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Diving Tubbataha Reef with M/Y Sakura

Discussion in 'Philippine Paradise Divers' started by RedFishBlueFish, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. RedFishBlueFish

    RedFishBlueFish Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: New York
    63
    30
    18
    Hello! Looking to hear from anyone who has gone to Tubbataha Reef onboard the M/Y Sakura to share their experience. This will be our first liveaboard experience and first time diving in the Philippines. Thanks!!
     
  2. bshort4

    bshort4 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Colorado Springs
    200
    141
    43
    Did you book your Tubbataha trip on the M/Y Sakura? I've been looking at the Sakura too for a trip in 2019. Mostly considering this boat because of the price point. Most liveaboards are $2000 usd and up and that's a little over my budget. The trip on the Sakura is only four days of diving (15 dives) compared to one more day of diving on other boats. My only other concern with the Sakura was comfort--small boat, no a/c, lots of bunk beds in like two rooms, not a lot of room to move around--I did contact them about Nitrox and they do have it at $6 a fill which I like. But I think I could hold up for 5 nights lol. Lots of good reviews of the boat on Tripadvisor and a few videos on You Tube. So if you do dive with them please post a trip report as not many trip reports are ever posted on liveaboards to Tubbataha.
     
  3. outofofficebrb

    outofofficebrb HARRO HUNNAYYY

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco, California
    2,710
    1,966
    113
    I know someone who has been on it. I shared a link to the thread. If he has time and/or is a member, hopefully, he will respond! :)
     
  4. RedFishBlueFish

    RedFishBlueFish Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: New York
    63
    30
    18
    I booked with MY Sakura and we will be diving with them at Tubbataha from 3/25-3/31 and I will definitely post how the experience goes with this charter.
     
    bshort4 likes this.
  5. goblinina

    goblinina Angel Fish

    14
    10
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    @RedFishBlueFish - I would also love to hear about it once you're back! I've been looking at M/Y Sakura for Tubbataha in May. Have a great trip!
     
  6. RedFishBlueFish

    RedFishBlueFish Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: New York
    63
    30
    18
    Hey folks, just got back on terra firma this morning. Took the M/Y Sakura liveaboard from Puerto Princesa from 3/25/18-3/30/18. Just for some background info, this was our first liveaboard experience so we did not know what to expect. I did look at other liveaboards that go to Tubbataha but this was by far the cheapest option. For one person, it cost $1300 USD ($1200 for the operator and $100 for the Marine Park Fee). Other liveaboards cost almost double and usually more for just one more day of diving. The Sakura has 4 diving days. They try to schedule at least 4 dives a day but the last day you only dive 3 times because they like to be heading home by 4pm.
    To start with, everyone meets up at the dive shop then a rep from Tubbataha comes to give a presentation on the Marine Park and explain the rules once you’re diving there. No pointers, no gloves and no tank bangers allowed. After we were briefed, we headed out to the boat. The boat is moored away from land so you are put on a small motor boat to board. If you have large luggage or excess luggage, they stow it in the compartment in the catamaran portion of the boat and if you are unfortunate as we were, our luggage was soaked and all our clean clothes smelled like dirty laundry after sitting in that moist environment for 5 nights. As far as sleeping quarters are concerned, there two rooms of 4 bunks with two marine toilets between the rooms. There is a double room and a single room which you have to climb into towards the front of the boat. We stayed in the private double room which we had requested and they granted because we were one of the first people to book and it was available. There was an area on the top of the boat with mats that could sleep 4 people but you obviously would be exposed to the elements. There is an outdoor and smaller indoor eating area. Dive crates for all guests were set up along the sides of the rear of the boat. One shower head at the back of the boat to basically rinse off. No shower curtain for privacy. So that’s the layout of the boat. When everyone finally got aboard, we waited a couple of hours (they unfortunately have no control of this) for the coast guard to come aboard the ship for inspection. Once we got clearance, we started our journey in relatively rough waters. We had heard from the owner of Sakura that two other liveaboards started and had to turn around because of the weather. We sailed for 3 hours (Sunday night) before the captain decided it was too rough to continue so we headed back to port. We spent the night in port and headed out again the next morning (Monday). The journey was very slow because the sea was only slightly calmer so we went at an average of 3-5 knots I think. During the journey out there, water came into the cabins wetting our sheets and clothes we kept in the room. We finally arrived at Tubbataha very early the next morning (Tuesday). We were divided into two groups and were 6 divers to 1 divemaster (not the 5:1 ratio as stated on their website). You are taken from Sakura to the dive sites via speed boat. Backwater positive entry for all dives. The dive sites chosen are based on mooring availability at each area as no boat can anchor at Tubbataha. The first diving day’s schedule (Tuesday) was as follows: dive #1, Breakfast, dive #2, lunch, dive #3, snack, dive #4. (Dusk dive). Second diving day (Wednesday) they had 5 dives scheduled (a dusk and a night dive were dives #4 & 5 of that day) For those who didn’t want to do the dusk dive, there was an opportunity to go to the ranger station and visit the rangers who protect the Marine Park and buy souvenir shirts. The third and last diving day there were 3 dives. Water visibility was not that good. But despite that, it’s the best diving we’ve ever done. The Reef is the healthiest and most diversed we’ve ever seen. We didn’t get to see a whale shark or a manta ray or a hammerhead but we did see many sharks, a few turtles and a marble stingray. We had a few scary mishaps concerning them setting up our dive gear which made us set up our own gear for the last day of diving. Our dive master was nice but I’ve had a lot better. Food was very good but there was a vegetarian on board who wasn’t pleased with his meals. We headed back to Puerto Princesa approximately 4pm and the sea was much calmer on the return trip. The journey took about 13 hours. Basically, Tubbataha Reef is an amazing location for diving a very healthy reef. If budget is what you’re concerned with and if you like camping conditions on a boat, then this charter might be for you. If you like privacy, real bathrooms and showers and not getting your clothes wet, then choose a more expensive liveaboard. If you have any other specific questions I can answer, just ask and I’ll try and answer as best I could.
     
  7. Jay

    Jay Need to dive more!

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Melbourne, OZ.
    769
    382
    63
    If i's appropriate etc, could you expand on this a little please?
     
  8. RedFishBlueFish

    RedFishBlueFish Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: New York
    63
    30
    18
    When the dive master set up my husband’s gear, he ran the SPG hose through the same strap used to secure his insufflator. When he raised his arm to deflated it pulled the SPG and wedges between his back and his plate. While he was struggling to pull it free, the top strap to his air tank came loose. He had to surface and remove his bcd to fix his rig before he could descend again.
    After this, we decided to set up our own gear and then the next dive, when I asked if the tanks they had given us were full they in fact only had 700 PSI in them.
     
    Jay likes this.
  9. Dogbowl

    Dogbowl Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Somewhere
    2,557
    1,643
    113
    RedFishBlueFish likes this.
  10. bshort4

    bshort4 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Colorado Springs
    200
    141
    43
    Well I was considering the Sakura for next year but your review was very helpful in me deciding that maybe this isn't the boat for me. I don't need luxury but I'm not into camping at sea either. Just a little bit to basic for me even considering the cost. Thanks for your review.
     
    RedFishBlueFish likes this.

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