Japanese Wrecks of Coron Bay

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.

Jeepney for Neptune Dive Center in Coron Philippines

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.

Japanese wrecks of Coron Bay Philippines

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.

Mark and Kelsie O in scuba suits

The Dives

Olympia Maru Japanese Cargo shipwreck from world war II Coron Philippines

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:Olympia Maru Japanese Cargo Shipwreck from WWII Philippines

Next up was Morazan Maru.

Morazan Maru Passenger Cargo Vessel Shipwreck in Coron Philippines

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.Teru Kaze Maru Sunken anti-submarine vessel in Coron Philippines

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, ;).

Teru Kaze Maru Sunken anti-submarine vessel in Coron Philippines (2)

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,

Post-dive San Miguel beer in Coron Philippines

Cheers!
Featured image via: diveprice.com.

PADI Scuba Diving Certification in Coron, Philippines

“…Either do things worth the writing, or write things worth the reading.” -Thomas Fuller

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

Zip Line Through the Jungle- Check!

While we were in Puerto Rico, I was sure to knock off a bucket list item:

103. Zip line through the Jungle ✓

There are few zip line adventure companies that allow children along for the ride. In the San Juan area of Puerto Rico, we could only find one. Our son is seven and many require a minimum age of ten years old.

Tropical Adventures in Dorado, a short drive from San Juan, has an accessible course that allows anyone from “six years old, to healthy seventy year olds.”

The views of the Rainforest as we were zip lining were absolutely breathtaking.

view from our ziplining trip in Puerto RicoTobias is afraid of heights, so I was really worried about this excursion before the trip. Continue reading

9 Things you must eat when you visit San Juan

Yesterday I talked about the streets of Old San Juan, but what about the EATS? Like I mentioned back when we ate a traditional Japanese meal in Kyoto, I’m no food blogger. I get too embarrassed & hungry to take good food pictures. But, the food was so delicious in San Juan that I had to Snapchat it along the way and share it with y’all here today. Here are 9 things you must try when staying in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Continue reading

Exploring the Streets of Old San Juan with Kids in Tow

I’m not gonna lie, our reasoning for traveling to Puerto Rico was three fold.

  1. Flights were cheap
  2. We are SO ready for warm weather
  3. It’s one of the most colorful places around**

I’m a go-go-go type of traveler. You won’t catch me flying across the country just to read a book by the beach, no no. I like to engross myself in the culture, eat all of the local cuisine, and find at least one adventure.

colorful streets of Old San Juan Puerto Rico

Continue reading

Gillette Castle in Lyme/East Haddam, CT

Last week, my sister came to visit us from Texas. We took a few day trips outside of Fairfield County so that she could see a side of Connecticut other than our little space on the Gold Coast sometimes referred to as The 203.

First up, was Gillette Castle State Park. The park features views of Connecticut River, straddling the towns of East Haddam and Lyme, in the area known as Hadlyme. Within the 122 acres it encompasses there are hiking trails, a visitor center and museum, a picnic area, a fishing area, and the castle, of course.

Gillette Castle State Park East Haddam Connecticut (2)

Continue reading

Road Trip! Denver to Yellowstone National Park

This post is the third in a series about a girls’ trip I took for seven days driving from Denver, Colorado to Yellowstone National Park, to Grand Teton National Park.

If you’d like, head over and read the first post about Indian Peaks Wilderness Trail in Arapaho National Forest and the second, Take the Highest Road in the U.S. to the Top of Mt. Evans.

We had a blast in Denver, but the climax of our trip was always supposed to be Yellowstone. So we packed up our stuff and headed out of the city.

Denver mural- ALOFT Downtown Denver Hotel

Scratch that–we had one more place we needed to visit: Voodoo Donuts.

Voodoo Doughnuts in Denver, CO

I’d already been to the original location in Portland, Oregon. But Tina needed to know what was up. I thought it was pretty hilarious that the only Voodoo outside of Oregon in the U.S. shared walls with a dispensary. A stoners paradise, lol.

We gassed up and were on the road. It wasn’t long before we made it to the state line.Road Trip from Denver to Yellowstone National Park

But that was just the beginning.Google map route from Denver to Wyoming

Continue reading

The Highest Road in the United States

This post is the second in a series about a girls’ trip I took for seven days driving from Denver, Colorado to Yellowstone National Park, to Grand Teton National Park.

If you’d like, head over and read the first post about Indian Peaks Wilderness Trail in Arapaho National Forest.

When I first got in touch with my friend who lives in Denver, we talked about how Tina and I hiked Grand Canyon, how much we loved it, and how we were just getting into hiking. After a bit of back and fourth, he decided.

“We should do a 14er! It’s been a long time since I’ve done one.” Continue reading

Honeymooners: Puerto Princesa’s Underground River

Puerto Princesa’s Underground River is the number one thing to do in Puerto Princesa. It’s been declared one of the New7Wonders of Nature, so you know it’s a pretty big deal.

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.

Puerto Princessa Underground River and Palawan Honda Bay Island Hopping (16 of 37)

Why I’m retiring to Palawan: Exhibit A

Continue reading

Honeymooners: Palawan’s River of Bioluminescence, Diving, and Island Hopping

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.

YUM

YUM.

That night, all 12 of us piled in a van and headed to go firefly watching.

Puerto Princessa 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