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Northern Palawan

Dive Map Northern Palawan DibuyuyanBlack Island WreckKyokuzan MaruTae MaruAkitsushimaMaru WrecksGunther's CathedralDilumacad Maniloc & Miniloc
Palawan Island separates the Sulu Sea from the South China Sea in remote western Philippines. It is an area famous for its wildlife, with many rare species unique to this part of the world.

At it's northern tip, it has some excellent dive spots, including the country’s best wreck diving around Coron Bay - the site of numerous Japanese warships sunk by the Americans in the Second World War.

There is more excellent diving around El Nido, which has great beaches, lovely reefs, Turtles & even Dugongs.
Cannon Turtle Diver Wreck Dive Map Northern Palawan
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Wreck & Diver During September 1944, an American reconnaissance mission discovered a camouflaged fleet of Japanese warships. They duly attacked, destroying 24 ships and in the process, creating 12 diveable war wrecks that have become a world famous destination for wreck-lovers.

Starting from the south, the first wreck is the Irako, a 200m long refrigeration ship that still sits almost upright and is in excellent condition. This huge ship sits in 40m of water & is now home to large Groupers & prides of Lionfish, while Snapper, Barracuda & Batfish hang in the blue. The wreck can be penetrated at deeper depths, but this is only recommended for experienced wreck divers.

Just a little to the north, Kogyu Maru is an easier, more shallow wreck. Descending onto the deck of this 140m ship, you will notice the cargo holds. These holds allow easy penetration and are ideal as an introduction to wreck diving. Heathy schools of fish cover the wreck and Giant Pufferfish are common. In good visibility, this wreck is great for photography. It is sometimes referred to as the Tangat Wreck.

To the west lies Mamiya Maru, another large freighter around 160m long. Unlike the Irako and Kogyu Maru, Mamiya does not stand upright, lying on her starboard side in 34m of water. The exposed port side is now home to numerous sponges, anemones, soft corals & plenty of marine life. On the deck, it is still possible to see the anti-aircraft guns. The cargo holds, which can be penetrated are full of construction materials.

The Olympia Maru to the north also lies on its starboard side. The port side of this 120m long freighter is fairly shallow - around 16m deep and is covered in corals & sponges, including large lettuce corals. The wreck can be penetrated, but is home to numerous Scorpionfish, so care should be taken.

To the west is yet another large wreck - the Akitsushima. This 200m long ship is known as a Flying Boat Tender. It was used to winch a smaller, faster boat - the ‘flying boat’ - into the water. This smaller boat has disappeared, but the crane used to winch it into the water is clearly visible. The wreck lies on its starboard side and the large blast hole, which caused the ship to sink almost immediately, is clearly visible. This is a deeper dive and only suitable for experienced divers.

Further to the north is Tae Maru, or Conception Wreck. This was a tanker, around 170m in length. The wreck still sits upright and the deck is in 10 - 15m of water. Maybe due to its exposed location, this wreck has very healthy corals and plentiful marine life. Currents can be strong on this site and the tide should be checked before any dive. The bow of the wreck was destroyed by American bombs and the wreck can be easily penetrated if conditions are good.

Further afield are more large wrecks, such as Black Island Wreck & Kyokuzan Maru, while a few smaller wrecks lie around the area as well.

Coron Bay is not all about wrecks and has some excellent reef dives to enjoy. Dibuyan, Dumanpalit & Dimaky islands have excellent reefs, with occasional sightings of Sharks & Manta Rays. For experienced divers, Gunther’s Cathedral is an excellent cave dive. This is not an easy dive and should be done only with an experienced guide and all the necessary safety precautions.

Rare, gentle Dugongs or Seacows can also be found in the area, although sadly they are valued for their meat by local fisherman and face an uphill battle to survive.

To the south of Coron Bay, situated on the main Palawan Island is El Nido - an area with outstanding natural beauty both above and below the water. These calm waters provide the opportunity for good, year round diving.

The main dive sites are around 3 small offshore islands. Dilumacad Island is famous for its underwater cave, Matinloc Island is the spot to go for pelagic action and Miniloc Island, with its stunning limestone cliffs is home to beautiful coral gardens and many smaller inhabitants. Turtles, Dolphins & even Dugongs can sometimes be seen in the area.

  Reefscape Wreck & Diver Dugong Cave
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While this is a remote part of the Philippines, the diving in this area is generally land based, with options on all three major islands in the area.

It is sometimes possible to arrange Safaris and Liveaboards to the area with larger dive operations around Puerto Galera & Puerto Princessa.
  • Coron Bay
  • El Nido
  • Puerto Princessa
  • Puerto Galera

Dive Map Coron BayDirectory Find Dive Centres & Resorts in Coron Bay

Coron Bay, the world re-knowned resting place of many WWII wrecks, is in the Calamian Group of islands to the north of Palawan. It consists of three main islands - Busuanga, Culion & Coron, plus numerous smaller islands.

Dive Phuket  Dive
The majority of the dive centres are around Coron Town, which is actually on Busuanga Island, but it is also possible to dive from Sangat & Dimakya.

