Experience the Wonders of Manta Bowl Ticao Pass: The Ultimate Diving Guide in the Philippines

A Manta ray in the Ticao Pass in Masbate, Philippines

Manta Bowl is one of the most popular manta ray diving sites in the Philippines. It is located in Ticao Pass, a narrow territorial waterway that separates the Bicol Region and Ticao Island in the Province of Masbate.

It’s an underwater 8-hectare flat atoll that serves as an agglomeration site, mating area, and key habitat for diverse marine megafauna. As its name suggests, Manta Bowl offers the biggest chance to glance at gigantic manta rays whole year-round. Seasonal sightings of whale sharks, thresher sharks, hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks as well as devil rays are also evident.

Manta Bowl Center has been declared as a Marine Protected Area under the Burias-Ticao Pass Protected Seascape Act. Ranging from 14 to 29 meters deep, this premier Manta Bowl Diving extends into 7 equally fascinating dive sites.

Recommendations

Manta Rays are seen anywhere in Manta Bowl’s 7 dive spots all-year-round. However, you’ll need to visit the dive site from November to June if you want to spot the whale sharks. On the other hand, you can dive with the thresher sharks from July to October.

Liveaboards Manta Bowl

For the best Manta Bowl diving experience, we recommend going on a liveaboard, the Infiniti liveaboard in particular. It will take you to the best dive spots in the Manta Bowl and the rest of Donsol. The Infiniti liveaboard is a 35-meter luxury vessel with 11 super comfortable cabins. The boat is equipped with an indoor and outdoor lounge, as well as the large sundeck.

The Infiniti Liveaboard in the Philippines
The Infiniti liveaboard in the Philippines

Diving center Manta Bowl

If you’re looking for a day trip or an overnight trip, the best place to go is Ticao Island Resort and Dive Camp. Located right at Ticao Island, it’s also a highly recommendable accommodation during your Manta Bowl diving trip.

Looking for a liveaboard?

A liveaboard is the best way to explore the best diving sites! These trips will go to dive sites which are out of reach of day trips which means less crowded dive sites and healthier marine life.

Depending on your needs, the following items are important when looking for a liveaboard:

  • Duration of the trip: various options are available, starting from a few days up to 1 - 2 weeks;
  • Price
  • Diving facilities: Such as Nitrox, diving deck, camera stations, availability of tech diving;
  • Accommodation: Upper deck, lower deck, twin beds, double beds and/or suits;
  • Itinerary: Always check the itinerary on the included dive sites.
A scuba diving liveaboard near the island of Misool in Raja Ampat, IndonesiaSearch

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Ticao Island Resort & Dive Camp

PHP 1,700
N.A.
Starting from PHP 24,800
PADI
PHP 20,000
Breakfast, lunch, diner, unlimited coffee and tea are included
Accommodation

Bicol Dive Center

N.A.
PHP 7,500 (3 dives)
Starting from PHP 17,300
10
PADI
PHP 21,000
Snacks, water, coffee and tea
Accommodation, airport transfers

Big Fins Dive Center

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Starting from PHP 2,500
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Other
PHP 20,300
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Giddy's Place

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Accommodation, Dive training pool, air compressor

The best diving centers near Manta Bowl Ticao Pass

As Manta Bowl Ticao Pass in Bicol continuously becomes world-renowned to certified divers, more and more diving centers offer fun and quality diving experiences to both local and international tourists. We have listed the best diving centers below:

Diving center 1: Ticao Island Resort & Dive Camp

Ticao Island Resort’s Dive Center is an SSI Accredited Center with complete PADI pro-diver certifications. With a dive price of PHP 1,700 and dive equipment rental of PHP 300 per diver in one dive, the Dive Camp offers tourists the fun and thrilling experience to witness the mesmerizing beauty of corals and marine biodiversity at the bosom of the seashore, swim alongside the Manta Rays, the gentle giants of the sea - whale sharks, other pelagics thriving at the house reef, the Manta Bowl. They also offer free dive equipment rental for pre-booked 6 dives. Discounts are also given to dive groups.

