Diving in Tubbataha Reef, Philippines - Bluewater Dive Travel

Tubbataha Reef

Anemone fish in Tubbataha Reef
A clown trigger fish in Tubbataha Philippines

Scuba Diving in Tubbataha, Philippines

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Tubbataha Reef Diving HIghlights

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is an isolated and protected marine park that can only be reached by Tubbataha liveaboard. It is arguably most biodiverse scuba diving destination in the Philippines.

Diving Tubbataha Reef is famous for its incredible marine biodiversity, dynamic underwater terrain,  and a wide variety of large marine animals including sea turtles, manta rays, and various shark species.

Tubbataha Park ranks number one on our list of Best Diving in the Philippines.


Tubbataha Liveaboards

Tubbataha can only be dived via liveaboard and liveaboard diving in Tubbataha occurs during a short diving season from March to June each year. Due to this, liveaboard trips to Tubbataha fill up early, so plan your trip well in advance! 

Find available liveaboards in Tubbataha or check out other liveaboards in the Philippines.



INtro To Tubbataha

Tubbataha Reefs is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Sulu Sea to the east of Palawan. The region's remote location along with challenging access make it one of the healthiest and least exploited areas of reef in the world. Throughout the 100,000 hectares of the spectacular reef system, divers lucky enough to visit will discover a wide array of pristine coral gardens mixed with steep walls dropping down into the deep blue. Tubbataha park area is an important fish spawning and breeding site and is significant in terms of global marine life species diversity and richness.

Tubbataha Reefs is divided into three main areas, North Atoll, South Atoll, and Jessy Beazley Reef. Each atoll offers numerous scuba dive sites and so the best, and only, way to explore is via Tubbataha liveaboard.

Watch this great video to learn more about scuba diving in Tubbataha.

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Marine Life in Tubbataha Reef

On a liveaboard to Tubbataha divers will be blown away by the never-ending display of multi-colored reef fish, lobsters, stingrays, and turtles on every reef.  At deeper spots on the northern side of North Atoll numerous shark species can be seen; white tips, black tips, and grey reef sharks are all regular spots, as well as silky and guitar sharks, and even the odd whale shark! The southern side of North Atoll is a hotspot for large pelagics such as giant trevally, tuna and barracuda, alongside manta rays and turtles. South Atoll is a great hammerhead site, while wrecks on both atolls are fantastic for macro species such as pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, and tiny crustaceans. The north-western Jessie Beazley Reef is another good hammerhead shark location, as well as for other shark species. The fast currents here support huge branching hard corals and all the associated marine life.

Read all about how the reefs in Tubbataha have stayed in pristine condition for such a long time.

For a similar liveaboard destination in marine protected waters, read our guide to diving Wakatobi National Park or diving in Raja Ampat.



Tubbataha Reef's best dive spots

The top best dive sites in Tubbataha ReefTubbataha scuba diving is a feast for the eyes. Each dive site in Tubbataha Reefs National Park boasts a unique range of species to discover. 

Pick a dive spot or see the entire list:

  1. 1. Amos Rock
  2. 2. Washing Machine
  3. 3. Malayan Wreck
  4. 4. Seafan Alley
  5. 5. Shark Airport 


1. Amos Rock - Or Southwest Rock, is a popular dive site on the North Atoll of Tubbataha featuring various types of beautiful corals and massive gorgonian fans and large fish, such as snappers, mackerels and groupers, and the fascinating Napoleon wrasses. Various reef sharks are also commonly seen here and the night diving at this site offers great macro opportunities. 

2. Washing Machine - Looking to see manta rays and sharks? Head to the Washing Machine in the North Atoll to ride the currents and see all the big stuff.

If you're interested in sharks, you may also want to check out our list of the best places for shark cage diving or check out diving in Guadalupe Island.

3. Malayan Wreck - More into macro photography? Get some great shots at Malayan, for some nudibranchs, crabs, and shrimps. Wreck divers will also get their dose of adventure and exploration. 

Check out our list of the best shipwrecks to scuba dive here.

4. Seafan Alley - Want to see colorful coral reefs? Go to Seafan Alley in the North Atoll to see gorgonian sea fans (keep a lookout for pygmy seahorses!)  

5. Shark Airport - For great shark diving head to Shark Airport where you'll find them either swimming around or resting along the reef. Due to strong currents, this dive site is better suited for advanced divers. 


BEST TIME TO DIVE Tubbataha Reefs

The diving season for Tubbataha liveaboards lasts from March until June, when the sea conditions are quite calm. Those are the only months that boats are allowed inside the marine park. 

