Wreck diving Coron

This article is about wreck diving Coron. Coron offers divers one of the best wreck diving spots on earth. In this article you first learn something about Coron, the history of Coron, the places to visit when you are in Coron and very important: how to get there. After that the article continues with wreck diving Coron: the history and a wreck guide.

Introduction

Coron is a picturesque municipality found in Palawan Province, Southern Philippines. It’s part of the Calamian Archipelago and consists all of the Coron Islands, the eastern portion of Busuanga Island and about 60 islets that stretch to the far flung areas of both Tara and Canipo islands.

Coron is a paradise  area blessed with exotic flora and fauna, a stunning landscape and gorgeously astounding marine life.  With its combination of unspoiled white sand beaches, impressive limestone cliffs, highly panoramic lakes and lagoons, postcard like natural sceneries and interesting underwater shipwrecks, the place will surely captivate hearts and leave memories of incomparable beauty and charm.

It’s the jewel of the Calamian Archipelago, a heaven like place for any adventure loving spirits.  Calling it a home is a dream and with its allure and magical aura, you’ll definitely come back to experience it more.

Coron History

Coron literally means “pot” in the Cuyonon language, a name given to the area by Don Nicolas Manlave Y Ledesma, a Cuyo resident who took note of the earthen pot shaped bay that fronts Banuang Daan, a “barangay” or a local government unit where he first settled.  The name Coron has been the official name of the island and its surroundings since then.

The first recorded inhabitants of Coron were the Indonesian based Tagbanuas, a nomadic and sea faring natives who count on agriculture and fishing as their main way of life.  They arrived some 5,000 years ago and have inhabited the place till the present times.   They still retained their ancient customs and traditions and remains primitive in more ways than one, despite the modern times and their organized settlements.

Then the Calamianens came next.  They were part of the Malay immigrants who descended in Coron sometime between the period covering 200 B.C. to 100 A.D. and were recognized as the forefathers of the Bontoc and Igorot tribes.

A series of historical events took place that shaped Coron to how it is today as a municipality and as one of the Philippine’s treasured islands.  An organized government was first established during the late 1749, under the efforts of a Cagayancillo local named Pedro Vincua.  During 1902, it was first registered as a town with Don Vicente Sandoval as its first Municipal President.  From its former name of Penon de Coron, it was officially registered as Coron.

The period from 1939 to 1947 saw its economy flourished, with the town enjoying a boom when it comes to mining and fishing.  A historic event happened on September 24, 1944, when a dozen Japanese ships were sunk by American fighter planes on Coron waters at the height of World War II.

Today, the municipality of Coron has been a widely visited place by people seeking a great vacation and those who are searching for some one- of- a- kind adventure.   It’s hugely famous for a particular activity:  Shipwreck diving.  It’s one of the Philippine’s premier diving place that continually receives praise, admirations and accolades from tourists both locally and abroad.

Places to Visit

Busuanga Island

Lying in between mainland Palawan and Mindoro is Busuanga, a frequently visited municipality in Palawan Province.  It’s opposite the Coron municipality and with Busuanga Island as the largest island in the Calamian group of islands.  The town proper is Salvacion, which is about 50 kms away from neighboring Coron.  If one has to travel between the main towns of both municipalities, it would take around two hours of travel time.

Rock formations and marble cliffs dominate Busuanga landscape and such are  breathtaking sights to see.  It offers a wide array of activities to its visitors.   One can go for different water sports on its island’s many beaches, go river cruising in mangrove covered forest, hiking the lush tropical forest, have a sightseeing tour, climb its mountain peaks or bath in any of its natural springs and waterfalls.  It has become a favorite tourist stop for travelers exploring the entirety of  the majestic Philippine islands.  Busuanga is a must see place for those seeking out a sea, sun and sand experience.

The Busuanga area used to be a part of Coron, but under the Executive Order No. 560, the municipality of Busuanga was officially recognized and created on June 17, 1950.