Diving center 2: Bicol Dive Center

Bicol Dive Center offers water tours like snorkeling, island hopping, dive courses, and trips to Ticao dive sites like the Manta Bowl Center and San Miguel Island. The dive shop is located at Dancalan Donsol, Sorsogon just across the Donsol Visitor Center where the initial tourist dive experience sets for a whale shark interaction activity. Bicol Dive Center is accredited by the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD)  and the Department of Tourism (DOT). Fully equipped with a dive boat, oxygen on board, and complete medical kit, professional diving services are on point, safe, and fun. Two boat dives for a diver in one day costs PHP 3500.

Diving center 3: Big Fins Dive Center

Big Fins Dive Center envisions tourists to enjoy scuba diving in a remote island of the Philippines, discover and respect the world under the sea and get a feel of the local culture at the same time. Big Fins Dive Center is a small dive center in a highly privileged environment, nature-rich and crowd-free, ecological, and upmarket model. Their highly qualified diving professionals are always ready to guide you to explore the dive sites that the Bicol region boasts off.

Two dives per diver are worth PHP 2500 inclusive of a divemaster, boat, natural park fee, weights, water, coffee or tea, and snack.

Diving center 4: Giddy’s Place

Conveniently located at the beachfront of Donsol, Giddy’s Place offers a whole day dive tour to Manta Bowl Ticao Pass for experienced divers. The tour includes 3 dives, onboard lunch, snacks, and refreshments. This diving center and resort also offers different types of diving courses, which include Open Water and Advanced Open Water courses. There are also courses available for Rescue Divers and Dive Masters.  For Manta Bowl diving tour rates and dive courses, you can send an inquiry via email or phone call.

Liveaboards to Manta Bowl Ticao Pass

If you are looking for excellent liveaboards to cruise the waters and to reach the Manta Bowl Ticao Pass, here are one of the best liveaboards:

Liveaboard 1: Infiniti

A superb liveaboard based on reviews of divers from around the world, Infiniti offers 7 days/6 nights dive tour around the Visayas, including Manta Bowl in Ticao Pass. Starting at $252 per day, you’ll discover Manta Bowl Philippines in a 35-meter luxury vessel with 11 super comfortable cabins. When aboard this awesome liveaboard, make sure to enjoy all the amenities, including the indoor and outdoor lounge, as well as the large sundeck. Accepting only a limited number of divers per tour, Infiniti liveaboard will ensure that you get the best diving experience of your life with the help of its dedicated and passionate crew.

Liveaboard 2: Philippine Siren

S/Y Philippine Siren is a luxurious 40-meter liveaboard specially designed for divers by divers themselves.  When aboard Philippine Siren, diving enthusiasts will experience thrilling driving experience in almost all popular dive sites while enjoying a lavish accommodation that provides superior ease and comfort to their guests. With a crew of 12, a maximum of 16 guest divers is ensured with on-hand assistance for their greatest satisfaction. Featuring 8 fully equipped large cabins and lounges, this state of the art yet intimate liveaboard offers a year-round dive trip to Cebu, Donsol, Coron, Apo reef, Malapascua, Anilao, and other diving destinations. Price starts at $315 per day.

Liveaboard 3: MV Solitude One

MV Solitude One offers dive experiences in all iconic dive sites in the Philippines. Equipped with high tech facilities suitable for marine photography, roomy and comfortable cabins for 22 guests, and a well-trained boat crew, you will never go wrong boarding Solitude One liveaboard. Your pleasure in the boat is guaranteed before, in between, and after a thrilling dive not worrying about your equipment,  gears, and more than that your safety. Starting at $295/day you can have a once-in-a-lifetime Manta Bowl diving experience with MV Solitude One.

The best dive sites at Manta Bowl - Ticao Pass

Manta Bowl is a world-renowned dive site located in the Ticao Pass area, which is known for its strong currents and diverse marine life. In this section, we will explore some of the best dive sites in and around Manta Bowl, each offering a unique and exciting underwater experience. From encountering giant mantas and whale sharks to exploring colorful reefs and underwater caves, these dive sites are sure to impress even the most experienced divers.

