Asia Philippines Reviews Travel

Scuba Diving in the Philippines

On my recent trip to Boracay, I faced my fears and took the plunge… literally! I went SCUBA DIVING!

Scuba diving is something I always wanted to try, yet never thought I’d actually do it. But when the opportunity presented itself in the Philippines, it was hard to say no!

I thought you had to take an intense course and be certified before strapping on an oxygen tank and going deep into the ocean. Yes, you DO need to get a certification… if you don’t want to be accompanied by a certified diver and if you want to go deeper into the water. However, it is possible to get a taste of what it’s like by taking an introductory lesson to scuba diving!

We knew that we wanted to do some sort of outdoor/water activity… but we were stumped on exactly what we wanted to do. I was only allowing myself to do ONE activity within my budget. So I had to make it a good one. After talking with friends we met who went diving earlier that week, they raved about this one particular company and how much fun they had. They knew a guy that gave them a really good deal, and so they used their negotiating skills to get that same deal for four of us girls.

The next day we headed over to GO Diving Studio in Station 3, where we were welcomed by the scuba instructors who would be taking us out to sea.

Diving Studio

GO Diving Studio in Station 3

First, we had to fill out a health form and sign a few dotted lines to ensure liability was taken care of. Next, we were given the basics about scuba diving and a crash course about what to do in the event that something went wrong underwater. This is when panic started to sink in. What if something were to happen underwater, like the regulator (the tube that you breath out of) falls out?? What if I got water in my goggles and I couldn’t see anything?! And the biggest concern I had: what if my head feels so pressured that it feels like it’s going to burst like a balloon?!?!?

“Don’t worry, we will teach you all of that! The most important thing you need to remember is breathe!” said our instructor Greg, who was freaking awesome by the way!

So I kept saying to myself over and over: just breathe Sam, just breathe.

After teaching us the ‘what to do if…’ scenarios, we were given time to practice in the shallow waters.

But before then, we had to put on our scuba suits! It was a little tricky to get on; lots of wiggling and moving around. The suits were already wet and getting them up our body was not a walk in the park, and probably a hilarious sight to see! Then we made our way out to the beach to practice with the equipment. I thought the oxygen tank would be super heavy but it wasn’t so bad. Then again, when you’re in the water, things feel light as a feather.

What was great about the lesson is that there was one instructor for every two students. I felt extremely comfortable with the instructors, and they ensured me that they would be with us every step of the way.

After about 20 minutes of in-water lessons, it was time to head to the diving site, called Coral Garden. As we were on the boat, they strapped the oxygen tanks and the weighted belts onto us, and we got our goggles and flippers ready.

On the boat, ready to go!

On the boat, ready to go!

Okay Sam, let’s do this!

The only way into the water was to roll backwards off of the boat. Uh…what?! I was a little worried that I would look like a mess but the flip was a success! And actually a lot of fun! I sort of wanted to do it again, hehe! I had to refocus and to remember all of the hand signals they taught us and what to do in case my regulator came out of my mouth.

It was time to go under the sea! The instructors fiddled with our pressure gauges and we started to descend. And you know what? The pressure wasn’t as excruciating as I thought it would be! It was a gradual descend and so I would equalize the pressure in my head (by popping my ears) every now and then. Because we are not certified, the maximum depth we can go is 12 meters. Also the instructors were holding on to our back straps the entire time so there was no chance that we could swim away from the pack.

 

We explored under water and saw some beautiful sea life and coral (no wonder this place is called Coral Garden!). We got to sit on the bottom of the ocean and feed the fish that swam all around us. Greg took lots of pictures and videos, which we now have as a memento from our trip.

If you’ve been snorkeling before, like I have, scuba diving should be somewhat easy for you. If you haven’t, that’s okay! You will learn everything in the crash course. The next time you’re in the Philippines, or Australia, or the Caribbean, go scuba diving! It’s an experience you’ll never forget!

