Panglao Island’s Very Own Sardine Run Is Back – And We Couldn’t Be Happier!


Giant vortex of sardines is back, and the “Habagat wind” changes our regular dive sites to Doljo – we never mind because it’s gorgeous!

Greetings from windy Panglao island! It’s been a while since the last blog post due to summer holidays (we travelled back home to Finland, Al’s post coming later), but now it’s time to get back to island routines. Panglao gets pretty quiet during summer months with almost everyone who live here permanently taking their holidays this time of the year. Many of the diving instructors leave elsewhere else to work, some return later to Panglao, some not. You can definitely find plenty of tourists wondering on the streets, although Alona beach is definitely quieter than normally. Well lets put it this way: it’s quiet from tourists, but the constant construction keeps it very noisy and messy. But all those travellers that find their way to Panglao can enjoy cheaper low season rates and quieter dive spots, that’s for sure.

White frog fish in Panglao
White frog fish in Napaling. Picture: Heini Härsilä

This time of the year is also Habagat season, which mean relatively strong wind from west creating big waves on Alona beach. Beach turns into almost surfing beach and all diving boats move to safer areas around the island.

Habagat is the name for the warm and wet southwest monsoon wind that blows northwestward from the warm seas around Celebes and the equator towards Asia but veers northeastward to hit the western seaboard of the Philippines. This wind brings humid air, thick clouds, and heavy rains to the country from mid-June to mid-September. This wind strengthens whenever a typhoon enters the the “Philippine Area of Responsibility” at this season, bringing heavy rains and floods. – Quora

But even if diving in Alona is not possible at the moment, I actually like this time of the year quite a bit, because all course dives are done in North-West tip of Pangalo island, Doljo. Doljo beach is very quiet beach most of the year, but during Habagat wind all diving operators are on that side. And the reef at Doljo is stunning! Beautiful corals and colours, many frogfish, snakes, and a year ago I was lucky enough to see my first and only whale shark so far!

On northern side of Panglao there’s also Momo beach and Napaling dive site, which is famous for its sardine run. Giant vortex of sardines are in very shallow reef bringing trevallies, barracudas and other predators with them. For divers it’s an unique experience to see big fish catching the small ones, and see the seamless cooperation of the sardines trying to escape from the predators. The sunlight through a giant school of these fish is just mind-blowingly beautiful.

Sardine run in Napaling. Picture: Heini Härsilä

The sardines appeared the fist time in history (as far as we know) less than a year ago in Napaling. For few months divers and snorkelers get to enjoy this site, but then (like always), some fishermen decided they needed the sardines more than the others, and decided to catch all of them with a giant net. We were all very upset.

But luckily this wasn’t just a once-in-a-lifetime sardine run, it seems that the sardines are here to stay! So just two weeks ago someone realised that the sardines are back, and now everyone wants to see them!

Want to dive with the sardines? Contact divedreamers(at) and we can go together. 🙂

❤ Heini


ps. to my all dive-professional friends: now is good time to apply jobs in Panglao.

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