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By Scuba Diving Partner | Created On May 30, 2015
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The Philippines also offers some of the most famous sites in the world for whale shark encounters. Everyone already knows about Donsol, to the north, but for a different kind of whale shark encounter head to Palawan’s Puerto Princesa. Guides look for skipjack tuna swimming past like an “explosion of spears” to spot the feeding whale sharks near Honda Bay, says photographer Duncan Murrell. Dive boats scout for whale sharks between dives or on custom trips to see the animals, and hustle you into the water with a snorkel and mask to take in the spectacle. You can go through a dive shop for the chance of an encounter, and local guides — often fishermen — also take visitors out in traditional outrigger bangka boats to spot the whale sharks (they stay in touch with fishermen by cell phone to learn where they’re being seen).

There are a number of excellent shore-diving destinations as well. The house reef at Alona Beach, a half-mile stretch of white sand on Bohol, is popular with beginner divers. Puerto Galera’s Sabang wrecks are renowned for muck diving and night dives. And Cebu’s Moalboal has a handful of mini walls that offer some of the best diving in the country. While many of these sites are within 50 yards of the beach, you’ll find few are ever done as a shore dive — in a fun twist, many operators prefer sending you out on a little outrigger and letting you swim back.

Weather: Generally, the best time to dive the Philippines is December through June. Temps typically range from the mid-60Fs to the 90Fs. Though it's almost always hot, it's a little less humid from March through June. Temps drop slightly during the southwest monsoon from July to October, though humidity is slightly higher.

Average Water Temp: Ranges from high 70Fs to mid-80Fs.

Average Visibility: Ranges from 75 to 100 feet in Batangas, 75 to 125 feet in Bohol, 50 to 100 feet in Boracay, 75 to 125 feet in Cebu, 50 to 100 feet in Mindoro and 50 to 100 feet in Palawan.

Topside Diversions: Explore the beaches, jungles and volcanoes. One of the country's greatest resources is its people-get out and meet them. Shopping is a popular pastime, so visit the markets to find inexpensive locally crafted goods.

Travel Savvy: You'll need a valid passport (one at least six months before expiration) and tourist visa to enter any of the countries surrounding the Red Sea. ... Dive shops and live-aboards tend to be hotel-based.