SCUBA TIPS

  • Make sure you go with a PADI certified company. If you are in Boracay, I highly suggest GO Diving Studios. They were so professional and made us feel at ease the entire time!
  • Try to barter a price for your scuba experience. The more people you go with, the better deal you can possibly get.
  • My throat felt extremely dry underwater from breathing through the oxygen tank. That’s just how my body is. I don’t know how to avoid this but perhaps drink plenty of water beforehand.
  • When things are good, you usually give a thumbs up signal right? Well, in the scuba world, thumbs up means you want to go back up to the surface. To show the instructor that everything’s fine, give the ‘okay’ signal instead! I gave the wrong hand signal a few times underwater. Oops! But I quickly fixed my mistake and gave the proper signal.

    Giving the 'okay'!

    Giving the ‘okay’!

  • Most importantly, don’t forget to BREATHE!

Have you been scuba diving before? Whereabouts? Do you have any tips to add to the list? Share some of your stories!

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66 Comments

  • Reply
    Mimi
    October 21, 2016 at 1:40 am

    I’ve always wanted to try scuba diving, but the rates here in Cebu are sort of expensive. I don’t know why 🙁 The farthest I could try similar to this is just snorkeling! Haha. Jpark has some snorkeling gears available and I was able to try it on my visit there. Lotssss of fish surround you! Although at first I cringe at their touch, the longer I stayed, the more I got used to it. Would be happy to try scuba diving for real someday and see an even more colorful school of fish under the sea! 😉

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:35 am

      I wonder if you can try and barter if you go with a few people. The diving course is expensive, I know. But the one-time experience I did wasn’t so bad!

  • Reply
    chardybaldyosa
    October 20, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Lovely video!! The fishes are so adorable! Would definitely wanna do this but i think it’s impossible for me. I never learned how to swim and to even think about scuba diving scares the light out of me! Wished you made a detail about pricing! How was the crowd? Were there alot of people scuba diving at the time?

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:34 am

      It’s 3000PHP which is standard all around…but if you bring a lot of people, I’m sure you can try and barter! It was just me and 4 friends so there was NO crowd and it was awesome!!

  • Reply
    Amae Guerrero
    October 20, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    I admire you for trying. Its also part of my bucketlist. I was wondering if I could make it becuase I had a hard time in snorkeling. Hahaba

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:30 am

      Thanks! I think the main thing is to breathe normally and not panic. And practice makes perfect. Keep snorkeling and then work your way up to scuba diving!

      • Reply
        Amae Guerrero
        October 25, 2016 at 4:29 pm

        I dont think I can breathe normally with the apparatus. Hahaha well i think i just need to practice ot

        • Reply
          Expat and the City
          October 25, 2016 at 11:45 pm

          Yes, practice makes perfect! 🙂

  • Reply
    Tamz
    October 20, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    This is so awesome. I have still not had my first scuba diving experience yet.
    And I would definitely do it in Philippines next year. Some of the best waters and marinelife there

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:29 am

      The Philippines was a great place to do it!

  • Reply
    Joanna
    October 19, 2016 at 8:09 am

    I have never been scuba diving before, just snorkeling. I always thought that for Scuba diving you need to be certified and at least here in Europe, they won’t let you dive without at least one day very expensive training. I was always afraid of that back flip also and my ears are not the best with handling pressure. But I would love to dive and see that hidden underworld out there. The video looks really fun!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 19, 2016 at 11:05 am

      I was happy that they offered a ‘taste test’ to diving. I think I’d be more nervous to do it alone — even after the extensive training. But I would definitely try this again with a certified diver!

  • Reply
    Sriparna
    October 19, 2016 at 4:50 am

    Lord knows how much I want to try scuba diving… But I need to learn swimming first :p
    I am so glad you got to try it out and tick off your to-do list… no wonder it’s so much fun to see the underwater world and be a part of it for some time 🙂 Lovely pictures!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 19, 2016 at 11:06 am

      Yes, you should learn the basics of swimming first before doing anything else. My parents put me in swimming lessons at an early age.. but swimming in a pool is much different than swimming in the ocean.

