Best Time to Dive in Tubbataha Reef, Philippines

The Tubbataha Reefs National Park, or Tubbataha Reef for short, is globally recognized as a dive destination with some of the best diving spots in the Philippines, home to some of the world’s most pristine underwater ecosystem. This UNESCO World Heritage is divided into three main areas: North Atoll, South Atoll, and Jessie Beazley Reef, where you can find interesting creatures like sea turtles, a large variety of reef sharks, reef fishes, and more.

If you’re looking to plan your next trip to the Philippines soon, read on to find out the best times to visit Tubbataha Reef and tips to make the most of your underwater exploration in this aquatic paradise! 

Understanding Tubbataha Reef Climate

Located in the middle of the Sulu Sea, east of Palawan, Tubbataha Reef enjoys a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons throughout the year. During its peak season from March to June, the region experiences its dry season, providing divers with the best conditions to explore popular dive sites located throughout its majestic atolls. On the other hand, the wet season that spans from June to February brings forth heavy rain, strong winds, and erratic waves. Due to the dangerous diving conditions, the entire region is temporarily closed to divers until the next dry season starts. 

Best Diving Seasons in Tubbataha Reef, Philippines

March to June (Peak Season)

The beauty of underwaters in The Philippines

The peak diving season in Tubbataha Reef is from March to June, coinciding with the dry season. The seas are also generally calmer, providing visibility that often goes over 30-35 meters. These diving conditions provide the best environment for most Tubbataha liveaboards, especially since it usually takes more than 12 hours to get from the embarkation point in Puerto Princesa to this popular dive destination.

Not only that, the warmer waters in these months will also give you the opportunity to encounter more marine life, including large pelagic like manta rays, hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, whale sharks, and more. Additionally, fish like barracudas, jacks, and many other reef fishes can be seen passing through the vibrant coral reefs, which will make your every dive in the area a memorable one. 

June to February (Off-Peak Season)

The months of June to February is the off-peak season in this region, where it is usually off-limits for divers due to the yearly monsoon seasons and rough sea conditions. Most of the dive spots in the area experiences heavy rainfall, strong currents, and erratic winds during this period. There’s normally no liveaboard to Tubbataha Reef throughout this time frame, and access to the area is restricted. However, the natural ecosystem in the reefs will be recuperating during this period, which means that you’ll be able to see an abundance of marine life in the next peak season. 

Tips for Planning Your Dive Trip

Travel tips to the Philippines 

Gazing through the palm trees of a tropical island, one can spot Solitude One on the horizon during sunset.

For international travelers, the most popular way to visit Tubbataha Reef is to fly into Manila and transfer to Puerto Princesa, the capital city of the Province of Palawan. The city is also where most liveaboards depart, where it usually takes 12-16 hours for dive boats to reach Tubbataha. 

If you plan to embark on your dive travels during the peak season, we recommend planning your trip and booking your travel arrangements at least a year in advance. This is due to the limited number of liveaboards available and the short time frame for diving season, as this Philippines dive destination is closed during the off-peak months. Prior planning is essential to ensure you can enjoy your exploration of the pristine waters in Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.

Accommodation options

Sunny day at sea: Dining area on Solitude One's outdoor deck

Since the Tubbataha Reefs National Park is located in a remote place, liveaboard is the only way to visit popular dive sites in the area. Liveaboards allow you to explore multiple dive sites each day and offer the opportunity for early morning and night dives, letting you witness unique marine life that appears at specific times. These floating dive resorts typically provide cozy cabins, delicious meals, and dedicated dive guides, ensuring a memorable and hassle-free diving experience.

Although limited, there are several options for Tubbataha liveaboard itineraries that’s available in the market. Whether you’re planning a short getaway or looking to explore the region’s many dive sites for more than a week, there is something for everyone. 

Preparing your scuba diving equipment 

Dive equipment laid out and organized on Solitude One's spacious dive deck.

Although many liveaboards do provide equipment onboard, you can consider bringing some of your own scuba diving gear that’s more comfortable for you. Ensure that all your gear is in excellent condition and conduct thorough inspections before your dive. Key items that you should bring to Tubbataha Reef include a well-fitting mask, fins, comfortable wetsuit, dive computer, mesh bag, and dry bag. Don’t forget to also bring spare parts and a basic repair kit in the case of minor equipment issues. 

Health and safety tips

Before you embark on your diving tour in Tubbataha Reef, it’s important to ensure that you are in good health and have received the necessary, up-to-date vaccinations. Consult with your doctor as to which shots you’ll need, but in general, we recommend you to take vaccinations against common food, air, or water-borne illness like measles, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and typhoid.

Additionally, we also recommend you to pack adequate insect repellent to avoid mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria. Remember to eat nutritious meals, stay hydrated, and get a good night’s sleep daily to ensure you have a great diving experience during your Tubbataha trip.

Environmental considerations

it’s important to be mindful of environmental considerations to help preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is because the reef has a delicate ecosystem that houses diverse marine life and coral formations, which are highly sensitive to human activity. Divers should practice responsible diving by maintaining good buoyancy control to avoid damaging corals, using reef-safe sunscreen to prevent chemical contamination, avoid from taking anything from the reefs, and adhering to the guidelines set by dive operators. 

Start Planning Your Next Trip to Tubbataha Reef Today!

Solitude One Liveaboard in The Philippines

If you’re eager to maximise your next reef diving adventure in Tubbataha, consider reserving a spot with Solitude World Liveaboards & Resorts! On our state-of-the-art vessel, MV Solitude One, you can indulge in exceptional comfort and service. With spacious cabins, top-of-the-line amenities, all-inclusive meals, and expertly guided dives at renowned sites, every aspect of our Tubbataha liveaboard package is tailored to enhance your diving experience. 

Book your next diving adventure with us here today!