Local dive centres make day trips to the wrecks of Coron Bay, plus trips to other sites in the area. It may also be possible to dive Apo Reef, to the north, from here.

Travel Phuket  Travel
To reach the area, you can catch a flight from Manila to Busuanga Island, the largest island in the group. From there, there are regular connections to Coron Island or you can arrange for a transfer to your resort in advance. Alternatively, it is possible to get here by ferry from Manila or Puerta Princessa.

Stay Phuket  Stay
There are a few accommodation options, including some simple but comfortable guest houses around Coron Town. On Sangat & Dimakya Islands, there are a couple of more upmarket resorts.

Do Phuket  Do
Away from the wrecks, relaxing or exploring the area are the main activities. There are some interesting treks, or you can explore the area by mountain bike, horseback or boat. Island hopping is very popular too. In Coron Town, there are a few restaurants to choose from but nightlife is generally quiet.

Dive Map El NidoDirectory Find Dive Centres & Resorts in El Nido

On the northern tip of Palawan Island is El Nido, a beautiful area of limestone karsts & stunning islands. The area is famous for its nature and beautiful landscapes.

Dive Phuket  Dive
There are currently around 6 dive shops in the area, some on exclusive island resorts and some available to all. They make trips to El Nido's many local dive sites. The area is well set-up for beginners & those looking to learn to dive.

Travel Phuket  Travel
El Nido has its own airport with daily flights to Manila, the capital of the Philippines. There are also ferries from Manila which sometimes stop over in Coron Bay to the north, but this requires patience as the journey is around 30 hours. From Puerta Princessa, Palawan's capital, you can also catch a bus to El Nido.

Stay Phuket  Stay
There is a good range of accommodation, with most choice in the budget range - usually simple bungalows on the beach. There are two well known luxury resorts in the area, both on their own private islands - Lagen Island Resort & Miniloc Island Resort. Both have their own dive centres.

Do Phuket  Do
Activites here are generally based around the sea with many stunning beaches & islands to visit. Snorkelling is excellent and kayaking is also popular. There is plenty of interesting wildlife in the area so trekking, camping trips & mountain-biking are very enjoyable.

Dive Map Puerto PrincessaDirectory Find Dive Centres & Resorts in Puerto Princessa

Puerto Princessa is the regional capital of Palawan, a 400km long island in the west of the Philippines. It has been voted the Philippines cleanest city and is a gateway to Palawan - the Philipppines most pristine & untouched island.

Dive Phuket  Dive
There are just a few dive centres around the area. Liveaboards & Safaris to Tubbataha out in the Sulu Sea are the most popular trip among divers, but there are also nice local dive sites to visit. Some operators can also arrange Safaris to northern Palawan.

Travel Phuket  Travel
To reach Puerto Princessa, simply take a flight from the international airports in Manila or Cebu. If you have time & patience, there are ferry services once a week from Manila, 22 hours away.

Stay Phuket  Stay
There is a wide range of accommodation around Puerto Princessa, with more choice than anywhere else in Palawan. There are high end hotels, budget hotels, guesthouses & beachside bungalows to choose from, depending on your budget.

Do Phuket  Do
Puerto Princessa is known as the eco-tourism capital of the Philippines and most activities are centred around enjoying the area's beautiful landscapes & nature, including plenty of wildlife-based trips. Tours to the local islands and beaches are also very popular. Shopping, & golf are possible and there are plenty of nice restaurants to enjoy.

Dive Map Puerto GaleraDirectory Find Dive Centres & Resorts in Puerto Galera

Originally a safe harbour for ships, Puerto Galera is now one of the Philippines' most famous & visited tourist areas, due to its lovely beaches and easy accessibility.

Dive Phuket  Dive
It is also one of the most famous diving areas, with many dive shops catering for beginners & experienced divers alike. Day trips are made to the many sites around Puerto Galera, including Verde Island. Safaris can be organised to Apo Reef to the west and occasionally further afield, such as Marinduque.

Travel Phuket  Travel
To reach Puerto Galera take a flight to Manila, the Philippines capital. From there, head south through Luzon, either by car or bus to Batangas Pier. From here, you can take a car ferry or speedboat to Puerto Galera.

Stay Phuket  Stay
There is probably more choice of places to stay around Puerto Galera than any other dive spot in the Philippines, with hotels lining the beaches. White Beach has many budget options and Sabang beach is the bustling tourist centre of the region. The other beaches tend to be more relaxed and upmarket. A lot of resorts tend to be quite small with a few cottages on the beach.

Do Phuket  Do
Away from the diving, there is plenty of activities to entertain you including lively nightlife, beautiful beaches, tours, watersports, shopping & even paintball.

Sulu Sea         
In the centre of the Sulu Sea, a few atolls rise from unimaginable depths to within a few metres of the surface. These remote atolls, which can only be reached by Liveaboard are home to some truly world class diving...

Asia's Best Wrecks

South-east Asia has some simply superb wreck dives, where stunning marine life collides head on with history. If you love nothing better than to explore a good shipwreck, then you need Underwater Asia's Guide to Asia's Best Wrecks...


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