Coron Bay

Lying between two popular islands, Busuanga and Culion, Coron Bay has its own identity and much to pride itself of.  There are many gorgeous diving sites in its area, but particularly it gives the best wreck diving experience in the country and perhaps, in the whole world.  A dozen Japanese warships sank here and are the subjects of many divers’ quest for adventure.  Though the wrecks are the main thing in the waters of Coron Bay, there are other great dive sites as well and are worth every diver’s look and must not be missed.  Its underwater boasts a great variety of fish and coral species that can be alternatives when the wrecks become inaccessible to divers.

Coron Island

Coron Island is a limestone island with some coastal areas covered by lush mangrove forests.  It’s the third largest island of Calamian and is part of the municipality of Coron.  Blessed by seven pretty lakes, it has the country’s cleanest lake, the much acclaimed Kayangan Lake.  Much of its area is still inhabited by its original settlers, the Tagbanwa people, who still have their primitive ways and are lead by a tribal chieftain.  Coron Island boasts of white, flour- like sand beaches and clear blue waters suitable for a lot of water activities like swimming, deep sea fishing and snorkeling.  Aside from the waters that surround it, the island has a known dive site  called the “Gunter’s Cave”, or much popular by the name of Cathedral Cave.  It got its name from its documented discoverer, Gunther Bernert, who was part of the first dive group that ventured into it.  It creates a wonderful experience once inside because the whole cave glows when the sun’s rays enter through a hole in its surface.  It becomes illuminated just like a mini cathedral that’s well lighted.

Another great place to see is the famous Barracuda Lake.  A spectacular scenery awaits every visitor and a rugged underwater terrain that’s compared with that of the moon’s surface.  The lake is much ballyhooed because of its superstar resident: the lonesome barracuda.  There’s not much to see here as marine life is scarce, but if one encounters the barracuda, considered as the king of the lake, then the fun and thrill will be worth the visit.

A quick facts and records check:  Colon Island’s topography is composed of 70% mountainous parts and rocky cliffs; 25 % are rolling hills;  and the remaining 5% is plain grounds and flat surfaces.  Another interesting information is that it’s the home and the habitat of the cute Philippine Cockatoo.

Coron town

The Coron town or city is just a small and underdeveloped town in Busuanga island where people seek accommodation when they visit the Calamianes Group of Islands.  It’s different from Coron Island, which is a touristy place and where most of the action takes place like island hopping, snorkeling and lake visiting.   Unlike its namesake, the town has less to offer with no beaches or astounding waterfront areas.  Most structures here are unfinished buildings,  partially destroyed houses and empty spaces of land that are actually part of an ill constructed landfill project.  However, it still is the largest town on Busuanga Island and its main population and commercial center.  It’s seen as the gateway and the ideal base for adventures in and around the Calamianes Islands; the reason why it counts tourism now as its top industry overcoming manganese mining and large scale fishing.

For the record,  it was widely devastated when the dreaded strong typhoon named Yolanda came sweeping through it with winds reaching 300 mph during November 8, 2013.  A devastating storm surge destroyed buildings, houses, agricultural crops and other infrastructures.  It left many residents displaced and in the process killed more than a dozen in Coron town alone.

Tangat Island

The Tangat Island, also referred to as the Sangat Island is a small island located roughly 2 to 3 kms off the Busuanga coast and lies next to Coron’s Barangay Bintuan.  It’s a part of the Calamian group of islands in the Philippine province of Palawan and just like most places, it takes pride of its numerous natural attractions, primarily it’s panoramic beaches and the dive sites around it.

Tangat Island counts on tourism as its main economy with much of the island transformed into a resort type of place with lots of accommodation facilities like rented inns, cottages and exclusive villas.  The majority of those who prefer to stay are scuba divers or sea adventurers, who seek to explore the Japanese shipwrecks that popularized Coron and the Calamian Islands, giving the Philippine tourism a big boost in the recent decades..

How to get there

Getting to Coron means reaching its jump off point first: the Busuanga Island.  There’s a variety of ways going here.  Below is a complete guide on how to get to Coron from key cities of the Philippines.

