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Dive Sites on Tablas Island

The diving on Tablas Island is spectacular and really something that must be seen to be believed. The dry land area of Tablas is essentially the tip of a vast mountain that slopes away steeply underwater such that in most places along the coast a mere 50 m off shore and you will be in +100 m of water. This creates stunning underwater views with walls that drop away to +40 m followed by steeply sloped sand that continues to drop away into the blue.  

The following is a description of the dive sites we have discovered so far but the exploration of the diving on Tablas Island is a continuing effort and we welcome any divers that would like to join the exploration.

 

Binucot Bay Home Reef

Depth: 0 - 20 m

Reached by: shore, Binucot Bay

Minimum certification: nil

The bay gently slopes downwards and offers incredible diving from 5 m to 20 m+ just by walking off the beach. Almost the entire bay is covered with reef giving a large protected area for diving. There is one large sand patch towards the northern end of the bay, around 6 m deep, which offers a lovely mini-wall on the south-east side up to about 2 m. Hard corals dominate the area but there also soft corals and plenty of reef fish.

In the south end of the bay there are many rock formations and if you go far enough you can see the start of a wall that continues along the coastline to the south of the bay. Turtles are a common site in this end of the bay and you will usually find them resting on the bottom near the rock formations. Visibility is generally very good and during the dry season the bay is swimming pool calm with minimal current and no waves.

 

Padawan’s Pinnacle

Depth: 10 - 45 m

Reached by: rib boat from Binucot Bay

Minimum certification: Open Water Diver, AIDA 1*

Padawan's Pinnacle, Tablas IslandPadawan's Pinnacle, Tablas Island

Discovered in May 2015 by Chloe, this pinnacle is located just in front of Binucot Bay, and rises up from 18 m on the East side to approximately 10 m at the top. Following the pinnacle around on the South side you will see the sand drop away steeply as you reach the western face of the pinnacle and this is where your jaw will drop. The western face is almost vertical and falls away to depth a depth of about 45 m.

The pinnacle is covered in both hard and soft corals and it attracts huge amounts of reef and larger fish. Turtles are also commonly seen here. Huge Gorgonian corals are found of the western side at around 30 m.

Padawan’s Pinnacle can be reached from the shore if you are carrying more than one tank, but it is much easier, and offers a longer dive time on the pinnacle itself, to take the two minute ride on the boat. Visibility here is good and there can be some current on the western side so it is best to dive here on the slack tide.

 

Willi’s Wall

Depth: 5 - 40 m

Reached by: rib boat from Binucot Bay

Minimum certification: Open Water Diver, AIDA 1*

Located at the North end of Binucot Bay the wall is on the west side of the small Bennocot Island. Reached by a 3 minute boat ride you drop onto the 6 – 12 m shelf alongside the cliffs of the island. Head west and you will see the edge of the wall which drops almost vertically down to 40 m. 

From this point you can follow the wall to the south as it curves around the island and into Binucot Bay. The bottom gently slopes upwards as the wall merges with the reef in the bay. The other option is to head north as the wall continues on for quite a way. 

The wall is covered in a fantastic array of hard and soft corals along its entire length and depth. Turtles are commonly seen here and keep your eye on the blue where schools of larger fish can be seen. Visibility here is usually +20 m with only a slight current.

 

Obi’s Jig 

Depth: 5 - 45 m

Reached by: rib boat from Binucot Bay

Minimum certification: Open Water Diver, AIDA 1*

Cavern at Obi's Jig, Tablas IslandCavern at Obi's Jig, Tablas Island

Located about 5 minutes by rib boat along the cliffs south of Binucot Bay this is another amazing wall dive. Starting at about 7 m close by the cliffs the wall drops to over 40 m and extends for the whole length of cliff. Corals and reef fish abound as well as a multitude of nudibranchs and schools of larger fish can be seen coming up from the blue. Visibility here is great with only mild current.

At about 30 m in a large cut in the rocks you will find the opening of a cave, partly shrouded by a sea fan. The opening is about 1.5 m high and inside the water is still and crystal clear. Once inside the cavern opens up overhead and as you go further in the ceiling gradually slopes down until the cave ends after about 25 m.

 

Gorgonian Forest

Depth: 30 - 45 m

Reached by: half day, 2 dive boat trip from Binucot Bay

Minimum certification: Deep Specialty

This dive site is located about an hours boat ride to the south, outside the bay of Santa Fe. At a depth of 30 – 45 m with some current you will need more than a single tank to truly enjoy this site. Descent following the mooring line here is a must as the current can easily push you off the dive site.

Once you have reached the bottom of the mooring line at around 30 m you will start to see the Gorgonian sea fans. Heading west the depth will increase to 35 – 45 m and this is where you will find the truly big corals, at +3 m diameter they are incredible to see and offer great photo opportunities.

 

Blue Hole of  Tablas Island

Depth: 6 - 35 m

Reached by: Blue Hole Dive Trip

Minimum certification: Advanced Open Water Diver / Advanced Adventurer, AIDA 1*

Looking up from the bottom of Tablas Islands' Blue HoleLooking up from the bottom of Tablas Islands' Blue Hole

Located at the northern coastline of Tablas Island is what the locals call the Blue Hole. In a shelf of reef at around 6 m a hole opens up that extends vertically down, like a chimney.  At the bottom of the chimney you will see a mound of rubble, evidence that the chimney was once a cavern whose roof collapsed due to the irresistible force of the ocean. The top of the mound is at about 22 m and is home to some beautiful fan corals.

From the bottom of the Blue Hole, heading towards land, there is a cavern which extends into the rock for about 10 - 15 m and the deepest point here is around 30 m. This cavern hosts abundant fish life and there is an abandoned lobster trap hiding in the cavern as well.

