In general, the West (South China Sea) coast of the Philippines offers the best sailing experience - the East (Pacific) coast of the Philippines is less attractive for sailing because it is pounded for much of the year by easterly winds and large Pacific swells. Sailing along the West coast of Luzon and throughout the Visayas is considered safe and exciting; at the present time we cannot recommend sailing in the waters directly to the West of Mindanao.
Cruising Around The Philippines
It is possible to go cruising around the Philippines at any time of year. If you are planning to go cruising then you will probably be sailing here between the months of October and May, when there is only the minimal risk of typhoons interfering with your sailing holiday. The main cruising / sailing hubs are Subic Bay, Puerto Galera and Mactan Island, Cebu. The self-proclaimed "Cruising Yacht Club of the Philippines" is the Puerto Galera Yacht Club
, founded by cruising yachtsmen for cruising yachtsmen, although they actually host some of the best competitive sailing events in the Philippines.
Superyachts and megayachts come cruising through the Philippines every year up to and exceeding the size of the Samar Yacht; Samar Yacht, despite being apparently named after the island of Samar, has not been reported near any Samar yacht basin or marina in the past decade. Subic Bay is rapidly becoming the port of entry for super yachts visiting the Philippines, because it is a good typhoon shelter for large yachts as well as being able to provide good restocking, repair and maintenance facilities.
The islands of the Visayas and Palawan offer probably the best cruising in Asia and the Busuanga Yacht Club is a great place to start cruising around Palawan - safe moorings, great resort and some informed staff as sailing guide for the Visayas (to the East) and the rest of Palawan (to the West).
Sailing Yacht Charter in The Philippines
Sailing yacht charter in the Philippines is not new but, because of the lack of appropriate sailing yacht charter legislation for pleasure vessels, none of the major sailing yacht charter companies operate here, as a result bareboat sailing yacht charter is virtually unheard of. Yacht charter is limited to private individuals who offer their own power boats and sailing yachts for rent, not for bareboat sailing but, most frequently complete with at least one competent crew who is familiar with sailing around Philippine waters (a good idea). Having said that, sailing yacht charter in the Philippines is usually inexpensive compared to other yacht charter options in Asia.
Competitive Sailing in The Philippines
Competitive sailing in the Philippines is possible at selected locations throughout the year. At most competitive sailing events you just have to be there for the skippers' briefing on the first race day in order to enter your boat or get a crew place. Most sailing regattas are open to people with all levels of sailing experience and the entry fees for crew and sailing boat rental are low compared to international competitive sailing events.
Competitive sailing (as well as fun sailing) for sports boat and sailing dinghy can be enjoyed in Subic Bay (Optimist, Laser, Platu), Puerto Galera (Lawin/Mirror, Optimist, Hobie), Taal Lake (Optimist, Hobie), Iloilo (Laser), Puerto Princesa (Optimist and others).
Sailing regattas are held every year in Puerto Galera, Subic Bay, Taal Lake and Punta Fuego. Note: Manila Yacht Club, Manila Bay, also organises competitive sailing events for sailing boats (keelboats and sailing dinghy) but these events are frequently only open to club members or friends of club members.
All yacht clubs offering competitive sailing have a performance handicap system for visiting yachts - Subic Bay Yacht Club and Puerto Galera Yacht Club have the most accurate performance handicapping systems; for sailing regattas there is usually at least one IRC rating class and one performance handicap class.
The All Souls Regatta
is the largest Philippine sailing regatta for all sailing boats (cruising yachts and racing keelboats and multihulls) and takes place each year at the Puerto Galera Yacht Club, during the vacation weekend nearest to Halloween. The All Souls Regatta usually attracts 25 yachts or more and sometimes a fleet of Hobie 16s will come down from Taal Lake to join in the fun. This regatta is open to everyone and, even if you do not have a yacht, you can always find a place as crew.
The Commodore's Cup Regatta
is the largest international sailing regatta in the Philippines for keelboats and sports boats but is frequently less well attended than the All Souls Regatta. The Commodore's Cup Regatta (currently) takes place a week or two after Easter weekend in Subic Bay.
The Subic Boracay Race
is the longest sailing race in the Philippines and takes a 405-mile route from Subic Bay Yacht Club to Boracay Beach; the Subic Boracay Race takes place every year in February, when the fastest sailing boats from around Asia Pacific arrive in the Philippines to compete with large and small local sailing boats for the prestigious Subic Boracay Race trophy.
The most extreme sailing event in the Philippines is the annual Philippine Hobie Challenge
. The Philippine Hobie Challenge (usually held during February) takes Hobie 16s and their crews on different routes as they explore some of the most beautiful and challenging sailing destinations around the Philippine archipelago.
Native sailing boats - paraws - are raced annually in both Boracay and Iloilo. The Iloilo Paraw Regatta
, in February each year, is the longest running and largest sailing paraw racing event in the World and attracts up to one hundred paraws from around the Philippine archipelago. Racing paraws are divided into up to three sailing classes, separated by the length of the paraws and the number of crew allowed per paraw. The Iloilo Paraw Regatta is the largest one-design sailing event in the Philippines, and the largest one-design sailing event in Asia, and is especially unique because the sails are painted before the sailing each day, with spectacular artwork of students from the colleges and high schools around Iloilo. Sailing paraw racing is also a feature along Boracay Beach where the paraws are typically sponsored by one of other of the national mobile phone companies.
Dinghy sailing of a competitive nature is organized at the Puerto Galera Yacht Club for local schools and visitors. Competitive dinghy sailing is also organized at the Iloilo Sailing Club and at the Taal Lake Yacht Club.
The best sailing weather for competitive sailing will be found in the Verde Island Passage around Puerto Galera and in the waters surrounding Boracay Island, especially during the months of October through to April. Subic Bay offers some excellent sailing weather at most times of year; Subic Bay sailing weather is considered to be gentleman's sailing weather - the sailing breeze usually builds from around 10:00hrs and abates from around 16:00hrs, just enough time for a civilized race, to be followed by cocktails or celebrations at the Subic Bay Yacht Club or at the nearby Lighthouse Marina Resort Hotel
Learn To Sail In The Philippines
If you want to learn to sail in the Philippines, sailing courses are available in Puerto Galera (Mirror sailing dinghy and Optimist), Taal Lake (Hobie 16, Optimist sailing dinghy), Subic Bay (Optimist sailing dinghy, Laser, Platu sport boats), Iloilo (Laser) and Puerto Princesa (Optimist sailing dinghy). Alternatively learn to sail the Hobie 16 or the Lawin/Mirror dinghy. You can also learn to sail keelboats in Subic Bay and Puerto Galera. Fees for sailing courses are less expensive than in most other countries because the overheads in the Philippines are generally lower. Learn to sail in the Philippines for sailing at its very best.
Most recently, you can learn to sail Flying Fifteens in Subic Bay with the Saturday Afternoon Gentlemen Sailors
sailing club ("SAGS"). SAGS have five Flying Fifteens in their fleet and in 2012 they reformed the Philippine Flying Fifteens Association.
Whether in a sailing boat or sailing dinghy, sailing in the Philippines is definitely an experience to be added to your bucket list.
Most Northerly Yacht Club
The most northerly yacht club in the Philippines will be found at Santa Ana, Cagayan province. The Santa Ana Yacht Club
was founded in 2012 with the objective of being the first and last yacht club in the Philippines, for yachts entering and leaving the northwest Pacific Ocean.
More Philippine Sailing Information
You can find more Philippine sailing information in the MyCam-Asia Travel Forum Sailing