I love diving in Coron Palawan. There are 14 Japanese ships that were bombed by the Americans during World War II. They are in close proximity to each other. That is why Coron is popular for wreck diving. Where in the world can you do three wrecks in one day?
I did a previous blog on Coron restaurants the last time I was here. So this trip I did more diving than eating. For the local fare I would still recommend Kawayanan Grill which now has a new location. The restaurant has little bamboo (kawayan) huts that make it very Filipino. Danggit (fish native to Coron) and fresh lato ( grape seaweed) is always good to have there. We did get to eat in Bistro Coron again for some pizza.
One nice thing that we got to do was go to the market and buy seafood. We asked the roadside canteens like “Jackie’s” to cook them for us. I was shocked to learn that a kilo of crabs was only P150 or $3, giant squid P100 ($2) a kilo, four pieces of grouper also P100 ($2). Back in the city the cost would have been triple! With a very minimal cooking charge of between P50 to P150 per dish we were able to feast on the freshest seafood and eat with our hands. Yum! I also like the soft drink they call “sparkle” that tastes like Mountain Dew. We don’t have that in the city.
The dive boats leave around nine in the morning. Breakfast is always a great time to get to know the other divers. When I got on the boat our Aussie dive master Mark asked me to start working on my kit. Oh no! I’m a Manila diver and we are spoiled. In all my years of diving in the Philippines I would just tip the boatman to assemble my scuba gear and carry my tanks. Now that I was diving with foreigners it was quite embarrassing that I didn’t know how to do my own scuba equipment. So with Englishman Tim’s help I finally learned and did my own kit.
Diving is like riding a bike. I aborted my first wreck called the Kogyo Maru. On my way down I couldn’t equalize and water kept on entering my mask. During the line descent I looked down into the blue abyss and could not see anything. After not diving for almost a year it dawned on me that this was a depth of 35 meters. So I chickened out and went back up. Thanks to Jaime our ever so patient dive master from Seadive… I got my groove back and in the later days penetrated the Tangat, Akitsushima, Taie Maru, and the Lusong gun boat wrecks.
Lake Barracuda which made me feel like I was in the moon became such an easy dive. The Olympia Maru which I did during my last trip will always be my favorite. It’s a big cargo ship of only 26 meters deep, plenty of sunlight inside, and lots of marine life.
Lunch is prepared and served on the boat by our pinoy dive master who also multi-tasks as a boat driver and cook. He serves three different viands and most often fresh seafood or fish is on the menu. Diving makes you very hungry so the food is gone quickly.
I always get a natural high being under water. Perhaps it has something to do with my zodiac sign being a water sign. I get a thrill swimming into the deep dark cabins and sometimes narrow passage ways. So far I haven’t experienced being disoriented which happens to some people inside a wreck. I also love being surrounded by thousands of swirling fishes. It always amazes me how schools of marine life turn at the exact same time and in such a synchronized manner. On the boat ride back and right before sunset… we are always awarded with a nice cold bottle of San Miguel beer after a long day of diving. It’s a perfect way to end the day!
Aussie Dr Michael Beech was great at getting the dive group of different nationalities together afterwards. If it wasn’t for him we would have been doing our own thing and missed out on that chance to get to know other people. It was so much fun! Great dives, finally learning and doing my own kit, and making new friends made all the difference!