A travel photographer and entrepreneur, MurtazaChass found his love for photography on a school trip to Munnar, Kerala. He started travelling ever since, and there has been no turning back for him. Currently, he looks after his family business that deals with the manufacturing of luxury kitchens and wardrobes in Hyderabad. He also heads the travel photography department for Journeys – one of India’s finest wildlife and adventure tourism companies based out of Pune.
Murtaza has always wanted to go to a destination that wasn’t easily accessible, and since he and his brother love diving and exploring new dive sites across the world, they decided to zero down on Palawan – an island known to be the shipwreck diving capital of the world. After taking five flights and travelling for about 24 hours, they finally reached the island of Busuanga in the Philippines. The island has about 12 sunken wartime ships at the bottom of the ocean, which was the result of an attack on the Imperial Japanese Navy by US Navy aircraft during the Second World War in September 1944.
The brothers decided to stay at Coron for their entire trip and explore all the nearby islands by boat. After landing in Busuanga, they drove up to Coron Town Proper, a city on the island. The first two days of their trip were solely dedicated to diving. They ended up exploring five shipwrecks before they took a break to explore other islands. On the third day of their trip, they hired a Bangka Boat for the day and got to explore the underwater mountains of the Baracuda Lake, The Kayangan Lake, and The Twin Lagoons! After spending an entire day snorkelling and swimming in the pristine turquoise blue waters, and exploring untouched territories, they decided to hike up Mount Tapyas the next day – the mountain on the shore that overlooks Coron and all the other islands in the vicinity. The day after that, they just hopped onto a moped and explored the far end of the island’s rainforests. Their glorious trip ended after three more dives, and then they flew back to Hyderabad.
For the duration of their trip, the brothers stayed at an inn close to the shore and the port, for easy access to all the Bangka boats that were used for diving and exploring the hidden gems. As most of the locals on the island were fisherman, they all had their own boats and helped the dive centres run their businesses. Since the island runs on tourism and attracts divers and explorers from different parts of the world, Coron is known for its seafood. If you enjoy seafood, this is the place for you.
For Murtaza, the most memorable moment of the trip was when they hiked to Mount Tapyas, and witnessed the view from the top. That was something that will stay with him for the rest of his life!
The brothers missed a chance to swim with the whale sharks, and since they’ve heard that it’s one of the most ecstatic feelings in the world, they would head back to experience it and to dive into the remaining shipwrecks.
“Palawan is comprised of several islands, and one of them is Coron. The place features natural beauty in its calm waters and breath-taking panoramas and has a fascinating history, as well. The island is home to stunning natural wonders, from beaches to lakes and from mountain peaks to rainforests. Coron has a little bit of everything, making it an ideal travel destination. Plus the locals on the island are super friendly, warm and forever helpful. They almost immediately make you feel at home and make sure you have a good time for the entire duration of your stay,” says Murtaza. “The island has some of the most incredible diving and snorkelling sites in the world, apart from that, there is a whole lot more to do in and around the island. If someone’s in for a long trip and open to exploring untouched destinations, I would highly recommend this place,” he concludes. – Devanshi