  • Reply
    Chessica Mirasol
    October 19, 2016 at 4:24 am

    I’ve been to Boracay so many times already but never really tried Scuba diving. All I ever did was Helmet diving, which was also a great experience. But it’s not something I would like to do over and over again. Maybe Scuba diving is better, I just might consider trying this next time I go to Boracay!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 19, 2016 at 11:07 am

      I absolutely loved Boracay and would totally go back again! I want to try helmet diving, too! Looks pretty cool.

  • Reply
    Thelittlelai: Beyond limits
    October 18, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    I simply can’t seem to find the courage to do scuba diving and I praise and salute you for being able to do that. I constantly wanted to dive and see the underwater garden cause as you have said we have a lot of diving sites in the Philippines. Hopefully when I obtain the chance I’ll surely do it, thank you for the scuba diving tips by the way.

    LaiAriel

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 19, 2016 at 11:09 am

      Thanks for stopping by my page! I hope one day you can test out scuba diving with a certified instructor like I do. The Philippines is so gorgeous and I would love to see the underwater world there again!

  • Reply
    Mommy Queenelizabeth
    October 18, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    Seemed like you had so much fun under the sea. I would love to try scuba diving even just for once! The experience for sure will be very unforgettable. I’ve never been to Boracay yet but was planning to visit the place on my birthday this December! 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 19, 2016 at 11:09 am

      It’s such a magical world under the ocean. I love it! I hope you get a chance to visit Boracay for your birthday. It’s so much fun!

  • Reply
    Miera Nadhirah
    October 18, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    I have never done scuba diving though it is one one of my bucket list.. I know it is not easy but i think it is super rewarding getting to see what happens under the sea…thanks for all your tips, and I know more about what to expect…..

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 19, 2016 at 11:10 am

      I’m glad I could provide you with some tips for when / if you go scuba diving!

  • Reply
    evaecasey
    July 22, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Great tips! I am thinking of learning how to scuba dive in The Philippines this fall, so this gave me a great idea of what to expect! (If I end up going with GO diving studios I will say hi!)

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      July 24, 2016 at 4:43 am

      Oh awesome! You’ll have the best time! GO Diving Studio is great!

  • Reply
    The Roaming Renegades.com
    March 20, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    That is something what we have planned for when we get to South East Asia, looks like an amazing experience!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 23, 2016 at 11:50 am

      Do it, do it, do it! Where are you planning on going? I can only speak for the Philippines. It was beautiful there!!!

  • Reply
    Rishabh & Nirali
    March 20, 2016 at 6:29 am

    The higher cost of the experience and the relatively simpler options of snorkeling and undersea walking have always stopped us from “diving” into this. But we’ve heard such a lot of good things about it we want to give it a try once. It looks like you’ve had your first experience in a wonderful place!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 23, 2016 at 11:49 am

      Yes the price was a reason why I didn’t want to do it. But with this introductory course, it’s a cheaper option and let’s me get a taste of what diving is really like! You should try it!

  • Reply
    Tiana Harris
    March 17, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    I love scuba diving. So great that you tried it out! I’m not PADI certified but I scuba as much as I can while I travel

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 23, 2016 at 11:44 am

      I’m happy I said YES to this adventure. I was just going to do snorkeling again. I’m glad I got out of my comfort zone!

  • Reply
    Wagtailtravel
    March 17, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    I’ve done two fun dives in Vietnam and in Malaysia!
    The underwater world is really incredible and I hope to get my open water and advanced certificate next time!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 23, 2016 at 11:43 am

      Good for you girl! I think I would want to go a few more times with an intro type lesson to see if I really want to get the license. And yes, the underwater life is amazing!!!

