January 08, 2008


A short 1:15 hour flight from Manila takes you into the Busuanga airport, which is a scenic 50 minutes away from the Barrio of Coron. The island was once home to a large cattle ranch, which has since been sequestered by the government and mismanaged—leaving an already beautiful landscape, even more picturesque. Jungle lined hills and mountains serve as the perfect backdrop for the lonely dirt road that winds through the old grazing fields. Occasionally one will pass a solitary wooden home or herd of cattle; peaceful, pleasant, and visually stunning.

There are several resorts that have come up in the last few years (Banyan Tree will be opening soon). While I did not stay at the Sea Dive resort, I do recommend it for scuba divers as it is positioned at the pick up and drop of point for the bankas. The lobby has free internet and it is the liveliest part of the island for anyone looking for a little bit of a night life. Dives go for around:

Divers will quickly notice the relatively high salt content of the water and low visibility. Fortunately the wrecks are well mapped and exposed, with buoy lines clearly marking entrance points (at least for the two I visited). Most of the locations were sunk in 1944, so while there is substantial growth, not enough time has passed for it to obscure the hull and structure of the vessel. Divers can easily make out the shape and list of the wreck as well as the interior passageways down to the rivets, hooks and chains. In one of the ships there was an overturned bulldozer, which still had a clear outline of its tracks, seats, and side. If you happen to be diving with a group, I suggest you make it a point to go into the passageways first. There is nothing that can ruin your day more than an inexperienced diver silting up the corridor you are entering…unless you grab one of the many scorpion fish that line the wreck, an experience that always trumps silt (Lion fish are also quite plentiful)!

I chose to cut my dive trip a bit short this year, preferring to spend more time on the beach reading than in the water (work has me beat). There are plenty of lagoons to visit, Calauit Island is only 2:30 hours away, and El Nido is a short Sea Air hop from Coron. There are not a lot of locals or tourists, so empty lagoons for swimming and rock climbing are plentiful. Busuanga offers the perfect mix of sports and isolation, although the latter is fast disappearing as seen through the progress on the island. New roads, an airport terminal, and resorts are feverishly being constructed. With this new infrastructure, the island will rival in terms of activities and natural beauty, any of top locations in the Philippines but as with many of the “last escapes” in this country, raw adventure dies with obscurity, so I suggest you visit soon.

Costs for dives are reasonable; it came out to roughly PHP 1600 per dive with equipment (Excellent condition) and boat transfers included. I have included some of the sketches of the wrecks that you can dive while in and around Coron Island:

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