“There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean” – Dave Barry
1,2,3 and he gives me the signal to go down. My heart was pounding and I was nervous about the tasks that would be given to me. I can do this, I can do this – I told myself over and over again.
Scuba diving has been one of the scariest, most exhilarating things I’ve ever done in my life. I’ll have to admit I was truly frightened about breathing underwater. I guess that whole lungs filling with water thing really got to me. However, when I got into the ocean and saw all the breath-taking coral and shipwrecks, my fear disappeared. All the little Nemos swimming around, beautiful corals and WWII shipwrecks, everything was way too mesmerizing to be worrying about anything. Either way, once I began to feel comfortable I started to realize how alluring this underwater world was.
During our first day in Coron we walked around Coron Town in search of dive shops to ask about their offers. Before we had arrived we did research and found that scuba diving in Coron was among the cheapest in the world, including certifications. Instantly I decided I needed to get my PADI Open Water Certificate and start on a new adventure. After ten minutes of talking to the local dive shops we found the perfect fit for me. Fun and Sun was a dive shop located right on the main road in Coron Town and was offering a killer deal on their PADI Open Water Diving Certificate. For your certificate that included the PADI training book, 6 dives (2 confined and 4 open water), free lunch, coffee, water, snacks and equipment, plus a huge luxurious boat, it only cost $16,000 pesos ($362 USD). I also got my own personal tour guide of the diving spots, and fit a few shipwreck dives in as well. Who can beat that?
My first diving site was at CYC Beach complete with beautiful turquoise water and coral reefs. CYC Beach is great for first time divers as it offers a lot of space to swim and practice your training skills while not being overwhelmed with ships and divers. I dove at numerous coral and shipwrecks sites: Lusong Gun Boat, Okikawa Maru, Teru Kaze Maru, Barracuda Lake, and the Twin Peaks, which were all magnificent in their own way.
Lusong Gun Boat – My first shipwreck dive and such a beautiful one at that! This shipwreck is unlike many others as it’s more shallow and colorful, whereas others aren’t as much because they are deeper. The Lusong Gun Boat was perfect for my first shipwreck dive because I got it’s beautiful exterior and a bit of the interior as well. It’s also great for snorkelers because you can actually see the ship from the surface on a clear day!
Okikawa Maru – A Japanese tanker and 168 meters long, it’s a gigantic boat and really cool shipwreck to explore. Most say that Okikawa is the second best ship because there are lots of corridors and marine life to see. I didn’t get to explore it much, but I did get to go in and out of some common areas. I would say this was my favorite shipwreck!
Tera Kaze Maru – Another one that was very beautiful and fun to explore. Supposedly this one has sea turtles and swarms of colorful fish around, but unfortunately I didn’t see much of that. The ship is cool to see underwater and because it’s laying on it’s side it gives you a different angle to look at.
One of the best things about getting your scuba certificate on an island with lots of underwater attractions is your friends or significant other can join you. There were a few days where Caleb and I went our separate ways and he explored some of the deeper shipwrecks, but we did get to do a few dives together and had a terrific time. The pictures of Caleb above and one of me blow are in front of the entrance to Barracuda Lake, a lake that’s half salt water and half freshwater. Honestly, Barracuda Lake was probably my favorite dive because of the feeling that you have, not the attractions.
What feeling do you get that can make it your favorite? Well I can say that you can’t find anything quite like it and maybe that’s why it’s named “The Craziest Dive Site in the Philippines”. You walk through sharp limestone cliffs at the beginning then make your way into the salt water that’s very cool. You begin diving, lose your vision for a bit because you’re in the mix of salt and fresh water then find yourself swimming in water that feels a lot like a warm bath. To say the least, it was hard to get me to go back into the salt water.
A great feeling after diving is when you get out of the water, dry and off then soak it all in; the sun, the water and the experience.
Overall, the WWII shipwrecks, coral dives, Barracuda Lake and Coron did not let me down. For everything I did on a backpackers budget, I would say it was well worth it. I can totally see myself coming back to explore the remaining ships and venture more into the caves and other attractions in Coron, definitely!