Diving in Coron Bay, Philippines

Sunk on 24 September 1944 (as were all the wrecks in the Bay), the Olympia Maru, a former army supply ship, is now home to lion fish, scorpion fish, nudibranchs and crocodile fish. This is the closest of the wrecks to Sangat Island Dive Resort.

A little further away is the Lusong, an army gun boat. Less spectacular than Olympia Maru and less interactive, this is a shallower dive and thus allows access to more novice divers and those looking for something shallower and longer. It is also close to a reef. At low tide she penetrates the surface making it a perfect snorkelling spot.

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The Irako is a step up from some of vessels in the Bay. Just shy of 150m long she is one of the more intact vessels and because of this, you really do get the sense of being in a large ship. In summer months you can occasionally spot a whale shark at this site too. Big groupers, schools of tuna and yellow fin, lion fish and scorpion fish live around this wreck.

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The Kyogu Maru carried construction materials for the construction of new airport runways. Lying on her starboard side in 34 meters of water the Kogyo Maru offers swim-throughs into all six holds and through the engine room and bridge area. Kogyo Maru’s second hold contains an incline of cement bags which tumbled as the ship sank. A small bulldozer draws your attention as you swim into the hold. Engrossed in the bulldozer you might fail to look up the incline of cement sacks and so miss the tractor and air compressor perched above it.

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Most of the wrecks are supply ships or refrigeration vessels. However, the one wreck which is not, is the Akitsushima. She is a 118m seaplane tender who was armed with 10 25 mm anti-aircraft guns, four five inch (50 cal) guns and carried one large Kanwanishi flying boat.

The Akitsushima is a very big warship laying on her port side. She was hit near the stern where the flying boat rested on the metal tracks and sank immediately. The ship was almost torn into two pieces. The flying boat disappeared. The engine room boasts four engines as well as the housing for the gauges.

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The crane used for lifting the seaplane out of the water is intact. The crane is lying on the sandy bottom and attracts schools of giant batfish and barracudas. One mounting of a 3-barreled AA (anti-aircraft) gun is still present at the front of the flying boat tracks. This is a fascinating dive where, in addition to the almost instinct wreck, you can see giant groupers, schools of barracuda hiding under the bow, and yellow fin tuna.

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The Okikawa Maru is a wreck often dived together with the Akitsushima. She is an oil tanker who is the largest of all the wrecks in the Bay. There are many penetration possibilities for including penetrating up the propeller shaft from the outside of the ship all the way into the engine room. Strong tidal currents often affect this wreck. Although internally less fascinating than some of the other ships, the light penetration into this vessel highlight the size and scale of the vessel and light up the holds with cathedral-like rays of sunlight.

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One dive not to miss when in Coron is Barracuda Lake. Not a wreck dive, but a freshwater lake dive. This spectacular dive used to start with some challenging mountain climbing in full diving equipment over sharp limestone cliffs. However, I’m happy to say that wooden steps have been constructed up and over the entry into r lake from the ocean. The scenery around the lake is spectacular and the under water terrain has been likened to flying over the surface of the moon. The top 4 meters is warm fresh water. Below 4 meters the water is salt. There are dynamic changes of water temperature in the lake with temperatures ranging from 28 to 38 Celsius. You can even see the thermoclines at 4 and 14 meters. A ‘naked dive’ location.

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