Dive site 1: Manta Bowl

Manta Bowl is the most famous and highly sought after dive site in the Ticao Pass area, located in the Philippines. The dive site is named after the giant manta rays that are frequently spotted here, gliding gracefully through the water. Diving at Manta Bowl is a drift diving experience, where divers let the current carry them along the slope of the underwater terrain.

The diving conditions at Manta Bowl are generally good, with water temperatures ranging from 26-29°C (79-84°F) and visibility ranging from 10-30 meters (33-100 feet). The current can be strong, but this is what makes the dive site so exciting as divers can see a large number of marine creatures being swept along with it. The depth of diving at Manta Bowl can vary depending on the starting point and the direction of the current. Typically, the dive site has a depth range of 12-30 meters (40-100 feet).

The marine life at Manta Bowl is diverse and abundant. Along with the manta rays, divers can spot whale sharks, various species of sharks including hammerheads, schools of barracuda, jacks, and trevallies, as well as colorful reef fish like angelfish, butterflyfish, and surgeonfish. The coral formations are also impressive, with hard and soft corals covering the underwater terrain.

Other highlights at Manta Bowl include the adrenaline rush of drift diving, the chance to see giant mantas up close, and the opportunity to encounter other large pelagics. Due to the strong currents, the dive site is best suited for experienced divers, but is also accessible to intermediate divers with a guide. Overall, diving at Manta Bowl is an unforgettable experience for any diving enthusiast visiting the Ticao Pass area.

Dive site 2: Manta High

Manta High is an exhilarating dive site located in Manta Bowl Ticao Pass, known for its strong currents and diverse marine life. This site features a ridge that starts at around 18 meters and goes down to 30 meters. Divers can expect to encounter pelagic species like mantas, eagle rays, and even whale sharks in the blue water surrounding the ridge.

The average depth of Manta High is around 20 to 25 meters, making it an ideal site for advanced divers. The diving conditions can be challenging due to the strong currents that flow through the area, so it's important to have experience with drift diving before attempting this site. However, the strong currents also bring in nutrient-rich waters, attracting large schools of fish and creating an ecosystem bursting with marine life.

Divers can expect to see a wide variety of reef fish, including butterflyfish, angelfish, and surgeonfish, as well as larger predators such as trevally and barracuda. In addition, the site is also known for its stunning coral formations, including gorgonian sea fans, soft corals, and hard corals.

Overall, Manta High is a must-visit site for advanced divers looking for an adrenaline-filled adventure in the Philippines. With its diverse marine life, stunning coral formations, and exciting diving conditions, it's no wonder this site is a favorite among experienced divers.

Dive site 3: Manta Low

Manta Low is a popular dive site in Manta Bowl Ticao Pass, known for its exciting underwater topography and diverse marine life. As the name suggests, it is the deeper counterpart to Manta High, with an average depth ranging from 25 to 30 meters.

This dive site boasts a breathtaking landscape of canyons, ridges, and walls that are home to a wide variety of hard and soft corals, sponges, and other reef creatures. Divers can expect to encounter schools of colorful reef fish, such as butterflyfish, angelfish, and surgeonfish, as well as larger pelagics such as manta rays, whale sharks, and even thresher sharks.

The diving conditions at Manta Low are often characterized by strong currents, which makes it a thrilling drift dive. However, this site is recommended for experienced divers due to its depth and sometimes challenging conditions. Nonetheless, for those who are up for the challenge, Manta Low offers a truly unforgettable diving experience.

Dive site 4: The Catalangan Wreck

The Catalangan Wreck is a fascinating dive site located near Ticao Island in the Philippines. The wreck lies on a sandy bottom at a depth of around 30 meters, making it an excellent choice for those looking for a deeper dive. The Catalangan Wreck is a Japanese cargo ship that sank during World War II. Today, the wreck is a fascinating underwater museum that provides a glimpse into history. Divers can explore the hull of the ship, which is now covered in coral and home to a variety of marine life.