Travelling by air

There are many direct flights from Manila going to Busuanga.  The PAL (Philippine Airlines) and some budget airlines like Cebu Pacific, Zest Air and Skyjet offer daily flights and air travel time is around one hour.  Costs may range from as low as 3,000 pesos to 4,500 pesos or about $65 to $100/each for a one way trip, but is influenced mainly by the season when one plans to fly.

Upon reaching the Busuanga Airport, there are vans for hire going to Coron.  It would cost 150- 200 pesos ($6- $8) for a 45 minute to an hour ride.

Travelling by sea

Large shipping companies like the Aboitiz Superferry, 2Go Travel and Negros Navigation offer a direct trip from Manila to Coron.  The travel time is 8 to 10 hours, depending on weather condition and price ranges from 1,100 to 1,300 pesos or $25 to $30/each for a one way trip.

If one’s coming from other destinations like El Nido, San Jose in Occidental Mindoro and Batangas, smaller steel vessels and trigger boats make their way to Coron ferrying both passengers and cargo.  Atienza Shipping Lines and J.V. Serrano Shipping Lines are the most prominent  boat trip operators plying the routes.

Wreck diving Coron

The wrecks in Coron Bay, together with the surrounding waters of Busuanga, are considered the finest dive sites in the Philippines today.   It all started on September 24, 1944, at the height of World War II, when US Navy strike force fighters and dive bombers attacked an estimated 24 Japanese warships that were at anchor in Coron Bay and around Busuanga Island.  Relentless attacks and bombardment sent Japanese sub  chasers and gunboats; oil tankers; cargo and supply vessels and a lot more, down to the depths of the waters and into their final destination: the ocean grave.  Here’s a little blow- by- blow account how this historic naval battle unfolded.

With a distance of  about 170 nautical miles southwest of Manila, Japanese war commanders think that the Coron Bay is a safe assembly area for its warships. They ordered 12 to 18 of their Japanese freighters and warships from Manila to make its way to Coron Bay.

Upon sensing that many Japanese warships have reached Coron.  Under the command of Vice Admiral William F. Halsey’s 38th Task Force, 80 Curtis SB2C and Grumman H6F Hellcat Helldiver planes head off  to the area of Coron at 6:00 am on September 24, 1944.  It comprised two CVs or fleet carriers and two CVLs or light fleet carriers plus escorts.  It was considered the longest range for an air attack coming from US aircraft carriers during that time.

About 120 planes met in midair, assembling more than 600 kilometers from their targets.  Not all have successfully gained access to the area, with some planes having run out of fuel or were shot down from guns coming from the Japanese fleet.  At exactly 9:00 am, they reached Coron and started their attacks.  All sorts of firepower were present: bombing, torpedo attacks and strafing, all were relentless.   It took just 40 minutes, and when the attack planes left, a wide area of devastation was left behind.  Some ships were hit directly, while some by bombs that reached underneath the waters.  The majority of the ships sunk in the bay between Lusong and Sangat Island and the others near the Manglet Island.

It was a very successful operation that shaped the course of history.  It’s considered one of the biggest naval victory of the World War II.

Important points to remember in Coron’s shipwreck diving

Before packing one’s bags and readying those diving suits, there’s some crucial information on how to go with one’s diving activities in Coron.  Wreck diving is not a simple child’s play, it’s an adventure activity that requires some serious skills, efforts and sharp mental mindset, that will make it all safe and a highly fulfilling experience.

  • Weather
    Coron is a year round diving site, but there are three unique and distinct seasons that will greatly affect dive conditions.  The northeast monsoon season runs from December through March and is characterized by strong winds.  The months of April to June is the country’s summer season with warm, sunny days and little wind.  July through November, which is the southwest monsoon is generally wet with warm waters; it’s the rainy season, when the heavens are gloomy and rains are more often.
    Most diving activities in Coron happen during the summer months of April to June because it has the most ideal weather condition.  Wind and sea breezes are little and the waters are gentler and calmer.  There are plenty of diving tours offered and Coron will be a very busy place with lots of enthusiastic divers and nature trippers.  Air temperatures are at an average of 24- 33o Celsius.
  • Visibility
    Coron is blessed with amazingly clear waters, experts put the visibile range from 5 to 45 meters, but this largely depends on the location and the weather.
  • Water temperature
    Coron waters are relatively nice and warm.  Philippine waters in general are considered warmer than most waters in the world, thus suitable for many water activities, notably wreck diving.  Depending on the area, weather and season, temperatures play around between 23- 30o Celsius.
  • Recommended Courses
    Coron with its currents, walls and wrecks, make it beneficial for any diver to take diving courses.  The PADI diving courses that one can take are the PADI Diver, Wreck Diver and Drift Diver Courses.  A special training is required to engage in technical diving on its deep wrecks. 

