Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Captivating Coron

Thanks to Mary for the title. October 20-22, 2011



My previous trip was last July where we went to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. After more than two months of travel-hiatus, I am now back on track! Since this was already planned long before the schedule of my project was released, it hit straight into the middle of the testing period. I wonder if my PM hated me because of it. Hmmm.... I swear I must have bought more cashew tarts...

Where did I bring my stuff to? Coron, Palawan!

Zumi's shot of Palawan. And we haven't even landed!
Packing my hiking bag and trotting along my near-retirement sandals, Coron is definitely the place to be when you want to cry on the inside because of being awestruck with beauty. Coron is located at the northern part of Palawan. It has its own small airport (much like Caticlan's), Busuanga's Francisco B. Reyes Airport. From the airport, there are a lot of transfers to the town proper. Standard fare is PHP150 whether you arrange for pick-up or just ride when you're there. Just tell them your lodging and they'll drop you on its doorstep. Travel time is around 20-30minutes depending on how crazy your driver is. 
And you'll think you're in New Zealand with the cows roaming around like a boss.
We stayed at Coron Gateway Hotel. It's pretty popular with the locals because when they ask where we are checked-in and we say the name of the hotel, they never fail to say "Oooh," then add, "Mahal dun ah." If only they knew we were on promo. 

First on the list is the famous Mt. Tapyas. There are 724+ steps to reach the top and see the giant cross that lights up at night. Better bring a bottle of water because you'll be in for a ridunkulous climb. What's interesting here is that you can get to fully appreciate Mt. Tapyas once you start on your island hopping adventure. You can see from afar that there is really a "tapyas" in the mountain - which our local refreshment vendor shared - a bomb hit that side of the mountain. Uh-huh.
724 steps? Worth it.
Before you give your legs time to realize it's already aching, you can speed off to Maquinit Hot Spring. Word of advice is to NOT jump in as the hot spring is really...hot. Take time to adjust to the temperature and it will be a relaxing treat.

You have been warned. This is a TYPICAL scene/view in Coron.

So what is Coron all about? The bluer than blue waters and amazing rock formations that are just  around the corner. First is the post-card friendly to-die-for Kayangan Lake. Getting there would already give you the "Ahhhhh....." and then you'll die again when you reach the lake after a short trek.

Welcome to Kayangan Lake! Where the water is so clear you need to stop and pray, thanking God that there are still places like this.


Stop in the middle of the trek to bask in the beauty of the scenery.
And no editing needed. It really looks like this.

Start crying.


Ok. Cry again.

After swimming our hearts out in Kayangan Lake, we start the snorkelling adventure. Fish-feeding at Twin Peaks. 

Here fishy fishy!
The usual, you get to have lunch at a powder-white beach somewhere in the group of islands surrounding the area. Hello Atwayan Beach!



Seriously, I can't write anything more. Hahaha. It's not even blogger's block! Next stop would be Coral Gardens wherein we had a lot of casualties both physical and emotional ones. We had so much fun taking photos we didn't notice 3 of our life vests have been carried out into the ocean. A quick call of help and Kuya Jeff, our friendly bangkero swam like Michael Phelps. How about the physical one? The corals are so near you can actually step (and accidentally destroy!) on them as well as have your skin grazed by its body.

Coral Garden from the boat!
Nature at its best! Don't get yourself near these babies.
They're mood-killers.
Hello there!
After the traumatizing hit of Coral/Sea Urchin Garden, next would be the unmaintained white sand beach of CYC (Coron Youth Club) Island. There are animals in there! Monkey and cats all begging for food. Poor babies. :(

This would've been a pretty picture if that person is not there. Haha
Last for the day would be Twin Lagoons. This time with brackish water. 




Next day would be a surprise. As we opted to have Skeleton Shipwreck added in our itinerary instead of Siete Pecados which is also a fish-feeding/coral site. My friends were already traumatized with their close encounters with the corals and would choose anything over them. We made the perfect choice. Seeing the WW2 wreck below two floaters and hearing the howling dog from the nearby island - it was like Halloween was a little bit early for us.

