Tubbataha Reef in Philippines

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The Tubbataha Reef is one of the ultimate diving spots in the Philippines. Located in the Sulu Sea, this reef covers 100,000 hectares and is home to over 350 different species of coral and approximately 500 species of fish. With 100 meter perpendicular walls of coral and excellent visibility to check out the sights, this reef is one of the most popular diving spots in the entire Southeast Asia. For divers, both amateur and professional, Tubbataha reef might just be the end of the search for their Holy Grail! Research prices for accomodation near Tubbataha Reef

Aged turtle in Tubbataha © by Jayvee F.

How to Get There

Tubbataha Reef is part of the Tubbataha Reef National Park. The other reef that helps form the entire park is the Jessie Beazley reef. To get to Tubbataha reef, you have to use live-aboard services, which are available through different carriers. One of the best is the Explorer Fleets, offering five-day live-aboard diving. From this fleet, the Stella Maris seems to be very popular, with an excellent diving crew, great meals, and an opportunity to head down into the water four to five times a day. If you’re looking to make the most of your visit to Tubbataha, this may be your best chance!

When to go

While most diving websites tell you that the best diving season is from March to June, you’ll get best visibility in April. In March, visibility tends to be only 15 meters, whereas in April, visibility is pretty much all-round 45 meters, which is ideal for circumventing the topographical landscape. Also, in April, there tend to be fewer strong currents. This is reflected in live-aboard rates: it’s cheaper to visit Tubbataha Reef in March and June than it is April and May.

Who it’s suitable for!

Tubbataha Reef offers a good opportunity to see some rare species of fish, which is what makes it an exciting tourist destination. It can pretty much be visited by anyone: adventure lovers, diving enthusiasts, wildlife photographers: you name it!

What Tubbataha Reef offers

Divers who’ve been to a lot of other diving sites will still find the amazing bio-diversity entertaining. While the reef has some species that you’ll get on every dive, such as grey reef sharks, pelagics and turtles. Other species to look around for include Barracuda, Jack fish, Napoleon Wrasse, moray eels, White tips, Hammerhead sharks, Eagle rays, Whale Sharks, Manta Rays and more!

Chasing the Manta © by Jayvee F.


Professional divers should try to max out their air, as Tubbataha is a diving experience like no other! Also, you may want to do some research into the best fleets to opt for. One of the best is the Explorer fleet. Talk to your diving crew before you leave, so you’re conversant and at ease with them. Safety first! And last but not least, opt for a video of your dive, so you have something to look back on!

Pros of Tubbataha Reef

  1. Excellent Visibility
  2. Few topographical challenges
  3. Amazing bio-diversity
  4. Appearances of rare species
  5. Few strong currents


  1. Cannot be visited outside of the season
  2. Can only be visited by use of live-aboard diving boats
  3. Some boats with live-aboard facilities may not be at par with tourist requirements

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