The diving conditions at Catalangan Wreck are generally good, with visibility ranging from 15 to 30 meters. The water temperature is warm, ranging from 27 to 30 degrees Celsius. However, due to the depth of the dive, this site is only recommended for experienced divers with advanced certification.

As you explore the Catalangan Wreck, you will come across a wide range of marine life, including schools of colorful fish, octopus, lionfish, and more. The wreck is also home to a number of larger marine species, including barracudas, tuna, and even the occasional shark.

Dive site 5: R.A.C. Point / Rock point

R.A.C. Point is a popular dive site located near Manta Bowl in the Ticao Pass area, Philippines. Its name came from the initials of the person who initiated scuba diving at Manta Bowl - Rico A. Calleja. As years pass by, word of mouth evolved its name from RAC Point into ROCK Point, which is its current name today. This dive site is known for its strong currents, which can be challenging, but also provide an exhilarating diving experience. The average diving depth at R.A.C. Point ranges from 18-30 meters (60-100 feet).

The diving conditions at R.A.C. Point are generally good, with water temperatures ranging from 26-29°C (79-84°F) and visibility ranging from 10-30 meters (33-100 feet). The underwater terrain features a steep wall covered in hard and soft corals, and divers can explore the many crevices and overhangs that provide shelter for various marine creatures.

The marine life at R.A.C. Point is diverse, and includes a variety of reef fish such as angelfish, butterflyfish, and damselfish, as well as larger pelagics such as barracuda, jacks, and tuna. Divers may also encounter whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, as well as occasional sightings of whale sharks and manta rays. Other highlights of R.A.C. Point include the opportunity to explore underwater caves and crevices, and the chance to see large schools of fish being swept along by the current.

Due to the strong currents and depth, R.A.C. Point is best suited for experienced divers, but is also accessible to intermediate divers with a guide. Overall, diving at R.A.C. Point is a thrilling and unforgettable experience for any diving enthusiast visiting the Ticao Pass area.

Dive site 6: Shark Apartment

Just behind R.A.C Point is an 18 to 20 meters deep dive site called Shark Apartment. Its name originated from the presence of full-grown blacktip sharks and white tip sharks laying underneath the huge boulders and coral heads scattered on the site’s sandy bottom. The average depth of the site ranges from 18 to 25 meters, with visibility typically between 15 to 30 meters.

The diving conditions at Shark Apartment are generally challenging, with strong currents that require advanced diving skills. However, experienced divers will be rewarded with an unforgettable experience. The site's rocky terrain provides an excellent habitat for various marine species such as giant trevallies, groupers, barracudas, and snappers.

Apart from the sharks and other large pelagic species, Shark Apartment is also home to an impressive array of macro life, such as nudibranchs, sea snakes, and crustaceans. Additionally, the site's stunning rock formations and coral gardens make for an exceptional underwater photography opportunity.

Dive site 7: Black Rock

Black Rock is a renowned dive site located in Manta Bowl Ticao Pass, Philippines. This site features a massive pinnacle rock that drops down to 35 meters and is surrounded by a diverse range of marine life. The diving conditions here are ideal, with visibility ranging from 10 to 30 meters and water temperatures of around 27°C to 29°C.

The dive site is suitable for experienced divers due to the strong currents that can be present in the area. The average diving depth at Black Rock ranges from 18 to 25 meters. This depth is perfect for spotting a variety of underwater creatures, including white tip reef sharks, barracudas, giant trevally, and various colorful reef fish species.

Black Rock is also known for its stunning coral gardens and massive gorgonian fans. These beautiful and diverse coral formations attract a range of smaller sea creatures, such as nudibranchs, crustaceans, and small fish species.

One of the highlights of this dive site is the possibility of encountering large pelagic species such as manta rays, eagle rays, and whale sharks. These gentle giants are often spotted in the area, providing an unforgettable diving experience. Overall, Black Rock is a must-visit for any diving enthusiast seeking a unique and exciting underwater adventure in Manta Bowl Ticao Pass.

