4 days in wreck wonderland

4 days in wreck wonderland

Explore sunken ships—the ugly beautiful allure of Coron, Palawan.

Coron, Palawan, the wreck diving capital of the Philippines, is known for its 13 World War II Japanese shipwrecks all lying within depth enough for them to be explorable by underwater addicts—the divers— from the Teru Kaze at a minimum depth of 4m, to the Irako with a maximum depth of 42m.

These wrecks offer great views from the outside and excellent routes on the inside for experienced divers and those with the right certification levels. Most of Coron’s dive operators in town, including our own Reggae Dive Center, typically offers three daily dives.

If you only have a few days in town, try this itinerary.

Day 1

Swimming in Barracuda Lake.
Photo by Catalin-Mihai Craciun of Freediving Coron

Start your diving holiday with some shallower check out dive in Barracuda Lake, known for its thermoclines and temperatures reaching 39 degrees Celcius—a perfect warm-up for a stunning dive on the Morazan Maru, which offers great diving both for experienced and entry-level divers.

Morazan Maru was originally built in 1905 in England but was sunk in September 1944 along with the other wrecks. She has since turned into a home of an abundance of species like lionfish and giant trevallies—and sometimes even turtles.

The beginner-friendly (and eerie) Teru Kaze.
Photo by Catalin-Mihai Craciun of Freediving Coron

Cap off your day with a shallow dive at Teru Kaze located a stone’s throw away from the Morazan Maru, for some reef and wreck diving. This wreck is good for snorkeling as the shallowest part is only 4m below the surface. On most days, Teru Kaze will offer good views from below as well as from above the surface.

You’ll be back in Coron later in the afternoon with ample time to climb Mount Tapyas for a view of beautiful sunsets and of Coron Island. Enjoy a refreshing fruit shake or a cold beer at the newly opened Tapas Lounge before you continue further down the hill and out into town.

End your day by stopping at Coron’s many bars and restaurants. You can have the bistek and menudo at Lolo Nonoy’s or vegan pesto pasta and veggie sticks at Le Voyage. For something off-track, walk off the main street and venture into Coron’s side streets with its eateries and restaurants catering to all tastes.

Day 2

Experienced and certified divers can upgrade their depth limits with dives to the Akitsushima.

The Akatsushima.
Photo by Catalin-Mihai Craciun of Freediving Coron

This wreck’s location between 23 and 35 meters under the sea makes it not suitable for entry level divers but it remains to be one of the most popular dives in the area as it’s the only wreck left with its guns mostly intact. The guns are dislodged from the gun turrets and are currently standing upright on the seabed next to the wreck, with three barrels raised toward to surface.

It’s a just-barely-doable for entry-level divers: the Okikawa Maru.
Photo by Catalin-Mihai Craciun of Freediving Coron

After spending some time on the surface, have your second dive at the Okikawa Maru, an oil tanker that holds the distinction as Coron’s longest and widest shipwreck at 160 meters in length and a 20-meter span across the beam. Her shallower part lies above the depth limit for entry level divers.

This wreck is located in a passage that from time to time creates strong currents. Due to the relatively shallow depth and the current, the Okikawa Maru teems with marine life—groupers, snappers, crocodile fish, triggerfish, and more. Those with keen eyes will find this wreck good for macro diving.

Cap your day’s dive series at Lusong Gunboat, one of the last unidentified wrecks in Coron. The Gunboat took direct hits and had its wreckage spread over a wide area, though the hull is generally intact. As with the Teru Kaze, this gunboat was also sunk in very shallow water—so shallow in fact that this wreck pokes out of the water at low tide.

The Lusong Gunboat is perfect for all levels of divers—from those getting into scuba diving, experienced divers who want to chill a bit after some great dives, and macro enthusiasts.

End your day with a dip at Maquinit Hot Springs with its natural saltwater springs, or a full Italian meal at Altrove.

Day 3

This day will be your last diving day in Coron since divers are advised not to fly within 18 hours of going underwater. Finish off in style at the Irako, Coron’s deepest and darkest shipwreck.

The beauty of the Irako outweighs the risks for experienced divers.
Photo by Catalin-Mihai Craciun of Freediving Coron

Irako was a refrigerator ship in the Japanese Navy. She has tight compartments and storage rooms, and her starting depth of 30 meters means only the most experienced of divers dare to take her on. Currents can change in a heartbeat and visibility ranges from a few meters on a bad day to magnificent ideal months. Her upright position with masts still poised makes it easy to see why she has become part of many divers coming to Coron’s bucket lists.

