Diving in Tubbataha Reef, Philippines - Bluewater Dive Travel

Tubbataha Reef

Schooling barracuda at Tubbataha Reef
Sharks swim at Tubbataha Reef
Anemone fish in Tubbataha Reef
A clown trigger fish in Tubbataha Philippines
Hammerhead swimming at the Tubbataha Reef

Scuba Diving in Tubbataha, Philippines

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Tubbataha Reef Diving Highlights

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

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

Jump to:

Marine Life - Best Dive Sites - Best Time to Dive - Diving Conditions

How to Get There - Practical Information - Book a Trip 

Looking for a liveaboard? View live availability of all Tubbataha Liveaboards.


Tubbataha Liveaboards

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

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

   Oceanic III Explorer  Oceanic III Explorer

Images care of the Oceanic III


Intro To Tubbataha Reefs

Tubbataha Reefs is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Sulu Sea to the east of Palawan. The region's remote location, combined with challenging access and limited diving season, 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. Tubbataha liveaboards visit each of the atolls to enable divers to experience a wide variety of Tubbataha dive sites.

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 are 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, including frequent encounters with white tips, black tips, and grey reef sharks, as well as possible sightings of silky and guitar sharks. 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 northwestern Jessie Beazley Reef is another area to see hammerhead sharks and other shark species. The fast currents also 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 Reefs' best dive spots

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Learn more about the best dive sites in Tubbataha Reef. Each dive site in Tubbataha Reefs National Park boasts a unique range of species to discover. 

Pick a dive spot or keep scrolling to read 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 - Also known as Southwest Rock, this is a popular dive site at the North Atoll of Tubbataha, featuring various types of beautiful corals, massive gorgonian fans, and large fish such as snappers, mackerels, groupers, and the fascinating Napoleon wrasses. Various reef sharks are also commonly seen at Amos Rock and the night dives offer great macro diversity. 

2. Washing Machine - Looking for manta rays and sharks? Head to Washing Machine, a dive site in the North Atoll, to ride the currents and encounter all the big stuff.

If you're interested in diving with sharks, you may also want to check out our list of the best places for shark cage diving or read about diving with tiger sharks in the Maldives' Southern Atolls.

3. Malayan Wreck - If you are a macro photography enthusiast, you can get some great shots at Malayan Wrech, including nudibranchs, crabs, and shrimps. Wreck divers will also get their dose of adventure and exploration at this Tubbataha dive site. 

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

4. Seafan Alley - For exceptionally colorful coral reefs, look no further than Seafan Alley in the North Atoll. Featuring plentiful gorgonian sea fans, make sure to keep a lookout for pygmy seahorses!

5. Shark Airport - Another dive site featuring great shark diving is the aptly named Shark Airport, where you'll find these elegant animals either swimming around or resting along the reef. Due to its strong currents, this dive site is better suited for advanced divers. 


Philippine Siren Philippine Siren

Photos provided by Aaron Wong & Gerald Rambert & Chris Huss.  


BEST TIME TO DIVE Tubbataha Reefs

The best time to dive Tubbataha Reefs is limited to its short diving season from March through June, so make sure you plan your trip well in advance. The sea conditions are quite calm during the diving season for Tubbataha liveaboards, which is important for the roughly 10-hour crossing to reach the area from the departure point.  

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


Diving Conditions 

  • Visibility: 32 to 114 feet (10-35 meters), depending on the tides.
  • Good for snorkeling: Yes.
  • Required Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced recommended. Some Tubbataha dive sites experience strong currents.

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is the epicenter of biodiversity of the Philippines

The gorgeous Tubbataha Reefs National Park

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Tubbataha Travel Information

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How to Get to Tubbataha

Fly into Manila (MNL) and take a one-hour flight to Puerto Princessa (PPR), the departure point for Tubbataha liveaboards. It takes around 10 hours to get to Tubbataha Reef from Puerto Princessa, giving you time to rest before you begin diving.  


How to Dive Tubbataha Reefs

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It is only possible to dive Tubbataha Reefs via liveaboard from March to June. There are numerous good liveaboard options in Tubbataha from mid-range boats to luxury yachts. 

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

Topside activities in Tubbataha Reefs are limited to whatever entertainment your liveaboard has to offer. Relax and read a book, sunbathe, and enjoy the scenery during your surface intervals. Tubbataha is also a good destination for snorkeling. Experience more of the Philippines by adding a trip to one of the country's other incredible diving destinations before or after your liveaboard. Discuss the options with your travel advisor to make the most of your trip to the Philippines! 

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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

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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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