Coron, Palawan – Love is sweeter the second time around

This is my second attempt to visit Coron, Palawan. To tell you my story about my first attempt, it was way back September last year when I was scheduled for a flight going to Coron along with my friends.There was a completion of weather in Busuanga Airport so the plane went around for about 30 minutes waiting for the rain to slow down a little bit. Up until the pilot declared that we were heading back to Manila because the weather won’t permit. It was the most devastating feeling I have ever felt, it felt more than a heartbreak to me. I’ve already seen the Islands within reach. Of course there was nothing I could do, neither the other passengers. We understood that the Airline has considered safety precautions. I just really felt every ounce of my energy was drained. But then again, better be safe than regret. Perhaps it was not a perfect time for me.

So when Cebu Pacific had a seat sale a year after, I immediately booked a flight regardless whether my leave would be approved or not. I booked June 2-6, it’s also an advance celebration for my Birthday. So, this was the best gift I have ever given to myself then.

After a long wait, my flight has finally arrived. From office, I went straight directly to Terminal 4. I made sure that I arrived at the Airport at least 2 hours before my flight. I don’t know if god was playing a really bad joke with me because the weather in Busuanga Airport was once again terrible. The pilot announced that he’ll be having another attempt when the weather slows down a little bit. That very moment was depressing for me, i was leaning my head at the window panel surveying the Islands underneath us. I frowned and I almost cried. Up until the Pilot once again made an announcement but this time, a preparation for landing. I was like the happiest kid inside the plane and I felt the utmost of excitement. The rain still drizzles and clouds are gloomy. But I was being optimistic that it will soon be fine.

We took a van waiting outside the terminal that costs P125.00 per person. It will drop you off directly to your accommodation. On our case, the van take us off to Coron Backpackers Guesthouse just along the coron main road. It’s a native bamboo house. Very affordable, yet cozy and a relaxing place. Basically,since it’s a bamboo house they are basically non-air conditioned. initially, the first room provided to us was quite hot, which is understandable because it’s summer season anyway. But the Judy one of the staffs was kind enough to let us transfer to a more convenient room which is just nearby the lobby. The room was bigger and less hot. But when the fan is turned on, it feels like heaven afterwards.

We just took a rest for a few minutes, fixed our stuffs up and prepared for hike to Mt, Tapyas. It’s more than 700 concrete steps going to the top. Before we started the hike, we decided to have a meal first since we were hungry to death because we never had a lunch back in Manila or even in the Airport. I remembered one of my workmates recommended to go to Santino’s Grill where the best baby back ribs is located, so we headed directly to it by taking a tricycle. Unfortunately, they’re closed that moment so we eventually landed at Lolo Nonoy’s in which according to some blogs I have read, is one of the highly recommended restaurant in Coron. until I realized, this was disappointment for me, the menu were overpriced, and its quality and taste were not reasonable enough for the money we have spent. We did not have any choice but to stay and choose something to order since we were really hungry. Again, unfortunately, one of the attendants informed us that the order may take up to 45 minutes before it can be served, because it’s dependent on the availability of ingredients inside their kitchen. In result, we’re left with no option but to choose from the readily available food on their menu, and they’re terribly pricey.

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After we had our meal, we walked a few steps going to the jump-start point of Mt. Tapyas. There were ample of visitors, both local and foreign people.And even kids were more than excited to take the challenge going upstairs. As we took every steps up, the town of coron was gradually being visible in a wide angle. The view was magnificent, you can sight the entirety of the tourist port. The sun was almost down but the thick clouds hid it. Nevertheless, we were still able to witness its astonishing beauty as it took its glorious dip into the mountains and sea. At the peak of Mt. Tapyas, there is a giant cross, almost similar to the one in Mt. Samat but Smaller. It’s a great place to take photos, you will be able to see the mainland and also some Islands. It’s breathtaking, both literally and figuratively. So make sure you bring water with you as a replenishment once in awhile.

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it’s almost dark when we went back down, it’s even more of a struggle going down for us, my knees were shivering as we approach the last pace of stairs. The moment I reached the base point, I went straight to the vendor’s spot to buy a bottle of water to replenish the fluids I’ve lost.

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Our accommodation is situated not too far away from Mt. Tapyas so we just had a walk going back home to take some shower and relax for the rest of the night in preparation for the next day’s activity.

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We are scheduled for an Island Hopping the next morning, so we woke up around 6:00 AM to prepare and meet one friend together with her 2 korean students. We gathered around at the Coron Market just near the Tourist Port to buy some food. As expected, its price is as expensive as the ones in Metro, some are even much higher. Afterwards, we headed straight to the port where our private boat is docked. We rented the boat for P3,250.00 whole day tour excluding food, entrances, and the tour guide fee. Our first stop was Siete Picados 10-15 Minutes away from the port, Siete Picados means Seven Islands. There are seven islets scattered all over almost close to each other which is a perfect spot for snorkeling. The area is protected, so corals are expected to be colorful and marine life is abundant. They’re collecting P100.00 per person as entrance fee for this destination.

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Kayangan Lake was our next destination, I was astonished as we entered its vicinity. The tallest limestones are at its magnificent beauty surrounded by the greenest trees on the edge. Its color complements perfectly with the hue of the water making it like a heavenly paradise. The place was enchanted, it feels so magical for me and I can’t take my eyes off it. The water so crystal clear that see life forms beneath it.

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You have to take 150 steps going up at the middle, and another 150 steps going down to the hidden kingdom. Halfway through, is Kayangan Viewdeck where you can take some perfect photos and a view of the  beautiful lakes. This is a famous spot where pictures of coron form postcards were taken. We headed down after taking some photos, and I almost can hear noise and see a shade of blue water which I assumed is the Kayangan lake. I never wasted a single minute and immediately dipped down. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to swim unless you’re wearing a life vest. I got sad at first knowing that I won’t be able to dive down and see what’s underneath the lake. But of course, I understood the safety precautions the management had implemented, this is after all for the welfare of every visitors. Besides, there is nothing much to see under the water but sand and a few pile of rocks. Nonetheless, it’s just so delightful to roam your sight underneath and imagine how a period of time constructed such figure.

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We enjoyed buoyantly floating on its surface, fonding the warmth of the sun and the coldness of its water. Later, I realized some of my comrades together with the tour guide were out of my sight. I surveyed thoroughly assuming they’re just somewhere else. Few minutes later, they suddenly popped out only to realize that they just infiltrated an underwater cave. Of course, I got curious and at the same time, felt excited to see it for myself. We headed down to the north side of the like wherein a small passage to the cave is located. I thought it was a typical cave to which you normally pass through to it and end up at the other side. Well, it’s not. It’s just a tiny, dark and dead-end cave.

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What’s the best thing to do after a study swim? Oh yeah, the moment that we‘ve all been waiting for has finally come. It’s time to fill up our stomach with some delightful food. We’re originally planned to have our lunch at Banol Beach. However, the weather does not permit and wobbly waves are forming so the boatman decided to have our lunch at the nearby beach which is Vivian Beach. It’s a short beach-cove just perfectly fit for a lunch stop and rest for a while. The first thing that caught my attention was the strapped monkey eating on the trunk. He looks so tamed, but according to the other visitors who have been in the Island for a while, he grabs woman’s hair but is nice when approached by a male person. I smell discrimination though. Kidding, but seriously he doesn’t wanna be bothered when he’s eating.

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The boatman started serving the foods he cooked one-by-one. Two thumbs up for them or to whoever prepared the food, they’re well served and even garnished professionally. It seemed like they’ve mastered the art of culinary. Its tastes were all awesome and this is by far the most luscious lunch I have ever had. Our stomachs are puffed afterwards and we wish to hibernate. So we rested for a while and dipped a drag in the water before we get back on track.

