Our Black Island Dive Safari

May 12, 2016: For WWII history buffs and wreck divers, Coron is one of the Philippines’ premiere destinations. Most of the wrecks are located in Coron Bay, a short boat ride from our base in Busuanga Bay or from any one of the many, many dive shops found in Coron town.

But further afield, there lies another wreck, the Nanshin Maru. There seems to be some confusion over this one. Depending on who you ask, it was either a Chinese or Korean fishing boat or a Japanese tanker from WWII. Located just off Black Island (Malajon Island), the Nanshin Maru doesn’t get nearly as many divers as the other wrecks, as it takes three hours to get there from Coron. For us, it was half that.

We’d been here once before and couldn’t wait to go again. On the day we decided to visit, we were chuffed to discover that we were the only divers around.

Aside from those of us paying guests: the Australians (Craig and Velda), the Germans (Thomas and Barbara) and the Canadians (that would be us), all the crew from D’Divers tagged along as well. Mensoy guided our small group and Charlotte took the others, but it’s a fairly small wreck so it would be pretty hard to get lost. This time there was even a marker buoy on the stern, which made finding it a whole lot simpler than the last time we were here.

We ended up doing two dives on the wreck, finishing them off by exploring the shallow reefs closer to shore. The reef was heavily damaged during Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013 when a lot of sand from the beach was washed out by the storm surge. It has made a good recovery since our last dives here, just a few months afterwards (see older blog post here). Check out the video Chris took on our dives…

Black Island itself makes for a great surface interval. There are some interesting caves to explore and one even has a small pool inside. The water was decidedly cold and refreshing after we darted over the hot sand in our bare feet to get there. Just remember to take some cash when you go to shore, as the locals charge for the privilege of stepping on their island, as well as an extra charge for diving the wreck.

The only downside to the day was an equipment problem. More of an accident than a failure. As one of the boat crew handed Craig’s BCD and tank to him in the water, it slipped out of his hands and…because it had lead weight in it, but not enough air to compensate for that…it sank straight to the bottom. Luckily Craig was able to use another BCD and didn’t have to abort his dive, we found his gear lying not too far off from the wreck in the sandy bottom and Mensoy retrieved it. Whew. Gear and dive saved.

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