Tubbataha also ranks first on our article on the Best Diving in Southeast Asia.


Diving Conditions 

  • Visibility: 32 to 114 feet (10-35m depending on the tides)
  • Good for snorkeling: Yes.
  • Required Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced recommended. Strong currents might be present at some of the sites.

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Tubbataha Travel Information

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How to Get to Tubbataha

From Manila (MNL) take a one-hour flight to Puerto Princessa (PPR) from which Tubbataha liveaboards depart. It takes around 10 hours to get to Tubbataha Reef from Puerto Princessa.  


How to Dive Tubbataha Reefs

It is only possible to get there via liveaboard. The liveaboard diving season in Tubbataha typically runs from March to June. There are numerous good liveaboard options in Tubbataha from mid-range boats to luxury yachts. 

View all liveaboards in Tubbataha.

Outside the Tubbataha season, many liveaboards will visit Malapascua Island or the reefs around Dumaguete, Dauin, Coron and Apo.

Tubbataha is one of the best liveaboard destinations in the world. Check out our full list here...


Other Things to do

Because you can only get there via liveaboard, topside activities are limited to whatever entertainment your liveaboard has to offer. Bring a book and some sunscreen to kill time between dives. Tubbataha is also a good destination for snorkeling. 

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Liveaboards in Tubbataha

See the availability of liveaboards in Tubbataha and book online. Best price guaranteed. No credit card fees.

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Bluewater Travel can book you a liveaboard to Tubbataha, and almost every scuba diving destination you can think of at the same price or even less than booking any other way! Our team of travel advisors knows the boats, diving, and logistics better than anyone else in the industry.

The rates shown below are per person in USD. Some operators may quote in a different currency and the final pricing may vary depending on the latest exchange rates.

Please contact us for the latest availability of the following boats: Infiniti, Nirvana, M/Y Resolute, M/V Discovery Adventure, and M/V Discovery Palawan


Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

  • Currency: Philippine Peso (PHP)
  • Electricity: The standard voltage is 220 V and the frequency is 60 Hz.
  • Vaccines: Please check the CDC website for updated information on vaccines, health concerns, etc. It is recommended that you are up to date with Typhoid, Tetanus/Diphtheria, Hepatitis and Polio for any trip to the tropics.
  • Visa: US citizens may enter the Philippines for purposes of tourism without a visa if they present a valid U.S. passport and a return ticket to the United States or an onward ticket to another country. Upon your arrival, immigration authorities will stamp an entry visa valid for 30 days on your passport.
  • Language: Filipino and English are the official languages in the Philippines

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Call us today at +1-310-915-6677 or email us info@bluewaterdivetravel.com

And let us book your dream vacation!

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Reviews (1)

  • Top Reviewer
Pacific Palisades, CA
United States

Spent 6 nights on the Philippine Siren at Tubbataha Reef. Boat is comfortable but not 5 star. The liveaboard has a huge dive deck though. Great food and friendly staff. No night dives at Tubbtaha Reef due to all wall dives & current so generally made 4 dives a day with both a early AM dive as well as a sunset dive. Up at 0530 to 0600 most every day. If you don't like wall dives, you will be disappointed.

Not very much macro stuff. Lots of small sharks - whitetip, blacktip & grey reef sharks. They were generally sleeping and approachable and sometimes even saw them schooling up to a dozen at a time. A few folks saw a hammerhead shark in early morning, though tough to catch them here-generally shy & mostly deep and early morning.
Marbled rays were my favorite and new for me here. I missed the macro here, though a little was available.
Saw lots of large dog toothed Tunas, some jacks, anthias and moorish idols. Many huge spiny lobsters that would let you get as close as you wanted to photograph them. Moray eels and several spots with garden eels. Occasional bumphead parrotfish.

The diving conditions: Visibility was generally good, though some days was only average. Currents variable and some dive sites (Washing Machine) were a big challenge even for an experienced diver. There are 2 small Islands that you dive here so after getting here not much travelling is needed, so there is not a lot of cruising after the first night.

While this is a good spot for scuba diving especially for bigger stuff, I have to say that Indonesia - especially Raja Ampat & Komodo were much better than the Tubbataha Reefs national park, especially when you favor in how remote a spot this is and how long the connecting flights are. This is known as a site for big stuff, so for macro you wouldn't come here anyways.

Visited on 04/2014 - Submitted on 04/17/2014


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