Dive site 8: Tuna Alley

Tuna Alley is a well-known dive site in Ticao Pass, known for its diversity of marine life and its unique underwater topography. The site is aptly named due to the frequent sightings of large schools of tuna that swim along the alley. The diving conditions in Tuna Alley are generally calm with little to no current, making it suitable for both beginner and experienced divers.

The average diving depth at Tuna Alley ranges from 18 to 25 meters, making it perfect for intermediate-level divers. Divers can explore the large boulders and crevices that are home to a variety of fish species, such as barracudas, snappers, groupers, and batfish. The site is also known for its colorful soft and hard corals that line the walls of the alley.

One of the highlights of diving at Tuna Alley is the opportunity to encounter pelagic species such as manta rays, whale sharks, and even hammerhead sharks. Night diving at Tuna Alley is also a popular activity as the site comes alive with nocturnal marine creatures such as crabs, shrimps, and lobsters.

If you're planning a dive trip to Ticao Pass, Tuna Alley is a must-visit dive site that will surely leave you in awe of the rich marine life that thrives in these waters.

Dive site 9: Luyong Bay

Luyong Bay is a hidden gem among the dive sites around Manta Bowl, offering a unique experience for advanced divers. This dive site features stunning rock formations and a variety of marine life, making it a must-visit for divers seeking something different.

Diving at Luyong Bay is recommended for advanced divers due to its strong currents, but the rewards are worth it. The average depth of the site is around 25 to 30 meters, and visibility is excellent. The site features beautiful walls, caves, and crevices, which divers can explore.

One of the highlights of Luyong Bay is the presence of big schools of barracuda, jacks, and tuna that can be seen swimming in the current. Divers can also spot different species of reef fish, octopuses, and occasionally sharks. Luyong Bay is also home to various species of hard and soft corals, making it a perfect spot for macro photography.

Dive site 10: The Wall

The Wall is a spectacular dive site located in the Manta Bowl Ticao Pass, known for its vertical underwater cliff that drops down to an average depth of 30 meters. This site is ideal for experienced divers who are looking for a challenging but rewarding dive. The diving conditions at The Wall can be unpredictable, and currents can be strong, so it is important to dive with a knowledgeable guide.

As you descend down the wall, you will be amazed by the variety of marine life that surrounds you. The wall is covered in colorful corals, sponges, and sea fans, providing a stunning backdrop for encounters with schools of jacks, snappers, and barracudas. Scuba divers may also spot large pelagic species such as eagle rays and sharks passing by in the deep blue waters.

One of the highlights of The Wall is the opportunity to observe the smaller creatures that inhabit the crevices and cracks in the wall. You may encounter nudibranchs, crabs, and shrimps hiding in the coral formations. Another highlight of this dive site is the chance to witness the interaction between marine life and the current, as it creates a unique and dynamic underwater environment.

Dive site 11: Runway

Located in Ticao Pass, the Runway is a dive site known for its stunning underwater topography that mimics the shape of an airport runway. With depths ranging from 12 to 30 meters, it is recommended for intermediate to advanced divers.

The Runway is characterized by its vast sandy bottom, punctuated with a series of mini pinnacles, providing a perfect hideout for critters such as frogfishes, ghost pipefishes, and nudibranchs. Schools of barracudas, jacks, and snappers can also be seen swimming along the runway, while blacktip reef sharks and guitar sharks patrol the area.

The diving conditions at Runway are generally good, with visibility ranging from 15 to 30 meters. Water temperature hovers around 27 to 30°C, making it a comfortable dive for those in wetsuits.

Dive site 12: Tamis Rock

Tamis Rock is a fantastic dive site located in Ticao Pass, Philippines. It is an underwater rock formation that rises from the depths and reaches up to 5 meters below the surface. Divers can explore the stunning array of soft and hard corals and see a variety of colorful reef fish such as angelfish, butterflyfish, and surgeonfish.

The average depth of Tamis Rock is around 15 meters, making it suitable for intermediate to advanced divers. The diving conditions here are generally calm, but there can be occasional strong currents.

Tamis Rock is also an excellent spot for macro photography enthusiasts, with nudibranchs, shrimps, and crabs often found in the area. The highlight of this dive site is the chance to spot larger pelagic species such as manta rays, whale sharks, and even hammerhead sharks passing by.