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Our next destination was Twin Lagoon. Initially,I tried surveying around for any justification why it was called Twin Lagoon. Unfortunately, I was having a difficult time identifying it at any angle within my reach. We began to descend to start the tour around the lake. Until something bit me. I was worried that it might be something poisonous so I double checked my leg and it’s just a little swollen. The boatman informed us, that might have been a territorial fish and not to worry because they are completely harmless. Perhaps, they’re just really protecting their area or there might be some eggs on their which are a little threatened.

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As we approach the Lagoon, the water turned colder as we go deeper, as scarier as well. But it was beautiful. Birds are chirping and singing, appears to be a music as we quietly swim. Up

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Until we reached two tallest limestone connecting each other with underwater passage entering the second lagoon which made me realize a significant reason why they’re called Twin Lagoon. Both are equally beautiful, it’s just that the second lagoon has a lot more to see underwater. Unfortunately, I did not have a waterproof camera to capture those. My bad after all. Our time was limited since it’s already noon, so headed back to the boat to get to our last destination.

Shipwrecked Island was our last destination, they say it’s a docking area  a long time ago. So, below are some shipwrecked already inhabited by marine life. We were advised prior not to feed the fishes with bread, but rather cooked rice. Understandably, one of the main ingredients of bread is yeast, which is harmful and can poison them. So they make sure not a single person feeds fishes with those. Different species, colorful and breathtaking are in existence underneath. Though, the ship wrecked gives me chills I tried to dive a little deeper to see it close up but I never succeeded because as I go deeper the pressure gets stronger that I’m unable to hold longer. I wish I was a professional diver, fully equipped and is able to explore the world beyond the water surface.

We were headed to go back home as the daylight fades. It was a day full of exciting adventures. So much to reminisce with the nature explorations. We all felt like we had a date with the beloved mother nature, a date that we all long value and remember.

Our two Korean friends are scheduled to go back to Korea the next day, and they haven’t been to Mt. Tapyas. Perfect timing, all photos we’ve taken during our first climb at Mt. Tapyas, were all suddenly deleted. I was so frustrated  then. So, we’re more encouraged to climb it with them  for the second time around just to have another photos taken. We were all so dead tired but we conquered another 700+ steps up and down. But it’s as fulfilling as our first climb.

The two Koreans were up to see the sunset Unluckily, it was too cloudy and the suns visibility is almost impossible to sight. Nevertheless, they still enjoyed the climb and what kind of beauty awaits us above.

It’s almost dark when we reached the base, since we were with two foreign people, we did not wanna miss the opportunity to let them try the one of the most famous exotic filipino delicacy, the “BALUT”. Stella, was so curious and even more excited to taste it for the very first time while Jessie, the other Korean girl initially did not even have the interest or the guts to take on the challenge. Of course, we instructed them step-by-step on how to properly eat it, from cracking the right top portion of the shell up to sipping its soup. My hands were down for Stella for eating it like a real Filipino. While, we never stopped cheering up for Jessie while she’s still in hesitance of trying it. Eventually, she did. Congratulations! Both of them are now certified FILIPINOS.

We took a quality rest upon reaching our accommodation. We had to wake up as early as 6:00 AM to have our breakfast and prepare for our next tour. We are picked up at 8:00 AM and took to the port. We’re supposedly had to leave the port at 9:00 AM just as so we’ll have more time at each destination. But, people some people are just really annoyingly inconsiderate. As usual, latency is always one of the main causes of delay.

We took the tour package including everything, entrance fees, tour guide, boat transfer, and food. We’re up for three main destinations. Bulog Dos Island, Banana Island, and lastly, saving the best for last, Malcapuya Island. It’s according to them.

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It was a 45-minute boat travel from tourist port to Bulog Dos Island. Half-way through, we could sense an ugly weather was ahead of us. But it did not bother us at all. Less than an hour later, we were about 200 meters away from Bulog Dos Island and it already caught my attention for its stunning panoramic beauty. The sun was shining so brightly, sky so blue that it reflects its shade to the surface of the sea. I immediately went down as soon as the boat docked alongshore. There is also a small pile of private island situated on the right side which is strictly monitored so no trespassers would enter. There are rumors that Bulog Dos Island is under negotiation and is expected to be bought the the private landowner. Hopefully, the local  government would maintain public access to the island and not sell. Otherwise, I am thankful I was able to visit this paradise before its exclusivity.

