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World | Philippines | Diving Coron:

Coron overview


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Coron dive site map


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Scuba Diving in Coron, Palawan, the Philippines


Water temperature:

25 - 31°C (27 - 88°F)

Suit:

3mm - 5mm wetsuit

Visibility:

5 - 15 metres (15 - 50 feet)

Type of diving:

Wreck diving

Marine life:

Scorpionfish, crocodilefish, triggerfish, batfish, clownfish, nudibranchs, tubeworms, coral

When to go:

Any time of year, although the dry season runs from November to May so offers better visibility

How to get there:

From the UK – Various European airlines fly to Manila with a typical flight time of 13 - 14 hours. Once at Manila, you will have to transfer to your final destination using a selection of internal flights, taxis or ferries. Busuanga airport near Coron town has a number of flights fly in from Manila daily


 

Dive boat in Coron, Philippines

Coron is a small town on the island of Busuanga, Palawan which lends its name to the local diving. If you are diving in Coron, it is likely that Coron town will be your base as this is where the majority of the dive centres are located and where you can find accommodation and restaurants. Coron is a noisy, slightly smoggy town due to the endless throbbing of motorbike engines. There are also hundreds of cockrels which don't just reserve their calls for the morning - they go on all day and all night, generally with some dogs joining in for good measure! However around about the scenery is attractive and the locals are friendly and welcoming.

The diving in Coron is done on a fleet of Japanese World War II wrecks, sunk September 24th 1944 by a US air raid. The wrecks are big and impressive, with penetration making up a large part of the diving. The marine life is nothing to shout about and the visibility can be quite poor, so Coron really is a destination reserved for wreckies. Twin tank and nitrox diving can be arranged beforehand allowing deco diving to make the most of the wrecks. The only real dive in the area that isn't wreck based is Barracuda Lake, a flooded volcano crater and a must dive!

Aside from diving there is not that much to do locally, so this is not a great destination to bring a non-diving partner. There are some hot springs nearby which are worth a visit and island hopping makes a great day out. Non divers can also snorkel at a number of locations, such as the Skeleton Wreck or the Lusong Gunboat.




Flying into Coron  - courtesy of Martin & Tracy Francom

From Manila we flew south to Coron the following day on a tiny 19 seat Dornier prop jet for nine days diving. On the face of it Coron appears to have many of the same types of wreck we had dived previously in Truk however the place itself is totally different - much friendlier, much cheaper and far, far nicer. And although there are not many artifacts left on the wrecks now they are still quite superb dives with amazing penetration possibilities.

Our local guide Tantan (A.K.A. Tan Squared) took us on many deep penetrations into the wrecks... some swim throughs were literally from bow to stern without coming out. On one memorable penetration on the oil tanker Taiei Maru we dropped down through a hole in the floor into a rust and silt brown-out then swam through a passageway between the oil storage tanks - simply super scary stuff! We also carried out deep penetrations into the only fighting ship at Coron, the Akitsushima. This is a giant seaplane tender which carried a flying boat very similar in size and design to the British Short Sunderland so you can perhaps imagine the size of the ship - vast! She had been bombed at Truk but had managed to escape during the night, only to be bombed again as she arrived at Coron and this time she sank. There is no trace now of the flying boat as the bomb hit the ship close by the plane and ripped her apart. The huge crane used for recovering the flying boat is still very obvious and although most of the guns have been removed the barrels of a triple AA installation can be seen close to the entrance we went in by. Sadly the visibility on the Akitsushima was never good enough to get many usable photographs.

Perhaps the clearest and most intact wreck is the Kyokuzan Maru and she is also the best for viewing a few remaining artifacts. This ship is a jeepney ride away across the island - an experience in itself - and is in much clearer water. This is mainly because there are no pearl oyster farms close by unlike on the south side of the island where the bulk of the wrecks rest. She carried a general cargo including pottery and asbestos and whilst I am unsure as to the wisdom of diving in a cloud of asbestos dust I must say it creates an interesting and eerie effect - the white cloud in the bottom of the hold is practically identical to dry ice!

Other highlights in this area are incredibly hard to chose from as every dive we carried out on the wrecks there had its own certain something. We also had a night dive in a marine reserve where we managed to get literally covered in tiny shrimps - not nice when they are wiggling about in your ear canal!

So all in all Coron is an amazingly beautiful place with superb dives on brilliant wrecks and we simply can't wait to go back.

Martin Frankcom, BSAC Advanced Instructor



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