With its seagrass beds visited by sea turtles and rays, and its vibrant coral reef, the small North Pandan Island is a favorite snorkeling location around Mindoro. Even if you are not staying at the Pandan Island Resort, you can enjoy the island’s underwater life for the day, with boat trips from Sablayan. Pandan Island is also an excellent gateway to visit Apo Reef, one of the most beautiful snorkeling and diving spots in the Philippines.

Pandan Island beach
View of Pandan Island’s reef from the beach. The reef drop off begins where the water is darker.

How to get to Pandan Island snorkeling spot?

North Pandan Island (often simply referred to as “Pandan Island”) lies off the west coast of Mindoro Island, opposite the village of Sablayan.

It is a small 3000sqm island, surrounded by a coral reef. It is a 30-minute boat ride from Sablayan. The return trip, for the whole boat, is around 500 to 600 pesos (about 10 USD). You can either spend the day on the island or stay at the Pandan Island Resort, set right in front of the snorkeling area.

An environmental fee of 275 pesos pp. (around 5USD) must be paid by all visitors. During the boat ride, as you approach the island, turtles can be seen sticking their heads out of the water to breathe.

The resort also organizes trips to Apo Reef, one of the most beautiful snorkeling spots in the Philippines.

Pandan Island snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling Pandan Island

We recommend that you enter the water from the beach, in front of the area you want to snorkel.

Pandan Island snorkeling exploration tips

Pandan Island’s recommended snorkeling area is divided into two parts:

1 / In front of the diving center, at the eastern tip of the island, you’ll find extensive seagrass beds, visited almost daily by green sea turtles (↕3-9ft/1-3m). Turtles are quite common and easy to see here. Snorkeling the seagrass meadows, you may also spot lionfish, as well as bluespotted stingrays, especially in the evening.

Green sea turtle in Pandan Island
Green sea turtles are pretty easy to spot on the reef flat’s seagrass beds.

2 / Along the south and northern coasts of the island, you’ll find vibrant coral reefs. The most beautiful corals are found in front of the southern beach, in an area about 200m long (see map above). The coral is pretty healthy, and the reef is inhabited by a great diversity of fish: Maori wrasse, triggerfish, butterflyfish, regal angelfish, barracuda, several species of parrotfish, blackspotted puffers and trevally. Several species of sweetlips, a colorful fish family, live on the reef and under the overhangs, including the oriental sweetlips, the yellowbanded sweetlips, the yellow-striped sweetlips, and the harlequin sweetlips.

Yellowbanded sweetlips at Pandan Island
Several species of sweetlips are found on the reef, including the beautiful yellowbanded sweetlips.

There is a light current along the reef, which tends to drift you back to the eastern tip of the island.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

This spot is the Pandan Island Resort’s house reef. It is the main accommodation on the island. Day visitors can enjoy the resort’s restaurant.

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaNorth Pandan Island Marine Park
  • Maximum depth6ft/2m on the flat, +24ft/7m on the drop off
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium to high
  • Access costsBoat trip (from pesos 500-600 per boat, return trip) + environmental fee (pesos 275pp.), or cost of a stay on the island
  • Restaurants nearbyYes

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.