While traveling for the past two-plus years, it is sometimes hard to have hobbies. However, diving is one of the best activities for traveling. First off, diving is much cheaper in many developing nations and in often times much better than the US. Also, the US has some frigid water. I mean I would never willingly dip my fragile ass body into water colder than 75 degrees. Yana has been certified since 2004 and I got certified back in 2008. Since then, Yana has accumulated over 90 dives, and I am somewhere around 50. We enjoyed diving in some incredible places such as Palau, Sipidan, the Red Sea, the Great Barrier Reef, Vanuatu, and Cozumel to name a few. We recently added Coron, the Philippines to the list. Known for its incredible wreck diving, we were excited to see what Coron had to offer.
Coron became a diving haven from one single day in September 1944. A US Navy air raid on the Japanese military and supply boats in the Coron bay led to 24 sunken vessels during WW2. This storied past is now a haven for wreck dive junkies. With ships ranging from 50m to 200m in length, the diving is not for beginners. There are dozens of dive shops in Coron to choose from.
We chose a dive shop called Reggae Dive. We normally don’t rave about one shop to another or see a big difference in most dive shops, but Reggae Dive was pretty great. They are an extremely organized shop with pre-set trips for a day or two in advance. Their gear is new and although there were nearly 30 divers on one day, we were surprised by how well the logistics were handled. We were split up onto five boats, making the groups much smaller, with a divemaster for a group of 2 – 4 divers. With different levels of divers, not all boats went to the same sites, in fact, we were the only boat with our set itinerary of two wreck dives and a dive at Barracuda Lake. The divemasters were all very knowledgeable, but also did not micromanage anyone; a pet peeve of ours. We had an amazing lunch of grilled fish and veggie curry cooked directly on the boat. Following all of our dives, we enjoyed some (free) cold beers for the ride back to Coron. The free beers spoke near and dear to my heart.
About the Diving in Coron
Diving in Coron is an excellent place for experienced divers. It is not to say you cannot enjoy diving here if you have never dived before or only open water certified. However, the best dive sites are deeper than the 18m allowed with an open water certification. Penetrating wreck dives requires advanced certification. Several sites are also excellent for use of Nitrox, so this is a good certification to have. Barracuda Lake is a very special dive that is unlike anything else. It is a lake that is a blend of freshwater and saltwater and has crazy thermocline with temperature changes that actually feel uncomfortable (but it is totally safe). The dive sites in Coron all require boats to get to, so typically you’ll be out for the full day.
Best Season to Dive in Coron
Diving in Coron is available year round, but the months known for the best conditions are between December and March. Visibility can range between 5m and 15m, but we experienced most of our dives between 5m and 8m.
Popular Dive Locations in Coron Bay, Philippines*
There are dozens of other dive sites and wrecks around the Coron Bay and Busuanga Island. These are just a few of the top dive locations.
As mentioned before, Barracuda Lake is a bizarre place to dive. The lake is formed by a crater which the first 4m is freshwater at a temperature of 28°C. As you descend, the freshwater mixes with saltwater and there is a crazy thermocline. At 14m deep, the temperature skyrockets up to 38°C. When I first experienced it my first thought was to get the F out of there, but my mind had to overrule all my natural flight or fight instincts. The lake does not have a ton to see, but it does have rocky limestone cliff walls, and there are some macro critters. The depth of the lake is 40m.
This wreck is one of the few true warships. It was a military boat served to deploy seaplanes. The wreck measures 118m and is at a depth between 22m – 36m.
This is a refrigerated provision ship carrying supplies (mostly food) for the Japanese military. This is a great dive for technical wreck divers and deep divers, especially for those wanting to penetrate a deep wreck. The wreck measures 147m and is at a depth between 34m – 45m.
An auxiliary supply ship carrying construction material such as bulldozers, cement mixers, and cement bags, all which can still be seen in the ship today. The wreck measures 129m and is at a depth between 22m – 36m.
The largest wreck in Coron Bay, this ship was an oil tanker. This dive is suitable for open water divers. The wreck measures 170m and is at a depth between 10m – 26m.