Heading out towards the sea you will see the archway that leads to the open water. The archway is approximately 15 m wide and about 10 m high and opens onto the wall adjacent to the Blue Hole. The shallowest part of the archway is at 26 m and the floor of the archway is around 35 m deep. 

Due to the strong up and down currents that can occur in the Blue Hole it can only be dived on the slack tide when there is no water movement. However these strong currents that do occur mean that the Blue Hole has abundant coral and  fish life throughout.

As you descend into the Blue Hole don't forget to take the time to look up and enjoy the spectacular view. Click here for more images of the Blue Hole of Tablas Island

 

The Bird

 Depth: 4 - +40 m

Reached by: Blue Hole Dive Trip

Minimum certification: Open Water Diver, AIDA 1*

Starfish on The Bird, Tablas IslandStarfish on The Bird, Tablas IslandDiscovered in early December 2015 by a group of freedivers The Bird is a U-shaped pinnacle about 30 m from shore on the northern end of Tablas Island, only 15 minutes boat ride north of Paksi Cove Resort.

The top of the pinnacle is quite shallow but is home to extensive corals and reef fish. The bottom of the pinnacle ranges from 8 m to over 40 m. We still don't know exactly how deep some areas at the base of the pinnacle are and we are still awaiting the opportunity to do some technical dives there in order to continue the exploration.

The marine life that is attracted to The Bird is just amazing to witness. From deeper sections along the wall you can see huge schools of curious fish who are not quite sure of what to make of scuba divers, something they have probably never experienced before. 

Looking up at the bird from depth you will be stunned by the sheer magnitude of the pinnacle, it looks like a massive monument rising above you and is one of the most breath-taking sites on Tablas Island.

 

The Fledgling

Depth: 5 - 22 m

Reached by: Blue Hole Dive Trip

Minimum certification: Open Water Diver, AIDA 1*Schooling fish on The FledglingSchooling fish on The Fledgling

Discovered in late December 2015 by Chloe, this dive site was mistaken as the site of The Bird, due to similar rock formations on shore and is located south of The Bird

The Fledgling is a beautiful shallow wall, the bottom of which is around 22 m deep. There are many cracks and crevices in the wall that penetrate into the rock but are open above and make for exciting exploration. 

Once again the coral and marine life along the wall is abundant and turtles have also been spotted here.

 

Crumbling Wall

Depth: 4 - +40 m

Reached by: Blue Hole Dive Trip

Minimum certification: Open Water Diver, AIDA 1*

First dived in November 2015 by Chloe and 2 Filipino divers, this dive site is located about 10 minutes to the north of The Bird is another magnificent wall dive. Starting at a tiny and uninhabited cove you follow the wall to the south.  

The amazing part of this dive site starts at around 30 m deep where the wall ends and the sandy bottom continues to slope away on a very steep angle. Here  you can see massive chunks of stone that have tumbled down from the cliff faces above the water line and is what gives this site it's name.

In several places these huge chunks of cliff have fallen against each other to make some nice swim-throughs  and you will often find fish hiding in these holes.

 

Sheer Wall

Depth:  4 - 45 m

Reached by: Blue Hole Dive Trip

Minimum certification:  Open Water Diver, AIDA 1*Even on a rainy day the view and the diving is still amazing at the Sheer WallEven on a rainy day the view and the diving is still amazing at the Sheer Wall

Discovered during the same dive trip as the Crumbling Wall in November 2015, this wall stretches along the coastline for several hundred meters. To date we have only explored a few small sections of this wall so there is still plenty more to discover.

The dive boat will moor just meters from the cliffs along this stretch of coastline at one of the many permanent lines that are used by the local fishing boats. Even from above the water you can see the distinct line where the wall drops away into the deep blue. 

The depth of the bottom of the varies in depth from 20 m to 40 m in the parts that we have explored so far. From the bottom of the wall the sandy bottom continues to fall away steeply with smaller sections of rock formations and corals in places.

 

Fields of Feather Stars 

Depth: 3 - 18 m

Reached by: Blue Hole Dive Trip

Minimum certification: Open Water Diver, AIDA 1*

Located off the south-western coast of the small Guindauahan Island, itself less than 100 m offshore of Tablas Island, this is one of the most dazzling dive sites we have yet discovered on Tablas. The sheer numbers and concentration of colourful reef fish and vibrant corals will leave you wondering just exactly what to look at, there is just so much to choose from.

This is another site that we have only had the opportunity to explore small parts of and we can't wait for our next chance to dive here. There can be quite strong currents at this site during the run of the tide so drift diving during these times is preferred or, if possible, we try and dive here on the slack tide when there is less current.

 

Paksi Drop-off

Depth: 4 - +35 m

Reached by: Blue Hole Dive Trip

Minimum certification: Open Water Diver, AIDA 1*

Discovered in January 2016 this dive site is located in front of Paksi Cove Resort. This is a string of walls that, for the most part, range from 4 - 20 m deep. On the sandy bottom at the base of the wall are many large rock formations dotted along the wall.

The really impressive part of this wall starts from one of these rock formations, the top of which sits at 25m. Between 25 and 30 m there are many cracks and openings in the rock, some of which look very promising and I believe there is the potential to find some coral caves or caverns.

More interesting still was the drop off on the sea-ward side of this formation; to say it dropped away into the deep blue would be inaccurate... it drops away vertically into the black. I cannot say how deep it goes but from 30 m we could see down to about 45 m and then there was just black water beyond that. Plans to conduct a technical dive here and see what awaits below 40 m are in the making. Stay tuned for updates.