22
Aug
18

Chronicles from Coron

Travelling is one of the things I love to do and each year I ensure to dedicate my time and resources to at least one grand adventure.  This year, I went back to the province of Palawan, this time at the world-famous town of Coron.

On our approach to Busuanga Airport.

We arrived at Coron by air, expectedly, via Busuanga Airport, also known as Francisco B. Reyes Airport (USU).  From here, it’s about an hour travel by land to our next destination.  While on the way, we got to enjoy the sights of Busuanga Island and eventually reached the town of Coron itself.

For the most part, roads are paved and in good condition, and I noticed that they have a slightly brownish hue.

There are some farms along the way.

Coron as seen from the sea kind of looks like the island where Kong lives!

Two Seasons Coron Island Resort & Spa

From Coron town proper, we took another speedboat ride to reach our ultimate island destination: Two Seasons Coron Island Resort & Spa.  As it was in the midst of the rainy season, we didn’t get spared and we encountered a strong downpour while in the middle of the sea.  Thankfully, the waves were really calm and the rains were sporadic so we weren’t shaking a lot and still able to see some of the sights.

We’ve arrived!

We arrived on the island of Bulalacao, where the resort is located, after around 45-minutes of travelling by sea.  We entered via a floating pier—a revolutionary invention if you ask me—so there’s no need for them to create a permanent dock or pier that may disrupt the beautiful beach.  And upon arrival, we were offered a necklace made of shells, welcome drinks and some snacks.  It was already past noon so we also had our first meal at the resort’s lone restaurant.

Our first meal: it doesn’t look that much from the picture, but it’s really a lot!

It was quite a surprise when we got our food—the portions are big!  It’s big enough to serve two comfortably and as for taste, you can tell that they didn’t hold back on the ingredients.  And despite our best efforts, we weren’t able to consume even halfway through one of our dishes so we brought it back to our room and had it for another meal.

First glimpse of the resort.

Our room, or our house to be more accurate, is just a short walk from the restaurant.  There really isn’t that much distance to cover throughout the resort as we lie on one of the tips of the island, but some “rooms” are located on the higher part of the resort so golf carts are available for transport.  As for us, we explicitly got one facing the sea and it’s probably one of the best ones on the resort overall, in my opinion, as we’re a stone’s throw, literally, from the beach, and figuratively, from the pool, and on the “second level” to afford some views.

Our home for the next three days.

View from our balcony.

The neighbors downstairs.

As practically all houses stand on the face of a hill (the exceptions being the ones on the end of the island and the ones on the lowest level), the floors are adjusted so the bed and balcony area are lower than the main door level.  It’s one of the most unique floor layouts I’ve ever seen in a room and I like that the structure adjusted instead of nature.  But the aspect of our room that I liked the most is that we are surrounded on three sides by huge windows and a contiguous balcony to enjoy the views.  We still have our privacy though because of the way the houses were arranged and how plants were installed, not to mention the presence of curtains.

The bed being on a lower level than the main door.

After settling in, we took time to explore what the resort has in store on the island by walking up to the gym which was located on the highest level of the resort.  Along the way, I was surprised that there are monkeys on the island!  I’ve occasionally seen monkeys in some remote places but this is actually the first time I saw monkeys this close and they were actually the ones that approached us.

Meeting the “locals.”

Later that afternoon, we just lounged on the pool, had some drinks, and just spend the rest of the daylight just relaxing… It’s just lovely to get away from all the stresses of daily life in the city and just enjoy the beauty of nature and the relish the art of doing nothing.

The relatively small but surprisingly deep pool.

Enjoying some of their signature drinks by the pool.

The following day was as wet as the previous ones, with periods of heavy rains matched with strong winds, but thankfully with breaks and occasional sunshine.  This finally gave us the chance to frolic at the beach and just enjoy the view and the calming sounds of the waves.  While there are facilities we can use for free like the kayak and paddle boards, somehow, I was contented with just staying ashore.  I guess I’m reaching that age that I’m fine with staying dry on the beach.  Or it was the cool, cloudy weather that made me uninterested to do anything!

