Busuanga And Coron
In 1944, US Admiral Bull Halsey had the task of checking out the Japanese firepower in preparation for the ...
In 1944, US Admiral Bull Halsey had the task of checking out the Japanese firepower in preparation for the US landing on Leyte. To find safe passage for an aircraft carrier, he sent reconnaissance aircraft to photograph the Linapacan Straits and the Calamian Group of islands.
This resulted in a mapping officer noticing that some of the islands were moving about - a camouflaged Japanese fleet had been uncovered. At 0900 hours on 24 September 1944, carrier-based bombers attacked and sank 24 vessels around Busuanga and Coron Islands. The result is a whole fleet of W.W.II shipwrecks that lie in shallow water that have grown into spectacular artificial reefs. A genuine diver's paradise!
Add to this spectacular karst limestone stack islands rising out of coral filled, turquoise seas, a very unspoiled, simple village community environment and - as yet - still very few tourists, and some might call this heaven on earth!
The largest island in the Calamian Group of Islands, located half way between the long, finger-shaped island of Palawan and Mindoro, Busuanga is best known for the Coron Bay where a the World's second largest fleet of sunken Japanese WWII warships lies in shallow waters, offering up some spectacular diving.
Accommodation in the area is mostly simple with emphasis more on back to nature and traditional Filipino lifestyle rather than international resort style comforts. However there is one more sophisticated resort on an island off the western side or Busuanga called Club Paradise. The beach in front is famous for visits by a group of dugongs.
In December 2008 a new dive resort was opened on a peninsular near to the town of Concepcion on the south coast of Busuanga called Puerto del Sol, which is ideally located for accessing the main batch of wrecks.
Further south on the tip of the main Island of Palawan is El Nido. Here there are a small number of much more deluxe resorts - mostly owned by the same Manila family. The scenery is even more splendid than Busuanga & Coron (pictured above) with numerous limestone islands, perfect white sand beaches a very low population ensuring minimal environmental damage. There is plenty of nice diving here too, but no wrecks.
The Coron Wrecks
The AKITSUSHIMA: Japanese Seaplane Tender, about 140 m long.
Location: Between Culion & Busuanga Island, near Manglet Island
The AKITSUSHIMA:, a real warship, lies on her starboard side. She was hit amidships and sank immediately. The flying boat disappeared. Most impressive is the Crane once used to hoist the seaplane onto the water. This big metal construction is lying on sandy bottom and attracts shoals of giant Bat fish. The AA-guns are also an interesting feature.
This is a fascinating dive where you can see giant groupers, shoals of barracuda, tuna and yellow fins. Max. depth: 36-38 m - average 26-28m. Recommended for Adv. Open Water Diver, Wreck speciality Diver.
KYOKUZAN MARU: Japanese freighter, approx. 160-180 m long. Lies Northeast of Busuanga Island.
This is a beautiful wreck dive experience. More or less intact, this huge sunken ship usually offers good visibility of about 20 m and ideal diving conditions. In the cargo rooms Japanese staff cars and trucks are can still be found.
Max. depth: 40 m. The deck level lies between 22 and 28 m. Recommended certification: Advanced Diver, Wreck Speciality Diver.
THE GUNBOAT AT LUSONG ISLAND: A Gunboat or submarine hunter. The stern breaks the surface at low tide. Location: in front of Lusong Island.
This wreck is great for snorkelling. It starts on the surface with a maximum depth of 9-10 meters. It is nicely covered with hard corals and offers a nice variety of fish life. There are also good opportunities for keen wreck underwater photographers - ideal as a "dive between dives".
Max. depth: 9 meters. Recommended experience: Skin diver, Open water diver.
OKIKAWA MARU: (formerly thought to be the Taiei Maru) - Thanks to Prof. Yamada, Japan, for the Pictures. Japanese tanker, about 200 m long.
Position: Busuanga Island, 2 km of Concepcion
This wreck is totally covered with beautiful corals and offers a large variety of marine life
Max. depth: 26 m. The deck is between 10 m and 16 m and is good for wreck dive beginners. There are many penetration possibilities for advanced wreck divers as well.
ATTENTION! Strong tide currents often affect this wreck. Recommended. certification level: 1. Diving outside the deck with no strong current. Open Water Diver 2. Penetration and / or current. Advanced Open Water Diver, Wreck speciality Diver.
THE GUNBOAT AT TANGAT
A small gunboat or submarine Hunter. Approximately 35 meter long. Location: just offshore from Tangat Island.
This dive site is good for wreck dive beginners and underwater photographers. It is also a lovely dive to do between deeper wreck sites. The wreck starts at only 3 meters so even snorkellers can see the shape and explore the bow of the ship.
Max. depth: 18 m. Recommended certification: Open Water Diver.
KOGYO MARU: Japanese freighter, about 160 m long, lying on her starboard site.
Location: Coron Bay
The large cargo rooms still contain construction materials, a cement mixer and even a bulldozer. On the deck anti-aircraft weapons can still be seen. In some places the wreck is easy to penetrate. There are many corals on the port side and a variety of fish life. Many Grouper (Lapu-lapu) live around the wreck.
Max. depth: 34 m, average 24-26m
Recommended certification: Adv. Open Water Diver, Wreck speciality Diver.
IRAKO: Japanese refrigeration ship, displacement 9,570 tons, length about 200 meters.
Position: Coron Bay
Quite intact, big wreck body. Big groupers, shoals of tuna and yellow fins, Lion fish & scorpion fishes living around this wreck.
Max. depth: Deck level 28 - 40 meters. Recommended education level: Advance Diver, speciality Deep Diver, speciality Wreck diver.
TAIEI MARU? (formerly thought to be the Olympia Maru): Japanese freighter about 120 m long, lying on its starboard side. Location: Coron Bay
A beautiful wreck dive site where you can observe big Groupers (Lapu Lapu), Sweet lips, many turtles and often sea snakes. Hard corals cover the port side which is only 14-18 meters below the surface.
ATTENTION!, many scorpion fish around the wreck area. Keep your eyes open and maintain good buoyancy !! The large cargo rooms and the engine room allow easy access.
Max. depth : 25 m, average about 15 m. Recommended certification: Advance Diver, speciality Wreck diver
OLYMPIA MARU (formerly referred to as the Tangat Wreck): Japanese freighter about 120 meter long, lying on its starboard side. Location: Coron Bay
A beautiful wreck dive site where you can observe big Groupers (Lapu Lapu's), Sweet lips, many times turtles and even sea snakes. Hard corals cover the port side which is only 14-18 meters below the surface.
ATTENTION!, many scorpion fish around the wreck area. Keep your eyes open and be well buoyant !! The big cargo rooms and the engine room allows an easy penetration of this wreck.
Max. depth : 25 meters, average about 15 meters. Recommended certification: Advance Diver, speciality Wreck diver
NANSHIN MARU: Japanese Tanker approx. 40-50 m long, sits upright on a sandy bottom. Location: Close to the Black Island Beach, in front of the stranded vessel..
This dive site is perfect for a wreck dive beginners and underwater photographers. It is a beautiful dive in usually clear water. You will see many Scorpion and Lion fish, Trumpet fish, Groupers, Bat fish and ... and ... and ... It is also a great night dive.
Max. depth: 32 meters. The wreck starts at 21 meters deep. Recommended certification: Advanced Open Water Diver, Wreck speciality Diver.