Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park

UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sulu Sea - Philippines

Home to some of the world’s most unique and beautiful coral reefs is the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park. Basically the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park is a marine sanctuary, which is responsible for the protection and preservation of the Tubbataha atoll coral reef, owing to the various endangered species that are found in this place. It came into being in August 11th, 1988, when the then President of Philippines, Corazon Aquino, declared it a National Marine Park. Since then, it has been inscribed into the World Heritage Site in December 1993, by UNESCO, and has also been nominated as one of the modern 7 wonders of nature.

This marine park is under the control of the island municipality of Cagayancillo, located about one hundred and thirty kilometers north of the mainland, and lies exactly in the middle of Sulu Sea. Geographically, it is also located approximately hundred and fifty kilometer southeast of the Puerto Princesa City, which also happens to be the capital of the Palawan province. This is actually the jump off location for majority of the dive boats and visitors, headed for Tubbataha.


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History, Highlights and Features

The reef comprising the marine park was formed thousands of years earlier as fringing reefs, peeled off of the multiple volcanic islands situated along the Cagayan Ridge. With the passage of time and he turn of the millennia, the volcanoes became extinct and the islands submerged into the depth of the ocean. What remains now are the corals, which continue their growth upwards towards the sunlight.

The biodiversity associated with Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park is unbelievable. Not only is it the home to 360 coral species, which is equivalent to almost half of the entire coral species existing in the world today, it provides shelter to 600 species of fish, 13 species of whales and dolphins, 12 species of sharks, green sea turtles, nesting hawksbill and over 100 species of birds. With an area cover of about 10,000 hectares, this park forms the center of the global marine biodiversity. That is why it is of so much ecological significance. The sustenance and survival of Philippines’ economy greatly on how efficiently and wisely its marine resources are tapped without affecting the balance and disturbing the equilibrium of the ecological cycle.

Good to Know and What not to Miss

Visitors from all around the world come to Philippines with the expectation of experiencing the natural beauty of Tubbataha and mystics of the surreal and unique underwater world. Therefore, tourism plays an essential and integral part by providing the much needed money required for the sustenance, management and conservation of this park. It is also one of the most popular sites for seasoned sports diver, as it offers great depths after the shallow coral reef walls. The best time to visit the park is from March to June, which is the official diving season, offering perfect diving conditions like flat seas, perfect weather and excellent visibility. Also, tourists should abide by all the rules and regulations set by the park in matters pertaining to diving. This helps in the protection of the reef from exploitation or destruction.

Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park

  • How to get there: Travelers need to get in touch with dive companies and operators, which offer live aboard trips to the park. Tourists first need to reach Puerto Princesa City, in order to reach the park. Therefore, one can opt for an hour’s flight from Manila, which is the quickest and most convenient. From there, the tourists will be taken to the wharf, where they will be loaded on a dive boat. Generally the distance from Puerto Princesa to the park is a 10 hour boat ride, but it depends on the speed of the boat as well. Most vessels depart after dinner, so that it can reach Tubbataha by 6am the next day. Some slower vessels, on the other hand, leave early in order to reach the park by first light.
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