I’m standing on the back of a Bangka (Filipino style outrigger boat), San Miguel in hand, watching the sun reflect off the beautiful clear blue water. We are passing by the limestone cliffs of Coron Island to my right with the bizarre rolling Windows wallpaper type hills of Busuanga Island to my left. I wonder how two such topographically different islands lie side by side.
After visiting as many “tropical paradise” islands as we have over the last three months they do start to lose their impact but standing back enjoying every sip of my San Miguel, the beauty of my surroundings really hits home. It is hard to imagine a fleet of several hundred US fighter bomber planes flying over this very bay and sinking eight or more Japanese naval ships, yet that is what happened 63 years ago. And that is the very reason we are here.
I’ve just come up diving two of these wrecks. The huge lumps of metal lying on the seabed make for a heaven of marine life and a great dive. On both ships we penetrated the hull (no sniggering please) and explored the inners. Much of the cargo is still visible including in one bay a large bull dozer, caterpillar tracks still intact. Two exhilarating dives although quite erie when thinking of the history.
Along with the wrecks at Coron, we also did two very different dives (sorry if this is becoming a dive blog, I seem to be doing very little else at the moment but then that is the main reason why we included the Philippines in our trip). The first of those was diving to 14 metres before entering a narrow tunnel and then surfacing in a huge cave. The crystal clear water (30 metres vis) was breathtaking as was the limestone stalagmites (or is that stalactites? I never remember which is which) in the cave. The other dive was in a semi fresh water / salt water lake. Along with a very different set of underwater life and yet more incredible visibility the interesting points here were the temperature that rose the deeper we went (up to 36 degrees below 20 metres) and the intricate erosion formed patterns in the limestone cliffs.
Turning round to get myself another San Miguel, I see my beautiful girlfriend sunning herself on deck. Like I said, life is pretty good.