Place is so freaking pretty.
You can see the hull from above!
My merman friend with the shipwreck and a fish in one shot. :)
The water was sooooo clear you can see the shipwreck even from the boat. No need to dive into the wild water to see it but heck, you're already there! There were a lot of fish in the area as well so you could do fish-feeding and say collective oooh's and ahhhh's by the minute.

Hello hull of the ship!
I swear I'll be coming to Coron just to take a shot at the number of the shipwreck sites around. There are a lot of shipwreck sites and it would be stupid not to visit them. We passed by Sunset Lagoon on our way to Banol Beach - another white sand beach area in Coron. Seriously, with clear water and white sand everywhere, all other places are like trash already.

Sunset Lagoon. Just passing by!
Banol Beach. Perfect place for photoshoots, swimming, and everything else. White sand, free monkey entertainment, and lots of good sites. We had brunch/lunch here and basked in the beauty of Banol Beach before moving on to our last spot.

Banol Beach more awesome with me there. :]

Banol Beach
Crazy clear waters!
Last stop would be Barracuda Lake. It's like Kayangan Lake all over again, this time smaller and more serene. There was once a barracuda in the area but then I guess it started eating people so they caught it. Kidding, of course.



Purrrrfect!


Pasalubong Guide:

Hmm, similar to Puerto Princesa, Coron is pretty much popular for the cashew. Maybe it wasn't on season but the price of the cashew products is ridiculous for a tightwad like me! Popular pasalubongs are lamayo (danggit - marinated semi-dried fish) and the usual cashew tarts.




Itinerary:
1st Day
Mt. Tapyas
Maquinit Hotspring
Pasalubong buying

2nd Day - Start of the Island Hopping
Kayangan Lake (so awesome it's already annoying)
Twin Peaks
Atwayan Beach
Coral Garden (injury time!)
CYC Island
Twin Lagoons (Can I cry again? This place is sooo beautiful.)

3rd Day
Skeleton Shipwreck (very very memorable for me) (We swapped this with Siete Pecados because we have seen so many corals we'd go crazy if we see another set.)
Sunset Lagoon
Banol Beach (perfect photoshoot place)
Barracuda Lake (no barracuda)

Travel Tips:
- Bring small change. There are ATMs in the town (Allied Bank and BPI) and most establishments don't accept credit card.
- Don't forget to have breakfast at Sea Dive Resort. Nice view with free coffee/tea!
- Always bring sunblock wherever you go. As well as sunglasses!
- If you don't have an underwater/waterproof camera, rent a waterproof casing. Although it's best kept in your memory, taking a snapshot of the beauty of Coron won't hurt anyone. Not even when you're old.
- If you don't want to rent water shoes, wear slippers with strap or sandals you can use when swimming. Some areas have shallow corals and you might hurt your feet.
- Don't forget to tip your bangkero! They'll be your guides and your divers when you drop something into the ocean deep. I know I dropped something and our boatman can swim like a free diver.

Budget:
- Airfare (one's on sale while the other's not!) = PHP 2033 + 200 + 20 (back & forth inclusive of terminal fees for both NAIA Terminal 3 and Busuanga Airport)
- Tricycle Fare = PHP 8
- Van Transfer = PHP 300 (PHP 150 one way)
- Snorkel Gear Rental = PHP 100 per day (You can try to ask that they waive the fee on the last day, because we did. :p )
- 3-Day Tour = PHP 550 + 650 + 750
- Lodging = PHP 1850 (3D2N)

Contacts:
Coron Galeri (http://www.corongaleri.com.ph) for all your tour needs. Great people! :)
Don't you even dare contact Coron Gateway Hotel! I know the place is great - location and the hotel itself BUT the receptionists there suck so hard they can be Chupa Chups endorsers. It's suggested to just try the lodges and inns around. There are so many places to stay at Coron you don't really need to book in advance (and I thought this was just a joke).


MORAL: 3D2N is a joke. You definitely have to plan for 4D3N all the time. There are more than 7,100 reasons to enjoy the Philippines. And Coron? Is definitely worth it.

2 comments:

Kara Tropicales said...

YAY CORON! Let's be back soon! :))

AL B. LINSANGAN III said...

Hi Kara, Thank you for endorsing Corong Galeri www.corongaleri.com.ph

Warm Regards from Al & Mae Linsangan

Nice post!