Diving the the Ghost Ships of Coron
Coron is the crown jewels of Palawan. Rocky cliffs protrude the water like the walls of a fortress. And something even more amazing lies beneath the waves. You cannot miss this place from your backpacking adventure in the Philippines!
Like elsewhere in Palawan, Coron has similar geological features as El Nido but it seems more condensed and less spread out that El Nido. and perhaps not as “Chilled out”
There are several lakes and lagoons and some great beaches to visit too!
So what is the big attraction here in Coron?
This place was the site of a battle at the end of World War 2. Fifteen Japanese warships escaped from American bombs in Manila bay and thought they had found refuge here in Coron, but they were wrong.
The US air force had found them and sank eleven of the vessels while four others either escaped or their wrecks were never found.
At the bottom of Coron bay, in average 30 meters of depth lies 11 skeleton ships. Encrusted with coral and a haven for marine life.
The scuba diving is insane. And the wrecks are absilutyl massive. The biggest being over 150 meters in length. You can explore the corridors, cargo holds and engine rooms. With enough time to spend in Coron you could easily spend a few weeks exploring and really penetrating deep inside of these amazing shipwrecks.
Seventy years ago these wrecks were sunken and all that remains are the ghostly structures – but it does little to change the creepy and disturbing atmosphere down there. You just keep thinking that people were living and working in this space before and now those people are gone.
On top of the shipwrecks are gardens of coral, the ocean has reclaimed the wrecks and now a whole family of different species have made this place their home.
This area of the Philippines experiences strong currents between the south china sea and the Philippine sea. So a lot of food and nutrients pass this area daily. This makes the visibility generally not so good, however this maximises the eerie experience you have at the depths while exploring the wrecks.
WATCH THE VIDEO OF CORON
When is the best time to visit?
The best time to visit Coron and dive these spectacular ship wrecks is between the months of December until June. Basically anytime but monsoon season – otherwise you’ll have heavy rain and maybe even a typhoon!
To have the best visibility it is advised to dive away from full moon and new moon.. but nothing is guaranteed as ever with diving and as i said before the gloominess of the wrecks is increased if the viz is below 10 meters – either way you will not be disappointed – I will definitely be back to these wrecks in the future to explore them in more detail.
Places I Dived in Coron
- Barracuda Lake (fresh & saltwater) see below
- Irako wreck
- Akitsushima wreck
- Kogyo Maru
- Olympia Maru
For a great resource you should check out http://www.coronwrecks.com/sites.htm for a list of all the wrecks and best practises to dive them
I lived with http://corondivers.com.ph as they Filipino owned dive shop (I prefer to put my money in the hands of a local rather than a foreigner)
The Dive guides were great! and I cannot fault them!
What else is there to do in Coron?
There are some other great things to do in Coron, the sightseeing tours can be quite “touristy” but spectacular nonetheless – some fantastic photography opportunity everywhere against the backdrop of the steep limestone cliffs.
Swimming in the lagoons and snorkelling off the white sand beaches is something you will remember forever – but nothing really that different here than anywhere else in the Philippines.
There is one other place however which is very unique and unusual. Barracuda lake is where you can scuba dive that is half full of fresh water and half of salt water. This causes a very unusual thermocline in the water which is visually hypnotic. Like an oil slick in the middle of the water collum.
This was also the first time I had dived freshwater and was certainly an experience. Definitely worth diving barracuda lake for this!
How to get to Coron?
There are many ways to get here. The most common way is to fly via manila – but for an adventurous backpacker you can travel via boat from Mindoro island (bunso bangka)
You can take a ferry from El Nido
Or you can take one of the camping and sailing expeditions from El nido which are 5 days.
I have wrote extensively about that here. This was one of the best experiences of my life.
The small town of Coron is very quiet especially at night, but there are some nice restaurants and a market to explore. Don’t expect wild parties and nightlife here. Most of your energy should have been burned during the days activities!
There are many different places to stay suiting everyones budget – I can personally recommend
Where to next?
For scuba divers – I would highly recommend you visit Apo Reef – This was the most spectacular reef i dived in the Philippines –
But for everyone else the best place would be to El Nido in the south or head north to Mindoro and Pueto Galera