Wreck and Scuba Dive Sites of Coron Bay
Coron is well blessed with a wide range of dive sites to suit all tastes and levels of experience, from shallow reefs to advanced wreck diving. The major attraction however is undoubtedly the wrecks of the Japanese supply fleet sunk in September 1944. Below you will find a description of each wreck.
A Japanese refrigeration ship located at the mouth of Coron Bay. N 11*58. 059′, E 120*02. 412′ The ship was quite large at 9723 tons, 146.9 metres in overall length and 19 metres wide. The engines were two steam powered geared turbines (8300 shp) driving twin props. The steam came from 6 Kampon boilers; the engines provided a maximum speed of 17.5 knots.
Probably the best wreck dive in the Philippines. The Irako is quite intact because of the depth. Big groupers, schools of tuna and yellow fin, lion fish and scorpion fish live around this wreck.
Max depth: 43 meters on the bottom, deck level at 28 to 35 meters. Recommended certification level: Advanced Open Water Diver, Deep Diver Specialty, Wreck Diver Specialty.
A Japanese tanker, 168 m long. Location: Busuanga Island, 2 miles south of Conception N 12*.01. 128′, E 119*.58. 176′. In length, width, and volume the largest of the Coron wrecks. At this depth you may be able to make an hour-long dive.
If the Irako isn’t the best wreck dive in the Philippines then the Okikawa Maru certainly is! This wreck is totally covered with beautiful corals and offers a large variety of marine-life. The deck is between 10m and 16m and is good for wreck dive beginners.
There are many penetration possibilities for advanced wreck divers 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. Diving in strong currents lets you see the most fish. At the bow you can see a school of snappers and huge bat fish holding position into a slight current. Large fish shelter out of the current behind crumpled metal and inside of the deckhouses .There is also a large resident grouper near the bottom.
Max depth: 26 meters on the bottom, 10 to 16 meters on the deck. Recommended certification level:
- Diving outside the deck without a current. Open Water Diver
- Diving with a current. Advanced Open Water Diver
- Diving with a strong current. Experienced Advanced Open Water Diver
- Penetration dive. Wreck Diver Specialty
A Japanese Seaplane Tender 118 m long located between Culion & Busuanga Islands, near Manglet Island. N 11*59. 218′, E 119*58. 417′ The IJN Akitsushima was a seaplane tender/carrier. The ship displaced 4724 tons, had a length of 118 metres and was 15.7 metres wide. The ship was powered by four diesel engines driving twin props, a total of 8000 shp, giving a maximum speed of 19 knots
Akitsushima 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. Only half of the metal on the starboard side and half of the metal on the bottom of the ship kept the stern from separating from the rest of the ship. The internal damage is impressive.
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 you can see giant groupers, schools of barracuda hiding under the bow, and yellow fin tuna.
Due to depth and metal hazards within, no swim throughs are allowed without wreck diver certification. Wreck divers can make an impressive penetration into the engine room to see the four engines. The gears and machinery for operating the crane are the main objects of interest for a penetration into the stern.
Max depth: 35 or 36 meters, average depth about 26 to 28 meters. Recommended certification level: Advanced Open water Diver. For penetration: PADI/SDI Wreck Diver specialty.
The Kogyo Maru, located N 11*58. 782′ E 120*02. 413′, was a Japanese freighter carrying construction materials for building a runway for the Japanese war effort in the Pacific.
The Kogyo Maru was built in 1938 by Uraga Dock Co Ltd, Uraga, Japan for Okada Gumi KK. The ship was 6353 tons, 129 mts long, and 18 mts wide. She was powered by two oil fuelled steam turbines (517Nhp) geared to a single shaft. The engines were built by Ishikawajima Shipbuilding and Engineering Co Ltd, Tokyo. Her home port was Osaka.
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. Take the time to swim up and look at both pieces and see how many of the engine parts you can identify. It’s complete. Check out the metal wheels on the tractor. Coming out of the hold swim up the front mast, now horizontal, and on your left side. At the top of the mast look at the crow’s nest and imagine what a lookout would experience when perched 30 meters above the water in a Japanese winter storm. Swim back over the deck to the bridge and engine room below it. Enter both from the stern side for easier access. Swim through the cavernous engine room and look at the hardware then out through the bridge. If air is low go up to the port side of the bridge and look at the soft corals growing there and the fish life living on this artificial coral reef at 22 meters. If you have enough air continue below deck level to the stern looking at all of the deck hardware for moving cargo and working the ship. Pass around the stern and then go forward over the port side to return to the mooring line. You pass over hard and soft corals covering the side of the ship. On this dive keep your head and eyes moving like a fighter pilot’s to see the school of barracuda which will swim by. If you only look at the Kogyo Maru you will miss the barracuda.
Max depth: 34 m, average 24-26m Recommended certification level: Advanced Open Water Diver, Wreck Diver Specialty.
