Snorkeling the Beautiful Coral Reefs of Palawan's UNESCO Reef

Snorkeling Tubbataha: Exploring Palawan’s Coral Garden of Eden



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Check out this gallery of the best underwater photos from Tubbataha taken in ten meters or less.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Tubbataha Park Manager Angelique Songco showed us this beautiful coral garden near the Park Ranger station. She pointed out these rare blue coral species that you aren't likely to find in many other places on earth.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Early one morning we snorkeled this shallow and sunny coral garden near where our boat was anchored. So many different varieties of hard corals here that looked so amazing in the sunbeams of early morning.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    It's in places like Tubbataha that you imagine what coral reefs must have looked like hundreds of years ago.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    We came across this huge stingray on an afternoon snorkel at another one of Tubbataha's dive sites. I would have tried to place somthing beside it to give some scale to the shot, but all I could think about was what happened to Steve Irwin when he got stung by one of these things.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Shallow reefs like this one in Tubbataha are among the most vulnerable to temperature and seawater acidity changes. Even slight warming can cause large scale dieoffs for these fragile organisms.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Angelique removes a stray piece of cord that settled on this beautiful coral head. Even in a place as pristine as Tubbataha, garbage can still wash in from other places. Have you heard about the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch'? Just Google it if you haven't...

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    While I waited expectantly for the resident nurse shark to swim by at the Tubbataha Park Ranger Station, this school of fish appeared. The saltwater flyfisherman in me is always on the lookout for bonefish in Southeast Asia, but so far haven't come across any here yet...

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    It's so sad to imagine that this could all be gone if the ocean temperatures continue warming at their current rate.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Here you can see one of the unusual blue coral species that Angelique pointed out to us.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    A sun-shiny self portrait while snorkeling Tubbataha on a beautiful afternoon.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    You can actually see some of the corals here have been damaged by a bleaching event. Palawan was hit especially hard in 1998 when the sea temperatures rose beyond what coral colonies can withstand. Many reefs are only now beginning to recover and the threat of rising temperatures is even more prevalent.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    The afternoon sun shines through the waters of Tubbataha like light through a stained glass window in church.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    No aquarium is this perfect.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Here you can see a mix of live coral and some bleached areas. Again this is likely due to a warming event in the past decade or so.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    I don't think it's an accident that people call a place like this a 'coral garden'. The branching coral species really do look so much like plants it's easy to imagine you're in a terrestrial garden instead of swimming underwater.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Had to capture the way the morning light lit up this colorful section of reef.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Definitely worth getting up early to catch the morning light in a place like Tubbataha.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Sometimes the ambient light does your photo compositions for you. Couldn't help but have my eye drawn to this colorful patch of coral that was lit up by this spotlight of morning sun.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    I wish I had shot some video footage here, I still remember the way the slanting sunbeams of the rising sun created a beautiful effect in this shallow section of Tubbataha reef.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    No need to use an underwater flash when you've got lighting conditions like this.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Another view of the beautiful branching corals from Tubbataha.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Tubbataha's next generation of little fishies were hanging out near the surface here.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    How many species of coral can you count here?

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Another view of the shallow sandbar beside Tubbataha's Park Ranger Station.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Spend even a little time with Angelique and it's pretty obvious why she's so good at her job as Tubbataha Park Manager.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Prepping for the snorkeling trip around the Tubbataha reef.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    The late afternoon light really brought out the best of this shallow section of Tubbataha's reef.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    This stash of shells was likely left by poachers sneaking into the park in the middle of the night.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Definitely something really frightening about catching sight of this sting ray when you're just casually swimming around.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Tubbataha is home to some of the most beautiful branching hard corals I've ever seen.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    You definitely don't have to put on a scuba tank to see some of Tubbataha's underwater beauty.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Sunrise at Tubbataha, Palawan's most beautiful UNESCO site.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Getting that cathedral effect with the afternoon light here in this shot again.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    This patch of coral was especially beautiful.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    The lighting conditions for this morning snorkel at Tubbataha were pretty much perfect.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    The water was so clear here it might as well have been air.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    These fish really blended in well against the shimmering white background of this sandbar.

  • Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines

    Snorkeling Tubbataha: The Most Beautiful Reef in the Philippines
    Ed takes an afternoon snorkel in between dives at Tubbataha.


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