Padi dive courses

It stands for Professional Association of Diving Instructors and is the world’s number 1 scuba diver training organization.  It has close to 6,500 dive centers and resorts; 136,000 PADI professionals and instructors; and have issued more than 20 million certifications since its existence.  PADI diver courses and services can be found worldwide.

Here’s a very brief description of the PADI courses that will make one fit and competent to hit the waters of Coron.  These are the recommended certificates for a given diving condition:

  • Open water diver
    When one is diving outside the deck without current
  • Advanced open water diver
    When one is diving with current
  • Experienced advanced open water diver
    When one is diving with very strong current
  • Wreck diver specialty
    When one is into penetration dive

Note:  There are many more PADI diver levels and courses offered like Advanced Technical Diving courses, Master Diver courses and a lot more.  The above certifications are the recommended ones for a Coron wreck diving activity.

Wreck diving Coron guided tours

There are several Coron wreck diving guided tour companies that one can approach in experiencing the thrill of wreck diving in Coron.  Prices vary depending on how many fun dives one plans to make, the duration of the tour, the amenities included or the ones that have to be rented like the Nitrox/ per tank, the duration of the tour, the season, transportation to and fro, and other relevant factors.  Price ranges from 3,000 pesos to as high as 7,000 pesos ($80- 90)/person for a day tour, and it excludes any diving courses, which will make it relatively higher.

In one of the websites of a Coron wreck diving guided tours, here’s what they offer in a typical day in exploring the wonders of Coron’s shipwrecks:

It will be a full day trip for a two or three wreck dives.  Participants will board a “bangka”, a traditional Philippine outrigger style dive boat for the duration of the tour.  This bangka comes with a small bathroom, water, drinks and covered areas for a shade.  Personal items like sun block and hats must be provided by the participant.  The normal departure time is 9:00 am.

Dive guides will accompany groups of 4 to 6 divers, or as needed.  Groups are segregated according to experience levels.  There can be a novice group and the experienced or advanced ones.

One can choose to dive with a diving buddy or be guided.  It’s the participant’s responsibility to determine his NDL and to be aware of his air supply.  Usually, dives are not time limited.

The usual procedure upon reaching the first dive site is to go for a dive into a wreck and then go off to a beach or a shallow wreck for two hours of swimming, snorkeling and lunch.  Lunch is prepared on board by the tour company’s professional crews.  A second wreck drive follows and after that, it will cruise back for an hour to Coron.  The boats usually return between 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, depending on the dives made and last dive’s location.

Divers are given freedom to explore on their own, like two wreck diver specialty certified divers can plan their penetration down the wreck with proper equipments in tow.  Those who have completed the Advanced Open Water courses can take the Padi Wreck Driver Specialty class during the tour, but it should be arranged, negotiated and prepared prior to the trip.

Dive professional would always be there to guide and protect participants of the tour.  They’ll put safety as their main priority and avoid accidents and other untoward incidents to their participants like decompression sickness problems that may occur after.

The wrecks

Here’s a complete rundown of the 11 Japanese shipwrecks found in the waters of Coron.

