Palawan

 

I managed to sleep through my alarm on the morning of my flight to Palawan!!!!

A mad rush ensued. I missed my initial ferry back to Cebu so had wait another hour for the next, by the time my ferry docked I had 1hr 15 until my plane left, a 30 minute mad motorbike taxi ride took me to the airport where I managed to make it with time to spare!! Although I admit I was super stressed out!

I spent my first day in Puerta Princesa diving as is now standard! It isn’t big dive destination, however like much of the Philippines, there’s a lot to see under the water! I saw my first Cuttlefish while under, a weird alien looking thing! The seas were really choppy that day, so the tiny speedboat we were crammed in got a bit nauseating on the way to and from the dive sites!!

The following day I visited a local crocodile farm, where they raise both salt water and fresh water crocodiles. Whenever I see crocodiles they really bring out a deep rooted primeval fear in me, seeing these perfectly evolved killing machines!

My next stop that day took me to the Iwahig Prison and Penile farm. A one of a kind prison in the Philippines, it features a max, medium and minimum security prisons on a huge open site, without walls!!

While the max and medium prisoners are “locked up” the minimum security prisoners are free to roam around the huge site, work, interact with tourists etc. Some even live in houses on the land! I found it a very bizarre experience being within this community, there is very little stopping the prisoners from just leaving, but they don’t.

I spoke to lifers who were really happy with the way the system was and didn’t want to leave! The site even has its own natural swimming spot where I took a nice dip!

The next day I left Puerta Princesa and headed over towards El Nido, a detour took me to visit the underwater rivers of Palawan. A huge cave network with navigable rivers running throughout it.  

I really enjoyed our boat ride and the rock formations within the caves are just stunning! I really wished I had the chance to dive it and see the caves from underwater!!

After a 3 hour roadside delay while we waited for a transfer I made it to El Nido, my plans for El Nido were to relax and do very little! As is standard I spent a day diving. Some great spots around el nido, the highlight being a tunnel going through an island! There’s even a small pocket within the tunnel where you are able to surface and look around!!! A great dive!

I hadn’t been sleeping very well over the previous few days so I was able to just conk out while I was here and catch up on some much needed rest! Helped out by a cheeky massage or 2!

A 6am ferry ride took me over from El Nido to the island of Coron. The ferry was a bit hairy at times with some big old swells!

I was really excited to get here as it offers some of the best wreck diving in the world! The Americans sunk a fleet of Japanese ships here during WWII and many of them sit below 40m allowing recreational divers like myself the chance to explore them!

These huge ships are still stable enough in places to penetrate and it allows for some heart racing dive moments, swimming through the ships corridors in pitch black. Or swimming around the engine of a warship!

I loved it and planned to spend the whole week doing different wrecks!

Unfortunately the first day there the weather was against us! Gale warnings had caused the coastguard to cancel all wreck dives that day! We were still able to dive other non wreck sites but it was very disappointing.

Of those non wreck sites only 1 was particularly good. The barracuda lake. The lack is mainly thermal fresh water, however being so close to the sea, when high tide strikes it floods the lake with salt water. The result is something called a thermocline.

You enter the salty surface at 26 degrees and dive down 10 metres, at 10 metres the waters becomes very distorted. Looking through the water its like wearing someone else’s glasses. As you got another metre down the water clears up, and the temperature rises  12 degrees as you hit the thermal fresh water!

Its like diving in a warm bath! I really enjoyed it! Swimming along the thermocline with one arm up and one down, one warm on cold. A bizarre experience.

The following day I was able to dive two wrecks, 1 a gunboat the other an oil tanker. The gun boat was great as I saw the machine gun and penetrated the wreck to the engine room.

The oil tanker was a great dive, the water pitch black and the walls oil stained made a real challenging dive, squeezing through some tiny gaps in the wreck!

Id planned to dive the following two days, however I got laid low by food poisoning so spent the rest of my time in Coron either in my bed or on the toilet!

While I loved my 2 wreck dives here, I’m devastated I didn’t get to see more!!

I quickly flew to Manila for an overnight stop before saying a fond farewell to the Philippines and boarding my flight to Vietnam.

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