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Our next stop was Banana Island. At first, I was desperately trying to identify any justification at my angle why it was called Banana Island. It does not even shape like a banana. Until someone told me that its justification can be seen directly from above or at the top view of the Island. Too bad, I did not have a drone to see its actual shape. We had our lunch here, it was included at the tour package so we did not expect it to be as lip-smacking as we had yesterday. The lunch was good enough to fill in our appetite. After we had our meal, we roam around the Island, it’s not a sandy island but rather a rocky one. Good thing we had our aqua shoes to protect our feet from slippery and possibly sharp stones. As we soaked our heads beyond the surface, of course with our snorkeling gear. We were amazed by the different marine life beautifully scattered. It was like a giant and endless aquarium full of colorful and different species of fishes. I might have not been feeling full with the food, but my sight was absolutely overwhelmed by all those majestic sea creatures living underneath. Corals are alive and at a different varities, As I attempt to look at them a little closer, those soft corals abruptly close and hid from their home. I also saw clown fishes and two of his nemos. If there is one regret I could have about this travel, that’s definitely not buying an underwater camera. But I’m more than satisfied knowing that a sanctuary protecting these creatures still exist.

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We wanted to explore more and spend time with these amazing fishes. But we did not have enough time and had to jump over to our next and last destination.

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Malcapuya Island is just about 10 minutes away from Banana Island. I remember them saying way back before we started the tour, that we’ll save the best for last. It did excite me and wonder if it really was. Evidently, the Island is indeed one example of god’s perfect creation. The long stretch of shoreline at its fine and pristine white sand are just simply irresistable. We explored the end of the beach where in ample pile rocks formation at different sizes are found. If only we could stay for another couple of hours. But according to the boatman, overnight stayers are allowed and you can fetch up your tent with certain fees. And of course, you’ll have to rent your own private boat that would take you directly to the island and pick you up the next day morning or so. In case, the rain falls, there is one and only hotel at the Island where you can stay if you wish to. But if I were to stay there, I’d love the idea of setting up my own tent there and stay as basic as possible. I tend to appreciate my adventure even without those fancy and expensive accommodations.

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We had to leave the island few hours later, we wanted to stay a little bit more but we can’t since it’s almost dawn and we didn’t wanna sail away at night. Though, I missed one thing on this Island, I didn’t get a chance to see those gigantic sea shells found few meters from the shoreland. It was deep so my comrade didn’t wanna go farther. Nevertheless, we left the island more than satisfied.

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We arrived at the port and the sun was about to go down. We just fixed ourselves and headed to Coron Harvest Farm to buy some cashew nuts. They say, they’re the most famous vendor at the mainland. So the price are quite expensive as compared to those being sold at the market. Maybe because, at the back of their store is the actual process how a finished product is done. From splitting a cashew nuts into two using a manual machine, peeling them, washing, drying, up until cooking. They will let you try how it’s done, and you can freely taste cashews as well.

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Next day would our flight back to manila, so we did what we had to do today. We bought everything and we headed directly to Maquinit hot spring. It’s about 10-15 minutes drive, you can take a tricycle or rent a motorbike. On our case we rented a motorbike.

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Maquinit is a saltwater hot spring in coron. From coron proper, you’ll have to pass through a rough and curvy road. The warmth was unbearable at the first dip but my body adjusted to the temperature afterwards. It’s a best place to take a dip after a very long and tiring day.

We headed back home and prepared everything, took a shower and quality rest while browsing all photos taken during our tour. Partially, I got sad that I had to leave the place few hours to go. But, it’s definitely not a goodbye yet because I’ll come back for sure in the future.

Thank you to our host for our accommodation. Coron Guesthouse Backpackers, staffs are friendly. Accommodating and awesome. This place just simply rocks.

So long Coron!!

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