Dauin Marine Sanctuary: Budget travel sweet spot

dauin marine sanctuary

Last Updated on May 27, 2023 by Ellen

The Dauin Marine Sanctuary is a great place to snorkel — for free — on Negros Island in the Philippines.

I travel with a prescription dive mask and snorkel gear, so I didn’t even have to pay a few bucks for equipment rentals. I just walked into the water and started looking around. Heaven!

But even better than the budget travel-friendly price tag: the coral and the fish. The coral reef is right off the shoreline. Fish are everywhere, of every color and size.

Underwater at the Dauin Marine Sanctuary

It’s places like this that I really wish we had a GoPro so I could show you what it’s like to experience a ton of different colored coral and thousands of tropical fish.

Instead, I’ll point you to this video taken by a man I don’t know. I found it on YouTube, and while it’s not the best video, the owner doesn’t bore us with narration no one cares about. He gets almost right to the video.

His video gives you an idea, but it does not do the Dauin Marine Sanctuary justice. The colors are vibrant in spots – on the coral and the fish. You wonder how such colors are even possible. The water is surprisingly clear. The tropical fish are so varied that I saw so many I’ve never seen before.

The beach

There is virtually no trash. But there are a few spots where you will see coral bleaching, which is so damn sad. You’ll also see spots that have likely been touched or kicked by people, time and time again. Also so damn sad.

While the sanctuary is ‘free’, I was happy to pay for a table and chairs at one of the beachfront businesses to keep my stuff while I disappeared underwater for a few hours. Prices range from less than $1 to more than $8, depending on the size of your group.

Now to some helpful tips for your snorkel trip.

Dauin Marine Sanctuary tips

  • If you are a novice snorkeler, before you into the water, read Tedly’s “How to snorkel the easy, cheap way.” You will get the most out of this shallow-water snorkel with his one easy hack.
  • Water shoes are not needed — unless you are prone to kicking coral. (In which case, you shouldn’t be over coral anyway, but that’s another story.)
  • There are urchins — some as big as my head! But they are not on the tops of coral where you would easily pierce yourself.
  • Go on a sunny day, around midday, for the best light.
  • Wear a shirt and shorts for sun protection. I didn’t do this, and I got a bad backside sunburn.
  • Leave your bag at one of the beachfront establishments mentioned above.
  • There is shade on the beach in spots, but it’s limited.
  • The sand is dark, so it gets really hot in the sun.

A few words about dives

Shore diving is popular at the Dauin Marine Sactuary. People bring their own equipment, or rented equipment, and simply walk into the water.

Tedly did a shore dive and it was the least expensive dive he ever did! He went with locals, one of whom was his underwater buddy.

Tedly is a certified PADI diver who is comfortable getting his gear together.

He rented equipment from a nearby dive shop named Apo Scuba Diving for $14 — normally $16 but he declined a wet suit. The tank was another $2. So the total cost for him to do one shore dive with 45 minutes of air: $16!

man gets ready to dive at dauin marine sanctuary

Bali had cheap diving, but nowhere near $16. In Bali, a group tour cost $60 — reasonable for an off-shore, two-tank dive.

Getting there

A jeepney from Dumaguete was 18 pesos as of this writing, or less than 50 cents. It took about 45 minutes. Or take a scooter rental and get there in 15 or 20 minutes.

The sanctuary is off the beach a couple of blocks south from behind the Dauin town square.

I went a few times. Once, there were practically no other customers. That was on a Tuesday. On Fridays, it seems local dive shops have diving lessons for students right offshore, so the beach is a tad busier.

Dauin Marine Sanctuary – just enjoy!

There’s something so relaxing about floating over coral, watching fish, swimming around. As long as there aren’t any jellyfish or sea snakes! Neither of which I saw at the Dauin Marine Sanctuary.

I also haven’t seen too many places where you can snorkel at a great shore reef for free. This is one of them. Take advantage of it on your trip to Dumaguete and Negros Oriental.

Thanks for reading, “Dauin Marine Sanctuary offers great, free snorkeling.”

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