Amihan and Habagat: Diving Seasons in the Philippines Explained

amihan and habagat seasons in the philippines

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Although I grew up in the Philippines and know how to speak Tagalog it wasn’t until I started traveling and diving that I learned the words Amihan and Habagat. I would often hear the dive guides or boat crew say words like “Hanging Amihan” or “Hanging Habagat” as they explained why we were experiencing bad diving conditions or why it was not a good idea to dive at a specific dive site.

Hangin means “wind” in Filipino. While, Amihan and Habagat are the Filipino words for the direction of where the wind is coming from, that being either from the northeast or southwest.

As a scuba diver, you would want to plan your trip during the best season to ensure optimal diving conditions and safety. To do this, you need to understand the movements of the wind in the region because it plays a major role in determining the weather patterns across the country.

The Philippines is located in the tropical zone and it is affected by two main monsoons, the Northeast Monsoon (Amihan) and the Southwest Monsoon (Habagat). The country’s location near the equator also means that it experiences high temperatures and humidity throughout the year.

Now that you know the two monsoons or seasonal change in the direction of the prevailing, or strongest, winds in the Philippines, let’s go deeper into the difference between Amihan and Habagat.

What is Amihan?

what is amihan

Amihan or northeast monsoon season occurs from November to May. Cool and dry winds blowing from the northeast characterize it. This season brings slight to moderate rainfall and a prevailing cold wind that affects the east of the Philippines.

The movement of high-pressure air masses from Siberia and China towards Southeast Asia causes this. As the high-pressure air moves towards the Philippines, it pushes the warmer, moist air towards the northwest, creating a cooling and drying effect on the eastern regions of the Philippines.

During the Amihan season, the cool, dry winds from the northeast bring clear skies and low humidity. This results in lower temperatures, especially in the evenings and at night. Rainfall is typically light to moderate during this season, with most of the precipitation concentrated in the mountainous regions of the country.

The cool, dry weather during the Amihan season makes it an ideal time for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and diving. The Amihan season is also considered the peak tourist season in the Philippines, as the weather is perfect for sightseeing, sunbathing, and other tourist activities.

However, it’s important to note that the Amihan season can also bring strong winds and storms, so it’s always a good idea to check the local forecast and take appropriate precautions when traveling in the Philippines during this time.

What is Habagat?

what is habagat

Habagat, or the southwest monsoon season, occurs from late June to October and is characterized by frequent heavy rainfall and humid weather. The movement of high-pressure air masses from the Australian continent towards Asia causes this.

As the air moves towards the Philippines, it pushes the warm, moist air from the southwest, creating a warming and moistening effect on the western regions of the Philippines. During this time of year, the rain is usually heavy and concentrated, and most of it falls in the western parts of the country.

During the Habagat season, destructive typhoons are more frequent compared to the Amihan season. Flash floods and landslides happen often, so it’s important to take the right safety measures, especially when you are traveling this time of the year.

When is the best time to go diving in the Philippines?

Scuba diving in the Philippines can be done the whole year round. But the best time to go diving in the Philippines is during the Amihan season from November to May. During these months the weather is cool and dry, the visibility is good and the sea is calm.

In a nutshell, here is a guide on the monsoon season as well as the air and water temperature each month.

MonthMonsoonDescriptionAir TemperatureWater Temperature
JanuaryAmihanCool Dry 23-39 ° С25-29 ° С
FebruaryAmihanCool Dry23-39 ° С25-29 ° С
MarchAmihanHot Dryover + 35 ° С26-29 ° С
AprilAmihanHot Dryover + 35 ° С27-30 ° С
MayAmihanHot Dryover + 35 ° С28-31 ° С
JuneHabagatWarm & Moist23-33 ° С28-31 ° С
JulyHabagatWarm & Moist23-33 ° С28-31 ° С
AugustHabagatWarm & Moist23-33 ° С28-30 ° С
SeptemberHabagatWarm & Moist23-33 ° С28-30 ° С
OctoberHabagatWarm & Moist23-33 ° С28-30 ° С
NovemberAmihanCool Dry23-39 ° С27-30 ° С
DecemberAmihanCool Dry23-39 ° С26-29 ° С

Things to consider when diving during amihan and habagat seasons

Keep in mind that this is just the general climate in the Philippines, and weather can still be unpredictable. The Philippines sits on the typhoon belt in the Pacific region. Over 20 typhoons enter the Philippine’s Area of Responsibilty (PAR) each year.

Traveling during the Amihan months doesn’t mean you will have perfect weather 24/7. You can still experience heavy rain or even typhoons during these months. Flights and ferry trips can still be canceled due to poor weather.

On the other side of the spectrum, traveling or diving during the Habagat season doesn’t always mean it’s going to be raining all the time. I dived and traveled during the Habagat months of June to October, and I was greeted with clear skies and good diving conditions.

Another benefit of traveling during these Habagat months is the cheaper prices. Some resorts or dive shops offer special packages to entice divers to visit during the low travel season.

Another thing to keep in mind when planning your dive trip is that the Philippines have more than 10 major dive destinations. Some destinations, depending on their location in the Philippines, might have a different diving season. For instance, Diving in Sogod Bay might be a good idea during the Habagat months due to their geographical location.

Strong winds mean strong waves so some dive sites may be difficult to access depending on which direction the wind blows. Some dive sites will be unsuitable to visit during the Amihan season, while others will be more ideal. For example, if your dive site is on the east side of an island you might want to dive on the west side to avoid extreme waves during the Amihan season.

That being said, it is always best to ask the local dive shops what to expect when you’re planning your trip to the Philippines. If you have something on your dive bucket list that you want to do or see, let them know ahead of time so they can give advice accordingly. When it comes to accessing specific dive sites at certain times of the year, local guides are the best people to talk to.

For the current weather advisory, you can check PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) which is the branch of the Philippine government that delivers relevant weather-related information.

You can also download some mobile apps like Accuweather and Windy that you can take with you on your trips. For water temperature you can check,

Understanding the seasons of Amihan and Habagat in the Philippines is key to planning a successful dive trip. By knowing the weather patterns and dive conditions associated with each season, you can make informed decisions about when to travel, where to go, what to pack for your dive trip, and activities you can do.

The links above may be affiliate links. If you shop through them, I’ll earn a commission at no additional cost to you. For full information, please see my disclaimer here.

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