Swimming with the whale sharks was amazing, but it wasn’t even my favorite part of the trip! Next post I’ll talk about canyoneering, and how our family needed to be rescued after jumping off a cliff!
It’s been far too long, but I’ve finally got a bit of free time and no trips planned for a whole month. Back to June. Back to The Philippines. Back to diving.
The Philippines is known worldwide for its diving. From the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park to the biodiversity of Puerto Galera, its a diver’s heaven. Though I’ll never tire of swimming alongside colorful marine life and spotting exotic animals, there’s something a bit more thrilling about doing so in a shipwreck. And Coron Bay has many to choose from.
A little bit of History
On September 23, 1944, Combat Air Control reported enemy activity in the area. The aircraft carriers USS Lexington, USS Intrepid, and USS Cabot ordered 24 bombers and 96 fighters to cover a chart distance of 350 miles on the following day. What happened next became one of the longest bombing missions in the history of U.S. naval aviation: a three hour flight before the attack that led to the ten shipwrecks.
For a thorough history of how the wrecks came to be, head to Coron Bay Air Raid History.
Seventy years later, these wrecks have become artificial reefs and are teeming with wildlife. After receiving our diving certifications, it was time for Mark and I to scuba-suit up and see for ourselves.
Our first dive was through Olympia Maru. In the photo of the guidebook above, you can see that there are four openings at the top of the ship. From the second one from the right was where we entered, and we made our way through. We had to be very careful of our breathing to be sure not to become more buoyant and hit our heads on the roofs of the ship.
We could see many shipping containers with Japanese writing and cargo drums. It was amazing to see something so human, yet so foreign to the other world that we’ve found under the sea, where tropical fish and corals had claimed it as their own. The ship was so big, it was like a warehouse was just dropped into the ocean.
Not gonna lie, I was totally feeling some Little Mermaid vibes. Unfortunately, we hadn’t yet bought our GoPro, so here’s some low-quality printed photos of the site:
Next up was Morazan Maru.
This one had far more traces of human life, as it was a passenger ship. There was even a toilet! Through the years of deterioration, its turned more into a few large chunks of porcelain, but it was still neat. Because Morazan Maru sunk onto its side, it was more challenging to orient where was up and down and it was more difficult to make our way through the narrow passageways of the ship without disturbing the corals.
What was really cool about this dive was that because of it’s side orientation, there’s a big pocket of air within the walls of the base of the ship. So we were able to take off our regulators and breathe some [not at all] fresh air all the way unda da sea.
Last up was Teru Kaze Maru.
Diving along with us was a guide, as well as a young tourist from the UK. He opted out of this last dive, as he said he had been travelling throughout Australia and South Asia for the last four months and his resources were depleted.
When we got back on the boat, I didn’t want to break it to him that it was my favorite of the dives. This wreck was much closer to the surface, so light was abundant, the colors of sea life and coral were far more vibrant and the corals were less spread apart. It was also a very small ship, so from the outside I was more able to see the shape of the hull more clearly. While Olympia Maru felt like a warehouse and Morazan Maru was disorienting, this one was without a doubt a ship. Hah! Not like I was doubting the others were, ;).
That being said, I think that whichever shipwreck dive is my latest will likely be my favorite. Diving, for me, is not one of those “you’ve seen one and you’ve seen ’em all” kind of things. It’s a more colorful, more thrilling, underwater hiking. It’s always different, full of sights, full of energy, and stunning.
Until next time,
Featured image via: diveprice.com.
Here, here! I’ve been a busy one lately–to the other side of the world and back, even. I’ve been toying with where to start when I begin writing again, and then finally, I decided: I’m just going to dive right in. Continue reading
Though it’s considered a part of Puerto Princesa, it was quite a ways away from our hotel. Like two hours away. Again, we all bundled up in one big van and made the trek.
We took one stop to a little shop along the way, it had a pretty incredible view.
Our first day in Palawan was the best of our entire trip! We took a quick flight via Cebu Pacific Air first thing in the morning, and brought (almost) the entire fam. After our arrival to our hotel, we had to leave quickly. Though we had originally booked a city tour of Puerto Princessa, our new found love of diving led us to contact someone local the day prior to see what the waters of Palawan had to offer.
And oh, did it offer a lot. We broke away from the rest of the group, picked up the dive equipment from the dive instructors’ gorgeous home, took a short ride, picked up some lunch and water, and arrived at Pristine Beach. Literally–that’s the name of the beach. And for good reason.
Unfortunately, Mark had me leave my phone and camera behind. So I don’t have any photos!
The dives were great, we did one for forty five minutes, ate lunch, then did another dive for the same amount of time. We went down as deep as 18 meters during the first dive, but during the second we didn’t have to go nearly as far: there was a full wall of reef going down as deep as we could see.
After diving, we rested at the hotel, played some foozeball, and I discovered banoffe. BANANA IN MY FROZEN COFFEE.
That night, all 12 of us piled in a van and headed to go firefly watching.
They fed us a traditional Filipino dinner, and then we got on boats for the tour. The boats were row boats, and only four people, including the guide, were allowed on each boat.
During the tour, the guide asked if we see fireflies where we come from, then asked us if we see them less often now than we used to. Growing up and spending time in my cousin’s neighborhood in northern Corpus Christi, I saw many. But it really has been a long time.
The guide explained to us that fireflies are a sign of a healthy environment, free of pollution. They’re a sign of good air. No wonder it’s been a while. Kind of sad.
Fireflies were everywhere, and he would use a simple red light to make them shine more brightly: with his light, he looked to them to be a firefly as well. The stars shined brightly. It was gorgeous.
THEN, the tour guide threw us for a loop. “You may notice the stars shining brightly, and of course the fireflies. But they aren’t the only things that shine here in this river. If you put your hand in the water–”
“WHAT!!” Continue reading
Despite our late night fire dancing on Boracay’s White Beach, we woke up before the crack of dawn, yet again. This time, we had big intentions for the day. Boracay offers SO MANY water activities, and a few that we had in mind for the day were rowing in clear boats, wake boarding, surfing, banana boating and more. First, we went helmet diving with Mark’s dad’s girlfriend, Ann. Continue reading
We woke up at 3 a.m. our first day in Manila to head back to the airport we arrived at less than a day prior. On the first flight of the day, we headed to Boracay.
Lately, Boracay has gotten a bad rep for being overcrowded and overrated. The week before we arrived was the Easter holiday–the busiest weekend of the year, so we may have gotten a different side of the island. We really enjoyed it.
You can’t just fly into Boracay. We had to take a van to a speedboat to another van to get to our hotel. Mark’s dad, who we were there with, along with his girlfriend, told us that it wasn’t too long ago when you had to take a tricycle, get in a ROW boat, then take another tricycle to get to white beach. Which is a little like…
But for partying, which is amazing and when I started to understand why the Philippine Department of Tourism has declared their tagline, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” Continue reading