Wrecks of Coron
Late in 1944, the Philippines suffered a U.S. Navy bombardment of several Japanese vessels, which were sheltering in Coron Bay. The result of that destruction has become one of the best wreck diving sites in the world, with more than 10 vessels at the bottom of the ocean serving as a sanctuary for various critters.
Lying on its starboard side between Culion and Busuanga, the seaplane tender _Akitsushima_ is an impressive wreck to behold. It sits at 85 to 125 feet (26 to 38 m) and the crane structure used to tender the seaplanes is still intact next to the ship, as is a coral-encrusted anti-aircraft gun. Due to the amount of damage sustained by the ship when it sank, only those with wreck certifications are allowed to do swim-throughs. Divers can expect to see batfish, large grouper, and tons of tropical fish.
This is not the type of ship divers usually get a chance to see. While the_ Irako_ was a 656-foot-long (200 m) refrigeration vessel, it also housed a machine shop. Those who get the chance to swim inside will find lots of tools such as metal lathes and bench drills. It sits upright at 91 to 131 feet (28 to 40 m) and is home to yellowfin tuna, lionfish, and scorpionfish.
The Kogyo Maru
This wreck is great for novice wreck divers. It’s resting on its starboard side, absolutely covered in corals. This freighter was loaded when it went down and divers who venture into one of its six cargo holds will find a cement mixer, bulldozer, tons of cement bags, a tractor, air compressor, and several massive groupers. Anti-aircraft guns can still be seen on the deck; the engine room and bridge are also accessible.
The Okikawa Maru
Previously misidentified as the _Taiei Maru_, this 551-foot (168 m) tanker is thick with corals, grouper, batfish, and snapper. With its top deck sitting at 32 to 53 feet (10 to 16 m), it’s a great introduction to wreck diving, though currents here can occasionally be quite strong. Many divers have dubbed this wreck the most beautiful in Coron due to the volume of coral growth and other marine life that hangs out here. Advanced wreck divers can hop inside and swim through the propeller shaft all the way to the engine room. Max depth is about 85 feet (26 m).
Sweetlips, sea snakes, turtles, and giant groupers frequent this 394-foot (120 m) cargo ship. Previously misidentified as the _Olympia Maru_, the _Morazan_ lays on its starboard side at 85 feet (26 m). An easy penetration lets divers explore large cargo areas and the engine room.
The Lusong Gunboat
Take a break from diving and snorkel this one with the non-divers in your group. This gunboat has a nice layer of hard coral and a stern that actually breaks the surface at low tide. If you're looking for a beautiful, easy spot to practice your wreck photography, you've found it here. Max depth is 39 feet (12 m), and it’s located just off Lusong Island.
The Olympia Maru (formerly The Tangat Wreck)
This wreck was originally dubbed the Tangat Wreck since no one knew its true name; it’s now been identified as the _Olympia Maru_. It’s 525 feet long (160 m) and rests at a depth of 59 to 98 feet (18 to 30 m). Large tropical fish shoals frequently glide by, along with giant batfish and puffers. It also features a couple of cargo holds available for easy penetration.
The Kyokuzan Maru
While not the easiest wreck to reach since it requires a long jeep ride to the other side of Busuanga Island, this cargo ship is worth the effort. The _Kyokuzan Maru_ is not only large, but is also full of vehicles. When it went down, the cargo hold was full of staff cars and trucks that can still be seen by divers penetrating the wreck.
The Nanshin Maru
Commonly referred to as the Black Island Wreck, this one is actually a little confusing. Stories claim it’s a Japanese tanker or that it's a steamer; that it ran aground, that a submarine hit it, and that it collided with another ship. Apparently the Japanese had several tankers named _Nanshin Maru_, so this has led to some confusion. Regardless, this is a beautiful dive site, with the wreck sitting upright on a sandy bottom. It’s full of scorpionfish, lionfish, trumpetfish and batfish. With excellent visibility, it's a perfect spot for a night dive and photography. Max depth is 69 to 105 feet (21 to 32 m).