This is the life!

For the rest of the day, we just explored the island and the surrounding beaches, took photos, and just chilled.  I actually spent more time dipping in the pool than the sea!

The Chapel.

The beach near our room where mangroves are planted.

That’s the neighboring Cauayan Island, a private island as well.

The beach as seen from the other end of the resort.

Another big meal, with their signature salad which I so love!

The third day would be our last at the island as we transfer back to the mainland (Busuanga) but we would also have our tour of Coron Island before we finally do.  And so, after having our last breakfast buffet we were off to see what everyone was craving about when talking about Coron.

Clips from our stay at Two Seasons Coron Island Resort & Spa.

Coron Island

Long before our Coron trip, I knew that most of our activities would be on the water.  I actually had never been comfortable in open waters most especially if it’s deep, even if I’m wearing a life vest.  But with this trip, it’s inevitable.  And I guess it’s really time to let go of that fear.  When we reached our first tour destination, Siete Pecados, I never told our guide how anxious I was with getting down to the water to snorkel, but I just did it pretending it was normal.  Of course, our guide was aware that I don’t swim (or at least know how to float, unassisted, on open waters) and she had safety precautions in place to turn my reluctance into action.  She had a lifesaver with ropes where we (or I) can grab onto, which she drags over the coral reefs.  I wish I could say that I got comfortable quickly but I could say that my discomfort did not intervene with me enjoying the gorgeous scenes beneath the water.  It’s a totally different world down there—while it was gloomy above the water and everything was gray, it was teeming with life and color underneath!  I felt like I was flying over an alien world as our guide dragged the lifesaver along with me over those reefs!  Until the occasional seawater enters my snorkeling mask to remind me that I’m floating on the sea.

On our way back to Coron Island to start our tour!

A shipwreck is one of our snorkeling destinations and it was a surreal sight!  It’s one thing to see one in documentaries, it’s another to see one in person!  It’s just a bit nerve-wracking to see how deep a “shallow” reef can be for non-floaters like me, but ignoring that, it’s just amazing!

One of those sights you’d see all around Coron Island.

Since we are in Coron, we would not miss its most popular attraction, Kayangan Lake.  And to my surprise, there’s quite a crowd despite being a Friday morning.  It kind of feels like you’re entering a theme park, with all the boats entering, finding their slots to park, and all the crowd lining up to the viewing deck to have their pictures taken, and more crowds surrounding the lake itself.  I can’t imagine how it would be like here when it’s a weekend on a summer break!  Nonetheless, there’s still room for everyone (on the lake, not the viewing deck!) to enjoy.

Entering Kayangan Lake

Once in, you get to do some light trekking…

At the top of the trek is the viewing deck that presents you this view of the area.

The viewing deck as seen from the perspective of approaching boats.

Afterwards, you need a short trek down to get to the lake.

At the end of the trail lie this magnificent, clear lake.

At that time, I still wasn’t that comfortable floating on my own so stayed mostly on the sides and still had to be dragged to get to places.  Nonetheless, seeing the lake from the surface is yet another different world—it’s like seeing an alien world from atop of a high mountain—it’s really deep!  There are no corals and big fishes but there are a lot of rocks that seem to reach out to the surface.  And on the sides, there are curious shrimps that sometimes tend to pinch!

Coron is definitely a wonder of nature!

The Twin Lagoon would forever be a very special place to me as this was where I truly got comfortable floating on open waters with a life vest!  To get in (at least from our end), you can swim through an opening when the tide is low enough, or climb over with the installed ladders on a high tide.  The tide wasn’t low enough for us to comfortably and safely swim through so our guide had us lay on our backs while she dragged us through the opening (which had probably just an inch clearance from our face) like logs.  Once through, there are no structures inside so there’s really nowhere to hangout and stay, so I had no choice but to “swim.”  As we swam to the other side, my confidence grew and before I knew it, I got comfortable and was swimming freely.  And since our boat remained on the side we came in, we also had to swim back to where we came from (and come out the way we came in), and thus resulted in my longest continuous swim ever (and some blisters on my underarms due to chafing with the life vest).

