Sharks, big pelagic fish and 100+ feet visibility make Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park the best diving destination in the Philippines.
When we say that Tubbataha is the "ultimate" Philippine diving destination, we don't just mean that it's the best – that's a given. We mean that the Tubbataha Liveaboard might be the last dive trip that you do in the Philippines – or even in your life – because after this everything else will pale in comparison.
Imagine diving in water as clear as what comes out of your faucet. At a hundred feet (30 meters) down you can easily recognize people waving at you from your boat and watch the clouds roll by in the sky above them. This tap water like visibility not only lets you see everything clearly, it also lets you see everything in brilliant color. And by "everything" we mean everything: sea turtles, manta rays, barracudas, trevallies, tuna, Napoleon wrasse and just about every species of tropical marine fish you can think of. It is also home to 374 species of corals – almost 90% of the country's coral species.
Then, of course, you have the sharks.
Sharks are vital to a marine ecosystem and are a sign of a healthy reef. The Tubbataha Reefs are as healthy and as shark-infested as they get. It has the highest population density of white tip reef sharks in the world. If you are a diver then we don't need to convince you that this is an awesome thing. Aside from the white tips Tubbataha has ten other species of sharks including nurse, hammerhead, guitar, tiger and whale shark.
Above water the show continues. Playing dolphins are a common site and seabird colonies live on Tubbataha's two small islands. UNESCO declared Tubbataha a World Heritage Site not only for its underwater assets but also because several endangered species of sea turtles and seabirds nest on its sandy beaches.
To explore this wonderland we use an 82 foot (25 meter), three level steel yacht as our main vessel and two 26 foot (8 meter) high powered chase boats to access the shallow areas of the reefs. On the first and second levels of the expedition boat are 8 air-conditioned passenger cabins, each with a private bathroom. Two decks – an open sundeck on the top level and a covered bow deck in the middle level – are furnished with lounging furniture and let you enjoy the gorgeous surroundings. The dining hall and bar are covered but also open air so you can take in the views while eating. If you get overloaded with nature you can step indoors to an air-conditioned saloon with comfortable sofas, a flat screen TV, sound system and a collection of music, current movies and books. The dive deck has drawers and shelves for each diver to store personal equipment and large rinse tanks and charging / preparation areas for cameras.
In this underwater expedition we explore each of Tubbataha's three reefs. That's 375 square miles (97,030 hectares) of the most glorious marine space on earth. You have been warned. After this trip your diving standards may become difficult to live with.
Highlights and activities
- Do 19* of some of the best dives of your life.
- See big things: sharks, manta rays, tuna, barracudas, Napolean wrasse and sea turtles.
- See all colors of the rainbow underwater.
- Watch seabirds and dolphins in between dives.
- Relax and enjoy the wonderful views from our expedition boat.
- scuba diving
Day 1: Welcome aboard
At noon we pick you up in Puerto Princesa, Palawan (at the airport or at your hotel) and bring you to our expedition boat. We spend the afternoon settling in and orienting you on boat safety then we sail for nine hours overnight. When we wake up we will be in diving paradise.
Day 2: Malayan Wreck and Wall Street (3 dives + 1 night dive)
Tubbataha is composed of two large coral atolls, North and South, and a smaller reef called Jessie Beazley. We start off with North Atoll which is 9 miles (15 km) long and 3 miles (5 km) wide. The Malayan is a small ship that was stranded in Tubbataha and is now home to humphead parrotfish, moray eels and sweetlips. From the wreck we go to the wall and try to find dogtooth tuna and eagle rays. Wall Street is a sheer face that drops down into the abyss. The wall is covered by stunning corals and the reef is home to white tips and grey reef sharks. Out in the blue it is possible to see hammerheads and even a passing whale shark.
Day 3: Delsan Wreck and Light House (3 day dives + 1 night dive)
We move to the South Atoll, about 5 miles (3 km) long and 3 miles (2 km) wide. The Delsan is another ship that sank in Tubbataha and now marks a site known for big fish. When the current picks up, silky sharks, white tips and greys can be found hunting schools of fish in a deep crevasse in the coral. A lighthouse on the island in the middle of South Atoll marks a part of the reef top that has a large sandy area that is home to various types of rays: marble rays, eagle rays, devil rays and mantas.
Day 4: T Wreck and Black Rock (3 day dives + 1 night dive)
T Wreck does not actually have a wreck, but it has a big V-shaped cut in the reef where you can find big sharks cruising around with their posse of blue trevallies. Black Rock is a gently sloping wall where schools of barracuda and mackerel are often found. Tiger sharks have also been spotted there.
