Tubbataha Reef is located in the Northern apex of the Coral Triangle and is often considered to be the best dive spot in the Philippines. Reachable only by scuba diving liveaboard boats leaving from the province of Palawan, Tubbataha dive trips are often booked years in advance and are expensive to say the least.
Where is Tubbataha Reef?
Tubbataha reef is in the middle of the Sulu Sea, approximately 45km southeast of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, the most south western province of the Philippines.
The long distance from the mainland helps preserve its conservation since it’s reachable only by boat, a journey which takes 10 to 12 hours and is only open from mid-march to mid-june. This means the reef receives less pressure and environmental stress from fishermen than the coral reefs located closer to populated areas.
How the Tubbataha Reef Marine Protected Area was created
Fishermen have known about Tubbataha for generations, embarking from their villages in small fleets of traditional wooden sailboats every summer for their annual fishing expeditions.
As time progressed these traditional boats were disappearing and replaced by motorized boats traveling from increasing distances to snatch a share Tubbataha’s fishing bounty.
Alarmed by its decline, a small group of divers and environmentalists launched a vigorous campaign to save Tubbataha, and in 1988, the Provincial Government of Palawan endorsed the idea, and President Corazon Aquino declared Tubbataha a National Marine Park. In 1992, the site was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.