Wreck diving in Coron

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
7
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
7
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
8
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
7
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
6
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
7
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
72 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Asia
country
Philippines
Length of time
1-2 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 200
Time of year visited
November
Primary Tags
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RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
103rd/359 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 30% SUMMARY RATING: Superb

Summary

On 24th September 1944 over a period of only 15mins, 120 American Navy fighters and bombers attacked and sunk the Imperial Japanese Navy support fleet in the sheltered harbours near Coron. 10 ships ranging from 160m / 525ft oil tankers and sea plane tenders to smaller 25m / 80ft gunboats were sunk that day, and the result is some of the best wreck diving in the world that can be easily accessed on day trips from Coron Town (detailed dive tips listed in the Tips section below)

 

As with so many dives in this part of the world, the surrounding scenery is also idyllic-paradise-lovely, which makes this a really enjoyable experience even for the non divers who can join in snorkelling some of the shallower wrecks and generally just enjoying the islands. It’s also the start point for an adventure through overall Palawan, and the start / end point for the unforgettable experience of sailing through the island chains from Coron to El Nido (see the 3/6 day island experience here)

highlights

#1 Diving through the inner corridors of the 112m Morazan Maru

#2 Moving through the stunning islands on the classic Philippino bangka boats

#3 Emerging into some of the airpocket deep within the wrecks

#4 Stopping off on some of the world-class beaches that are scattered all around the islands of Coron

#5 Diving around 12m / 40ft below Barracuda Lake's surface to experience the wonderfully relaxing warm water

#6 Seeing the reef life that has made its home on top of the wrecks and making them appear fully hidden from above

#7 Finishing the day with a drink in the jacuzzi's of the Happy Lion's rooftop and enjoying the sunset

Travel Tips

  • There are 10 wreck dive sites in total. The ones that stood out were:
    • Morazan Maru (112m long cargo ship) for its accessible inner corridors, air pocket (don’t take your regulator off!) and reef on top
    • Irako (147m refrigerator ship) and Akitsushima (118m sea plane tender) for their sheer size
    • Barracuda Lake – ok it’s not a wreck, but it is a mixed water lagoon with 39°C / 102°F warm water at the bottom layer and with stunning sharp rock formations around it which makes for a very cool dive 
  • Visibility is poor, so manage expectations – you’re not going to have the 50m+ visibility you get further south; and in particular around the March – June peak diving time.  That being said, the visibility didn’t really make that much difference when actually inside the wrecks 
  • Advanced level of diving – it’s the Philippines, so fairly loose on rules. No need for wreck certification and, if you twist their arm a bit, you’ll be able to dive the deep wrecks with only PADI Open Water.  But, I’d suggest Advanced level, or at least something like 20+ dives to enter the wrecks.  There’s nothing super technical about them, it’s just that you’re in a confined area and it something goes wrong you really want the experience to deal with it
  • Dive Centre – I went with Reggae Dive Centre and they were great 
  • Coron Town and general surrounding area isn’t particularly interesting (especially compared to El Nido which I’d say has more to see and far far more in terms of restaurants and bars). You’re really there for the islands and the diving 
  • Places to stay – for backpackers, the Hop Hostel was ace with great shared facilities.  For a bit more money, the Funny Lion only a short 5min / US$1 tricycle ride away was nice and had an amazing rooftop with jacuzzis overlooking the stunning harbour 
  • Island Hopping – I’ve mentioned above the trips over to El Nido.  Some people get the quick speed boat there (or fly) – absolutely don’t do this.  One of the highlights of the whole Philippines is a 3/6 day boat trip through the island chains and staying on remote beaches for the evenings.  At roughly US$400 / US$750 with everything included with the likes of Tao Philippines, it’s a no brainer. Do it

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone