This past April, I got the opportunity to dive Tubbataha Reef on the Discovery Palawan liveaboard. I had decided to head to Tubbataha because I had read on CNN Travel’s Article, “Into the deep: World’s 50 best dive sites” that Tubbataha is considered the #8 Dive site in the world and I needed to get a good diving fix in.
Tubbataha Reef itself is only accessible by a week-long liveaboard. What makes it special is that it is in a protected area in the middle of the Sulu Sea. Unesco declared it a World Heritage site in Dec 1993 and that has truly helped protect the marine life in the area.
I actually only ended up on the Discovery Palawan because most other liveaboards were full when I decided about two months before departure that I wanted to try to dive Tubbataha this year. I couldn’t find many reviews about the ship before departure so I was a bit worried, however, I feel like I lucked out as it turned out to be a great full-service ship with a lot of serious ocean photographers on it, a great bar, an amazing very personable boat manager, Chester Lee.
And, it also definitely was not a weight loss cruise as they fed us delicious food before and after every dive (4 dives a day) and main meals were grand all you can eat buffets with multiple choices.
The highlight of my Tubbataha Reef diving trip was spotting this Juvenile whale shark twice during my dives:
Some other Tubbataha reef diving shots I took with my GoPro on our dives before my casing leaked and it fried from water damage:
We also got to go to the Tubbataha Ranger Station and talk to the rangers who live 10 hours in the middle of nowhere for weeks at a time to protect the reef.
I also got the privilege to dive with a professional underwater photographer who works for Ocean Geographic who was on assignment photographing Tubbataha.
Click on the picture of Steve to see his talented work:
What was great about the opportunity to dive with someone of the caliber and experience as Steve, was that beyond him being a fascinating person, I was also able to ask him for invaluable travel advice on where in the world I MUST dive next. He also is willing to share his knowledge and teach people how to take better pictures underwater. Lets not forget, that he is also great company over a few post-dive beers. Or six.
I had a great time Tubbataha Reef diving and although I think I had higher expectations for it, I did have 5 days of some really great diving.
If you go:
**Liveaboards depart from Puerto Princesa, Palawan and only run from mid-March to mid-June. Due to the restricted diving season, some liveaboards can fill up years in advance.
Find Discovery Fleet here for prices and bookings.
Tips on Puerto Princesa:
**You must arrive in Puerto Princesa by air via Manila.
**Restaurant recommendation in Puerto Princesa before your liveaboard departure: La Terrasse for amazing wi-fi, great service, delicious Pork adobo or short ribs marinated in a coffee perfumed BBQ sauce and save room for some flourless chocolate cake for dessert.
**For cheap and clean accommodation in Puerto Princesa: Subli guest cabins