Wreck diving provides an experience like no other; not only does it allow a diver an opportunity to see the beauty of marine life, it also offers a juncture to delve into history and archaeology.
Thus explains the popularity of this form of recreational diving among divers.
If you are planning to do some wreck diving, you may want to visit this particular place in the Philippines. With its great number of sunken Japanese fleets, Coron island is the place to be for some serious shipwreck exploration.
Coron is a first class municipality in the province of Palawan best known for its beautiful lagoons, crystal clear lakes, pristine beaches, impressive limestone cliffs, and world class diving sites.
It is one of the three major islands in Palawan that are quite famous with local and foreign tourists alike. Coron’s industries rely heavily on fishing and tourism
Coron Scuba Guide
Shipwrecks around Coron
Coron has been named many times as one of the best diving destinations not only in the Philippines but in the entire world.
The reason may be greatly attributed to over a dozen sunken Japanese fleets in Coron Bay that are the remnants of World War II. Below are some of the shipwreck sites that you may check out on this beautiful island.
Irako – A Japanese supply ship that sunk about 45 meter deep (148 ft) in the southeast part of Lusong island. The ship is about 147-m long and can be found underwater in an upright position.
It sunk due to the bomb hits it received from the American Air Force on the 24th of September in 1944.
Often described as the best wreck site in Coron by wreck experts, it can be accessed through the wheelhouse, decks, and cargo holds. Due to its depth and size, it is only recommended to deep divers and technical wreck divers.
Akitsushima – Dubbed as the most famous shipwreck and one of the identified real warships in Coron, is the seaplane-tender, Akitsushima. It lies between the islands of Lajo and Manglet south of Concepcion village on Busuanga Island.
The ship is about 148-m long and can be found at the depth of 38m (125ft) with its starboard side in 20m (66ft), and the arm of the stern crane in 34m (112ft).
Due to the strong currents, depth, and poor visibility, this site is not recommended for the inexperienced divers.
The site, however, is quite impressive, with many points of interests to check out, such as the crane that was used to lift the lost seaplane, Emily, 25mm machine guns, radio tower, gas masks, engine room, and the commando room.
Taiei Maru/Concepcion Wreck – Taiei Maru, also known locally as the Concepcion Wreck in reference to its location, Barangay Concepcion, is a 168-m long Japanese 10.045t auxiliary tanker.
It can be found at the depth of 16m (52ft) with its bow spotted at about 26m or 85ft at the bottom of the sea. This wreck site can be explored by beginners with diving instructors.
Kogyu Maru – Locally known as Ekkai Maru, is an Imperial Japanese Navy auxiliary supply ship. The ship is about 129m long and now lies on its starboard side at a depth of 36m.
Historical records say that Kogyu Maru survived the Task Force 38 air attacks in Manila Bay, but was not as lucky when it reached Coron. Over 39 men perished when it was attacked by US Task Force dive-bombers.
The ship can be penetrated through the salvage holes and six cargo holds. The wreck is suitable for Advanced Open Water, Deep Divers, and Wreck Divers.
Okikawa Maru – Okikawa Maru is an Imperial Japanese Navy’s oil tanker and is one of the fleets that were attacked and sunk by the US Task Force 38 on the 24th of September 1944.
For many years, Okikawa was mistaken for another ship Taiei Maru due to their physical resemblance. Unlike the other ships, Okikawa Maru burned for 3 weeks before it finally sunk.
With a body measurement of 170m, it is the largest wreck in Coron Bay. It can be found at a depth of 26m with several points of entry, such as the propeller shaft, crew berthing decks, and oil storage holds.
This wreck site is suitable for Open Water and Wreck Divers.
Other Dive Sites in Coron
Most shipwrecks can only be explored by experienced divers. If you are a beginner, do not be disheartened, Coron has other diving sites that are as equally beautiful. Here are some diving sites that you may want to check out.
Barracuda Lake – As the name implies, barracudas can be found on this turquoise-colored lake. It is situated in the northwest coast of Coron and is known for its warm water due to the hot spring.
Divers have to go through a cave and climb some limestone columns to reach the lake. The water temperature gets warmer the deeper it gets; at about 98 ft, it could be as hot as 38-40°C (105F).
Among the marine species that you may see here are small shoals of rabbitfish, snappers, coral catfish, and prawns.
Bugor Reef – If you want to see beautiful coral reefs then Bugor Reef is the place to be. The marine life in this site is so diverse, it is a favorite among divers of all levels as well as underwater photographers. Here, the eels, giant clams, puffers, and turtles come aplenty.
Neptune’s Wall – Known as one of the best sites for wall dives in Coron, Neptune’s Wall has an average depth of 14m and a maximum depth of 25m.
Other things to see and do in Coron
The world class diving sites are only some of the best things Coron has to offer. The following are some of the places that you may see or do on this island.
Kayangan Lake – Probably the most photographed spot in Coron, Kayangan Lake is dubbed as the cleanest lake in the Philippines for its crystal clear water. It is 70% freshwater and 30% salt water and tourists love to go here for some snorkeling, swimming, and photography.
Mt. Tapyas – One of the activities that locals recommend to tourists is climbing the 742 steps of Mt. Tapyas. The arduous task to reach the top is but a small sacrifice to see the most beautiful view of Coron and Busuanga. Mt. Tapyas is also the perfect spot to catch the lovely sunset.
Maquinit Spring – After climbing Mt. Tapyas, soothe your sore muscles by taking a dip at the Maquinit Spring. It is a saltwater hot spring within a mangrove forest, with water temperature that could go as high as 39-41°C (102°F). It is best to go in the late afternoon or evening. It has an entrance fee of $4.
Calauit Wildlife Safari – You may also want to visit Calauit Wildlife Safari, a game reserve and wildlife sanctuary where you can giraffes, zebras, antelopes, Philippine crocodile, Palawan bearded pig, and other animals.
Banol Beach – To explore more of Coron, be sure to take an island-hopping activity. One of the beautiful places that you will be able to visit is this small, white-sand beach called Banol. Save for some small cottages, the island is bare and peaceful.
How to get to Coron
From Manila, Philippines, you should take a domestic flight to Coron from any of the following airlines; Cebu Pacific Air, PAL Express (Philippine Airlines), AirAsia Zest (Zest Air), or SkyJet.
The plane lands at the Francisco B. Reyes airport in Busuanga. From there, you have to take a van that goes to Coron; travel time is one hour, fare rate is at $2.91 per person or $29.12 if you rent the entire van.
Best times to visit Coron
As in most islands in the Philippines, Coron receives its most number of tourists in the summer season between March and May. As with diving, it is good all year round, but take note that July to October is the wet season in the Philippines.
Some people, prefer to go from November to June when the wet season has ended and the weather is not too hot.
If you want to explore more of Philippines, we put together an entire Guide to Scuba Diving Philippines.
Looking for somewhere to stay while diving in Coron? Check out our list of best places to stay in Coron HERE.