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Dive Review of Azores Liveaboard in
Philippines/Tubbataha

Azores Liveaboard: "Pelagics! Pelagics! Pelagics!", May, 2016,

by Michael J. Millet, CA, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 78 reports with 44 Helpful votes). Report 8931 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments AZORES TUBBATAHA REVIEW

Boarded the Azores live-aboard for a 7 night dive trip to the Tubbataha reef system in Puerto Princessa. I had cabin 3, which was fine for 1 person but would have been quite tight for 2. There is no drawer storage space so all clothes and other stuff went on the top bunk. There are 2 220 volt outlets by the sink. The cabins have no windows or port holes and the lighting is dim so the rather dark environment is best suited for only sleeping. There is a large dining area and an elevated salon area with a large flat screen TV.

The dive deck was quite spacious with each diver having his own station storage bin. 2 warm, fresh water showers were well used by the divers. The camera table is large enough to accommodate several big rigs with compressed air.

Diving starts early with the 1st dive at 7 AM. A continental breakfast is available at 6 AM. After the first dive, a full breakfast is served. The second morning dive is at 10:30 AM followed by lunch. The afternoons included a 2 PM dive and a 4:30 PM dive. We did no night dives.

The diving at Tubbataha is best suited for wide-angle photography with lots of sharks (mostly gray reef and white-tip), manta rays, large schools of jacks and barracudas, octopus, turtles and whale sharks. We had 2 whale sharks encounters each lasting about a minute or so and a very nice encounter with a few hammerhead sharks. We dived the entire reef system, both north and south atolls along with Jessy Beazly Reef. There are several live-aboards that dive Tubbataha during the limited diving season so some of the dive sites can get a bit congested, such as Black Rock where the mantas hang out. Captain Brian did a good job putting us on dive sites that were the least congested.

The divers (14) were divided into 2 groups and dived from different inflatable skiffs. Both groups had the same dive guide for the entire trip, which is a bit unusal that they weren’t alternated between dive groups. One dive guide was a terrific critter-finder while the other one sometimes just seemed to be along for the ride. The dive briefings were complete and well done.
Dive gear is sort of piled in the front end of the skiff both before and after the dives so one’s gear does take a bit of abuse. Also, camera are stowed on the skiff floor near the stern subject to being underfoot. Dive gear is left on the skiffs during the day so access to one’s dive gear between dives is not ready available.

The food served was plentiful and very tasty. Breakfast included meats, pancakes, French toast, fruit and made-to-order eggs. Lunch and dinner were selected from a limited menu offering a variety of fish, meat , pork, poultry and veggie dishes. Wine and beer are included.

The upper deck offers a spacious seating area, hot tub and sun deck – quite nice for sunsets and star gazing.

The crew was very friendly, hard-working and always helpful.

I did indeed enjoy my experience at Tubbataha aboard the Azores and would definitely consider a repeat trip.


Websites Azores Liveaboard   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving All over the Caribbean; Galapagos, Socorro, Fiji, Solomons, GBR, Vanuatu,
PNG, Philippines, Indonesia, Palau, Yap, Kosrae
Closest Airport Dumaguete Getting There Thru Manila

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 85-87°F / 29-31°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No Deco
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks > 2
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Tubbataha is definitely the locale for wide-angle photography. Just put on wide angle rig and leave it.

The Azores has a spacious camera table with compressed air for blowoff. My primary concern was camera gear getting underfoot on the dive skiffs although no problems occurred in this regard.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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