Tubbataha Reef Natural Park is home to 360 species of corals, 600 species of fish, 100 species of birds, and 11 species of sharks, besides being the nesting ground for two endangered species of turtles. The park consists mainly of two big atolls with a lagoon in the centre of each and a deep channel between them. Besides that, there is a smaller reef called Jessie Beazley Reef that is part of the park. CNN travel has ranked Tubbataha the eighth in the list of the best dive sites in the world. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Location of Tubbataha
Tubbataha is part of the Philippines, the island country in Southeast Asia. It is situated in Sulu Sea and is part of Cagayancillo, a municipality in Palawan, which is the largest and westernmost province of the Philippines. The distance between Tubbataha and Puerto Princesa City, from where the government of Palawan operates, is 150 km. Tubbataha is a part of the Coral Triangle, the world-renowned area of incredible marine biodiversity. It is an isolated island accessed via boats.
The Best Dive Season
The best time to visit Tubbataha is summer, which is from the middle of March to the middle of June. The sea is generally clear and calm during this period and visibility ranges from 30 m to 45 m.
How to Reach Tubbataha
The airport closest to Tubbataha is Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPS) that serves the city of Puerto Princesa. From Manila there are daily flights to this airport and from Cebu City there are flights on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Dive centres take visitors from the Puerto Princesa Airport to the city’s pier and from there transport them to Tubbataha in a boat. The journey to Tubbataha takes about 10 hours. The ferries generally travel by night to reach the park by early morning. There are some slower boats that stop to explore the larger reefs on the way. Vessels ply to Tubbataha from the town of Anilao (in the province of Batangas) as well.
Things to Know While travelling to Tubbataha
To protect the park’s rich flora and fauna, divers are requested by authorities not to fish; not to touch, feed, or chase marine animals; not to collect specimens of flora or fauna; not to introduce new species into the system; not to litter the place; not to use gloves; not to disrupt or move the sand on the seabed; and not to use the waters for motorized water sports or for anchoring vessels.
The closest Recompression Chamber for treating divers is in Cebu City.
Visa and Passport requirements
To visit Tubbataha you must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your proposed visit to the park. If you do not intend to stay for more than 21 days and do not belong to a restricted nationality, a visa is not required to visit Tubbataha. To confirm that you will not be staying for more than 21 days, you will have to show the authorities a return ticket or an onward journey ticket. Those who want to stay for more than 21 days must get a visa from a Philippine embassy or consulate of their respective home countries.
Scuba Diving in Tubbataha?
Check out our Tubbataha dive guide and start planning your next dive trip!