  1. Akitsushima
    The Warship Akitsushima is lying on her starboard side, one of the first few ships that received direct hits and sank very fast.  It’s located between the waters of Busuanga Islands and Culion, very near to Manglet Island.  It’s classified as a Seaplane Tender type of vessel and measures 118 meters in length, 15.7 meters in width, can carry 4,724 tons and can speed up to 19 knots.  The wreck site has a depth of 26 to 38 meters with visibility reaching down to 15 meters.What to see
    A very impressive wreck where every diver will be fascinated to see deck- mounted anti- aircraft guns, shell- loading conveyors and seaplane crane structures.  Many black corals and sponges are present, with many fish species can be seen in its surroundings.  There are lion fishes, batfishes, glasfishes, waspfish, nudibranchs and shrimps.

    Diving Conditions/ Experienced level required
    This one is for expert divers.  Due to its depth reaching 36 meters and the metal hazards it poses, swim throughs are not allowed without a wreck diver certification.  An experienced wreck diver can make an entry into its engine room to see its almost intact four engines.  A penetration into its stern can make one see the machinery and gears used for operating the ship’s crane. 32% Nitrox is recommended for breathing, allowing a 50% increase in Allowable Bottom Time.  Certification Level is Advanced Open Water Diver, while for penetration, one needs a PADI Wreck Diver specialty.

  2. Ekkai Maru
    The Ekkai Maru was once confused with the Olympia Maru and Taiei Maru.  Upon further investigation, the Ekkai Maru is actually the Morazan,  a Panamanian cargo vessel that was confiscated by the Japanese Navy during their advance on December 1941 in China.  The marks on its side read “CEIBA- BH”, the last two letters referring to British Honduras, thus confirming its identity.  It was the ship’s home port before it was captured.  Based on studies made underwater, several direct hits were made in the bridge structure and also to its hull.  Some below the waterline hits were evident on her starboard side that causes a huge explosion of the engine room.  The big reason that made her sink.It’s classified as a freighter, with a length of 140 meters with the wreck site at maximum depth of 26 meters.  Visibility is clear at 15 meters.

    What to see
    Hard corals covered the port side of this stunning 120 meter wreck site, where Sweet Lips, sea snakes, giant Groupers and turtles are found.  Scorpion fish is also sighted, so one must be aware of it.  There are also soft corals, bushes of black corals and plenty of lionfishes.  The big bomb hole on the upper side of the ship is inhabited by slugs or “Chelidonura amoena”, its scientific name.  Upon the initial penetration, several lines can be seen attached to its rudder and near the bridge since she’s lying on the starboard side.

    Diving Condition/ Experienced level required
    Very nice penetration dives can be easily done here since the wreck lies in shallow waters of 24 meters on her starboard side and her hull at just 12 meters.  An ideal entry to the wreck is in its square cargo bays, once inside, one can swim through it.  Its engine room can also be penetrated easily.  Overall, easy to challenging penetrations are present and divers must not miss the boiler room.  Open Water Diver, Advanced OWD and Wreck Diver specialty are the recommended skill level required.

  3. Irako
    Tagged as the best wreck dive in Philippine waters.  The Irako is a Japanese refrigeration ship that’s found at the mouth of Coron Bay.  It’s one of the biggest ships at 147 meters in length, 19 meters in width and weighing in at a heavy 9,723 tons.  The engine is powerful giving 8,300 horsepower, it’s a two steam powered geared turbines driving twin props with the steam coming from 6 Kampon boilers.  It can reach a maximum speed of 17.5 knots.Her mission is to supply food for about 25,000 personnel of the Japanese Navy Fleet.  It’s one of the most heavily targeted, getting direct hits.  Multiple bomb hits on its upper deck made it caught fire and eventually sank with many casualties on board.

    What to see
    It’s big and quite intact, giving a good visibility of a dynamic shipwreck.  Lots to see and include fridges, huge rice boilers and food mixers.  The other things that are very visible is a bench drill, an old style metal lathe and other steel production machineries.  This massive refrigeration vessel is a home to many Giant Groupers, Scorpion Fishes and shoals of Yellow Fin and tunas.  Divers have also seen two sea turtles living in a folded metal, huge column of Jacks in its bow area and a gorgeously beautiful ray with a 2 meter width frequenting around the ship’s mast.

