Southeast Asia Pilot by Bill O’Leary & Andy Dowden

Incorporating the Andaman Sea, Gulf of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia… and more

Southeast Asia Pilot by Bill O’Leary & Andy Dowden

The Philippines

This chapter covers the four main points of entry in the Philippines most commonly used by yachts out of Hong Kong and the southern part of Southeast Asia. We also include additional anchorage information on the west coast of Palawan.

The Philippine islands, formerly Spanish, then an American protectorate, have been independent since just after WWII.

The blending of early Spanish and modern American influence on an ethnic Asian population has left an interesting cultural mix. Mainly Muslim in the south and Roman Catholic in the north, the people are well known for their cheerful disposition and generally well-educated background. Nonetheless, the economy remains one of the least affluent amongst Southeast Asian nations. The Americans still maintain a naval base at Subic Bay. Subic has a marina, as does Manila Bay.

The Republic of Philippines comprises over 7,000 islands covering 115,000 square miles with a population of over 90 million. The opportunities for cruising among these islands are endless, although there are still security issues in some areas in the south around Mindanao and the Sulu Sea. Recent political developments have renamed the region Bangsamoro and it will become a more autonomous state within the Philippines. Hopefully, this will lead to economic development and a safer cruising destination before the next edition.

The usual weather pattern is southwesterly April to November and northeasterly December to March. The coolest months are December to February.

The Philippines lie astride the typhoon belt and can experience as many as ten typhoons from July to October each year.

Local weather forecasting is detailed and accurate and it is essential to know where the major typhoon-safe harbours are. There are many of them within this extensive archipelago.

Waterfront Manila
Photo by RioHondo/
Anchorages in The Philippines
Below, we list the main anchorage locations for The Philippines that are featured in the book – together with one sample anchorage. For a complete list of all 533 anchorage locations, go to Southeast Asia Pilot index
Subic Bay Yacht Club Photo by RioHondo/

main points of entry

    Palawan is the 270 mile long island west of the Sulu Sea. In the northwest there is an airport at El Nido…
Entrance to the Subterranean River at Sebang, at 8km the longest in the world credit: ©,
Port Barton credit: ©,
Miniloc Island, 5 miles WSW of El Nido Bay credit: ©,


While Puerto Princesa is the official port of entry, it is possible to organise officials to visit your boat on the west coast anchorages of Fish Bay, Quezon and El Nido. The 80 miles from Saint Paul’s bay to El Nido offers some of the best cruising with picturesque bays and typhoon-proof anchorages. With Palawan being below the usual typhoon track the area is one of the safest cruising grounds in the Philippines.

    This is the main staging area for trips to the Subterranean River… There are road links to Puerto Princesa…
    The cruising north and east of Jimboom Bay offers dozens of opportunities for anchorage and exploration… The many unpopulated islands around here often have a mine-field of fishing nets and pots dotted around them. Night sailing is not recommended…
    Malampaya sound is deep and 20 miles long and offers plenty of opportunity to shelter… Endeavour Passage with Tulutan Island on its west side has depths generally greater than 10 metres and offers a route northwards…
    See sample Philippines anchorage
    Alligator Island to Liminangcong
    A three pesos tricycle ride over the isthmus to El Nido town… The rolled gravel airstrip is four miles northeast from town with flights to Manila and Tay Tay.
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While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, the charts of anchorages are based on personal experience and satellite imagery and are intended as a guide only. They should not be used for navigation. Please refer to Official Hydrographic Charts of the respective countries.

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