in design, but which also offer full air conditioning. What better way to relax after a hard day of diving in the Philippines?

This spectacular diving cruise gives you all the nitrox you’ll need, as well as sumptuous dining facilities. Take a look around the local wrecks and come back to a holiday cabin that’s always likely to relieve you of the day’s stresses and strains.

  • 20 cabin rooms available across two decks
  • Comfortably welcomes 32 people
  • Bar and saloon
  • Nitrox, tenders and dive deck
  • Affordable gear rental available
4.2/5

Pictured: Philippines Siren & Indoor Area

What We Love

What We Don't

The enormously popular Philippine Siren is one of the first choices anyone diving in the Philippines will look for in terms of floating accommodation. There are plenty of great reasons why.

It’s probably best known for its extensive diving support crew, meaning that there is always going to be a knowledgeable instructor on board to help. The Philippine Siren also grants you access to an incredible entertainment suite for relaxing in after a long day of diving.

Much of what you’ll need for diving in the Philippines is provided to you on request. You’ll even have access to a camera and video lounge, after taking in long dives across the Apo Reef, Tubbataha, Cebu, the Coron Wrecks, Dauin, Anilao and Malapascua. The Philippines Siren was designed by divers, for divers – meaning you’re guaranteed of a comfortable, accessible trip around the best of the islands and crystal waters.

  • Lots of diving equipment provided
  • 8 cabins available
  • Room for 16 people
  • Extensive drinks and dining menus
  • Fully air conditioned
4.2/5

Pictured: Resolute & Indoor Lounge Area

What We Love

What We Don't

Resolute is a great liveaboard option for any divers looking to explore the finer points and reaches of the Philippine waters. This is a liveaboard diving experience which has been running for over 20 years, meaning the crew and the overall diving service here is top-notch. It’s also really affordable – from the price of admission right down to the gear rental rates.

It’s a liveaboard diving experience which changes up depending on when you choose to travel and dive. For example, if you choose to dive from March to June, you’ll be able to explore the wonderful Tubbataha National Park. From July through to October, the Resolute will switch course slightly so that you can explore the depths of Cebu. It’s here where you’ll find lots of curious critters, such as local thresher sharks. It’s during this season that you’ll also get to see the Apo Reef up close.

Resolute’s experience is wonderful for first-time divers and experienced explorers. Why not take a closer look for yourself?

  • 8 cabins with private bathrooms
  • 16 guests
  • Outdoor dining suite
  • Full housekeeping
  • Lots of diving support
4.2/5

Pictured: Oceanic 3 & a Regular Visitor 

What We Love

What We Don't

The Oceanic 3 is a speedy, airy and ultra-comfortable liveaboard offering you the chance to explore the best of the Philippine waters. Specifically, Oceanic 3 will take you through the colourful and curious sights of Tubbataha, where you’ll be able to see all kinds of marine life – such as stunning thresher sharks.

Oceanic 3 takes you around a variety of dive sites to make sure things don’t get too samey. What’s more, there is plenty of choice here in terms of cabins, upgrades and budget options. It’s perfectly possible to fit this boating holiday to your own particular needs – and why wouldn’t you?

This vessel also offers an open air terrace and deck for you to relax on when you’re not exploring the deep. From March to June, Oceanic 3 will bring you closer to the best of the Tubbataha Reef with minimal effort.

  • En suite cabins and showers
  • 10 cabins for up to 20 people
  • Affordable gear rental available
  • Lots of dive storage
  • Anti-viral spaces – ionising available
Imagine finding untouched parts of the ocean with thriving marine life, that's the Philippines...
Katy Jane

Best Diving in the Philippines

Tubbataha Reef

If you’ve taken a look at any of the liveaboard options above, you’ll likely notice that Tubbataha is a very popular dive location. That’s because it is absolutely crammed with marine life! In fact, these gorgeous corals are home to more fauna and flora than any other site on the islands.

Location: Palawan

Species: A bit of everything!

Moalboal

If you’re heading out towards Cebu, be sure to take a dip into Moalboal, well-known for its incredible sardine population! Swim comfortably through reams of tiny fish with ease – a great spot for beginners as this dive and swim really is nice and gentle.

Location: Cebu

Species: Sardines

Malapascua Island

Malapascua Island is another Cebu dive spot which is likely to appeal to any Philippine explorer looking for stacks of sharks. Specifically, the island is perhaps one of the premier thresher shark hotspots on the planet. However, the clear waters here will also give you the chance to spy local manta rays, too!

Location: Cebu

Species: Thresher Sharks, Rays

Puerto Galera

Out in Mindoro, this is a premier Philippine dive spot. It boasts stunning coastlines before you even reach the water, and what’s more, it’s home to a real plethora of biodiversity. You’ll even find a nice selection of wrecks to explore in the sunken depths, too!

Location: Mindoro

Species: Octopuses, seahorses and corals

When Can I Go Diving in the Philippines?

Many divers choose to head to the Philippines between November and May for the best weather.

However, there are plenty of fantastic sites and dive opportunities even when you head out in the rainy season, for example, it tends to be popular for divers to explore Tubbataha in the spring. This, of course, is up to you!

How Much Does It Cost to Dive in the Philippines?

It’s more affordable than you think. Liveaboard options in the Philippines costs £150 to £200 per day.

However, this may vary depending on the time of year you travel, the boat you hire, and the equipment you need. Be ready to compare and contrast.

What Qualifications Do I Need to Dive in the Philippines?

It’s a good idea to have a PADI qualification in Open Water diving at the very least.

However, I’d highly recommend you take a look at other PADI qualifications which line up with your Philippines dive needs. It never hurts to be well prepared!

Why Book a Philippines Liveaboard?

It’s easier than ever to book liveaboard diving in the Philippines, and it’s never been cheaper.

I’ve lined up the six best Philippines cruise options available right now – based on their affordability, range of diving equipment, diving sites available and more besides.

How Do I Book a Philippines Liveaboard?

Simply click any of the links for the Philippines dive cruises I’ve listed above, and make sure to check the pricing, availability and features.

Luckily, you’ll be able to check everything you need to know before you go ahead and pay. Well worth knowing just in case! Do make sure to take a look through my complete list of Philippines cruises, however, as you might find that one or two offer you a better deal for what you’re looking for.

Heading to the Philippines to dive? Book the perfect liveaboard experience now!

Other Liveaboard Holidays That May Also Interest You

If you love Caribbean diving then you may want to check out our compilation of the best Caribbean liveaboards.

Maldives Liveaboards are some of the best dive locations in the world. Enjoy some of their luxurious cruises and amazing holiday spots using our help.

How about checking out Palawan and Cebu then click here for our favourite spots.

Raja Ampat is one of the most sought-after dive locations, find our favourite liveaboards on our Raja Ampat Liveaboards article.

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