    Diving Condition/ Experience level required
    It’s one of the deepest wreck sites that reaches down to 40 meters with some point of entry like on its machine shop compartment or in its bridge area.  It’s not for the inexperienced diver, where large areas of the ship are devoid of natural lighting.  Proper equipment and deep penetration strategies are essential plus a torch, which is a basic necessity if one wants to access the bottom of Irako.  The engine room is a beautiful penetration area, but only the best trained and experienced divers must take it.  The Experience Level Required is Advanced OWD, Deep Diver and Wreck Diver.

  4. Kogyo Maru
    The Kogyu Maru was a 1938 built Japanese freighter ship that weighs 6,353 tons and is 129 meters long and with a width of 18 meters.  It’s run by a two oil fueled steam turbines, that’s geared to a single shaft.  Its main mission is to carry construction materials for building a runway for Japanese war planes in the Pacific during the World War II.The Kogyu Maru survived several air attacks in Manila Bay and received an order to sail to Coron Bay.  She arrived afternoon at 3:40 pm on September 23, 1944 in Coron Bay.  Strenuous efforts were made to camouflage the ship’s main deck and its bridge the whole night.  Come the next day, at 9:00 am on September 24, she was attacked relentlessly by US dive bombers.  It received many bomb hits causing it to sink, taking along 39 Japanese ship crews into the ocean depths and to their graves.

    Its location is on Coron Bay with a depth range of 24 to 34 meters with visibility down to 15 meters.  Travel time in getting here is about 15 minutes.

    What to see
    It lies on her starboard side and one can enter into all its 6 holds, going to the engine room and bridge area.  Since it’s a construction material carrying ship, one can see assorted things like a small bulldozer, cement sacks, tractor, air compressor and a cement mixer.  Anti- aircraft guns remain positioned on the wreck’s top deck.

    Several marine life nestled on it.  Giant pufferfishes, waspfish, groupers and barracudas can be seen within its vicinity.  A wide range of corals, including soft, hard corals and sponges cover its port side.

    Diving condition / Experience level required
    It suits beginner divers, but still care and caution must be exercised.  With many easy hull penetration found in numerous areas, getting in can be a breeze.  The recommended experience level is Open Water Diver, Advanced OWD and Wreck Diver.  Diving it is best with a 100 cubic foot tank of Nitrox 32, which gains one sufficient gas mixture and a long time No Decompression Limit to cover the entirety of the ship in just one single dive.

  5. Kyokuzan Maru
    The Kyokuzan Maru is a Japanese auxiliary freighter that performed a wartime logistics role for the Japanese Navy.  During her sinking, it was carrying tons of spare parts.  It’s situated on the opposite side of Busuanga going to Coron town, so its accessibility is quite difficult as it’s out of the normal route.  It will take an hour ride in a truck plus a 20 minute boat ride.  It’s less visited by divers because of its locationThe Kyokuzan Maru is long at 135 meters and lies at a depth of 39 meters, with her upper deck rising to 22 meters depth.  Visibility is quite good reaching down to 20 meters.What to See
    There are interesting things to see like Japanese trucks and staff cars in her cargo holding area.  Evidence also points out that this ship did not sink because of bombing damages as her hull, engine room and cargo holds are very much intact.  It is then assumed that the crew and staff had simply abandoned the ship out of fear or to escape a sure death.  Its intact appearance is for the diver’s delight, for they can fully see and admire the original look of this ill- fated ship.

    It attracts a variety of marine life.  It’s a home for a wide variety of small fish with its deck encrusted and covered with soft and hard corals.  Jawfishes and school of batfishes are its known residents.

    Diving Conditions/ Experience level required
    The dive site has a light to moderate current and visibility is quite good.  It’s easy to penetrate and points of entry going inside of the ship can be made through its cargo holds and also possible through its bridge area and huge overturned funnel.  The recommended Experience Level Required is Advanced Open Water Diver and Wreck Diver.

