Scuba diving in Tubbataha
Tubbataha is a beautiful coral reef located in Sulu Sea; 98 nautical miles (181 km) southeast of Puerto Princesa City in the Palawan Province. It is a National Marine Park and is nominated to be one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. This Sanctuary is considered one of the most famous diving destinations in this area. Not only because of its beautiful coral reefs but also because it has a variety of sea lives like giant jacks, hammerhead sharks, barracudas, manta rays, palm-sized Moorish idols, parrot fishes and moray eels. It is home to the endangered species; hawksbill sea turtles.
Always dive according to your level of training.
Never enter the water without checking with the local dive center for safety, additional information, level required for each dive site and without being accompanied by a professional.
All the information provided is purely informative for our readers and shouldn't be used as is to plan your immersion.
Average Water surface temperature: From 26°C to 30°C (80 °F to 86°F).
Average visibility: 16 to 114 feet (5 to 35 meters) depending on the tied.
Best time to dive from end of March to June.
Possible to dive all year round.
Tubbataha Reef is only accessible by live-aboard. Departures are usually from Puerto Princesa and the navigation time is approximately 10 hours. Be advised that it's better to book your trip well in advance as they are in very high demand and the places are limited. These trips usually last about 5 nights and 6 days but of course this may vary . it's advisable to get a booking on the bigger steadier vessels as the seas can get pretty rough here and a small vessel will then be uncomfortable. Access to Tubbataha Reef is limited to only three months a year that is from about mid-March to June. For the rest of the year the sea conditions are too rough. If you want to have the calmest conditions then it's best to aim at being there in April or May. The strong currents here makes it possible to do a lot of drift diving and night dives are possible when there's no current.
Although Tubbataha Reef can be reached only by live-aboard vessels it offers excellent wall dives, sharks, mantas as well as many other underwater species, its really worth the trip out there. The reef is divided into two coral atolls; they are separated by a deep channel 8 km (5 miles) wide, for more informaton see the Tubbataha Reef diving map. Most divers visit the reef for there is a great chance of viewing large pelagics such as sharks, mantas, rays, turtles, mackerels, tunas and barracudas but it is also home to smaller creatures like nudibranchs, special crabs and shrimps and corals.
The North atoll is the large one and it has some beautiful dive sites with wide a variety of underwater species. Bird Island used to be only sand but now it is covered with trees and has become a nesting place for marine turtles. Average depth in this area is 65 feet (20 meters) and can reach to 200 feet (61 meters) deep. It has steep wall with overhangs, swim throughs and crevices. The reef top is covered with some beautiful hard corals ad you can find sharks laying on the sandy area also you can see giant reef ray there.
Another spot is the Southwest Rock; it is a beautiful dive site covered with huge gorgonian fans and whip corals. Also it is home to many large fish like white tip reef sharks and gray reef sharks. You will also see plenty of mackerels, snappers, some large groupers and lots of napoleons. Around this area you can have nice night dives and watch lots of nudibranchs; some rare like atagema and others huge like pleurobranchus and you also can see small pink crab.
The Malayan Wreck is the remain of a Malaysian ship. It is home to dogtooth tuna, moray eels, angelfishes, butterfly fishes and eagle ray. Its entry point is a breathe-taking slope filled with sea fans and outcrops of soft corals.
The Southern atoll is a rich reef sloping to a depth of 33 feet (10 meters) to 65 feet (20 meters). There are many caves and crevices that are home to spiny lobsters, squirrelfish, soldier fish as well as mackerel, barracuda and rainbow runners and whitetip sharks resting on its bottom.