  • Reply
    Ivy
    March 17, 2016 at 12:44 am

    So awesome reading about someone else’s first time scuba diving, thanks for sharing! I thought I was going to drown on my first time, but I’m going to try to conquer my fear and get my PADI Openwater in Bali in a month! Do you think you’re going to get yours now that you’ve tried it? Love your video, by the way! You girls look like you had so much fun 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 21, 2016 at 6:36 am

      Thanks for the kind words! I am thinking about it getting a license…I think I would want to do one more baby dive though! I’m so happy that the company took lots of pictures and video for us! 🙂 GO Diving Studios is awesome!

  • Reply
    Stella @ Travelerette
    March 16, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    This is so cool! Reading your article reminded me of the first and only time I went scuba diving. It was in Puerto Rico and I went just me and the instructor. She had to hold me the whole time because I kept floating to the surface. Is that why your instructors held you or were they just extra careful? But it was a great experience and I am glad that you got to feed the fish too.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 21, 2016 at 4:49 am

      Awesome — I bet Puerto Rico is beautiful! No, actually they had to hold on to us because since we are not certified, we can’t really roam around on our own. Plus, I felt safer that the instructor was close by. The only time they dind’t hold on is when we were on the bottom of the ocean, feeding the fish! I wonder why you kept floating the surface though… I thought there are these pressure gauges that bring you down (and you can release it once you’re ready to come back up). You also wear a weighted belt.

  • Reply
    richardcollett3
    March 16, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    I can’t wait to dive in the Philippines, I was in Bali and Borneo SCUBA diving a few months ago, and need to cross a few more underwater sights off my list now,

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 21, 2016 at 4:44 am

      I highly recommend Boracay! Wish I could recommend more…but I’m a first-timer! That just makes me motivated to go to another diving site so I can recommend to fellow bloggers & readers!

  • Reply
    Dave (Silverbackpacker)
    March 16, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    What an achievement for you. Its good to get out of your comfort zone and try something new whenever possible. You should go on to take your PADI licence . Its another world under the water 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 21, 2016 at 4:43 am

      Thanks, Dave! I’m considering getting the license!

  • Reply
    SuzeMonster
    March 16, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Wow, Awesome story! That’s so exciting you overcame your fears for the adventure. I can’t wait to learn this year!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 21, 2016 at 4:42 am

      Thank you! I hope you blog about your experience, too!

  • Reply
    yashajoy
    March 16, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Scuba diving is one thing I don’t think I could get myself to do. I’ve thought about it lots of times over the years, but I am terrified of being under water. I have snorkeled – but only off the beach. I tried from a boat a few times, but as soon as I put my face in the water and can see how deep it is, I panic. So glad I can live these experiences vicariously through someone else.The pictures are beautiful and the experience in Boracay sounds perfect.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 21, 2016 at 4:41 am

      Thank you for the lovely comments! Snorkeling is a lot of fun, too! The good thing about that type of activity, you can be as shallow (or as deep) as you can handle. But with diving… you do need to go at least 12 meters down. I think I would have been super nervous without the instructor…but then again, I would not have been able to do it alone anyways (unless I was certified!).

  • Reply
    Patricia
    March 16, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    I’m a bit of a timid traveler, but even so I’m so tempted to try to scuba dive. Your pictures and the video make it look too fantastic to not at least try!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 21, 2016 at 4:40 am

      Sometimes it’s all about getting out of your comfort zone. You’d be surprised what you are capable of! It also lets you see what other interests you may have!

  • Reply
    Sierra Donahue
    March 16, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    I’ve never thought about this option – taking introductory diving lessons. The idea’s always scared me too, but perhaps it’s time I gave it a try! Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 21, 2016 at 4:39 am

      The most important thing to remember is breathe!! And don’t forget to look around and see the beautiful underwater life! I love that there are introductory lessons. I would hate to have forked over lots of money and then realize I don’t like it. Although after the intro lesson, I love diving and would go again in a heartbeat!

