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Home > Magazine > Travel > Pandan Island – Where Divers Can Feel Like Robinson Crusoe


Published: 12/17/2007

Author: Fredy Brauchli


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Geographic data

Latitude: 12.8528 / N 12° 51.168'
Longitude: 120.75 / E 120° 45'



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A sandy beach in front of the cabanas on Pandan Island.

A sandy beach in front of the cabanas on Pandan Island.

Pandan Island – Where Divers Can Feel Like Robinson Crusoe

In the far West of the Philippines, South West of Mindoro, a small island untouched by mass tourism is found in one of the most attractive diving areas.

Have you always thought about getting away from it all during your diving vacation, to spend it in a way you got used to in the Maldives, before their discovery as a premier diving destination? If you are one of those divers who do not necessarily need luxury-accommodations and dance clubs when you are on vacation then maybe you should consider visiting Pandan Island.

Picture Perfect

Together with a buddy of mine, I visited the romantic island in the spring of 2002. After traveling 15 hours by air we reached the port town San José connecting via Manila. In San José a merry crew that brought us to our destination in a pretty banka boat in about 3 ½ hours greeted us. Gliding along the coast of Mindoro, we enjoyed the comfortable, dry-hot climate for the first time. Upon reaching Pandan – tired after our long journey – we immediately felt the magic of the island’s ambiance. It looked picture perfect. At first sight, the small resort was almost invisible. All we saw was a white sandy beach, luscious palms, and a shimmering turquoise-colored lagoon. The required welcome drink made us experience for the first time the attentive and amiable people of Pandan.

The Jungle Begins Right at the Resort

Indeed, our life on the island required a little bit of flexibility from our side as we were suddenly aware of what it meant to have salty water in the shower and from the tap and the inside of the bungalow is dimly lit by one small 12 V lamp. There was indeed a large container with fresh water available for the final rinse and for brushing our teeth. However, neither a 220 Volt outlet nor AC was available. The beds were equipped with mosquito nets, even though insects seemed to be a rare nuisance. A small covered patio with a view over the lagoon only a few feet away invited us to chat and relax. The twittering birds and the cries of geckos could be heard as continuous soft sounds: the jungle began right next to the resort. The charming resort is led by two French owners and is made up of only 15 cabanas. Thanks to the owners it is possible to enjoy a glass of French wine and even a Pernod before dinner. And let’s be honest, in the end everyone’s vacation stands or falls with the meals. And in this area Pandan delivers as well. The varied cuisine is a combination of French and Filipino fusion and caters to everyone’s taste buds. If you cannot believe your eyes when you pay your bill for drinks at the end of your two-week stay paying an amount between 100 and 200 Swiss Franks don’t be surprised - that’s yet another of the bright sides of your stay on Pandan Island.

Diving Base of the White Tip Divers

The small diving base of the White Tip Divers has a staff of very friendly and competent diving guides who strive to fulfill the individual requirements of all their guests as much as possible. The divers go out in small groups that are formed based upon experience. The PADI and NAUI classes are taught in English, French, German, and Czech. Rental equipment for about a dozen people is available. Since electricity is generated via solar panels the whole island runs on 12 V. The dive shop has a 220 V converter for re-charging lamps and razors.

Surrounded by Almost Untouched Reefs

Most of the reefs around the island are intact and boast beautiful coral gardens, not least thanks to a fishing ban. Big fish are rare. However, divers interested in rarities will find everything their heart desires. There are Waspfish, Shaggy Angler, Ghostpipefish, Stonefish and a huge variety of sea slugs including extremely rare species. Pandan is a true paradise for macro photographers. But also sea turtles, barracudas, moray eels and sea snakes are abundant.

The World-Famous Apo Reef

A small catamaran will bring divers to the diving sites situated all around the 39-acre island, most of them only a few minutes away. If you desire to go on a diving safari for several days to the world-famous Apo Reef, which can be reached in about 2 hours by banka boat, you will find everything a diver can wish for. This is an experience no visitor to Pandan Island should miss. The trip to Apo Reef with a small group of divers led by a fantastic crew will be the highlight of your stay at Pandan. In addition to the extremely hospitable care our excursion was crowned by the culinary delights created by our French cook. Even for breakfast there was always freshly baked bread!

Travel Info

The best time to visit Pandan Island is between December and June. During that time it is dry and warm, from March to June it is very hot. In Switzerland this trip can be booked through Tauch-Treff Zug at a good value. For more information on Pandan please visit