First Stop: Coron, Palawan
Coron Travel Blog› entry 1 of 6 › view all entries
I started my summer early last February 13 -15, 2009. First leg of my summer was Coron, Palawan. My friend Pia who has been enduring the cold weather of Okinawa for the past year, came home and dragged me off to Palawan. We chose Coron because I have been hearing about the fantastic rock formations plus the white sand beaches in the islands. Usually, a traveler to Palawan would hie off to Puerto Princesa which is the capital of the province. But, I was more into virgin nature and I heard that Coron is more untouched and less congested with travellers.
We flew from Manila to Busuanga--roughly an hour's flight. From the air, you know you are near Palawan when you see the elongated island fomations. We settled in at Coron Village Lodge after a bumpy van ride from the airport to the Poblacion. One thing I've noticed with the island is that people are friendly and accommodating. From the van driver to the binalot vendor, up to our bangkero---everybody was just all smiles.
Coron Village Lodge is a true home away from home because well, it looks like one. We had comfortable beds, amazing meals (loved the pork chops!) and the lighthouse decors in the garden. Kuya Willot, the Operations Manager cum owner, was our guide. We just dropped our bags, had lunch, and off we went to sea.
First stop was Coron Island itself. As our guide explained, each island has an entrance fee of Php 100.00 which goes to the Tagbanua natives who reside in the islands. Our guide instructed the bangkeros to pick us up at the other side of the island. We left the bangka and took an uphill climb for about 30 feet. After reaching the summit, I was not prepared to see the grandeuse view. It seems that in Coron, everything is postcard perfect. I was afraid I would not be able to capture everything in my mind that I went crazy snapping everything into my reliable Canon digi.
Kayangan Lake is a must-see in Coron. It is brackish water, very still, and almost 20 feet deep. We donned our snorkeling gear and checked out the corals and rocks underwater. The lake is like a stetch of still blue framed by the glorious rocks from all sides. Everything here is true nature. After snorkeling, we checked out one of the caves nearby and negotiated the slippery rocks and dark interiors. If you are into spelunking and diving, this is a wonderful spot for you in your itinerary. Or...for the not so adventurous, you can just commune with nature and take your fill of the formidable boulders that only a Magnificent Being can create. One thing i took note is the stillness of the air, interrupted occassionally by the muted murmurs of visitors.
Next stop was Banul Beach...the white sands were powdery and white. A good place to laze around and just relax while the waves lapped around you. This was a perfect place to catch the sunset during our first day in Coron.
The next day, we explored the Poblacion on foot starting with the market area. Everytime I travel in the islands, I make it a point to make friends in the local community. I usually start with the talipapa or the market because these are the people who are most likely to be knowledgeable about the place, or they would know somebody else who is. In the market, there is food, people, and lots of information. I was on the hunt for a good cup of coffee because I can't start my day without one. I spotted a native-inspired resto which advertised various dishes served in banana leaves or what we locally call "binalot".
This time, we were up to some relaxation only. Toto brought us to Atwayan Beach were we just lazed around in bamboo beds and snorkeled a bit. He grilled some yummy liempo and okra for lunch. Pia brought some of the "binalot" that Kuya Alvin wrapped for us. The highlight of our day was soaking our tired bodies in the hot springs of Maquinit.
The next day, we explored the last beach on the list, Smith Beach. It was smaller than Banul and Atwayan but had the same white powdery sand. Again, Toto cooked lunch for us while we ladies swam around and explored the steep rock formations circling the beach. We saw some Tagbanua natives who just came from the Poblacion aboard a banca. Before sunset, Toto guided us to Mt. Tapyas--a steep hill climb which the local government has developed with concrete steps along the way. We were told that Tapyas has a total of 700 steps in all! And I survived the climb! Reaching the top of Mt. Tapyas will allow you to see the whole of Coron and catch the beautiful changing hues of the sunset.
Since it was our last night, we wanted to party! Kuya Willot was on hand to entertain us with his "dangerous" mixes of drinks. We started with a pitcher of margarita, then moved off to slammer, and a Willot specialty...the Willot Firecracker. After that, I could not keep track anymore and just allowed myself to be drunk crazy.
On our last morning, we had breakfast again at Kuya Alvin's. We said our good byes and promised everyone that we would be back.