Shipwrecked!

Coron, Palawan has definitely earned its tagline as the Philippine's new tourism wonder.  It has always taken a backseat from Puerto Princesa and El Nido, the two more popular tourist destinations in Palawan.  But over the years, Coron has begun attracting more and more tourists not only from the archipelago but from around the world as well.

Just recently, my aunt from Brazil decided to treat the whole family (Read:  Our family plus all my uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, and nieces from the Rodriguez side of the family!) to Coron.  

We were awed.  I mean how could you not be when you see this?







But while Coron is popular for it lush mountains, majestic rock formations, and clear waters, it is also a major attraction among divers because of its wreck dive sites.  In fact, in 2007, it was included in Forbes Travelers' "The World's 10 Best Scuba Spots".
Scattered throughout the Coron seas are wrecks from the Japanese supply fleet that were sunk during the 1944 U.S. air raid.

"Between The Battle of the Philippine Sea, June 19th and 20th 1944, and The Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 23rd to 26th 1944, the Japanese attempted to reinforce their forces occupying the Philippines.
For divers, Coron's history started on 24 September 1944 when a US Navy strike force of fighters and dive bombers attacked a Japanese supply fleet of up to 24 ships, at anchor, in Coron Bay and around Busuanga Island."

Being the dive addicts that we are, my sister and I just had to go on one of the sites!  We chose the Olympia Maru wreck.

The Olympia Maru in its original state. (Photo taken from http://coronwrecks.com)
A diagram of the sunken Olympia Maru. (Photo taken from http://coronwrecks.com)
The skies were clear and we were expecting excellent visibility underwater.  So with gear in tow, we set out for the Olympia Maru dive site.

It was a one-hour boat road from town.  And when we finally reached the spot, we set off for what I would later call a very surreal dive experience.


You know that part in Titanic where Rose (Kate Winslet) died and her soul descended the waters to reunited with Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio)?  That's how it felt like.  Eerie and fascinating at the same time.  

Dive challenge.  We had to penetrate small holes in order to enter the wreck.
Inside Olympia Maru.  Creepy, much?
Glass ceiling.  Yep, you read it right:  ceiling.  Remember, the ship sunk sideways.

Twilight zone?

Aside from the wreck's interior, another sight to see is the wreck's exterior.  Decades under water have made it a rich marine habitat.  The ship's hull and stern were covered with corals and teeming with sea creatures.


Hello, Nemo!

We scoured the wreck for about 50 minutes.  And while there were times I got disoriented and dizzy, the experience is now included in my "Best Dives" list.

Safety stop!

Two days later, we visited another wreck--the Lusong Gunboat.  But since the waters were very shallow, we got to explore the wreck by skin diving.

Lusong gunboat.  That's me swimming towards the boat's stern.

Again, the coral formations that enveloped the wreck amazed me.


The boat's railing.



So yeah, Coron is definitely the Big Boss's handiwork.  Imagine--wonders above and underwater.  So if you're going to Coron (and you should!), these shipwrecks should definitely be on your itinerary ;)





*All underwater photos taken by Conrado Vidad Jr. and Ainna Vidad

15 comments:

  1. The place looks amazing! Both outside and underwater! I love shipwrecks too, although I've never dived to see one, I saw both (one in Egypt and one in Cyprus), but they both were aground. And what cool aunt from Brazil you have :)

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  2. Oh wow, you've been to Egypt! That's one of my dream destinations. I want to take the Egypt-Greece route. It must have been a pretty amazing experience for you too!

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  3. Koryn, I've been there... 4 times! lol It's a long story, but yep, I love the country. I've been to Cairo, Giza, Hurghada, Sharm-el-Sheikh and nearby areas. There's even a thankful post on a boat trip there: http://sothankfulproject.blogspot.com/2009/10/still-on-egypt.html

    Anyway, how are you? Saw on the news what happened in Philippines today :( Hope you and yours are all okay!

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  4. Wow, cooooool! Egypt has always fascinated me. In fact, I'm reading a fictional book series based on Egyptian gods.

    We're all praying the the typhoon would be kind, but, already, some of the provinces in the country are submerged in floods. Hopefully, our government learned from one of the devastating typhoon we experienced 2 years ago and are more prepared this time.

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  5. Mother! I love your photos! I got goosebumps looking at them! I got to snorkel around a shipwreck (babaw lang) in Malapascua but I wasnt able to do so in Coron! Envious!! But for sure Ill try to at least do intro dive this year. I told T already. Hehe.

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  6. Thanks, mother!

    Go go go! Do you have an instructor already? If you don't have one yet, do your intro dive with mine! He's super okay and very convincing haha. I'm sure you'll enjoy diving. Tara na. Then next year let's do dives together! ;)

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  7. I was looking for a way to email you, but didn't find your address :( The "problem" with my facebook is that I always delete old pictures, and old is anything that is older than a year ago lol So I usually only have a few albums. Currently, I have Prague and Cyprus (both gorgeous places!). Also Barcelona but it's only 9 photos about nothing and Paris, which is mostly filled with pics of me and my friends. I can send you public links, if you wish? But only via email ;-)

    P.S. But you just made me think actually... I was thinking that I maybe should reintroduce some of the really nice photos I took during my past travels, and now that you mentioned it, I thought maybe I should get a flickr account for that? Do you have one?

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  8. Oops. I gotta do something about that email thing. Let me tweak the settings.

    Oh wow, you've really been around! More reason for you to post your photos :) Yes, I do have a flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/koryniledan

    I use it for my Project 365. The idea is to post one significant photo a day for 365 days/1 year. Sort of a commitment challenge for me :)

    You should open an account then just upload what you think are your best travel photos ;)

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  9. Still no sign of an email! lol I sent you a flickr mail instead :) And btw, I LOVE your flickr photos! I knew you took great pics, but your flickr is just awesome!!

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  10. Thank you! :) Looking at your Cyprus photos...I'm so envious! Definitely putting that place in my bucket list.

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  11. Koryn! Your photos are awesome and hopefully, I can join you and Jen on one of your underwater quests in the future. Mishu and hope to see you in September with Jen and Peter.*hugs*

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  12. Hey thanks for the pics and story, Koryn, i loved it! i loved the vicarious adventure. :-)

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  13. MER: Wow, when in September will you be here? Heaven going with you?

    SONIA: Thanks also! You should go one! A reward for yourself for being hard-working ;)

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  14. Awesome photos Koryn!

    I didn't know that Coron, Palawan has just earned its tagline as the Philippine's new tourism wonder. It's one of the first few places Peter and I visited when we were bit by wanderlust back in 2004. Even then, alam ko must-see na talaga sha.:)

    Yung isang photo, it looks like you're walking lang underwater. So cool! :)

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  15. The place is so precious noh? I've read several write-ups saying that it's the new tourism wonder. I guess because it's only recently that it has become more accessible to everyone. When you went there, did you fly directly to Busuanga?

    Haha, oo nga ano! It was really creepy inside the wreck! Creep but cool ;)

    So, when are you gonna dive?

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