Stretching over 7,000 islands, the Philippines are the second largest archipelago in the world. Surrounded by crystalline waters and an abundance of water sports activities, the Philippines are a popular charter location with exhilarating opportunities for diving, snorkelling and shark swimming. From quaint fishing villages to chic urban areas, the islands of the Philippines host an astounding mirage of sights with each destination offering an unforgettable charter experience.
No visit to this stunning archipelago would be complete without a visit to the capital of Manila. The bustling capital welcomes an influx of people and boasts a collection of towns with no true city centre. There are a small handful of towns who have tried to fill the void of Manila’s cultural epicentre such as Quiapo, Ermita and Binondo.
Essentially market towns, Quiapo and Binondo are brimmed with a vibrant energy and an array of market stalls which are ideal for shopping and sampling local cuisine. Ermita and Malate are both packed full of bars and clubs which will appeal to the night owls and party goers of any charter party. The commercial centre of the country is Makati, boasting boutiques and first class restaurants; Makati exudes a modernity which makes for an idyllic location for shopping lovers. Known as the ‘summer capital’ of the Philippines, Baguio is a haven for sun worshippers with a plethora of manicured parks, and outstanding views making for an astounding summer location.
As a result of 350 years under Spanish rule, the influence of Spanish culture is palpable from the exuberant town fiestas to the unique Spanish-Filipino colonial architecture. Discover the breathtaking volcanic landscape of the Luzon Island and admire the spectacular rice terraces of Banaue, often regarded as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’. There is so much to do here that each and every visitor will undoubtedly feel captivated.
The relentlessly upbeat energy of the Filipino people makes for a warm and welcoming visit with their friendly charm guaranteed to ensnare every visitor. Whether you’re looking for a chic vacation laced with luxuries or a tranquil break full of peace and quiet, the Philippines has something to suit every visitor.
Sailing weather in the Philippines is dominated by two seasons: the amihan (northeast monsoon); and, the habagat (southwest monsoon). In general, the best sailing weather for cruising in the Philippines occurs between late October through to the end of May – the northeast monsoon brings light to moderate sailing breezes with generally clear skies and little rain. By contrast, the southwest monsoon (June through early October) typically delivers moderate to strong sailing breezes and frequent thunderstorms or periods of afternoon rain.
Tropical storms and typhoons may develop over the West Pacific at any time of year but are most frequent between July and November. In general, the more powerful storms occur during the period of September to November. On average, the Philippines is directly affected by about 60% of the West Pacific tropical storms. However, in recent years most of the storms turn North early, missing the East coast of the Philippines completely, and do nothing more than generate a lot of rain.
Climate change in general, plus natural cycles such as the El Niño and La Niña, affect the frequency, track and power of tropical storms. The most noticeable change in the past ten years has been the increased volume of rain associated with the storms when they pass over land. Typhoon warnings can be found in number of Internet resources but most rely on the U.S. Navy services for the most accurate tropical storm forecasts in the West Pacific.
If you find a bay where there is a fishing community, with local banka boats laying at anchor, then it is fairly safe to assume that you can also drop anchor in the vicinity.
Also, because the navigation charts of the Philippines are frequently out of date and sometimes lack accuracy, it is always a good idea to plan to arrive at a new anchorage while the sun is high in the sky (at least before 4.00pm), so that you have best view of what lies beneath the surface.
Every town and village that has a coastline is required under Philippine law to designate certain areas as Marine Protected Areas. Each individual Marine Protected Area may have restrictions on anchoring. Every community will have a group of designated members who form the “Bantay Dagat” or, “protectors (bantay) of the sea” (dagat). Working closely with Philippine Coast Guard and local government, the bantay dagat are tasked with enforcing the local regulations covering Marine Protected Areas.
Some beach resorts provide moorings for visiting boats. They do this for three main reasons: to encourage people to come ashore and sample their food and hospitality; to moor the resort service boats; and, to protect coral reefs that may provide scuba diving locations or other community income opportunities. If you see a mooring off a beach resort then hail someone in the vicinity and ask if you may pick up the mooring.
