#9 Get lost in coral and dive Tubbataha, Palawan

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.

It’s no surprise scuba divers would want to experience Tubbataha firsthand. Recently nominated to be one of the “Seven Wonders of the Natural World’, this marine protected area is home to a staggering wealth of biodiversity not commonly seen in many locations.

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.

With such a vast area falling under the 6 million km2 protected ecosystem upon which Tubbataha Reef and millions of people depend upon, difficulties of maintaining the ecosystem are ever present. Climate change, over fishing, unsustainable tourism, and habitat degredation are the most common causes of the ecosystems demise.For this reason. diving on the glorious reef is thought to be a dream come true. Booking a dive isn’t always easy and sometimes the waiting list is a year long.