Tubbataha Reef National Park: A world wonder beneath the Sulu Sea

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Tubbataha Reef National Park

Two of the most famous reefs in the world are found in the same hemisphere. The Great Barrier Reef, in the Coral Sea off Queensland, Australia, and the Tubbataha Reef National Park, beneath in the Sulu Sea of the Philippines.

Tubbataha Reef was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in1993, and has gained international and regional recognition to its importance in and around the globe.


The Tubbataha Reef National Park is formed by millions of years of underwater volcanic eruptions. Today, the volcanoes are extinct, but their effect can still be seen.

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Tubbataha Reef National Park

Both Tubbataha and the Great Barrier Reef are considered to under threat from climate change, coral poachers and man-made disasters.

The Tubbataha Reef is located in the western region of the Visayan belt of the Philippines. One of the easiest access points to the park is by leaving port in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. The trip can take 10 to 14 hours and is some 155 kilometers from the mainland of Palawan.


The park encompasses a total of 130,000 hectares and the government of the Philippines has set reserves to protect even more of this outstanding region.

tubbataha reef turtle scene

The park is constantly patrolled by official park rangers. A ranger’s station and facility is in the central region of the park. The station rests in shallow water sand bars and can only be accessed by boat. The station is a perfect supply point where you can easily buy food, snacks, fuel and make reservations. They can also give expert information about just about anything.

Tubbataha reef marine reserve

The reef is home to more than 1,000 types of marine animals, so many that multiple dives will always turn up something new. Even those who do not enjoy scuba diving, there is a lot of fun to be had in the shallow waters of the park.

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The lighthouse islet, at the southern tip of the reef is a perfect spot for birdwatchers. This region of the park is home to masked red-foot boobies, frigates, terns and much more – often, particularly in migration seasons, these birds number in the tens-of-thousands.

The Philippines and the entire world understand the ultimate importance of safeguarding an undersea sanctuary such as Tubbataha.