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Tubbataha Reef

The best dive site in the Philippines

Since divers discovered Tubbataha in the late 1970s, it has become recognised as one of the most remarkable coral reefs on our planet. The CNN travel website,, ranks it among the top eight dive sites in the world.

Because of its isolated location, Tubbataha can only be visited on a liveaboard boat. Divers can experience the reefs’ dramatic underwater terrain, awe-inspiring biodiversity and encounter large marine animals such as sharks, turtles and manta rays.

Tubbataha is composed of two huge coral atolls – the north atoll and the south atoll – and the Jessie Beazley Reef, a smaller coral structure about 20 kilometers north of the atolls. The reefs of Tubbataha and Jessie Beazley are considered part of Cagayancillo, a remote island municipality roughly 130 kilometers to the northeast, inhabited mainly by fishermen.

The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park lies in the Sulu Sea, Philippines in the heart of the Coral Triangle, the global centre of marine biodiversity, 150km southeast of  Puerto Princesa.  

Tubbataha’s dive season is just three months long, running from mid-March until mid- June. At this time of year diving conditions are usually optimum – clear skies, calm seas and visibility between 30 and 45 meters.


  • 359 species of corals (50% of all coral species in the world)
  • Over 600 species of tropical fish
  • A nesting population of endangered hawksbill and green sea turtles
  • 12 species of dolphins & whales
  • Over 100 species of birds, including rare migratory birds
  • 14 species of sharks including tiger sharks, whitetip sharks, and blacktip sharks. Whale sharks have also been sighted at Tubbataha from time to time

Tubbataha Reef Dive Sites

  • Black Rock – Black Rock plateau slopes gently from 15 to 25 m in depth. Whitetip sharks can often be seen sleeping on the seabed.


  • Delsan Wreck – this dive is known for sightings of big fish including grey reef sharks and tiger sharks.


  • Malayan Wall – The site is ideal for adventurous divers searching the deep blue water for schooling hammerhead sharks and other pelagic species.


  • Shark Airport – a wide plateau at 15 m dropping off to a shelf at 25 m. Endangered hawksbill and green sea turtles can often be here.


  • Wall Street – One of the most popular coral reef wall dives within the Tubbataha park. Sightings include Napoleon Wrasse, and blacksaddle coral grouper.


  • Washing Machine – Named for the unpredictable currents which sometimes change direction. It’s home to grey reef sharks and an amazing diversity of tropical coral reef fish.

Getting There

It takes around 10 hours to get to Tubbataha Reef from Puerto Princesa. Due to the remote location, only liveaboards are available and the boats typically stay out for between 4 and 8 nights.