Tubbattaha Reefs in Palawan - Philippines
Tubbataha Reef is located ninety eight miles in the southeastern portion of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan. The whole reef is composed of a pair of coral atolls separated by an 8 kilometer channel. The southern coral atoll, the smaller of the two atolls, is 5 kilometers in total length and 3 kilometers in total width while the northern atoll, the bigger atoll, is sixteen kilometers long and 5 kilometers wide. Each atoll possesses a single islet that floats above the water.
There are no permanent residents in the islets. Fishermen usually visit the reefs seasonally, using it as shelters especially during storms. Tubbataha is visited by tourists especially diving enthusiasts who are looking for a fantastic diving spot. Visitors can ride boats from the city of Puerto Princesa.
Tubbataha Reef is considered the most beautiful diving spot in the Philippines and diving ships that offer dives during the Tubbataha diving season are booked years in advance especially during holidays like Golden Week and Easter.
The reef has become a well-known diving site for serious divers because of its reef walls. These coral reef walls are not only appropriate for diving but also offers different colonies of fish a good sanctuary. It is also the home of hawksbill sea turtles which are considered to be endangered species. Tubbataha Reef rivals the Great Barrier Reef of Australia in terms of the diversity of its marine ecosystem.
Tubbataha Reef is also well-known for being an avian sanctuary. A lighthouse located at the southern portion of the South Atoll, houses a significant number of wild birds. The Coast Guards maintains a post on one of the sand bars around the reef.
Tubbataha Reefs Marine Park is located at the Sulu Sea. It was founded on August 11th, 1988 with a total area of three thirty-two kilometers. In 2006, Philippine President Gloria Arroyo improved the boundaries of the Tubbataha Park by two hundred percent to 968.24 kilometers with the help of an Executive Order. Proclaimed as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in December 1993, it is under the management of the Department of National Defense of the Philippines and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Tubbataha Reef is also a nominee in the new seven wonders of nature.
Diving at Tubbataha
Tourism plays a vital role in the future of Tubbataha Reef. It generates the money needed to maintain the park and improves social awareness regarding conservation efforts for the reef.
Tubbatahas diving season usually starts from March until June. These months usually ensures good weather and excellent visibility.
Visitors to the park need to pay a conservation fee of three thousand pesos or sixty dollars. This profit is utilized to maintain the park and train rangers. There is a fifty percent discount for repeated visits within the diving season. Dive masters that are hired by boat operators are required to pay two hundred fifty pesos.
Ship Entry Costs
Vessels that are one hundred GT and below are required to pay three thousand pesos or sixty dollars. Vessels that are one hundred one to two hundred GT are required to pay 4,500 pesos or 90 dollars and vessels that are 201 and above GT are required to pay six thousand pesos or 120 dollars.
When diving in the reef, visitors must strictly follow the rules enforced inside the park because they will be able to help in preserving the beauty of Tubbataha Reef.
Different diving operators feature trips to the reef. Tourists who want to visit the park can contact these operators. The TMO does not feature commercial tours to the reef but is willing to help visitors to book a good boat.
Visitors usually take a one hour plane trip from the Philippine Capital to Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. Diving operators ferry visitors from the airport to the wharf, where the dive boat is waiting. Most of the boat leave the wharf after supper and arrive in the marine park at 6:00 a.m. For more information, nature lovers can log-in at tubbatahareef.org.