  6. Lusong Gunboat
    The Lusong Gunboat is a Japanese submarine hunter and a gunship boat with a length of 30 meters.  The overall depth of the dive site area is 3 to 12 meters with visibility of about 15 meters.  It’s a shallow wreck that’s recommended for beginners and with its setup, one can snorkel in between dives or can be as a second shallow dive with the ending on its reef.  A highly attractive wreck despite of being small.  An abundance of marine life can be seen surrounding it.  It’s just a 5 minute ride getting here from the Coron Resorts.What to see
    The wreck is a top spot for macro underwater photography with plenty of things to see.  During the low tide, the stern or the bottom most part of the ship breaks the surface of the waters.  Underneath, one can have a glimpse of its mounted fuel tanks and engine.  Overall, it’s a haven for underwater photographers as one gets to encounter hard corals, huge sponges and rich marine life.  Some of the species found here are the cuttlefish, the damselfish, lionfish, parrotfish, stonefish and plenty of nudibranches.

    Diving Condition/ Experience level required
    It’s a safe area for diving and has the best conditions for snorkeling.  It’s a year long diving spot and suitable even for inexperienced divers.  The Experienced Level Required is Skin Diver and Open Water Diver.

  7. Nashin Maru
    The Nanshin Maru is a small Japanese tanker that carried fuel in small, isolated tanks that replenishes the need of Japanese land based vehicles.  It’s also referred to as the “Black Island Wreck” and is located near the Black Island Beach, around 3 hours away from Coron.  The ship is just 50 meters in length and is below a depth of 32 meters.  What’s amazing is the clear visibility reaching 30 meters down.What to see
    The ship is much intact and every diver can have his eyes full here.  With its very clear visibility, it’s perfect for night dives and underwater photography. Its superstructure is where many lionfishes and scorpionfishes dwell, and its common residents are batfish, snappers, trumpetfish, groupers and angelfishes.  Hydroids and sponges cover its hull.

    Diving Condition/ Experience level required
    It will be a beautiful dive in very clear waters. It stands upright, making for a shallow dive to see it.  It nicely suits wreck diving beginners, with the wreck starting at 21 meters deep.  A 32% Nitrox for breathing is recommended and the Experience Level Required is Advanced Open Water Diver and Wreck Diver Specialty.

  8. Okikawa (Taiei Maru)
    Often misidentified as the Taiei Maru, the Okikawa was an oil tanker servicing the Imperial Japanese Army.  It’s the largest wreck found in Coron Bay with measurements in staggering sizes:  length of 170 meters and weighing 10, 045 tons.  Like most of the ships, it was attacked on the 24th of September 1944, had sustained heavy damage and was on fire for nearly 3 weeks.  It eventually sank after receiving further bombing on October 9 of the same year.  She sank upright with a slight tilt to its port side at a depth of 26 meters.  It’s located near Busuanga, about 2 kilometers away to the nearest island, the Concepcion Island.What to see
    A lot to see here with the ship’s parts can be clearly seen, including its bow, stern, parts of its engines, crumpled metals, deck houses and propeller shafts.  If the Irako isn’t the best wreck, then definitely the Okikawa will hold the distinction.  Once inside, one can clearly say that this was a warship that was bombed and sank, with a view of a badly battered ship  that’s broken and twisted into a very peculiar shape.  A very abundant marine life can be sighted and encountered.  In its bow area, schools of snappers and numerous huge bat fishes are holding their positions.  There are different varieties of corals, sponges and hydroids.  Jellyfishes, flatworms, nudibranchs and mackerels are all over the ship and its areas.

    Diving Conditions/ Experienced level required
    The ship’s main deck rises to a depth of 10 to 16 meters, making it perfect for Open Water divers and above.  It’s highly suitable for wreck penetration, where divers can get access to its engine rooms by gaining entry via its oil storage area, crew berthing decks and propeller shafts.  The only obstacle for any beginner diver is its unpredictable currents, which can go moderate to strong even in shallower depths.  Nitrox at 38% is highly recommended with dives exceeding one hour being very common.  The Recommended Experience Level Required are:  Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Experienced Advanced Open Water and Wreck Diver.

