Tubbataha Reef Philippines offers World's Best Dive
Tubbataha Reef is located in the middle of Sulu Seas
which lies on the Cagayan Ridge. Tubbataha Reef is 92
nautical miles southeast of Puerto Princesa City,
Palawan and 80 nautical miles southwest of Cagayancillo.
Tubbataha Reef has an area of 33,200 hectares including
the North and South Reefs and was declared a National
Marine Park in 1988 and a World Heritage Site in 1994.
Tubbataha Reef was called "Gusong" by the islanders of
Cagayancillo which means "coral reef". Tubbataha Reef is
one of the most popular diving destination in the world
and one of the best diving spot in the Philippines.
Reef is a unique example of an atoll reef with a
sanctuary for marine life. A high variety of exotic and
marvelous marine species can be experience in here.
Tubbataha Reef is an excellent example of a pristine
coral reef with a spectacular 100-m perpendicular wall,
extensive lagoons and two coral islands.
Tubbataha Reef is so popular to experience and
adventurous diver. This site is not so accessible
because it can only be reachable by live-aboard boats
which can be found in Puerto Princesa itself. The
remoteness of Tubbataha Reef has been its greatest
protector against over exploitation. Puerto Princesa is
the Capital of Palawan and Tubbataha Reef lies 182 km
southeast of Puerto Princesa.
Tubbataha has two atolls that is made up of corals and
many other forms of marine life. Each atoll has one
islet which have shallow lagoons and are surrounded by
approximately 500 metres of reef flat which ends in a
steep drop off into deep water. These atolls are visible
above water's surface at low tide.
The best time and safest months to visit Tubbataha Reef
is from the end of March to June. Currents here in
Tubbataha Reef can be strong and changeable so there is
a lot of drift diving. Night diving is possible, but
only if there is no current.
How to get there
hours from Puerto Princesa, Palawan Philippines
Famous Diving Sites in
Bird Island: This dive site has a depth of 5-60m and
the current can be fierce and changeable. It is not
good to dive in this site if the condition is bad. This
site is located on the north face of the north atoll in
which the wall starts in 5-8m of water. The wall has
huge gorgonians, barrel sponges and soft corals. In
here, you can see nurse and leopard resting. Divers will
also see Small manta rays, lagoon and eagle rays,
together with flounders and turtles. Not only that,
Blacktip, whitetip and grey reef sharks can normally be
seen as well snappers, surgeonfish, groupers, Moorish
idols and jacks. Large manta rays are common and
pelagics are here all the time.
Rock: This dive site has a depth of 6 to 70m and the
current can be strong. Amos Rock is located on the south
side of the north islet. Amos rock starts on a gentle
slope that covered in corals and ends with a wall
covered in gorgonian fans and whip corals. This site
offers a good opportunities for photography so that you
can take shots to the amazing and beautiful variety of
underwater wild life can be seen in this site such as
large fish like mackerel, snapper and large groupers.
You can also encounter white tip and gray reef sharks
that inhabit these waters in large numbers. Look out for
manta rays, eagle rays and turtles closer to the surface
. Other fish that can be seen include Moorish idols,
angelfish, surgeonfish and fusiliers.
South Islet - North Face: This dive site has a
depth of 10 to 70m and the current is usually calm but
can be strong and unpredictable. Diving in this site is
not good when the current is strong. This dive site is
excellent for sports divers. This dive site is popular
and known because Green and Hawksbill turtles are very
common in here. There are plenty of marine life in here
such as reef fish and larger pelagics including mackerel
and barracuda. Whitetip reef sharks, together with manta
and eagle rays occasionally venture into these waters.
North Islet - East Face: This site has a depth of
15 to 70m and the current can be fierce. Currents can be
changeable so diving in this site is not always
possible. But this site is excellent in diving. The best
time to five in this site is when the fish are feeding.
The sandy bottom of this site is covered corals. Every
type of native fish can be found in here. So there are a
lot of colorful and exotic fishes you can see in this
site such as damselfish, angelfish, lionfish and
scorpionfish. Sea cumcumbers, nudibranches and crinoids
are everywhere. Larger fish can be found below 30m like
trevallies, tuna, barracuda and whitetip and blacktip
South Islet - East Face: This site has a depth of
10 to 70m and the current is calm but can become fierce.
The reef is home to a variety of exotic underwater
marine life life angelfish, groupers, parrotfish and
butterflyfish. The wall is vertical and Moorish idols,
surgeons and triggerfish are among the many different
types of schooling tropicals seen here. whitetip and
blacktip sharks are common and barracuda occasionally
pass by as do manta rays when dive deeper.
South Islet - South Face: This site has a depth
of 20 to 70m and the current can be fierce. This site is
also known as The Lighthouse due the location of one
right on the southern tip. Diving in this area is the
same and similar to the north face of the southern
islet. In this site, you can see small reef fishes,
corals, sponges and anemones. While diving you can see
blue-spotted lagoon rays, sea cucumbers and sea stars
which are common in this site.
Jessie Beazley Reef: This site has as depth of 7
to 50 and the current is moderate and can sometime be
strong. This dive site is located about 20km north-west
of North Tubbataha. This site offers some amazing scuba
diving to adventurous divers. The reef offers a
beautiful underwater view for photography. Porites and
Acropora corals covered the shallows that supports a
huge and diverse population of reef fish. Whitetip and
blacktip reef sharks are common as are tuna, groupers,
barracuda and mackerel. Hammerhead, mako and thresher
sharks also occasionally venture into these waters.
Basterra Reef: This dive site has a depth of 5 to
70m and the current is normally mild but can be strong
sometimes. This dive site can be found 90 km to the
south-west of South Tubbataha. This reef is small but it
offers a diversity of underwater marine life. Two
wrecks, of The Oceanic and a Tristar B, lie to the east
and north. Basterra Reef is one of the best diving site
in Sulu Sea. This reef is also excellent for sports
Basterra Reef is rich in corals and can see exotic
underwater life such as snappers, surgeonfish,
parrotfish, trevallies and wrasse. Divers will also
encounter masses of hydroids, gorgonians and barrel
sponges. Regular pelagic visitors include reef sharks,
hammerheads, tuna, mackerel, manta rays and turtles.
Bancoran Island: This is also a great dive site
to visit. This island is located 70 km southwest of
Basterra. But this dive site is now inhabited which has
meant that the standard of diving has declined, but it
is still a good spot to discover Giant Clams, lobsters,
barracuda, tuna and reef sharks.