A mere three-hour scenic drive from Metro Manila, Anilao is an extremely popular destination for beach lovers and divers looking for a weekend getaway. Its popularity lies mainly in its accessibility and the astounding abundance of marine life that thrive in the area.
Anilao is a barangay (hamlet) in the municipality of Mabini on the southern end of the Calumpang Peninsula in the province of Batangas. Resorts and dive shops have mushroomed in the area over the years, providing jobs for locals and convenience for tourists.
A little over a kilometer from the end of the tollway is the San Fernando Airbase. From there, travel about 2.5 kilometers to the Cuenca junction and then to Alitagtag until you reach the entrance to Santa Teresita. Turn left and follow the road until you reach the National Highway, once there, take a right to Bauan. Before reaching the bridge to Bauan, you will see a junction to your right that leads to Mabini. Take this road until you reach a Y junction, turn right and drive until you see the sign pointing to Bagalangit. This is where most resorts in Anilao are located.
Travel time is approximately under three hours but it still depends on traffic. It is best to leave very early in the morning to avoid congestion especially at SLEX. If you’d rather commute, there are buses that leave daily from Taft Avenue to Batangas City. Ask to be dropped off at the jeepney terminal for Bauan-Mabini. Ride the jeepney bound for Mabini until it reaches the docking area. There are jeepneys there that can take you to the resorts.
Diving is available year-round but the best time to dive in Anilao is between November and June. Storms intensify starting in July and continue until mid-October; this means low visibility and too many waves.
Arriving on a weekend can also be disadvantageous because this is when most local divers go to Anilao. If you want less divers during your tour, travel to Anilao during the weekdays.
There are about twenty-five excellent dive sites in Anilao that you can explore. Some cater to master divers and some are suited for the diving newbie. There are certified PADI instructors in most resorts and dive shops for those who need them. Here’s a list of the popular sites along with information on what you can find underwater.
Cathedral Rock - This is the most popular site in Anilao mainly because it is one of those nearest to Bagalangit’s shore. The site features two large boulders that form a sort of roofless amphitheater. It is called the Cathedral because there is a cross in the middle, planted by Philippine’s former president Fidel V. Ramos. A wide variety of fishes thrive here: trumpet fish, Moorish idols and lionfish, among others.
Mainit Hot Point – This one is located at the southernmost tip of the Calumpang peninsula. Intended for master divers, the waters offer rippling tides, mantis shrimps, ribbon eels, hard corals, nudibranches and even the occasional sharks. The site is close to the Mainit Hot Springs, another attraction in Batangas.
Sombrero Island – It is named such because of the shape it takes during lowtide. The island has nice white sand beaches where you can also enjoy swimming and sailing. This site is suitable for those interested in corals and drift diving.
Mapating Cave – ‘Pating’ is the local word for sharks and this site is challenging because if these marine predators. The site is for expert divers due to the strong undercurrents. You can also find pelagics as well as other marine species in this area.
Ligpo Island – Located off the coast of Ligpo Point, this site is quite interesting because divers can actually circumnavigate it in one go. Different corals, reef fish and gorgonians are abundant and some pelagic species emerge from deeper areas nearby.
Maricaban Island – Facing the Calumpang Peninsula is Maricaban Island which also boasts of excellent diving and snorkeling spots. It is located three kilometers from Sombrero Island.
There are plenty of resorts in Anilao and the neighboring towns that cater to all sorts of travelers. Again, understand that a lot of people come to Anilao during the weekend. So it is best to book ahead to avoid the hassle to hopping from one hotel to another in search for a room that suits your style and budget.
Here’s a list of some of the good hotels/resorts in Anilao:
Eagle Point Resort – This is a newly renovated property located along the hotel strip in Mabini. The resort is family-friendly, with comfortable guestrooms, children’s pool, poolside bar and access to a private beach.
Bambu Villa Resort Batangas – A property facing the sea, the resort offers well-appointed guestrooms with private verandas looking out to the beachfront. There is a huge swimming pool where kids can enjoy if they don’t like swimming in the beach. Day tours are also available.
Anilao Outrigger Resort Batangas – With 28 fully-equipped guestrooms, this resort is one of the most popular for visitors in Anilao. The resort offers WiFi Internet access, a swimming pool, a restaurant and coffee shop, motorized and non-motorized water sports and an outdoor pool.
Aqua Venture Reef Club – This is one of the first resorts in Anilao, located about 15 minutes from the beach. The resort has a mini dive shop, swimming pool, restaurant, and a deck facing the sea.
Vivere Azure – This luxury hotel offers guests modern amenities and premium quality accommodations. There is also a restaurant, bar, shops and an outdoor pool. The resort is a great base for tourists looking to explore the attractions of Batangas as well as the underwater world of Anilao.
Through the years, Anilao has lured avid divers into its waters teeming with colorful corals and marine creatures. Thanks to the locals who have taken it to themselves to care for the seas, we are assured that one of the best dive spots in the world is preserved for the future generations.