You enter the lagoon by using that ladder or swimming through the opening beneath it.

Another interesting feature of the twin lagoon is its varying water temperature.  The water on the top is cold while the ones below are warmer and said to be saltier.  The cold water on top is mostly from the rains and runoffs from the surrounding hills, and are great motivators to keep swimming!

Finally gained confidence in deep waters as long as there’s a life vest!

For lunch, we stopped at one of the beaches surrounding Coron Island simply named Beach 91.  Our guide told us that different tour operators are assigned to these different pocket beaches so there’s no crowding.  And what’s great with our designated beach is that we have a buffet here that serves Filipino food, for free (as part of the tour cost).  And mind you, they serve crabs here!  At this beach, we got to feast with other tourists from other tour groups, and later on, a monkey decided to crash the party to take some food.

So I guess there’s 90 more of these?

A monkey came down from the mountain to get some food while we waited for the strong rains to pass.

After letting a thunderstorm pass, we eventually went to our last island (which I forgot the name) where apparently even locals frequent when they have gatherings or special occasions.  It’s another beautiful island surrounded with a beautiful, shallow, white sand beach, but what caught my attention were the two dogs that were hanging out on the beach.  I’m not sure if they live there on their own or they have an owner that feeds them, but they sure are friendly and don’t bother anyone.  By that time, we were really tired so we didn’t stay too long and asked to be brought to our hotel.

The “guardians” of the island.

Concluding our tour of Coron with one last selfie on our last island stop.

Clips from our tour of Coron Island.

Two Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel

Our hotel this time lies not on a remote island but on the town proper itself—Two Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel.  The things that we were not wearing were already in our room so it’s pretty convenient for us that we don’t really have to unpack anything and can go straight to freshening up.

Two Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel has some interesting lobby displays.

Inside our room.

As with our former accommodation, we explicitly picked a room that faced the bay.  We also had a balcony to lounge and enjoy the view, but as the weather was still gloomy and sometimes rainy, we didn’t get to see any sunset and the area was used primarily to hang and dry our wet clothes.  Nonetheless, the view is still great even from the inside.

View from our room balcony the following morning.

We avoided getting too comfortable in our room as we headed out to the Coron town proper to explore.  And as we preferred to explore on foot by walking, we got hungry and tried some of the local restaurants.  I was a bit surprised that the prices are high for a provincial town, but we weren’t really there to seek out the cheapest places to eat.  We got to visit the local church and tried some of the local produce as well.

Map of Busuanga, Coron, and neighboring islands, the landmarks, and shipwrecks in the area.

That night, we headed out one last time to try one of the places recommended by our guide—Sharky’s.  It’s a bit distant from our hotel so we took a tricycle in the interest of time, and it was worth our time.  The ambiance was really good and I really enjoyed the pasta and chicken wings that we had.

Inside Sharky’s.

We also got to take a look around our hotel that night and we found that they have a good gym at the roof deck.  It’s likely that there’s a great view up there as well during the day.  But as we had a very active day, we were too tired to use it.

The hotel gym located at the roof deck.

The following day was our last day in Coron.  After enjoying our hotel’s breakfast buffet, I decided to use the hotel’s pool as no one was using it that early and I can do my laps comfortably.  This, while we wait for signs of good weather.  We planned of going up Mt. Tapyas where the “Coron” sign is placed, but as we’d be exposed to the elements up there and we don’t have umbrellas and we would be flying out later that day, we can’t risk any incidents.  Alas, strong rains kept coming until we didn’t have enough time to carry out our plan.  I guess now we have a reason to return!

Inside the hotel’s restaurant, BAYA.

Hope to return and climb up there!

* * *


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