The Best Liveaboards in the Philippines

3rd April 2017   |   Sarah Morlock

The Philippines, famous for its wide variety of dive sites, is home to an amazing 1200 species of marine life. Many of these are macro species, but the Philippines can also be a destination for pelagic species. In particular, Malapascua Island is one of the best places in the world for spotting thresher sharks, Tubbataha is home to a variety of shark and dolphin species, and Donsol has become a destination for whale shark lovers.

The majority of dive sites in this island nation could be classified as coral reef dives, but underwater landscapes are varied. You might visit large pinnacles, caves and World War II wrecks on your liveaboard adventure.

The Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands over a distance of 115,000 square miles (300,000 square kilometers). Many of the best dive spots, including Tubbataha Reef, are only accessible by liveaboard. In other cases, lengthy journeys by public transportation are necessary to reach great diving. Because of this, it is most convenient to dive the Philippines from a liveaboard.

Dive safaris can depart from various ports, but Puerto Princesa on Palawan Island and Cebu City on Cebu Island are the most popular. The typical length of liveaboard journeys in the Philippines is 6 to 10 nights, but some operators offer shorter, 4-night itineraries.

The best time to dive in the Philippines is from November to April. This is largely considered the best time to dive due to the lack of typhoons during these months. However, whale sharks appear in the greatest numbers from March to May, and Tubbataha Reef is only accessible from March to June.

There’s a good mix of dive sites in the Philippines, meaning there is a liveaboard available for every level of diver. Some may require Advanced certifications while others are suitable for beginners.


Best Luxury Liveaboard: Philippine Siren

The Philippine Siren is one of the most luxurious liveaboard dive boats in the world. This gaft-rigged Phinisi yacht was built to reveal the mysteries of the Philippines to curious divers.

On this spacious ship, divers will enjoy an expansive dive deck, free Nitrox, free equipment rental and 2 high-powered tenders to safely reach the entry and exit points. The 3 dive professionals on the Siren ensure all 16 guests have a memorable, small group experience. Generally each full day on the Philippine Siren means 4 dives, including 1 night dive.

Topside, the covered, outdoor dining area, the warm sundeck and the air conditioned salon with a cocktail bar are great for socializing with your dive buddies. Kayaks are provided for guest use, a massage service will keep you relaxed, and a laundry service is available so you can pack light.

If you’re a fan of total luxury on dive vacations, you won’t be disappointed with your stay on the Philippine Siren.

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Best Mid-Range Liveaboard: Discovery Palawan

Boasting an elegant mix of price and amenities, the Discovery Palawan liveaboard will deliver a memorable dive safari holiday.

This ship was redesigned in 2013 with divers in mind. One of our favorite things about this boat is that it employs 5 dive pros so that each diver will enjoy a personalized, small group diving experience. Dives take place from easy-to-enter dhonis, which transport divers quickly to the best points of entry for each dive site. In general, 4 dives a day are offered.

On the Discovery Palawan, you’ll be able to enjoy your topside hours just as much as the diving. 20 crew members take care of the 32 possible guests. 20 well-appointed cabins include hot showers and air conditioning. And the hot tub and bar are perfect for soaking in the post-dive glow.

If you’re worried about seasickness, the Discovery Palawan is a great choice. Its steel hull design minimizes side-to-side motion, creating the best atmosphere for those who are prone to seasickness.

For a well-priced liveaboard trip in the Philippines with a few plush amenities, the Discovery Palawan should be considered.

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Best Budget Liveaboard: Seadoors

Boasting the most diving for the money, the Seadoors delivers divers to the best dive sites in the Philippines.

This liveaboard is equipped for all types of divers. Underwater photographers will enjoy the dedicated camera work station, while divers with limited mobility can rest assured that the transition from boat to dive site is seamless. Two tenders are accessible directly from the dive platform. Furthermore, rebreather and Nitrox diving are supported onboard, and underwater scooters can be rented. Three to four dives are usually conducted on each full day.

The Seadoors is also slightly more affordable than most boats sailing in the Philippines. Yet 12 crew members are on hand to ensure a memorable experience. 16 guests can be accommodated in 8 cabins, most of which are double rooms with air conditioning, ensuite bathrooms and windows for natural lighting and fresh sea air.

If you want to visit the Philippines and enjoy the liveaboard experience on a budget, the Seadoors is a great choice.

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The three liveaboards you’ve read about were hand-picked by our scuba diving experts, but there are a few more boats available. To see the full list of liveaboards in the Philippines, click the button below.

View all liveaboards in the Philippines

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