An English-built freight liner that was seized by the Japanese was put to use as an auxiliary supply ship. This dive is suitable for open water divers. The wreck measures 93m and is at a depth between 12m – 25m.
This wreck is a freighter, captured and utilized by the Japanese navy. This dive site is known for being one of the best for underwater photography, with very nice corals and a wealth of marine life, especially macro critters such as seahorses and ghost pipefish. The wreck measures 127m and is at a depth between 21m – 30m.
Cost of Scuba Diving in Coron
These are the costs from Reggae Dive Center as of 2018. While they are not the cheapest in town, they are very affordable and we recommend them due to their long-standing record of great customer service and professional dive shop.
Discover Scuba Diving (1st-time divers): 2 dives for 4,500₱ ($85)
2 Fun Dives: 3,000₱ including all gear, entrance fees, and lunch ($55)
3 Fun Dives: 3,500₱ including all gear, entrance fees, and lunch ($65)
Open Water Course: 17,500₱ ($330)
Advanced Open Water Course: 14,000₱ ($260)
Nitrox Certification: 9,500₱ ($180)
Deep Diver Course: 12,500₱ ($235)
Wreck Diver Specialty: 12,500₱ ($235)
Rescue Diver Course: 17,500₱ ($330)
Divemaster Course: 48,000₱ ($900)
Packages are available if bundling courses as well as discounts for having your own gear
Want Your Own Dive Gear?
Planning a dive trip and want your own gear? We don’t think having your own gear is necessary (we don’t), but if you plan on diving a lot or ever becoming a divemaster, it could be worth investing in some equipment. A complete entry-level package would cost around $1,000 for everything needed. Selecting items individually targetting mid-range, but highly rated items would cost between $1,500 – $2,000. Here are some recommended items and brands which are highly rated to check out.
Dive Computer – The Cressi Goa is a sleek watch-like design and affordable around $300 compared to similar designs by competitors. For a high-end computer, the Suunto D4i Novo dive computer is great for technical divers, sleek and costs under $700 when some high-end computers cost above $1,000.
Mask & Snorkel – Tusa M1001 Freedom HD mask has a huge field of view. Combine with a Tusa Hyperdry Snorkel. Total price is just over $100.
Fins – Scubapro GO are great travel fins and only $80.
Dive Boots – Mares Equator 2mm dive boots are basic, but all you need for $25.
BCD Package – There is a Cressi R1 Package with a computer and all BCD equipment for $900. This is worth it if you are ok with this dive computer, otherwise, it is better to pick your own computer and individually buy the pieces to this package (ex-computer) for a total of $800.
BCD – The Cressi R1 is a great weight-integrated mid-range option for $350.
Regulator – The Cressi Sub Ellipse Titanium regulator is just under $300.
Secondary – The Cressi Sub Ellipse Octopus is $100.
Pressure Gauge – The Cressi Mini Console PD2 is $120.
Dive Light – VOLADOR 1000 Lumen rechargeable dive light costs $50.
Dive Bag – With all this new expensive gear, you will need a bag to transport it. The Cressi Trolley Bag is great for flights, and the Mares Mesh Duffle is perfect for the boat. Both would cost under $200.
Wetsuits – There are many options to choose from between the thickness (3mm, 5mm, 7mm) as well as full body, shorty wetsuits, or separate jackets and pants. These all depend on comfort, preference, and water conditions (temperature). For warmer waters, I typically do not dive with a wetsuit, otherwise, I recommend a 3mm full body wetsuit such as this Scubapro Steamer 3mm men’s suit or the Aqua Lung HydroFlex 3mm women’s suit, both around $200.
More Scuba Diving Pictures from Coron
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This is not a paid post, however, we were given a free day of diving (3 fun dives) in exchange for photographs and our honest feedback. Everything mentioned in this post is entirely our own opinion and based on our experience diving with Reggae Dive Center. We honestly can say, they were one of our favorite dive shops out of many that we have been to.
*Information such as wreck statistics are provided by Scuba Tech Philippines and Dive Zone.
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