The eerie compartments of the Kogyo Maru makes for one daring dive.
Photo by Catalin-Mihai Craciun of Freediving Coron

Another deep dive is on the cards for your last dive day: the Kogyo Maru, an auxiliary construction supply ship, which went down with her load. One can still see the toppled construction machines in her cargo holds, with belt tracks and hundreds upon hundreds of bags of cement. Like the Morazan Maru, this wreck is widely covered in corals and marine life, from schools of seabreams to circling big-eye trevallies, to huge numbers of scads and fusiliers.

Make a final dive in one of Coron’s reefs or one of the shallower wrecks to make this trip one for the books.

Head back town for some tasty ramen and a cold beverage at Buzz. You can also visit Tita Esh for a more low-key vibe and some filling pansit canton or a heart-warming bowl of mami.

Day 4

It’s island hopping day! Make sure not to leave Coron without taking a trip to Coron Island. Rent a private boat with a tour guide or book a tour through an operator.

Kayangan Lake, but not from the usual viewpoint. Photo by Daniel Soriano

Coron Island offers a lot of white sand beaches and clear waters, with lunch that’s served in one of the small huts they have set up for the same purpose on the beaches. Do not miss out on Kayangan Lake or Twin Lagoon; go snorkeling in Siete Pecados or Twin Peaks.

A stand-up (or in this case, sit-down) paddle boat is a good way of exploring Coron’s neighboring islands. Photo by Daniel Soriano

Rent a kayak or a standup paddleboard in town if you’re feeling edgy before leaving and explore the island as you paddle along. This is a great opportunity to experience the beauty of the island in a very eco-friendly way.

Relax and enjoy the evening with a good view and a cold gin and tonic from either the View Deck or Suites 4:13 before heading out for dinner and summoning a good night sleep.

Who is Lisbeth Jensen?
Lisbeth is an instructor at Reggae Dive Center in Coron for over four years now. She is passionate about the environment and has used her work to participate in conservation efforts in Busuanga.

The Basics
Get there. Skyjet Airlines flies from Manila to Coron three times daily. Flyskyjetair.com

Dive tours. Reggae Dive Center offers fun dives to Coron’s many shipwrecks as well as PADI dive courses.
Mobile: +63928 835 5657, +63906 316 1454
Reggaedivecenter.com

Head to Freediving Coron if you want to enjoy these same dive spots without the need for heavy scuba gear.
Mobile: + 63915 172 6809
Freediving-coron.com

Words: Lisbeth Jensen; Photos: Catalin Craciun & Daniel Soriano
Featured photo by Catalin Craciun

Bounce like it’s your last in these trampoline parks

Bounce like it’s your last in these trampoline parks

If you’ve ever been a fan of Tigger (yes, that TIGGER) and you’ve always had a dream of bouncing around all day, then hit these places up!

In today’s world, you’ll really only see bouncing happen at nightclubs, and that mostly means leaving them, not bouncing around in one. Very unlike the kind of bounce that the kids in us are yearning to try.

You can try and buy a trampoline or go to a mall and hope to find one that’s set-up in the middle, but then only your kids can enjoy those—and that’s a big bummer. Gymnastics facilities have trampolines, but those are (usually) used for training.

We’ve found an answer to your bouncing dreams: trampoline parks. As the name implies, these places house dozens of trampolines in a set-up that lets you fully enjoy all of them at the same time. It’s quite common in other countries, but it’s a bit of a rarity in the Philippines, so much so that these are your three best bets:

Trampoline Park

Did we mention it’s purple? Photo from Trampoline Park
The Gladiator won’t be able to hold a candle to this: Bubble Ball Fights! Photo from Trampoline Park

It’s the park that started it all. Trampoline Park opened its doors in February 2016 and it hasn’t stopped sending people skyward with its many trampolines. They’ve got tramps that go wall-to-wall that you can use for a variety of activities: volleyball, dodgeball, parkour, basketball, and overall fitness. They even have fitness and dance classes on trampolines!

The best part: you’re having fun AND losing weight! Photo from Trampoline Park

The best part, though, has to be what happens when the sun goes down. The lights are turned off and the lasers are turned on—it’s a party venue

Mayflower St., Greenfield District, Mandaluyong City
Trampolinepark.ph, FB: Trampoline Park – Zero Gravity Zone

Jump Yard

Ever had dreams of being “Like Mike”? Grab your chance at Jump Yard. Photo from Jump Yard PH
The Jump Yard Obstacle Course. Live out your Ninja Warrior dreams here! Photo from Jump Yard PH

The second of the metro’s three trampoline parks, Jump Yard is often tagged as the “biggest and coolest“ trampoline park in the country. From what we’ve seen, there isn’t much to hold them back from saying so, mainly because of their own obstacle course and the many trampolines they have.

