Busuanga Coron, a gem nestled in the Philippines’ Palawan province, isn’t just renowned for its pristine beaches and stunning limestone cliffs. Beneath its turquoise waters lies a treasure trove of history and adventure, drawing divers from around the globe to explore its captivating shipwrecks. Once the stage for fierce battles during World War II, these wrecks now serve as underwater museums, preserving a fascinating glimpse into the past. Join us as we embark on a virtual dive to uncover the cool artifacts waiting to be discovered in the Coron shipwrecks.

1. The Irako

Descend into the depths and find yourself face-to-face with the Irako, a Japanese refrigeration ship that is the deepest wreck we have in the bay.

Its bow gun mount is the most intact mount in the whole bay missing only the shield and turrets. Inside the bow forecastle, you can find remains of porcelain toilets, a large wheel suspected of being related to the anchor winch, a radiator, multiple circuit breaker boxes, and down a hole from the forecastle you can see the remains of an old dresser or chesterfield. On that same level accessible by the first cargo hold from the bow is what’s suspected to be an old washer or dryer of some sort, close by to that is a door which will bring you into a small silty room, giving you access to the bicycle that lays on the port wall.

The engine room is accessible in this vessel but can be difficult to get into and is deep and dark but full of turbines, wheels, hanging galley ways, and more. It is also the access point to the famous machine room where you can find the lathe and drill press (only for very experienced divers).

2. The Olympia Maru

For those with a passion for underwater photography, the Olympia Maru promises an unforgettable experience. This Japanese freighter, now adorned with vibrant coral formations, provides a stunning backdrop for capturing breathtaking shots.

The gun mount at the bow of the ship is home to an immense school of yellowtail snappers and copious scorpion fish tend to rest on the gun mount carefully camouflaged. The bow forecastle offers some nice spools of rope which often hide moral eels or pipefish as well as ladders and some nice ambient light.

Japanese emblem bricks found on the port side laying on the twisted metal of the precious superstructure. At the stern is a room with a few remains of old sake and beer bottles, some with inscriptions other without. This ship has a massive rudder, good for a swim through and trying to find seahorses.

3. The Akitsushima

Prepare to be awestruck by the sheer size and scale of the Akitsushima, a Japanese seaplane tender that met its demise in Coron Bay.

An incredible tri-barreled AAA anti-aircraft gun sits just in front of the humongous and epic crane in approx. 32m of water. After that you can enter into the hanger through the immense explosion within the ship, as you move toward the stern you will be confronted by the massive winches that were used to lift the planes out which still remain quite intact.

Opposite the winches is the crown jewel of the Akitsushima, her four big engines still intact and unsalvaged. Just behind the engines coming from the stern there is a narrow space to drop down into and check out several gauges, there are second set deeper down the passage, remember to go feet first.

After this you can venture down the long and open corridors of the first couple deck levels down passing by different debris and room entrances, as you exit from the bow and turn back towards the stern you will pass two massive gun mounts (one at the bow and one mid ship) as well as a large communications tower, riddled with different fish.

4. The Kogyo Maru

Step back in time as you explore the Kogyo Maru, a Japanese freighter now adorned with vibrant coral formations. This picturesque wreck offers a glimpse into the underwater world’s remarkable ability to reclaim man-made structures.

As you swim through its cargo holds, you’ll encounter a diverse array of artifacts, including construction equipment and ceramic tiles. In the second cargo hold from the bow there is a huge pile of cement backs which as you explore, you can find the remains of an old forklift or bulldozer with tire treads still intact, as well as an old generator and some unknown wheel axels in the vicinity.

The engine room of this vessel is easily accessible and is illuminated by a large hole on the port side of the vessel adding a beautiful “cathedral-esque” effect as you swim over the massive engine boilers. Two gun mounts can be found, one at the bow, one at the stern. Japanese star emblem sake or beer bottles are located in the third cargo hold from the stern.

5. The Okikawa Maru

Discover the legacy of the Okikawa Maru, a Japanese oil tanker and the largest of the Coron wrecks in terms of length, width and volume.

Check out its incredibly huge rudder and epic propeller shaft swim-through. The ship’s brig or jail cell is a popular spot for photos and such. First deck level galley ways, long and wide corridors offer great swim throughs. Multiple intact port holes along the port side of the vessel can be found when coming from the boiler room.

Exploring Responsibly: Preserving the Past for Future Generations

While diving among these captivating shipwrecks offers an unparalleled opportunity to connect with history, it’s essential to do so responsibly. As stewards of the ocean, we must take care to minimize our impact on these delicate ecosystems. By following established diving guidelines and respecting marine life, we can ensure that these incredible artifacts remain intact for future generations to explore and enjoy.

Final Thoughts: Dive into History in Coron

From the haunting corridors of the Irako to the vibrant coral gardens of the Kogyo Maru, the shipwrecks of Coron offer a window into the past unlike any other. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a curious adventurer, these cool artifacts promise an unforgettable journey beneath the waves. So grab your gear, take the plunge, and immerse yourself in the rich history and breathtaking beauty of Busuanga Coron’s underwater treasures.

For more information on all the wreck dive sites, check out our full list here.

–With writing and photography by Quinn Kapuscinski

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