How this place isn’t busier is a bit of a mystery to us. When you start to look at what Coron has to offer as a destination you soon get to realise this is a very special place.
There’s limited options in transferring to Coron. Flights and Ferry from Manila are the only realistic options for a traveller with a normal holiday schedule. Flights are pretty cheap, providing you keep your baggage down in weight and becoming increasingly more flights scheduled. As always it’s a good thing to book well in advance to make sure you get the seats.
From a divers perspective the main draw card will the Japanese WW2 wrecks, there are 12 that can be dived, with at least another dozen that have been lost to the ocean since they were reported sunk back in September 1944.
There’s plenty of history about the Coron wrecks, which you’ll know doubt become engrossed in should you decide to take a trip there.
The scenery around Coron Island is breath taking, very similar to that of El Nido, but a little smaller! Jagged limestone cliffs shoot out of the water forming prehistoric scenery. Away from Coron island the scenery becomes less dramatic but this is where you’ll find deserted white sand beaches and if you are extraordinarily lucky you might even bump into Dugong having a munch on the seagrass in the shallows.
Another incredible spectacle can be seen on Club Paradise island, Dimakya, where thousands upon thousands of fruit bats live and migrate every evening like an invasion to the mainland in search of food. Toes in the sand, San Miguel beer in hand, bright red sun setting sky and thousands of huge bats off for the evening, now isn’t that worth flying 8000 miles for?
Coron is arguably the second wreck diving capital of the world, with 12 diveable Japanese World War II wrecks. Each one of the collection has its own story to tell and will keep the most fervent wreck diver occupied for many days. And then when you’ve had your fill of wrecks there’s always Barracuda Lake to experience, as well as searching for Dugongs.
Ask ten divers what their top 3 favourite wrecks are in Coron and you’ll get ten different answers. Tony’s favourite as a technical wreck diver is the deepest wreck the Irako. She was a supply ship at a 160 meters in length and with four deck levels she is a very complex wreck and even to this day not all parts of her have been explored. She is proper adventure!
For most divers, the Akitsushima will be their favourite, being the only war ship in Coron. You can see an anti aircraft gun as well as a shell hoist inside with live shells visible – don’t touch!
A lot of divers also enjoy diving the Olympia Maru with its huge boilers and furnaces lined with fire bricks. Tonys third favourite is the Okikawa with its bow almost completely severed by the bomb blasts from American torpedoes, its like diving through a forest of steel girders as you penetrate the bow hold area.
Trying not to sound like a finger wagging mother, please please please dive to your qualification and training level. Diving these wrecks is serious stuff and only the trained diver should penetrate. The dive centres we work with in Coron are responsible operators however, if you choose to arrange your own diving, be aware that there are much less safety conscious dive centres operating out of Coron. Do your homework properly.
Of course penetration of the wrecks is only part of experience of diving the wrecks. They have been there for nearly 70 years and have become artificial reefs covered in corals and abundant fish life. Some wrecks like the Kogya Maru, there is enough to keep you occupied for a whole dive without the need to penetrate.
Aside from the wrecks, there is one unique dive site that is definitely worth a look. Barracuda Lake. After a short trek (with your dive gear), to the inner lake you will drop into the water at normal temperature of 28 to 30 degrees. Descend to 14 meters and below and it becomes 38 degrees. If you stay still you will see the thermocline as the two temperatures meet. No need for wetsuits on this dive!
On the north side of Coron, there is some great reef diving on the Club Paradise House reef, and the Kyokuzan Maru Japanese wreck, but the main draw card here are the Dugong/Sea Cows. The last stronghold of the Philippines of the Dugong is in this area. They are very shy and very difficult to find but if you get lucky and you see one feeding or scratching, the hours and hours of searching instantly become worth it.