Philippine Liveaboards comparison
The Philippine Liveaboard industry is small compared to other great diving destinations, however, it is growing. The most sought after diving destination is the Tubbataha Reef. About a dozen liveaboards bring Scuba divers there for a short dive season. In the last few years, Liveaboards have started visiting other diving destinations allowing divers to experience much more of the Philippines.
I usually use this website to book in advance my liveaboards in the Philippines as they usually have the lowest rates I find. I like it because they have an easy booking system.
Budget Philippine Liveaboards
Like other remote diving locations, Philippines Liveaboards going to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park do so with a premier price. The fuel requirements and other logistics make the trips a little more expensive then your typical liveaboards. Those sailing to other locations in the Philippines outside of the peak Tubbataha Reefs season will find more competitive prices. Remember budget does not always mean poor quality.
The Philippine Liveaboards presented here are all high quality dive operations. Still, there are some good values for those wanting to explore Tubbataha Reefs on a budget:
- MV Discovery Palawan: The discovery fleet is the leading domestic fleet in the Philippines. The fleet has the MV Discovery Palawan and the MV Discovery Adventure. The MV Discovery Palawan is doing tear round sailings. The MV Discovery Adventure is being remodeled for the remainder of 2016 and will be available for the 2017 Tubbataha season and onward. The crew of the vessels are very experienced both in and out of the water. The fleet may not have all of the glitter of some of the luxury vessels, however, they do have the service. The MV Discovery Palawan is 49.20 meters long taking 32 divers to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park or 16 divers on their northern route. While the Tubbataha trips are a week long, the northern trips can be shorter. The fleet also have a few cruise only sailing without diving. The fleet is the best value in Philippines Liveaboards.
Solitude One liveaboard dive boat
MV Solitude One: While a relatively new Liveaboard operator, It has drawn together some of the most celebrated management from the industry for this elegant Liveaboard. The Solitude One spends a portion of the year in the Philippines and the remainder in Palau. The liveaboard is a 52-metre (171ft) steel-hulled merchant vessel, that has been converted to a luxury diving experience.
MV Seadoors: She is a smaller vessel only 25 meters long and is focused on European divers. The Seadoors Dive Liveaboard was custom built for divers to explore the beauty of the Philippines underwater world in comfort. They have 8 cabins and caters to a maximum of 16 guests.
Luxury Philippine Liveaboards
As mentioned there are 15 liveaboards from 12 different fleets. These two rise to the top for the most luxurious of the Philippines liveaboards.
Philippine Siren: When it comes to luxury and quality in the Asian diving market, the Siren fleet is sure to be mentioned. The Philippine Siren provides dives with a 5 star experience, with superior service, outstanding cuisine, comfortable even luxurious accommodations and an outstanding dive crew. Worldwide Dive and Sail owns and operates a range of diving, sailing and cruising yachts across Asia and the Pacific including the Siren Fleet dive liveaboards, Master Liveaboards diving boats, The Junk dive liveaboard and the Golden Dragon sailing catamaran. Each of these fleets are known to be leaders in their individual markets.
MV Atlantis Azores: There are only a handful of luxury dive resorts in the Philippines, or for that matter in Asia. Two of the top resorts are the Atlantis resorts. Not only are they two of the top three luxury resorts in the Philippines they also own one of the best luxury liveaboards in the Philippines. The 32 meter long Aluminum hulled Liveaboard has only 8 staterooms, each fully equipped to meet your every need. She sails will a maximum of 16 divers.
Tubbataha Reef Liveaboard Diving
The 2016 Tubbataha Reef diving season saw 15 liveaboards from 12 different companies bringing divers to the national park. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a 97,030-hectare Marine Protected Area (MPA) located off the coast of Palawan, in the Sulu Sea.
The diving season starts in early March and goes to June, because of rough sea state the rest of the year diving is limited to that small window. It is an overnight trip of 150km from Puerto Princesa City, to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.
The park is at the heart of the Coral Triangle, and the deep waters around the reef creates an environment that is teeming with marine life. Even with a short dive season, The dive sites of the Tubbataha Reef rank as some of the best in the world for experienced divers.
The park has two atolls the North Atoll and the South Atoll and a small isolated reef. The dive sites are around the outer edge of the atolls. Each site has its own personality, with some offering gentle slope before dropping off while others a sheer wall. Some of the dive sites can be subject to strong and unpredictable currents. UNESCO declared it a world heritage site as far back as 1993.
Coron & The Apo Reef Liveaboards
Coron and the Apo reef is one of the more popular destinations when there is no diving at Tubbataha Reef.
Coron is best known for the WWII wrecks in it’s shallow and protected waters. Coron and Subic Bay are both known for their wrecks.
Both of these Philippine dive sites each has over a dozen. The Apo Reef is the world’s second-largest contiguous coral reef system, approximately 26 kilometers (16 mi) from the north to the south tip, and 20 kilometers (12 mi) from east to west. While having a long history of being a top rated dive site, in the past few divers visited there. The area is an hour off shore and the local dive centers requires hours of driving to get to. The liveaboards allow divers to explore the reef in a manner not possible from a land base resort.
The diving around the island of Cebu is also a destination for the Philippine liveaboards. The province of Cebu has the main island of Cebu and 167 small islands and inlets. The island of Cebu stretches 196 kilometers (122 mi) from north to south and 32 kilometres (20 mi) across at its widest point. The Tañon Strait separates Cebu island from the large Negros Island to the west. It is a protected seascape well know for its marine life. Four species of marine turtles, Over a dozen species of sharks and 11 species of marine mammals can be found in the strait. The corals are very healthy and reef fish plentiful. The area is also know for it sardine balls. At the north tip of Cebu Island is Malapascua Island, the only lace in the world where Thresher sharks can be found daily. The southeast coast of Cebu Island is the Cebu strait, between Cebu and Bohol. Bohol is also an excellent dive destination known for its reefs.
Best time to Dive the Philippines
The Tubbataha Reef National Park diving season is very short, only March to June. However, the other destinations within the Philippines are available when the park is not. The liveaboards are scheduled so they can move to the best seasonal destinations.
One of the situations holding the Philippines back from being a leader in Asian diving is that many locations are isolated. Recent improvements in the infrastructure, internal development of the diving industry and better regulations has improved the worlds viewpoint of the Philippines as a dive destination. Many more divers are seeing the Philippines as a place to dive. Until recently, the Philippine Liveaboard industry was primarily just the short Tubbatacha Reef diving season. However, now with the increases in visiting divers, a number of liveaboards make the Philippines their home year round. The 2016 season saw seven of the fifteen Tubbatacha Reef liveaboards moving to other parts of the Philippines.
Last Minute Trips
The trips to Tubbataha Reef National Park book up very fast and for these trips there are seldom last minute offers. Many of the Philippine liveaboards sailing to other Philippine destinations are single ship fleets without large marketing organizations. While it is best to plan ahead, There are times when the liveaboards are not fully book a month or two before sailing. At times select sailing may show on our Philippine liveaboards last minute page. If you are considering a trip to Philippines in the near future take a look at the last minute pages.
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