The Coral Triangle is a rough triangular area that starts with the Philippines in the north and runs southwest along the east coast of Borneo where it then follows the the southern chain of islands in Indonesia to the Solomon islands where it then heads north west up the coast of Papua New Guinea back to the Philippines. What’s the significance of this obscure triangular shape that is really more blob than triangle? Within this imaginary boundary lies what marine biologists refer to as the global epicenter of marine biodiversity. This area only occupies 1.6% of the world’s oceans but it holds 76% of all known coral species. Basically what this translates to is hyper-dense and diverse reefs which is home to thousands of different marine creatures that range from tiny nudibranchs, six of the seven species of sea turtle, both species of manta ray, lakes full of stingless jellyfish, shoals of fish, and everyones bucket list animal—the whale shark. What does all of this translate to? A seemingly endless supply of predictably epic snorkeling!
Even though the Coral Triangle area occupies less than two percent of the worlds oceans, it is still a massive area and literally full of islands. Indonesia alone has over seventeen thousand and the Philippines has nearly eight thousand. I suppose technically you just just pick a point at random within this magical blobby triangle in the tropics and have a pretty good chance of the snorkeling being awesome, but we wouldn’t recommend that. There are some destinations which may be better for divers as the reef and marine life start a bit deeper, while there are others areas which are really more suitable for snorkeling because the reefs and marine are quite literally at the surface. Here’s a quick break down of areas we believe to to offer some of the best snorkeling in the Coral Triangle.
Raja Ampat Indonesia
Raja Ampat is a stunning islands off the west coast of Indonesian Papua, aka West Papua. Raja is usually referred to as the Kingdom of Coral as holds some seriously impressive records for marine diversity. Because of it’s large size and sheer volume of marine life and coral one could literally snorkel the area for years on end and not run out of new things to see.
Alor is a cluster of twenty islands in south-east Indonesia and most famous for it’s undeveloped islands and truly pristine reefs. Also, because of the large movement of water through these island it also makes it a great place to encounter larger pelagic species on the surface like the giant ocean sun fish and blue whales!
One of Indonesia’s most iconic national parks made famous by the giant prehistoric Komodo dragons. Large terrestrial reptiles aside, Komodo is also very well known as a place for big action in the water with regular encounters from manta rays, turtles, sharks, giant schools of fish, and the occasional dugong if you are really lucky!
Ok, so Palau is not technically within the boundaries of the Coral Triangle but it’s so close to the imaginary line that you’ll still be blown away with the diversity of marine life and coral. While Palau hosts a healthy population of reef sharks and mantas thanks to it’s massive preservation efforts, what it’s most famous for is it’s highly unique lake full of stingless jellyfish.
Moalboal is a small coastal town in the south of Cebu island and it’s endless fringing plateaus of reef which abruptly turn in to vertical walls that plunge into the blue abyss are iconic to the Philippines. The disco colored mandarine fish are found in colonies along the shallows while one of the largest residential shoals of sardines swarms just just meters off the soft coral covered walls.