  • Reply
    Kaylene Chadwell
    March 16, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    Sounds like such a fun experience! I’ve never been scuba diving, but I really want to try it out soon! It seems like an incredible adventure!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 21, 2016 at 4:37 am

      You really should! The most important thing is to breathe!!! 🙂 And enjoy all the beautiful sights around you!

  • Reply
    arzotravels
    March 16, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Congrats on not letting your fear win. I am scared of fish :/ Though I love those pics I can’t have them close to me, so my fear wins and I probably won’t scuba dive 🙂 But the Philippines are on th every top of my bucket list 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 21, 2016 at 4:33 am

      Totally understadable! The fish are harmless though and usually swim out of the way (unless you have bread in your hand, then they will come up to you to eat it). The first thing I asked the divers was: are there any sharks?!?!

  • Reply
    aberkholtz
    March 16, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Oh man, I remember I went scuba diving in Thailand (before I was certified) and they just shoved me off the back of the boat into the sea! Hahah the best part was my husband was certified, and while I managed to calm myself the hell down and do it, HE had a freak out and a hard time getting down lololol! 🙂 Good for you though, it takes guts!!!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 21, 2016 at 4:30 am

      Ah! Ya the flip off the back was a bit terrifying…they asked me if I was ready though and then they assisted me (aka lightly pushed me backwards lol). It wasn’t so bad after doing it!

  • Reply
    renikaspar
    March 16, 2016 at 10:26 am

    So cool that you tried diving. I just been to the Philippines last December and loved the underwater world. Even if I worked as a scuba diving instructor in the Maldives and Raja Ampat, Indonesia, the Philippines have some epic dive spots.

    It’s such a special world under the surface ☺

    Wishing you many more great dives.

    Cheers,
    Reni

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 21, 2016 at 4:24 am

      Wow, that’s awesome! I would love to check out other sites. Indonesia I bet was amazing!

  • Reply
    Marjorie
    March 16, 2016 at 9:52 am

    I’ve always wanted to try scuba diving but I get discouraged by the steep price. How much is their rate for the introductory diving? Maybe I can save up for it or something. It looks like a fun experience and I do want to go try it in Boracay, my favorite place in the world.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 21, 2016 at 4:23 am

      Price was a big factor for me not wanting to do it etiher. But then when I found out they have introductory package, I dove for it (literally! hehe). It’s about 3,000php per person (you will have to convert that to the currency you’re most familiar with) at most studios but the more people you get to come with you, you can work out some sort of deal 🙂

  • Reply
    aliceteacake
    March 16, 2016 at 8:26 am

    So happy to see you went scuba diving. I learnt how to dive in the Philippines last year in Coron and it was the best present I ever gave myself. BUT…the beauty is you can just go for the day with an instructor too without forking out lots of money on PADI courses. Happy you had a great time!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 20, 2016 at 11:54 pm

      That’s what I loved about the experience! Now after getting this little taste, I am considering getting a license!

  • Reply
    Nancy
    March 16, 2016 at 3:21 am

    Good for you! My son was just certified and now he’s trying to talk me into it. Maybe if we had warm clear water like in the Philippines I’d give it a try!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 20, 2016 at 11:53 pm

      I’ve heard Australia is amazing for scuba diving too! You should definitely give it a try! 🙂

  • Reply
    Helena
    March 14, 2016 at 7:14 am

    Incredible adventure love reading your stories xoxo

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 20, 2016 at 11:52 pm

      Thanks, Helena! Miss you!

  • Reply
    Hung Thai [Up Up and a Bear]
    March 14, 2016 at 6:44 am

    The fishes in the Philippines must be different – they’re swimming all around you there in that video! I’ve done a lot of snorkeling and swimming with the fishes – they just run away. I’ve never been surrounded like that before.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      March 15, 2016 at 4:28 am

      It’s because we had bread in our hands so we could feed them 🙂

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