Anilao (in Mabini, Batangas) has been known for years as a choice weekend getaway spot by Manila locals; at only 2-3 hours drive south from Metro Manila in the Philippines, it provides a perfect location for city dwellers to relax on the deck of a resort and occasionally pop their heads in the water for some snorkeling or scuba diving. However, Anilao is a hidden gem that offers world-class diving and incredible macro photo opportunities. Anilao has some of the highest concentration of diverse marine life on the planet, including over 90% of the coral species on the planet and a staggering number of different species of nudibranch.
Anilao experienced a dive "boom" in the early 80s, as divers from around the world were attracted to this amazing hotspot of marine activity. However, the diving infrastructure was not developed at that time, and the area suffered from explosive growth and destructive local fishing methods and garbage dumping. Anilao's reputation suffered, and foreign divers travelling to the Philippines started focusing on more remote locations in the Philippines, such as Tubbataha or Palawan. Anilao still has one of the highest concentrations of marine life in the Philippines, and is slowly recovering after local efforts (garbage cleanups, creation of a marine sanctuary and local enforcement and patrolling) to preserve the natural habitat have ramped up. Truly a pride of batanggenyo.