Apo Reef & Wrecks of Coron
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“One Week on Land and One Week on Water”
Reviewed: September 2015
I spent an amazing two weeks on the Atlantis properties. The first week we lodged at the resort in Dumaguete and the second week aboard the Azores.
The Atlantis in Dumaguete has everything you need in a dive resort. When we arrive in Manila, the Atlantis staff greeted us in the international terminal and helped transfer us to the domestic terminal to Dumaguete. The staff was also waiting to collect us in Dumaguete and transferred us to the resort.
My room in Dumaguete was spacious, had 24/7 hot water shower, TV with local and English channels, and mini-refrigerator. Outside the room, there were 2 chairs, table and drying rack. The restaurant, which is situated on the beach, had tasty menu and fine selection of drinks.
The diving is great in Dumaguete is great especially if macro photography or video is your thing. The dive masters are very friendly and knowledgeable. The Atlantis has several boats to take divers to various sites. The dive shop is quite organized, upon arrival, you are assigned a large bin for to store your dive gear and hang your gear.
The spa on the resort was quite affordable and service was great for a post dive massage.
Aboard the Azores, the same level of service was delivered. The boat was very spacious with lots of areas to relax. The rooms were good for a liveaboard. The food varied and was tasty. Dive masters were quite friendly and helpful. There was ample space to charge photo and video gear plus an area to soak equipment in fresh water and air guns to help move sediments.
We did the Bohol tour, which was good. However, I was told the best tour is the seasonal Tubbbataha tour… just gives me another reason to return.
During the 2 weeks, I executed 44 enjoyable dives and would more than happily return to any Atlantis property.
Room Tip: Ask for an high floor ocean front room
Atlantis Azores latest exciting itinerary is to the sunken World War II wrecks of Coron Bay via Apo Reef. A typical charter starts with two days of exploring the 34 mile long reef system of Apo Reef, often referred to by many as a “mini-Tubbataha”.
Twenty four Japanese ships were sunk in Coron Bay on September 24, 1944 by the US Navy; you will have an opportunity to dive the best of these during our time there taking in both the unique history of the area and the amazing amount of fish and coral life that now cover the wrecks.
Dive Day Schedule
- Day 1 & 2 – Apo Reef
- Day 3 & 4 – Coron Wrecks
- Day 5 – Nanshin Maru & Dimipac Island
- Day 6 – Kyokuszan Maru
Day 1 & 2 – Apo Reef and Tara Islands
The UNESCO heritage site of Apo Reef will be our destination for the first day. Shark Ridge is a great place to see white tip and black tip reef sharks. Manta rays are sometimes spotted here as well as hawksbill turtles and bumphead parrot fish. Binangaan Drop Off is another fantastic location with huge schools of snappers and tuna. Look out for spotted eagle rays in the blue as well as other pelagic species. On the end of our second day, we’ll offer an optional visit to Coron’s hot springs.
Day 3 & 4 – Coron Wrecks
Coron is a mecca for wreck divers. We begin to explore the Japanese ships wrecks from Second World War, including the Okikawa Maru, a 160 meter long ship which was sunk by a direct hit on the bow area. We also dive the Olympia Maru, a massive 120 meter vessel , the East Tangat Gunboat, a shallow dive on this 140 meter long submarine hunter that is ideal for exploration. The two main boilers are a big attraction where hard coral growth is extensive, and plenty scorpion fish on the decks. We also explore the Akitsusima, one of Coron’s most famous dives a wreck of the sea plane tender, and Irako, a refrigeration ship for the Japanese Imperial Navy.
Day 5 – Nanshin Maru Dimipac Island
Black Island Wreck, or Nanshin Maru, a small tanker which was coverter to take fuels (like diesel, etc.); she is approximately 50 meters long sitting upright on a sandy bottom. We then dive Dimipac Island, offering relaxed diving, with sandy slopes on which you may meet turtles, dendritic jawfish, leaf scorpionfish, ribbon eel and who knows, may be a dugong! The water around the island is relatively warm, with very little current, offering heavenly photo opportunities!
Day 6 – Kyokuszan Maru
We open our 6th day with two deep morning dives at Kyokuszan in Maricaban Bay off the island of Busuanga Island, Coron. Kyokuzan was an auxiliary supply ship of the Japanese Royal Navy sunken by a US carrier-based aircraft. She is approximately 140 meters long, with beautiful corals grown over car parts, tires and the body of the ship. We then cruise back to Puerto Galera.
Coron – Wrecks of Okikawa Maru & Olympia Maru
Coron is our destination as we begin to explore the Japanese shipwrecks from World War II.
The largest of the shipwrecks is the Okikawa Maru, this ship is 160 meters. Another popular dive is on the Olympia Maru. Check out the cargo holds here and enjoy the schools of batfish and fusiliers that engulf divers.
Coron – Wrecks of Akitsusima & Irako
The wreck of the sea plane tender Akitsusima is the highlight of the wreck diving in Coron. This ship took a direct hit on the stern and sunk immediately. At the stern of the ship you can still see the gears of the crane that use to drop the sea planes into the water. The Irako is another awe-inspiring wreck. Explore the galley area where pots and pans are still visible. This 147 meter long vessel was a refrigeration ship for the Japanese Imperial Navy before she was sunk in September 1944.
Coron – Wrecks of Japanese Freighter & East Tangat Gunboat
Our second day of wreck exploration typically begins with the Japaneses freighter, another 140 meter long vessel that is ideal for exploration. The two main boilers are a big attraction. Hard coral growth is extensive and look out for scorpion fish on the decks. East Tangat Gunboat is also a great attraction; this submarine hunter is very shallow and ideal for divers of any experience.