Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park in Palawan – Philippines

The Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park in Palawan – Philippines is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered as one of the best dive sites all over the world.

The reef covers an estimated area of 239,000 acres or 968.24 square kilometers.


Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park is situated approximately one hundred and eighty-one kilometers off the southeastern parts of Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s capital city.

It is within the Sulu Sea.

Getting There

The marine park is accessible only by boat and boats offering rides to the park are usually for live-aboard trips since it will take you approximately twelve hours from Puerto Princesa to reach the marine park.

Boats usually leave in the evenings and by morning; you will already be within the perimeters of the marine park.

What to See

The Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park consists of two atolls which are separated by a channel of about eight kilometers or five miles in width. These two coral atolls are simply called the North Atoll and the South Atoll.

The marine sanctuary is home to an endangered species of sea turtles which are the hawksbill sea turtles. It is also home to hammerhead sharks, moray eels, barracudas and giant jacks.

Eagle rays, white-tip and black-tip sharks, bumphead parrotfish and several other species of sharks have also been spotted by divers visiting the reefs.

Brief History

Even before it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, the reefs have already been declared as a protected area through Proclamation No. 306.

The area originally covered by the national marine park was approximately three hundred and thirty-two square kilometers or about 82,000 acres.

However, Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo widened the boundaries of the marine park by about two hundred percent via an Executive Order. This increased the total area covered by the marine park to 968.24 square kilometers.

Being a protected area, the reefs are guarded twenty-fours a day, seven days a week by armed park rangers.


Visitors are required to pay a Conservation Fee of about three thousand pesos plus vessel entry fees ranging from three thousand up to six thousand pesos.

Since the only way to reach the reefs is through live-aboard trips, your total cost could range anywhere from thirty thousand pesos up to forty thousand pesos depending on the dive operator of your choice.

When to Visit

The best time to visit the reefs is during dive season which is from March up to June. These are the best months to go to the national marine park as the weather conditions basically give you clear skies and calm waters.