Apo Reef and Coron Dive Sites Philippines
Explore the pristine reefs of the marine sanctuary at Apo Reef and the world-renowned WWII wrecks at Coron on a single liveaboard trip in the Philippines.
Apo Reef and Coron dive sites can be explored on the same liveaboard, offering two unique diving locations. It is also possible that the areas are separated to allow a more in-depth exploration with just one destination.
The pristine reefs of the marine sanctuary at Apo Reef offer a sanctuary for divers in the small reef system of Mindoro Island. Both pelagic and macro life are present in this stunning location.
The world-renowned wrecks of World War II at Coron north of Palawan are a wreck diver’s paradise. The protected waters of the bay offer access to these submerged vessels which are within recreational limits for advanced divers.
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Apo Reef and Coron Dive Sites Philippines - 11 LIVEABOARDS
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Apo Reef is remote marine sanctuary located off Mindoro Island with 34 km of reef system attracting macro and pelagic life
The best time of year to dive this area is between November and May, but it can be a year-round destination.
For Apo Reef diving, the sea is rougher with more rain from June to October. The dives are challenging, but the effort it takes is rewarded.
Apo Reef Dive Site Highlights
Shark Ridge is named after the black and white tip reef sharks that frequent the area. Located on the outer reef system, the ridge starts at 10m of depth and slopes down to 25m before dropping off into the deep.
Schooling jackfish and tuna can be seen in the deeper water with lobsters, morays and groupers in the shallower caves on the ledge area.
In the shallow area, there is a staghorn reef with damselfish, angelfish and longnose hawkfish.
The rock is for advanced divers due to unpredictable currents as it is 10 km away from the main reef area. Famous for its mating banded sea kraits seen June and July on this isolated pinnacle starting at 10m of depth. Good pelagic life is also here due to the remote location with sharks, jacks and tuna.
This seamount starting at 25m open to currents, so divers should be experienced.
Shark life is prolific here with reef sharks, threshers and sometimes hammerheads visiting along with manta rays. Huge schools of pelagic fish are also seen here.
Merope Rock is covered in sponge and whip corals, starting at 15m and descending into the deep this pinnacle attracts tuna, trevally, barracuda and sharks.
Apo Island is away from the main reef, and its walls are covered in corals and fish life with many turtles found on the ledges.
Manta rays and sometimes hammerhead reef sharks are seen in the area making it one of the most popular sites in the area.
A wall that drops down to over 900m known for strong currents and upwellings that bring the scalloped hammerheads and manta rays to it.
For experienced divers, only the wall is covered with gorgonian sea fans and coral with giant groupers, schools of snapper and bumphead parrotfish.
Coron Palawan Dive Sites Philippines
Coron Bay is a large, sheltered body of water that has become the wreck-diving capital of the Philippines. Diving is possible in Coron protected waters, but visibility isn’t perfect, the wrecks are Japanese warships and are accessible for advanced divers due to their depths.
Coron Palawan Dive Site Highlights
Kyokuzn Maru is at 18m of depth and in excellent conditions with an average of 20m visibility and usually good conditions. This cargo ship was carrying cars and trucks when she sank, and the hold is now home to fusiliers, trevallies and batfish.
The seaplane tender that is 118m in length and sat in 24m to 36m of water. The vessel now lies on her port side with the crane at the deepest part on the sandy bottom. The seaplane (Emily) has not been found but the winch used to move her on and off the boat when needed, there are some guns and unexploded bullets lying next to this. The crack where the bomb struck is clearly visible into the engine room which experienced divers can penetrate. Barracuda and tuna can be seen around the structure, with batfish, sweetlips and grouper inside. The sandy bottom is home to crocodile fish and razorfish.
The wreck is also known as Okikawa Maru is an intact oil tanker at 27m that is 180m in length, the shallow point is the upper decks at 12m of depth. She sank in 1944 and now is home to batfish, snappers, surgeonfish and fusiliers.
The decks have a hard and soft coral cover with scorpionfish, lionfish, jacks and mackerel as well as a covering of nudibranchs.
The dive can be done just circumnavigating the wreck, or more experienced divers can penetrate it through the propeller shaft to reach the engine room. Open hatches provide some light other than divers torches and the exit is via the bow through tanks and holds.
Olympia Maru was a Japanese freighter 122m in length sitting upright in 30m of water. On the vessel, black coral is present along with finger sponges, hard and soft encrusting corals and gorgonian sea fans. There are easy penetration sites for the cargo hold.
A deeper wreck of a refrigeration ship used to supply an army before being sunk with multiple bombs to reach her 42m of depth.
Due to her depth specialist training and guides are needed for penetration dives. There are whip corals, basket sponges, sea ferns, giant groupers and razorfish on and around the wreck site.
A wreck of a gunboat in shallow water (3 to 22m) that was probably scuttled after an air raid rather than sank, it is open for penetration dives. At 35m in length, she has puffer fish, lion fish, scorpionfish, snappers, angelfish and batfish around her. There is one bumphead parrotfish also seen regularly in the area.
Sunk by bombers in September 1944, the navy supply ship hold was full of constriction materials and divers can see the bags of cement and bulldozer inside the 130m long vessel. She is lying port side down at between 22 and 34m of depth. Schooling tuna and jacks circle the area.
Barracuda Lake is a very unusual dive and inland body of water where fresh and sea water sit in layers. Thermal waters coming deep from the subterranean mean the temperature can reach up to 38 C here.
To reach the site not far from Coron town there are 20 wooden steps to a platform. The dive is to a maximum of 18m and underwater are some catfish and shrimps along with barracuda.
Your liveaboard provider will be able to offer some excursions if you have additional time in the area before or after your cruise.
Marine Park and Conservation in Apo Reef and Coron, Philippines
Apo Reef is a preserved natural park of 168 km2 since 1996 but has been under some form of protection by the Philippine government since 1980. It is being considered for UNESCO world heritage status at present.
There is a fee associated with visiting the park area.