You can leave your kids at a local playground, but why stop there? Photo from Jump Yard PH

They also offer coaching for those who want to learn how to bounce, as well as a separate space for the little ones! Make sure you drop by on a Wednesday for Volleyball Day, where you can live your dreams of flying like the characters from the popular sports anime Haikyuu!

Road E, Frontera Verde, Ortigas Ave. cor. E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave (C-5), Pasig City
Jumpyard.ph, FB: Jump Yard

Bounce Philippines

Platforms, tramps, and a foam pit. All inside a mall. Photo from Bounce Philippines

Remember when we said you don’t want to head to malls to find trampolines? Well, we take that back. Bounce Philippines, the third trampoline park in the country, might be the easiest to get to thanks to its location.

Will you be joining this cutie on her climb? Photo from Bounce Philippines

Imagine bouncing around their trampolines, skying for dunks, playing dodgeball, knocking your buddies off a beam, climb, do parkour, or challenge their Ninja course—all while being in either SM North EDSA in Quezon City or SM Southmall in Las Piñas?

2/F, North Tower, SM City North EDSA, Quezon City
G/F, South Tower, SM Southmall, Almanza Uno, Las Piñas City
Bounce.ph, FB: Bounce Philippines

10 weird and adventurous things to try now

10 weird and adventurous things to try now

Not-your-usual adventures of real travelers, rounded up.

Have a Kawa Hot Bath in Antique

Carla enjoys a hot bath in a cauldron. Photo by Christian Lucas Sangoyo

If weird is your thing, the Kawa Hot Bath in Antique tops the bill for Carla Araniego of Blissfulguro.com. “It felt weird at first, thinking about the steaming water and an actual fire under the giant cauldron I was sitting in, like I was being cooked alive! But a few minutes after, I simply enjoyed the soothing effect of the water.”

Book at Katahum.com

Cliff Dive in Siquijor

Not quite a leap of faith, but close enough. Photo by Christian Lucas Sangoyo

Carla suggests a much more fun thing to do at Siquijor’s Salagdoong Beach: cliff-jumping! “The key to conquering the 35ft jump into the water is to not to think twice. I just went for it and jumped! It was exhilarating!”

Book a tour with Dennis Caspes, Tel: +63947 789 8337, +63936 110 7863

Do Lambaklad fishing in Antique

Gives a new meaning to “do as the locals do”. Photo by Christian Lucas Sangoyo

Try Lambaklad fishing in the town of Tibiao in Antique where fisher folks allow visitors to catch fish with them on a huge bamboo raft. Carla says “balancing skills is a must, but once you get into the groove, it’s actually an enjoyable and unique fishing experience. We even got to grill and eat our catch!”

Book at Katahum.com

Ride an ATV up Mayon Volcano

Hard to leave Albay without trying this. Photo by Christian Lucas Sangoyo

Ride a mini 4×4 along the slopes of the volcano, splashing through streams, lahar-laden landscapes and dense foliage until you reach the midpart of Mayon. The panoramic view of Albay from up high is breathtaking.

Book at Mayonatvtour.com

Climb the Taraw Peak in El Nido

El Nido’s not just about the big blue. Photo by Elal Jane Lasola

El Nido, Palawan’s Taraw Peak right at the town center offers a beautiful challenging climb. The limestone karsts rises to a height of more than seven hundred feet, and travel blogger Elal Jane Lasola recalls her grueling experience. “It took us an hour to climb all the way to the top of the Taraw Ridge. The view from above was so worth it—the town with the azure waters of Bacuit Bay and limestone karsts jutting out of the water.”

Book at northernhopetours.com

Zip bike over the Chocolate Hills

Test the limits of your fears with this bike. Photo by Christian Lucas Sangoyo

Try one of the more unique ziplines in the Philippines: zip bike in Bohol! However perfectly safe as you’re harnessed, pedaling a bicycle across a thin steel rope over the famous Chocolate Hills is a knee-weakening experience.

Book at Chocolatehillsadventurepark.com

Canyoneer Kawasan

It’s only relaxing AFTER you jump in. Photo by Shugah Gonzales

Not for the faint of heart, and more importantly, knees, John Marx Velasco of Marxtermind.com recommends canyoneering along the bluish waters of Kawasan in Cebu. “Our adventure started with a jump from a waterfall, traveling downstream along the canyon. We walked, we swam, and we jumped some more, eventually finishing the course in four hours.”

