We had a packed few days planned for the rest of our time in Coron. Despite being quite tired from our tour the day before, we were still really looking forward to the main reason we came to Coron, diving! On Tuesday 21st November we got up early to go and get our equipment set up for our dives that day and then waited around an hour for the tide to get high enough for us to go our on the boat.
We would be diving at three sites that day and there was only another four people on the boat so we were able to have a dive guide to ourselves; his name was Jun Jun.
Our first stop for the day was to a wreck called East Tangat which was an auxiliary anti-submarine craft and tug boat of the Imperial Japanese Navy Combined Fleet in World War Two (WWII). The ship was sunk during a US military air raid on 24th September 1944 and sits nose down (at a slight angle) on the ocean floor meaning that the depths of the wreck range from 3 metres down to 19 metres. The boat is 35 metres in length and we were able to swim all around the wreck and then also head inside where we had to use our torches as it was really dark! The visibility of this site wasn’t exceptional – it must have been in a rough area of sea – but we could still see the wreck reasonably well and it was really cool seeing a ship wreck with all of the plant life now living on it so up close.
This dive was kind of seen as the warm up dive for a much bigger and deeper wreck that we would be going to next. The dive masters had to check that we could keep our buoyancy inside of the wrecks so as not to hit our heads or hit parts of the boat, damaging or breaking it.
Our second dive was probably both of our favourites during the three dives we did. This was a ship called Olympia Maru and was an auxiliary cargo ship of the Imperial Japanese Army in WWII. This was also sunk during a US military air raid on 24th September 1944 and is in really good condition. The Olympia Maru is a lot bigger than East Tangat at 127 metres in length and it goes down to depths of 30 metres. You’re able to go down into a range of different cabins and can see some of the cargo such a huge ropes that are still on board as well as areas such as the kitchen.
The visibility was infinitely better for this dive and our dive master let us go down to the 22 metres so that we could see some extra bits of the wreck. We also loved the amount of marine life that had chosen to make the Olympia Maru its home and we saw some types of fish we had never seen before including the crocodile fish, the scorpion fish (or rock fish) and lion fish. The lion fish in particular were incredible to see as they lived in these underwater trees that had grown out of the wreck and I think aren’t that common to see. I think they were my favourite marine creature from the three dives.
Our final dive site of the day was a wall of vibrant coral at a dive site called Malpadon Reef. We were able to see more crocodile fish and scorpion fish here as well as huge schools of fish and colourful coral. This was a really pretty dive site with loads of coral and fish to see. Unfortunately, we were starting to feel a bit ill from the number of dives and all of the oxygen we were breathing in through the tanks so both had a bit of a headache for this dive (nothing alarming, don’t worry!) but, in saying that, we still had a good dive and enjoyed all to the marine life we got to see.
Our day of diving didn’t disappoint and we couldn’t have been happier with the wrecks we got to see. There are loads of wrecks in the area but many of them are deeper than our open water qualification allows us to go so we weren’t able to do that. I don’t think this mattered though as we still had a great time on the wrecks we did see and, particularly the Olympia Maru, as we would have done this wreck even if we had had a higher qualification. If you can dive then I really would recommend getting to Coron to see these wrecks for yourself, you won’t regret it!
Making sure not to waste our last day in Coron (22nd November) as everything we had seen so far had been so amazing, we booked onto a beach tour with the same company we had booked the ultimate tour with. The stops for this tour were:
•Banana Island for lunch; and•the Isla Bulog sand bar.
The tour only had three stops as these islands were a lot further away than the previous tours destinations and so we spent a large portion of the tour on the boat. Thankfully we had great weather for our beach day and our guide was good at making sure we had long enough at each site to make the most of the tour.
Malcapuya Island was a beautiful white sand beach overlooking empty seas and islands. The sea was a bright turquoise and there was only a few boats along the beach from other people who had sailed over from neighbouring islands. Being the only tour group on the island was also ideal and we were able to walk along the beach and sunbathe in peace.
Banana Island was busier but still very quiet meaning it still had a peaceful air to the place. This is where we stopped for lunch (a very good lunch!) and had a swim in the sea. The island also has the option to stay there in a tree house which is what two of the people on the tour had booked to do. The island didn’t have any facilities, even to cook food, so it would be a night ‘back to basics’ for them before they would get picked up by the tour the following day. I could see the romantic side to this but also imagined the amount of mosquito and sandfly bites they would get that night so it wouldn’t be something I’d sign up for!
Our final stop before heading back to the port before it got dark was to the Isla Bulog sand bar which was tiny but beautiful. You could snorkel here but we chose not to and instead we walked as far as we could on the sand bar. I really enjoyed standing watching the sun begin to set whilst being shin deep in water with deep ocean all around me. We were the only people around (although there was a very fancy resort on the next island) so the place was incredibly peaceful.
The entire tour, despite the amount of time spent on the boat, was great and actually quite peaceful. It was good to get to spend time relaxing on different beautiful beaches and we were happy not to have wasted our last day in Coron, particularly after seeing how beautiful the surrounding islands were.
Coron has a lot to offer even if you’re not able to dive and we probably saw some of the best beaches we have ever seen here. A lot of people skip Coron, opting instead to focus on the more touristy and well known El Nido but I think if you have the time then you should definitely allocate a few days here to experience it for yourself.
Next stop: El Nido
Sending Love x