Best time to visit the Manta Bowl Ticao Pass

Generally, a visit to the Manta Bowl Center - Ticao Pass - from November in early June is recommended. The best time to book a diving tour at Manta Bowl Ticao Pass based on local people’s advice, tourist feedback, and water/weather conditions is from March to May. In these months, the water is more clear and has calmer sea conditions that are perfect for your thrilling underwater diving experience, and manta ray and whale shark encounters.

How to Reach Manta Bowl Ticao Pass in the Philippines

There are no international airports near Manta Bowl Ticao Pass. However, there are two domestic airports closely located, which you can reach with flights coming from Manila International airport.

Option 1: Via Legaspi City Airport

Take a flight from Manila to Legaspi City Airport. If your accommodation is in Donsol, ride a cab to reach Legazpi Grand Central Terminal and catch a 2-hour ride in a van that would take you to Donsol. It will cost you around PHP 80 to 110 ($2) depending on where you want to be dropped off.

If your hotel is in Bulan, take a cab from the airport and go to Legaspi Port, where you can hop on a DLTB Bus. The ride to Bulan is approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes, costing around PHP 190 - 280.

If you’re staying at Ticao Island, you can take a thirty-minute to a one-hour boat ride from either Bulan or Donsol to reach the island. If the boat you hopped on is slow, it might even take two hours to arrive at your destination. The total travel time is approximately 3 to 5 hours.

Option 2: Via Masbate Airport

For a faster travel to Ticao Island, you take a flight from Manila to Masbate Airport instead. It’s nearer the island and less than 2 hours away from Ticao Island beach resorts. Once you’ve landed in Masbate, ride a tricycle (PHP 50) to Masbate port where you can board a boat (PHP 250), heading to Lagundi Port in Ticao Island. The tricycle ride is only 20 minutes while the boat ride will take about 40 minutes.

In Lagundi, take a 30 minute-ride in a van or jeepney (PHP 50 to PHP 100) to San Jacinto, where you’ll find motorcycle-rides for hire called habal-habal. These motorcycles will take you to your Ticao Island accommodation for PHP 250. Alternatively, you can ask your hotel or resort to pick you up in Jacinto via boat, but it will cost around PHP 1,500.

Accommodations near Manta Bowl Ticao Pass

Accommodation 1: Ticao Island Resort ($)

Aside from the luxury of a 30-minute boat ride going to Manta Bowl Ticao Pass Diving Center, Ticao Island Resort offers quality accommodations. They also cater to resort guests, access to free pony riding, and kayaking around the resort. Tourist guests can also enjoy unlimited brewed coffee, tea, and purified drinking water at the hotel restaurant. Their ultimate remote island hacienda encounter will not be completed without experiencing the relaxing room offers starting at $58.

Accommodation 2: Ticao Altamar Beach Resort ($$)

Nature at its finest is what defines Ticao Altamar Beach Resort. Located just 10 minutes away from the Manta Bowl Ticao Pass dive site, it faces upfront the beautiful waters of Ticao Island, white sand beaches, and blue lagoons. You can relax in their cabanas and two-story mansions and get the feel of their contemporary interiors and traditional straw roofing. To complete your relaxing experience, Ticao Altamar Beach Resort provides a wide array of accommodations starting at $72 per night.

Accommodation 3: Ticao Altamar Boutique Resort ($$)

Ticao Altamar Boutique Resort is intended both for guests who do business and travel for leisure. Ideally located in Masbate, guests can easily enjoy effortless access to city living activities and unmissable destinations. The hotel offers a shuttle service from the ferry to the terminal at a surcharge, a fast check-in/check-out process, free luggage storage, and excellent room services that ensure the guest’s comfort at its best.

Hotel accommodations feature 16 beautifully established air-conditioned guest rooms. Completely provided with towels, bathroom features, and toiletries. Ticao Altamar Boutique Resort also offers various recreational facilities including a private beach, massage, horse riding, and diving. Standard room rates for 2 adults starts at $72 per night.

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