Mactan Island, which is near Cebu City, is home to several dive sites. It is most convenient since the sites are very accessible and travel time to them is minimal. It is only a 15 min ride from the Mactan International Airport; in less than an hour after touch down, and if so desired, the diver can already enjoy the beautiful coral reefs and the diverse marine life at the sites. From Cebu City, travel time takes more or less 30 minutes via ferryboat.
Most dive sites offer exciting "drop-offs" that descend from about 10 meters to about 30 - 40 meters depth in one near-vertical wall. Because of the currents, some sites are good enough for beginners but others call for expertise in the field of scuba diving. Diving can be done the whole year round with the best conditions generally falling between March-June and September-December.
Almost all the resorts in Mactan Island offer diving tours, training and diving paraphernalia for sale or lease. There are five (5) established dive sites along Mactan Island that is facing Olango Island which also boast of several dive sites very rich in marine life as well as the Wildlife Sanctuary.
There are many dive sites between Engaño Point at Mactan’s northernmost tip and Amboucuan Point but, with so many beach resorts along this stretch, the tourist boat and Jet Ski traffic is too dangerous. Safe and ideal sites are those located further south or way up north.
Marigondon Dive Site is located 100m offshore in the Hilutungan Channel from Amboucuan Point to Marigondon. Native outrigger boats are available for hire in most resorts on Mactan Island and travel time takes about 10-15min. Average depth of the dive is 100ft with maximum depth at 180ft with visibility reaching 80ft.
The waters at the site are normally choppy with strong currents yet can become very rough with fierce currents. The site is not safe for beginners and even experienced divers should be accompanied by a dive master. Between Amboucuan Point and Marigondon the strong currents make for good fish life, but in some areas there is heavy coral damage from dropped anchors.
There is an opening in the wall which drops from 5 meters down to 40 meters. The cave’s entrance is about 10 meters in diameter and the cave system is about 70 meters deep with several pockets at the side. At a penetration of approximately 25 metres the use of a torch is essential. Turning the light off at this point will reveal a number of flashlight fish, performing an unforgettable luminescent light show.
Agus Reef lies north of the Marigondon Cave. Drift dive along a beautiful wall covered with hard corals and one will encounter lionfish, moray ells, sea cucumber, soldier fish, pipe fish and sea snakes. The site is ideal for beginners though advance divers would likewise enjoy the variety of marine species found in the area.
Kontiki Reef lies north of Agus Reef and along Mactan Island and is one of the best dive sites around Mactan. All dives along the coastline are wall and drift dives. The reef gradually slopes to about 10 meters and drops down to 50 meters. The pretty drop-off at about 6 meters displays colourful corals, sponges and sea stars and from there, a wall will drop down more than 40 meter where more variety of fishes can be found. The site is an easy dive and recommended for novices. All the dive spots are just 10-20 minutes from Mactan Island.
Tambuli lies north of Kontiki and along Mactan Island, just off from the Tambuli Beach Resort. It takes 5-15 min by native outrigger boat from Mactan Island to the dive site. Average depth of the dive is 65ft up to a maximum depth of 115ft. The waters are usually calm with some current, though it can get rough with strong currents. The site is ideal for novices and is very rewarding with different varieties of small fishes darting in and out from the coral gardens. Seen also are the sea cucumbers, sea stars, sea urchins and nudibranches.
Visibility is up to 65ft. Descend to an easy dive, sloping to a shelf at 21m - where the reef fish are used to being hand-fed - then the slope continues off into the depths. All the smaller reef fish will approach you looking for handouts. This is a good site for macro photography.
Shangri-la House Reef is at the northern tip of Mactan Island, along the Gilutongan Channel facing Olango Island. Magnificent coral formations surrounded by a sandy bottom, the richest in the area, are found to a depth of approximately 18 meters. Among the corals are varieties of invertebrates. Darting in and out of the corals are frog fishes and other reef dwellers that are so colorful and is great for underwater photography.
There are marvellous dive sites around Mactan Island other than those facing Olango Island. These sites are further off, either at the northern end or at the southern end of Mactan. These sites though are still very accessible from the Mactan International Airport. Travel time to each site varies depending on the distance from the airport.
All dive sites offer diverse diving conditions yet divers are treated to wondrous sightings of large pelagic species, coral gardens and caves with overhangs. Drop offs descend from about 10 meters depth to about 30-40 meters.
Due to unexpected surges and strong currents, novices or inexperienced divers should be accompanied by dive masters. It is a basic condition that, in bad weather, divers should refrain from diving in these areas. Generally, the best conditions fall largely between the months of March to June and from September to December.
These dive sites include Capitancillo Island, Talong Island and East Side of Lassuan Islet.
Top of Mactan Island Dive Sites