Tubbataha Reef Diving Holidays: An Overview

Reached only by liveaboard, the Tubbataha Reef is located bang in the middle of the Sulu sea and is home to the very best diving found anywhere in the Philiipines.

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Louisa and Amy are here to help give you the inside track.

Why we think you’ll love it

  • The very best diving that the Philippines has to offer.
  • Pristine reefs overflowing with marine life.
  • Pelagics often seen including hammerheads, threshers and whale sharks.

Our Guide to Tubbataha Reef Diving Holidays

The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a World Heritage Site located in the middle of the Sulu sea, and is made up of almost 100,000 hectares of Marine Protected Area. Since it was discovered in the 1970s, the Tubbataha has become well known as the very best of the Philippines diving and one of the top spots for diving worldwide. Being located in the middle of the Coral Triangle, the highest marine biodiversity on earth, the plethora of marine life found here is simply astonishing.

One of the things about this marine park is that it is so isolated that it can only be reached by liveaboard (around 14 hours from Puerto Princessa), naturally preventing day trippers or overcrowding and conserving the reef more than if it were located close to land. The park itself is made up of two coral atolls - the north atoll and south atoll - and the Jessie Beazley reefs located a little further north. These reefs are home to a very high density and biodiversity of marine life and thus a diver's absolute paradise!

The reef system has over 600 species of fish and 300 coral species, as well as being a nesting site for hawksbill and green turtles and many species of bird. The North Atoll has a field station that is manned year-round by rangers and often trips involve a visit to discover about the conservation and protection of this delicate marine system. The reefs are made up of endless reef flats and vertical walls dropping to over 100m in depth, as well as large areas of deep sea. Thresher sharks, hammerheads and whale sharks can be seen on the walls, whilst the shallow reef tops are overflowing with colour reef fish, sting rays, manta rays, turtles and much more. Huge schools of jack fish and snapper hang out with a large barracuda presence as well.

Diving can be challenging in the Tubbataha and there is only the small window of March to early June that the liveaboards can actually get out there, when the sea conditions are calm enough. However, if you can make it out there during this brief window, this is likely to be one of the best dive experiences you can have.


Original Highlight

Busy reef of bright coral with a school of fish
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The Tubbataha is a UNESCO world heritage site that is home to an incredible amount of marine life and some of the best diving on earth.

Louisa, Original Diver

Weather in January January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • Average Temp. — 30°C / 86°F
  • Rainfall — 1cm / 0.7 inches
  • Water Temp. — 27°C / 80°F
Flight from London

15:00 hrs

Time Difference

GMT +8 hrs

Top picks for Tubbataha Reef

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Philippine Siren

Tubbataha Reef

Part of the Siren fleet of luxury liveaboards, the Philippine Siren is one of the best options for diving the waters of the Philippines by liveaboard.

Where to stay

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