A Japanese Freighter sitting upright in approximately 30 mts of water and located very close to Tangat Island in Coron Bay. N11*58. 291′, E 120*03. 707′S
The Olympia Maru was 122 metres long and almost 17 metres wide, displacing 5612 tons. The ship was originally powered by a steam engine but during 2 June to 2 August 1930, an oil two stroke six cylinder engine producing 582hp was installed. The ship was built for Mitsubishi Shoji Kaisha Ltd and was owned by them right up till it sank. It was requisitioned by the Japanese Defence Forces during the War but was still owned by Mitsubishi Shoji Kaisha Ltd.
A very good dive spot with a variety of marine life. Large shoals of banana fish, giant bat fish and giant puffer fish, especially around the mast, bow and stern. There are also specimen crocodile fish and scorpion fish so be careful where you put your hands. Easy penetration at the cargo rooms. It offers a good opportunity to discover wreck diving.
Max depth: 28-30 meters, deck level 18-24 meters. Recommended certification level: Advanced Open Water Diver, Wreck Diver Specialty.
Japanese Freighter (Taiei Maru?)
The definitive name of this wreck remains a mystery to this day but it’s a Japanese freighter 137 meters long, lying on its starboard side. Location: Coron Bay N 11*59. 266′, E 120*02.199′
This is a beautiful wreck dive site where you can observe groupers, sweetlips, occasionally turtles and sea snakes. Hard corals cover the port side, which is only 12 to 16 meters below the surface. See if you can find the two resident trumpet fish that hang out half a meter over the port side corals. Many scorpion fish hang out around the wreck area. Keep your eyes open and stay neutrally buoyant!
The big cargo rooms and the engine room allow easy penetration of this wreck for Wreck Diver Certified divers. If you dive from 10am to 2pm on a sunny day you get a cathedral like effect from the beams of sunlight entering the cargo holds through the holes in the port side. The two massive boilers in the centre of the ship are a big attraction on this dive. You can pass behind the boilers and see the damage resulting from one of the bomb strikes that disabled the ship. It is possible to do a swim-through and pass from bow to stern without exiting the ship.
Max. depth: 25 meters, average about 15 meters. Recommended certification level: Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, Wreck Diver Specialty
East Tangat Gunboat
This ship was a small gunboat or submarine hunter 40 meters long. Location: Inclined on the coral reef on the east side of Tangat Island.
This dive site is good for wreck diving beginners and underwater photographers. It is also a lovely dive between deeper wreck sites. The wreck starts at only 3 meters down so even snorkelers can see the shape and explore the bow of the ship.
Max depth: 22 meters. Recommended certification level: Skin Diver, Open Water Diver.
This wreck was also a gunboat or submarine hunter. The stern breaks the surface at low tide. Location: In front of the east side of Lusong Island. N 11*58. 260′, E 120*01.447′
This wreck is great for snorkeling. It is nicely covered with hard corals and offers a nice variety of fish life. There are good opportunities for wreck dive photographers. The dive is good as a “dive between dives.”
Max depth: 11 meters. Recommended certification level: Skin Diver, Open Water Diver.
“The craziest dive site in the Philippines.” Location: North end of Coron Island. This spectacular dive starts with some challenging mountain climbing in full diving equipment over sharp limestone cliffs. We do wear tennis shoes or sandals and carry our fins strapped to our tank. The climb only takes 10-15 minutes and the exertion is worth it. 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. At 34 to 35 meters the water changes from crystal clear to tea brown due to the tannic acid in the leaves that fell into the lake. After cooking and boiling, you will meet the “king of the lake.” It is a barracuda approximately 1.5m long that likes to guide divers around his domain. It is a good chance for underwater photographers to get a close-up of the big barracuda. A dive that you should not miss!
Max depth: 35 meters. Recommended certification level: Open Water Diver, Mountain Climbing Diver Specialty.
(Civilian tanker / 834 gt.) The so-called “Black Island Wreck” can be easily identified as a small tanker converted to carry specific fuel (gasoline, Diesel, lube oil etc.) in small isolated tanks for replenishment of land-based depots. The ship is approximately 50 meters long sitting upright on a sandy bottom. Location: Close to Black Island Beach in front of the stranded vessel. This wreck is located 3.5 hours away from Coron. It is dived as a day trip with a 7 am departure. You would normally make one dive here and dive the Okikawa Maru as a second dive on the return trip. This dive site is perfect for beginner wreck divers and underwater photographers. It is a beautiful dive in clear water. You can see plenty of scorpion fish, lion fish, trumpet fish, groupers, and bat fish.
Max depth: 32 meters. The wreck starts in 21-meter deep water. Recommended certification level: Advanced Open Water Diver, Wreck Diver Specialty.
HISTORY OF THE ERROR IN NAMING THIS WRECK: The Japanese had many ships named Nanshin Maru. One Nanshin Maru was a Japanese freighter sunk in the Malacca Straits by a US submarine. There was also a tanker, the Nansai Maru ex. British oiler Ploiden, sunk at Black Island during WWII. This ship was captured in Hong Kong and renamed by the Japanese. The location of the Nansai Maru is not definitely known. It may be on the opposite side of Black Island in 60 meters of water.