Marine protected areas are not found on any published chart. Under Philippine law each barangay (village) and municipality must designate areas as marine protected areas. These protected areas are sanctuaries for marine life and designed to increase the livelihood potential of the adjacent areas by preventing damaging fishing practices. It is forbidden to anchor in an area designated a marine protected area, unless given specific permission to do so.
Many (but not all) marine protected areas are marked by small buoys with flags attached (usually orange or red flags but not always). Frequently, marine protected areas are patrolled by people from the local community who are members of the “bantay dagat” (literally: protectors of the sea) and some of them are known to be less than welcoming to a yacht that drops anchor in a marine protected area. Best practice is to contact the municipality in advance in the area where you plan to drop anchor or hail a fisherman and ask if it is OK.
A small number of marine protected areas have moorings that a visiting yacht may pick up, but this is rare and usually only occurs around island communities where tourism is a recognized source of community income, e.g. in the marine protected area to the North of San Pedro Beach, Romblon Island, there is a (black) mooring that anyone can pick-up. In such cases, you can expect to pay a small fee for picking up a mooring in a marine protected area and, in some cases, if you and your crew choose to swim then there may also be a small fee per person to be paid, e.g. at the Tablas “Blue Hole” the fee is Php100 (about US$2.50) per person entering the water.
If there is a fee for swimming or diving then you will usually find that a guide can be engaged for the purpose of showing you the beauty of the marine protected area and pointing out any unique marine life to be found there.
There are at least two place where the fees are somewhat higher because the areas being protected are more challenging to protect: Tubbataha Reef, in the Sulu Sea; and, Apo Reef in the Mindoro Strait.
You are not allowed to anchor at Tubbataha Reef nor at Apo Reef, you must pick up a mooring.
The current mooring fees for Tubbataha Reef are: a mooring fee of Php3,000 (about US$65) for a boat mooring at Tubbataha Reef; and, with an additional visitor fee of Php3,000 (about US$65) for each person entering the water.
The current mooring fees for Apo Reef (Mindoro Strait) are: a mooring fee of Php300-600 (about US$6.50-$13.00) for the boat mooring at Apo Reef, depending on the size of the boat; and, with an additional visitor fee of Php540-2040 (about US$12-$45), depending on whether you just visit or engage in scuba diving.
Whilst the Philippines is generally populated by some of the friendliest and welcoming people on the planet, the waters West of Mindanao – West from Dapitan on the North coast and West from Sarangani the South coast – are considered no-go sailing areas. There have been a few incidents overs the years where pleasure yachts at anchor have been boarded, valuable items stolen and or the crew kidnapped.
When you need some extra facilities beyond a tranquil anchorage, you can explore Philippine marinas and mooring areas where you can book in advance. There are not so many marinas or mooring areas in the Philippines because yacht charter and boat rental for sailing cruises is relatively new.
The most northerly location where you can book a berth at a marina is currently Subic Bay (Zambales); the most southerly is some 550 nautical miles to the South (as the Philippine Eagle flies), on the northern tip of Samal Island (Davao del Norte).
Marinas, or mooring where you can book in advance, (North to South) are located at:
More than 2500 different kinds of fish. Make sure you don’t miss Coral Garden – popular diving spot where you can see beautiful unique corals, fishes, sharks and plenty of macro and micro marine life.
Whale sharks of Donsol Bay are believed to be the largest congregation of whale sharks in the world. Whale sharks arrive between November and June, peaking from February to April.
The hospitality of Filipinos is incomparable to the rest of the world.
Make sure to visit the Banaue Rice Terraces, which are a National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines.
If you’re coming from Thailand and Malaysia you probably think beaches couldn’t get any whiter. Well, you are wrong.
Most of the time it is hot and sunny, but never too hot. There is always a nice breeze blowing on the beaches, and the average yearly temperature is 26 degrees Celsius (~79 F).
UTC/GMT +8 hours.
Philippine peso (PHP).
Philippines Yacht charter high season: November – May. Low/shoulder season: June – October. The most demanded destinations are Boracay, Puerto Galera and Palawan.
Electricity in Philippines is 220 Volts, alternating at 60 cycles per second.
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