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Last updated on January 10, 2021
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.
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.
We recommend that you enter the water from the beach, in front of the area you want to snorkel.
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.
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.
There is a light current along the reef, which tends to drift you back to the eastern tip of the island.
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.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Extensive coral reef with sharks, turtles and reef fish
Sheltered bay with seagrass beds and dugongs
Reef drop off with sea turtles, reef fish and barracudas
House reef with colorful coral and tropical fish
Coral reef with a nice diversity of corals
Vibrant coral reef and seagrass meadows with sea turtles