I know that this post requires a preamble on the large gap between my last post and this one. HAPPY NEW YEAR, by the way. The impromptu hiatus was basically a case of needing to versus actually taking a break that turned into a long pause from the blogging world, but in hindsight the quality of the holiday trumps the actual time I took from posting.
My friends and I went to the Philippines, specifically Coron, Manila and Bataan for our December holidays. It was an almost natural choice as I wanted sun, freediving and something family-oriented; the last being reinforced by one of us girls returning home to the Philippines after so long.
Coron is a first class municipality in Palawan, Philippines. Palawan on its own invites thoughts of white sand, bright skies and blue water so I need not get into a breakdown of the island where background details and reviews are already rampant online.
Some of my notes on Coron:
- It’s a backpackers paradise. Like truly. You will occasionally see the 3+ star hotels lined up along the other parts of town, but Coron is really built for those who like to rough it out and go island hopping. The small road is decked with motorbikes and tricycles and there is considerable travel by boat to get to the white beach, blue water paradise. The town itself is a walkable stretch of tiny shops and restaurants. Which bring me to my next point.
- Don’t bring a suitcase (stick to backpacks or gym bags). Since we had onward travel to Manila, we had some small wheelies with us when really a few bare essentials would’ve sufficed. I am an aspiring minimalist in most aspects of my life but I still over-packed for the trip. Other than my (freediving) fins, I only really needed a few shorts and shirts to go around this hot, bustling, island town.
- You won’t really need to book tours that well in advance. Unless you’re getting a private boat or planning your diving itinerary, there is a buffet of tour guides to choose from that will take you to the templated gems of the island. Jonie, Sur and I booked our Air BnB and discovered the management of Aldrich of Red Carabao Coron who will customize according to your getaway needs and timing. You’ll basically get full hands-on consult and refer to him/Red Carabao for your every Coron travel needs. We got there early morning and found ourselves on motorcycles touring the outskirts for half a day and booked island hopping with an overnight camping trip the next night.
- Rent a scooter. It serves as a trip on its own to be riding around the picturesque shores of Coron island which is decked with some worthy stopovers such as the Concepcion Waterfall 36km east of Coron. It reminded me a lot of Teraja Waterfall with some terrain to trek through before reaching there, but all the more worthy of a dip when visiting.
- Skip the “brown” beaches. Or if you do go, manage your expectations. They are managed by the locals and there is a minimal entrance fee but roads towards the locations require considerable (rough!) travel by car, tricycle or motorbikes with motorcross-like expertise. If you’ve managed to see every paradise in Coron, you can maybe consider the brown sanded and water spots, but there are still other discoveries you can make to enjoy the sunset in Coron such as the Maquinit hot springs or the Funny Lion’s hot tubs overlooking the horizon.
- Rent a private boat and beat the crowd. You’re bound to bump into other tour boats and tourists, but it helps to be able to go to certain spots at a comfortable pace away from being herded by itinerary. We were happy to go with the tour boats but after experiencing some considerably rapid visits especially around the snorkelling/diving areas such as the wrecks, I think we would know to opt for the slightly pricey but personalized boat next time.
- Go overnight camping. A must. It had been on my bucket list for a while but it didn’t occur to me that it would happen in Coron AND on an island off the usual beaten path. Red Carabao suggested it in passing and we were all game. We had to buy fruits and some supplies impromptu, but we were fine just with the tent and firewood. The island isn’t completely uninhibited with a family residing there since time immemorial, but we weren’t going to pass up the opportunity of having a camp fire underneath the starry sky. There was even a hammock! When it was pitch black, Sur and I even went night snorkeling and found some nocturnal creatures coming out to play close to the shore. It was my first time swimming/diving in the night so it was both a thrilling and magical experience overall.
As with any dreamful sequence, the Coron trip was short and sweet. Whilst 2017 overall brought me to far places, I would say this had to be one of those that will be etched in my increasingly senile mind for a while.
Next post will be more on my Philippines trip if not trying to appear busy with activities during this diving off-season period.