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Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a Philippines national park, administratively in Palawan province, but geographically out in the middle of the Sulu Sea. It is regarded as one of the world's finest diving destinations, either snorkelling or SCUBA.

The park is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is listed by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat.


Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is in the middle of the Sulu Sea, some 150 km (93 mi) southeast of Puerto Princesa. It has a large area, about 970 sq km or 375 sq miles, mostly underwater.

The park is managed by the Tubbataha Management Office which issue a set of guidelines each visitor needs to respect. Divers also need to read and adhere to the Diving Best Practice to minimise impact on the reefs

A colony of Crested tern in the national park


The area has a lot of coral reefs under shallow water. There are some small uninhabited islands.

Flora and fauna[edit]

The park boasts over 1000 marine species and beautiful corals and the islets serve as a home to nesting birds and turtles.


The region is tropical, hot all year. There are some typhoons.

Get in[edit]

Since the reefs are in the middle of the sea, the only way in is by boat. The closest inhabited islands are Cagayancillo, but boat trips usually start from Puerto Princesa, from where it takes about ten hours to reach the reef.

These are live-aboard boats that stay over the reefs for several days. Only a limited amount of vessels are granted a license to visit the park. Liveaboards vessels like the Philippine Siren usually carry up to 20 persons.

The main season is from March to June when the seas are calm, and as places sell out quickly you are advised to book well ahead.

Fees and permits[edit]

Each boat must have a permit to operate in the park and then pays a per boat fee for each trip; these are not the customers' problem.

However, all visitors except residents of Palawan province need a Visitor Entry Permit, 5000 pesos or about US $100. Check whether this is included in the price of your boat ticket or will be a separate charge. If you make more than one trip in the same year, you get 50% off on this fee for the second visit.

Get around[edit]




The ranger station sells some souvenirs.

Eat, Drink and Sleep[edit]

The reefs have no lodging, restaurants or bars. You eat, drink and sleep on the boat that brought you.

Stay safe[edit]

Go next[edit]

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