Book at Kawasancanyoneering.com.ph

See Caramoan’s sacred fish

Somewhere in here are the sacred fish of Caramoan. Photo by Christian Lucas Sangoyo

A rock wall in Matukad Island in the Caramoan Peninsula in Camarines Sur presents a different kind of high. Scale the craggy rock wall and be rewarded with the lagoon’s hidden gems—two giant milkfish, which locals believe to be sacred.

Book at Kaddlangan outdoor adventure, Facebook.com/joseferdinand.villareal

Compete at the JEST Hunger Games

Will you volunteer as a tribute? Photo by Christian Lucas Sangoyo

Subic’s JEST Camp can let your Hunger Games fantasies come true. At the camp, you get to play in an actual forest, hiding and camouflaging, squirting water guns, and hurling water balloons in an intense match to snatch ribbons from other tributes.

Book at Jesthungergames.com

See the bioluminescent planktons in Coron

Darwin Cayetano of Tracking Treasure took the usual firefly tour in Coron and got more than what he paid for. “We started with a dinner on a floating restaurant while being serenaded by a local artist, then we rode a speedboat to the mangrove forest to see the fireflies. Our boatman got off the boat and started to stomp on the water and it lit up! The bioluminescent planktons were like pulsating brain neurons illustrated right on the water!”

Book at Coron-travel.com. Skyjet Airlines flies daily from Manila to Coron; book at flyskyjetair.com.

Our Dash Sources

Words by Christian Sangoyo

Insane and intense city explorations

Insane and intense city explorations

We spoke with the man who built a reputation scaling towering structures no seemingly sane man ever would: urban explorer Benjo Cabarro.

 

 

Urban Exploration, for me, is to find and share the beauty in things that are uncommon to the common man. I was in a dark place before and a crazy friend of mine invited me to my first mission. I saw the light and the rest is history.

A mission is our own version of a road trip. We prepare for it just like you would on any other road trip: charge our cameras, pack food, water, extra clothes, and extra batteries. We also make sure we have movies to watch and music to listen to while we shoot.

I like watching the city from above and at night. It’s peaceful and the perspective change is really life-enhancing; you get to see that your problems are not so big after all.

Three things to expect from doing urban exploration: Dirt, Dust and Death. There is nothing else in play at that moment except your life. It’s beautiful really; in these moments, you again have a life-enhancing realization, that living is truly wonderful. The sooner you accept this, the better the experience will become.

Urban explorers for inspiration: James Kingston (@thejameskingston); Lam Yock (@yock7). These guys are legends!

My most memorable mission was when I finally climbed the tallest building in the Philippines! Photo by Benjo Cabarro

My go-to gadget for my missions: GoPro. I tried bringing a DSLR once, but it was too bulky.

I love the Makati Skyline so much! The street and city colors at night are perfect especially when you’re shooting the Poblacion area. The purples and magentas that illuminate the buildings around it are sooo pretty.

On of my most memorable missions was… when a massive mist engulfed my on a rooftop in Ortigas. I was taking photos and videos of the storm clouds and lightning play in the Antipolo Side, when from down south, a massive body of mist came rolling in. Everything turned white. It was eerie and magical at the same time. I was very blessed to have captured it on video because you don’t see that everyday in Manila.

Would you dare walk this plank?

My most daring mission was in another Ortigas mission where I “walked the plank.” It took me two years to prepare for it. It was utterly mental and required a lot of willpower.

My 5 best missions in the Philippines: Climbing a TV station transmitter tower; climbing the tallest building in at Century City; climbing the tallest building in Makati City; climbing the tallest building in the Philippines, and walking the scariest “plank.” 

I’m looking forward to experiencing the Hong Kong roofs! It’s a massive urban jungle and cannot wait to explore its highs and lows.

I prefer heights, but urban exploration can be done anywhere. We’ve even explored a war tunnel. It’s just easier for me to meditate when I’m up high because of the tranquil and serene atmosphere.

The TV Tower

If you want to try urban exploration, make sure you know what you’re doing and prepare for all the risks. I’ve never really gotten into trouble during missions because of that. 

A sound mind and a strong body are definitely required. I cannot count the number of times I was able to get out of a pretty life-threatening situation because my body and mind were strong enough. I work out my whole body at the gym every week. I practice parkour on weekends, though not as religiously as I once did, and I meditate when I can.

Who is Benjo Cabarro?
Notably the best urban explorer in the Philippines. He’s a professional photographer who’s known for his urbanscape photos among many things.  Benjocabarro.com.

Interview: Andrew Del Rosario   Photos: Benjo Cabarro

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