  9. Olympia Maru
    The Olympia Maru is a Japanese Freighter that sits upright and is very close to the Tangat Island in Coron Bay.  It has dimensions of 122 meters in length, 17 meters in width and can weigh up to 5,612 tons.  It was built and owned by Mitsubishi Shoji Kaisha Ltd until the time it sunk.  It’s powered by an oil two stroke six cylinder engine that can produce a maximum of 582 horsepower, replacing what used to be an original steam engine.  It was commissioned by the Japanese Naval Forces, but ownership remains with its original builder till the time it met its unfortunate end.  The wreck site reaches to a depth of 28 to 30 meters with visibility of up to 15 meters.  It only takes 10 minutes to get here from Coron Island.What to see
    The bow, stern and mast areas are fully intact.  The ship’s size is simply huge and one can get a good coverage of the wreck in just one dive.  A great variety of marine life calls it home.  Tropical fishes are its known residents like banana fish, giant puffers and huge bat fishes.  Other species seen include Razorfish, crocodile fish and a host of hard corals.

    Diving Condition/ Experience level required
    With its upright position on the seabed, the wreck has many options for an easy penetration going to its various cargo hold areas.   Divers who have been here are advising that the best way to start off is by heading through its prop shaft and leading to its engine room.  Huge boilers can be seen and the wreck offers a lot of ways of going in and out with the luxury of light streaming through it.  The Experienced Level Required is Open Water Diver, Wreck Diver and Advanced OWD.

  10. Skeleton Gunboat
    This wreck got its name because what remains of this gunboat are its ribs, giving it a skeletal appearance, thus aptly called the The Skeleton Gunboat.  It’s a small Japanese attack gunboat that’s 25 meters in length with a depth of 22 to 25 meters.  Visibility is good up to 15 meters and located very near to Coron Island.  It has a shallow beach that perfectly suits those beginning in scuba diving.  The reef is uniquely inclined at 45 degree angle and makes an ideal setting for a wonderful and colorful coral dive.What to see
    The top of the wreck is only about 6 meters from the water’s surface.  The keel, ribs and stringers of this steeled made boat can be seen.  Its bow is just a few dozens away from Coron Island with its stern pointing directly away from the island’s direction.  A wide variety of fish life can also be seen with sightings of some Lion and Scorpion fish.

    Diving Conditions/ Experience level required
    It’s a tiny little wreck that can either be accessed by a dive or a snorkel.  An entry can be made on its starboard side of the hull at a depth of 14 meters, allowing one to swim in the inside of the boat over to the coral reef.  Diving the Skeleton Gunboat is best done while breathing 36% Nitrox that gives a 70% increase in Allowable Underwater Time.  The recommended certification level is Skin Diver and Open Water Diver.

  11. Tangat Gunboat wreck
    The Tangat Gunboat Wreck is identified as a 5,000 ton freighter that has a length of 122 meters and a breadth of 17 meters.  It’s in a depth of 21 to 30 meters with a visibility range of 5 to 15 meters.Its exact location is near the Tangat Island at coordinates of 11o58 N, 120o03 E.  It lies upright as penetration is quite easy with many large and open holds that a diver can get through.  Getting here is about 10 minutes by boat.What to see
    The valves of the ship and its pipework can clearly be seen.  In the bombed hit area of the ship, one can see the collapsed bridge.  The engine is still intact with two boilers located inside its engine room.  The front deck of the vessel shows its bow and stern, plus a bonus:  a gun turret.

    The outside parts of the ship are covered in corals and small coral fishes can be seen with addition to crocodile fishes and lion fishes.  Other creatures include ghost pipe fishes, sea turtles, rays, snakes and a rare sea horse.  Divers who have been here says that Anemone fish, triggerfish, pufferfish and yellow trevally are its usual residents.  The dreaded scorpion fish with its spiny features and disguising ability, is one to look out for.

    Diving condition/ Experience Level Required
    It’s a safe dive site off the Tangat Island with water conditions that’s generally calm with occasional current changes, but at manageable level.  Tangat Wreck Site’s experienced level required is Open Water, Skin Diver and Wreck Diver for  a more thorough and deeper penetration.  The suggested EAN Nitrox level is 36%.