Anilao – Hot New Critters (Muck) Dive Destination


What is Critter / Muck Diving?

By Tom Gorman of Gorman Dive  Adventures and Travel

Photo by Mike Bartick 

If you have not been to Anilao, Philippines, well, you should! It is rapidly gaining the reputation as one of the globe’s most Bio-diverse marine life destinations.  Critter buffs in the know have been keeping one of the world’s best scuba diving locations secret long enough.

If you have already been there, I’m positive that you are already planning how and when to get back for your next dive holiday.

What is critter (muck) diving?Muck diving, critter diving, rubble diving – whatever you call it, is poorly named and gives a negative connotation for an environment where ones’ eyes widen again and again with each fascinating new critter. The term comes from the type of environment, which is usually a silty or sandy bottom, sometimes with a source of fresh water and some mild currents.

Volcanic areas are great for muck diving, as are areas with a lot of vegetation, such as sea grass, and surprisingly, places with a lot of rubbish. It’s here that the cool critters make their homes. There are no colorful corals or fish present and visibility can be quite poor.

DON’T Let The Critter / Muck Environment description scare you off.


Flamboyant Cattlefish, Photo by Mike Bartick

The PAYOFF is well worth it!  You will discover all sorts of weird, unique and wonderful creatures. The bizarre and unusual things you may find are rare and interesting. You can find interesting nudibranchs, frogfish, cuttlefish – (the most amazing being the flamboyant cuttlefish), seahorses, snake eels, sea moths, star gazers, octopus – (including the rare and wonderful blue ringed octopus and mimic octopus), scorpion fish, flying gurnards, and the list goes on and on!

The Fascinating varieties of marine life are found in a number of underwater habitats, from the pilings of old piers and the superstructure of sunken wrecks to the myriad of tiny crevices in reefs and shallow flats off beaches. When divers go on the hunt for these creatures, what they often find looks like a scene from inside Chalmun’s Cantina, the fictional bar in Star Wars that is populated by a variety of funky-looking alien species. I call this diving “Easter Egg Hunt diving” because every time you turn around, there is something new, exciting and . . . you almost just put your hand on it!

Lembeh Seahorse

Lembeh Seahorse, Photo By Mike Bartick

Muck diving in Anilao will open up a whole new world of spectacular diving for you.  Anilao is truly becoming known as one of the best macro & muck/critter dive destinations in all of Asia, and perhaps the world! The region is also one of the most underrated dive destinations in all of the Philippines. So you won’t find BIG crowds and overly loaded dive boats! The dive conditions are good for all levels of divers, from beginners to expert. It’s a photographers dream!

Location, location, location is what they say! Anilao is just a short 2 ½ hour ride from Manila and there are no extra flights that you have to take.

Photographers from around the globe come to Anilao for its unmatched marine biodiversity. Anilao is the critter capital of the world, with some of the best muck diving anywhere. All of the high impact and trendy macro critters can be found here like Rhinopias, Bearded Gobies. Blue Ring Octopus, Hairy Frogfish and more. Local Marine (protected) Parks also boast majestic coral-scapes, schooling jackfish, turtles and swarming schools of colourful Anthias and fusiliers.

Diving Anilao and the Philippines offers some of the best scuba diving in Asia, definitely of the world’s top diving destinations. Overall diving will be great year round in the Philippines, but it’s important to key in on the location. Water temps in Anilao can be amongst the coolest in the country, depending on the season. The Philippines have 2 basic seasons: dry season and wet season. Each year the islands see about 20 tropical depressions, some turn into storms and a few even become typhoons. The wet season (Mid-June through Mid- September) carries the most energy and creates havoc for many communities throughout the 7105 Islands. There is generally good diving during this time frame as Batangas is slightly protected.  However with unstable weather patterns its always best to carry insurance. Early season rains will affect the visibility the most but the outer reefs are still stunning with great visibility! It’s a good idea to bring a 3 mm. wetsuit with a handy vest to keep you warm in the cooler season


Blue Ring Octopus, Photo by Scubamama

Crystal Blue Resort & Aiyanar Beach and Resort are two highly recommended dive dedicated resorts for your critter diving holiday Worlds Best Dives website lists many other resorts as well. You can read real reader Reviews that you Can Trust, by Divers Like You for Anilao, & the Philippines, all offering scuba diving and breathe taking photo opportunities!





Tom Gorman

Tom Gorman

Tom F. Gorman III, NAUI Dive Master #1852  and SDI Dive Master #8538 is the Travel Coordinator and owner of Gorman Dive Adventures and Travel. Tom has been in the dive industry since 1984. He was the main travel contact for Laguna Sea Sports dive shop located in Laguna Beach, Ca. from 2000 to 2008. His first DEMA was in 1986. Tom has coordinated dive travel adventures since 1985 and has worked with dive training for the same amount of time. He has dived the local waters of Southern California and International waters of Mexico, Pacific, Caribbean, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and the South Pacific and worked four years trying to develop a major dive destination and hotel complex in Central America. He works with tour operators, hotels, airlines and even some governments, promoting the dive industry.  Tom has logged more than 2,700+ dives around the world. He has traveled to many destinations, visiting many of them more than once and staying at a variety of dive resorts at the same travel locations. He knows which ones are worth re-visiting and which ones you should pass on. tries to supply you with informative information so that you can make your own decisions about your diving vacation. Tom has lead groups to such places as: Sipadan, Malaysia, Coral Sea, Australia, Truk, Yap and Palau, Micronesia, Cozumel, Acapulco, Manzinillo, La Paz – Mexico, U.S. Virgin Is., Turks & Caicos Is., Nassau, Bahamas, Aruba Is., Bonaire Is., Jamaica Is., Roatan, Utila – Honduras, Bequa, Fiji, Bali, Indonesia, Hawaii, US, and many more. His groups have averaged in size from 5 divers to La Paz, up to a group of 48 to Bequa, Fiji. The average size group is about 16 divers. Contact Tom: [email protected]

April 3, 2016 |

2 thoughts on “Anilao – Hot New Critters (Muck) Dive Destination

  1. Emily Sato says:

    Interested in diving anywhere around the world.

    • Diver2500 says:


      I run several trips a year; Philippines this October/November, Belize in March, April/May Maldives and Australia next September 2015. You can contact me directly at [email protected]

      I have an opening for a gal for our trip to the Philippines and all other trips are open!

Leave a Reply

Powered By
Skip to toolbar