Day 5: Shark Airport and Washing Machine (3 day dives + 1 night dive)
Back on the North Atoll a sandy plateau dotted by beautiful corals serves as a resting place for sharks. Turtles feed on soft corals, careful not to obstruct the landing and take-off sequence of the sharks. The Washing Machine is known for unpredictable currents that suddenly change direction. It is also known for having the best visibility of all the dive sites in Tubbataha and the perfect place for watching big pelagic fish.
Day 6: Terraces and Jessie Beazley (3 day dives)
The top level of the Terraces has probably the most beautiful coral garden in Tubbataha. The site then drops off to a shelf at 70 feet (21 meters) before plunging into the unfathomable deep. On the shelf you can find schools of baby parrotfish, rays and hawksbill and green turtles. Jessie Beazley is a small but stunning reef with a large reef top that is undercut, giving it the shape of a mushroom. Here you can find huge Gorgonian sea fans, tuna and plenty of sharks.
In the evening we sail back to Puerto Princesa.
Day 7: Back on land - time to explore Palawan
We get back to Puerto Princesa in the morning and after breakfast we say goodbye and bring you back on land. After 6 days on and in the water our adventure is over and you return to your terrestrial lives. Don't be too sad though; you are in Palawan, one of the most amazing islands in the Philippines. Click here to see how you can continue your adventure.
Dives may be fewer if we are forced to skip dives due to unsafe conditions.
There are currently no set schedules for this tour. Tell us your preferred date and we'll open that date as a trip departure in which others can join.
- Land transfer from your hotel / airport in Puerto Princesa to the expedition boat on Day 1 and back to your hotel / airport on Day 7.
- 19 dives. This may be fewer if we are forced to skip dives due to unsafe conditions.
- Guiding service by a dive instructor.
- 6 nights' accommodation on the boat. Rooms are twin-sharing with 1 double bed and 1 single bed per room.
- All meals on-board the boat, from dinner of Day 1 to breakfast of Day 7.
- Non-alcoholic drinks: water, fruit shakes and juices, soft drinks, tea and brewed coffee.
- 12L air tanks, weights and weight belts
- Taxes and Park conservation fee of USD 120 per person.
- Personal SCUBA equipment (rental options are available).
- Accommodations in Puerto Princesa
- Food and beverage other than those specified above. Alcoholic drinks are available on the boat and can be paid for in cash.
- Travel and dive insurance.
- Nitrox and 15L tanks are available at extra cost.
- Deluxe Cabin supplement of USD70 per person (if you choose to stay in or are assigned to one of the two Deluxe Cabins).
- If you have fewer than 30 dives (regardless of certification level) you will be required to dive under the supervision of our dive master. The cost of this is USD7 per dive until you reach 30 dives.
Price is per person for a minimum group of one (1) person.
Kindly contact us for information for smaller or larger groups.
Price is already inclusive of VAT (value added tax).
- You must present your diving certification card. You will not be allowed to dive without this.
- Most of the dives in Tubbataha are wall dives, many of which are deep with moderate to strong current. A minimum certification of Advanced Open Water and at least 30 dives are required for you to dive independently without the supervision of a dive professional. We can present you with several options if you do not meet these requirements.
- This trip involves 19 dives in 5 days, and that can take its toll on your body if you are not healthy. You must present a medical certificate from your doctor indicating your diving capacity. We also recommend that you get a medical exam before the trip.
- You are required to have dive insurance that covers hyperbaric chamber treatment, and emergency repatriation insurance if you are not a Philippine national. We also recommend getting cancellation insurance that covers storm risk.
- Our dive instructor and dive masters are very service-oriented and will be with you on every dive. Still, as a certified diver, you are responsible for your own safety.
- Respect the marine environment. Our dive professionals are VERY strict about marine protection and will not tolerate any destruction or abuse of marine life or habitat. To be safe, appreciate with your eyes and not your hands. This will also keep you from inadvertently touching a venomous creature.
- Be aware of your flight schedule – do not dive within 24 hours before a flight.
- Uncharted Philippines Inc. acts as an agent to dive operator Seadoors for this trip. Participants agree to be bound by the terms and conditions of Seadoors when they book this trip through Uncharted Philippines. Terms and conditions of Seadoors takes precedence over the terms and conditions of Uncharted Philippines.
- Yellow fever vaccination is required for entry to the Philippines if you are coming from a yellow-fever infected country; if you are not, this vaccination is unnecessary. The following vaccinations are recommended:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Japanese encephalitis
- Measles, mumps and rubella
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