Leyte is an island in the Philippines, part of the Visayas group of islands. It is divided into two parts: Leyte Province (or Northern Leyte) and Southern Leyte. Each region has plenty to offer, with its own particularities, but it’s safe to say it’s far from being a top beach destination. So, what is Leyte known for? For the most part, it’s the excellent scuba diving that attracts tourists here, with most of the diving concentrated on the southern tip of the island.
Leyte is slowly gaining recognition as one of the best diving destinations in the Philippines, with its intact coral reefs, abundant marine life, and impressive drop-offs. Plus, visit from November to May and you may also spot the gentle giants of the sea - the whale sharks that migrate to the region during this period.
Marine life in Leyte is abundant and varies from the small creatures like pygmy seahorses to the big fish like whale sharks and Napoleon wrasses. The abundance of nudibranchs, pipefish, sea turtles, anemones, barracudas, groupers, dolphins, tuna, eagle rays, as well as the varieties of hard and soft corals make Leyte a haven for underwater photographers.
Visit Leyte during the whale shark season and you might just bump into one of these gentle giants.
Thanks to its tropical climate, Leyte can be dived year-round. However, most divers prefer to come here during the whale shark season (November-May), with January and February being the driest months.
The water temperature in Leyte ranges from 26 to 30° C (80 - 86° F), so regardless of when you visit, you won’t have to worry about it being too cold.
The intensity of the currents ranges from mild to strong depending on location.
The underwater visibility around Leyte can be anything from 10 to 40 meters (32-121 feet).
This large bay in the southern part of Leyte Island remains a relatively unknown destination in the Philippines. Those that dived here, however, can attest to the incredible diving. Known locally for the whale sharks that swim near the bay’s entrance during the season, it is also a place where you can find pristine reefs and diverse macro life. There are over 20 dive sites in Sogod Bay, so they should keep you busy for days.
A very small island at the southernmost tip of Leyte, Limasawa is one of the best places to dive in Leyte to encounter whale sharks. there are over 10 dive sites around the island, most of them being located on the east side and defined by impressive walls. The currents can get strong here, but it’s worth it. Some of the most popular dive sites here include Adrian’s Wall, Gunter’s Wall, and Bonnie’s Place.
One of the biggest draws to Panaon Island is, yet again, whale-watching, but the area also offers one of the most rewarding dives – the Napantao Reef. This popular dive site is a fish sanctuary, protected from fishing and collecting of marine organisms. Snorkeling and diving are permitted with prior permission and fees must be paid for these activities.