Palawan diving offers friendly turtles, dugongs, and beautiful reefs. Coron has the best wreck diving in the Philippines and there are also fresh and saltwater lakes.
Palawan is the long thin arm of the Philippines that runs down below the South China Sea from Manila south-west to Sabah. From a diving perspective, there are three important parts: in the far north is Coron, the southern tip of Busuanga Island which is home to a famous fleet of Japanese wrecks; El Nido, and the surrounding islands, providing to easy and diverse diving, and Puerto Princesa, the departure port of the liveaboards heading for the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea.
Though a little ‘out on a limb’ from the rest of the Philippines, Palawan is far from remote in any sense. They are multiple flights daily from Manila to Coron, El Nido and Peurto Princesa.
Francisco B Reyes Airport is in the middle of Busuanga Island, sitting halfway between Coron Town proper in the south, and the dive resorts on the north east coast. Transfers will be arranged by your resort. There are multiple flights daily from Manila to Coron, El Nido and Puerto Princesa.
There are plenty of dive centres and operators in each of the main centres, some with their own ‘resort’ others servicing a number of resorts. Diveplanit can certainly recommend the Dugong Dive Center, Busuanga.
Where to Stay
The Asia Grand View Hotel is situated on a hill high above Coron town with sweeping views of the rather spectacular bay. The rooms are large (plenty of room for dive gear) and the hotel provides free WiFi (best accessed in the restaurant). Coron town is 5 minutes away via tricycle and there is a good range of restaurants, cafes and bars within walking distance. The hotel provides a wide range of activities, including diving and snorkelling.
El Rio y Mar Island Resort could best be described as a romantic retreat, with a range of accommodation styles, great restaurant and a bar at the end of the jetty. There’s even a floating day spa that you can swim out to for a massage.
For the first time visit to Palawan, or if you are short on time, you can get a sampler of wrecks, reefs and conservation, by diving with the Dugong Dive Center based at El Rio y Mar, on the north west coast. Here you can dive a Japanese wreck, dive the Dimakya conservation area, turtles guaranteed, and, as the name implies, take a day trip to find the dugongs.
If wrecks is your thing, then Coron should be your destination. You can also dive in the crystal clear waters of the lakes – both seawater and freshwater – on the adjacent Coron Island and explore some of the stark underwater ‘landscape’ and the many caverns.
For a pleasant island-hopping style of diving vacation, with lots of beaches and snorkelling thrown in, El Nido is your spot.