WHAT TO DO IN CORON?
According to my research island hopping and beach bumming are the simplest ways of enjoying Coron Islands. Coron offers 219 enchanting islands and islets with white sand beaches. Originally, I planned to enlist the services of DIY Coron by Owen Ferrer. But since there are only the 3 of us, we decided to look for other tour providers that offer tours for reasonable price. Until I found Calamian Expeditions by Corong Galeri at the Busuanga airport front desk. The shop is located at San Agustin Street and is owned by proprietors Al and Mae Linsangan. Their advertisement says that they are charging Php650 for a minimum of 5 persons. Al told us that they would have to adjust their rate for our Coron Islands tour since there are just 3 of us. So we paid Php950 per person for the tour which includes the boat hire, the boatman and an assistant, entrance fees to the spots to be visited and packed lunch from Binalot. Al instructed us to drop by their shop at 830 AM for briefing.
It is one fine day of October 22, 2009. We dropped by at the shop a bit early so we decided to hunt for some Coron bargains for a while which included food. The three of us decided to buy additional food because we’re afraid to get hungry during the tour. The public market is the way to go so we passed by the market first. I again met the guy I was with during my flight via PAL Express. He told me that they’re going island hopping as well, but not with us. I guess the three of them joined another group. I again, was not able to ask for his name though. We bought a big fish good enough to be eaten by 8 persons for a meager amount of P70. Along with that, we also bought pork liempo for about Php180 a kilo. I was quite disappointed with how the liempo looks because the pork fat is abundant than the meat. But we didn’t have any other choice, take it or I’ll get hungry during the trip. Ian was able to purchase crabs for Php50, I believe that was about half a kilo of blue crabs. We also bought narra rice for Php38 a kilo and distilled water at Php75 for 5 liters. After we have completed our ingredients for the feast, we headed back to Corong Galeri where we were met by Al and the boatman, together with the assistant. Al briefed us for about 10 minutes and off we went to the port where we met the boat that would take us to heaven on earth, Jhomer.
Coron Island or Higantes as the locals call it appears like a sleeping giant from a distance but, upon close inspection, you’ll see that Higantes is made up of small beach strips, caves, coves and lagoons. The ancestral roots of the Tagbanuas can be traced here and they have occupied this land for a little more than 3000 years.
Al said that our first stop is the Kayangan Lake. Kayangan Cove is a masterpiece. I could hardly believe that such a place really existed. I was surrounded by rock formations and crystal clear waters that I only get to see in movies. It was so inviting. Boats were docked, and both boatmen and tourists now climbed up the the steep 300-plus steps to Kayangan Lake. If you’re not fond of heights, don’t look back. If you need to grovel, do so because Kayangan Lake is something you shouldn’t miss. Kayangan Lake or blue lagoon is the cleanest lake in all of Asia. Halfway up the lake is a cave and view deck where you can see Kayangan Cove in all its glory, truly breathtaking. Upon seeing the lake, I instantly wanted to rip my clothes off and jump into the water that was as clear as glass. It mirrored the cliffs while it gave me a good sense of its depth. The curious shrimp and playful needle-like fish that have grown accustomed to having visitors kept us company. Nature sounds of trickling water and birds echo with this acoustic setting.
According to some folks, barracudas live in shallow tropical waters and can grow to six feet long and a foot wide. They gave this lake its name, with stories told about a resident giant barracuda.
I have second thoughts of testing the waters or enjoying the site. The boatman said that it was safe, so even though the thought of being a potential snack for a barracuda was unsettling, I took their word for it and dived into the water. You get immersed in the lake’s tranquility. I felt safe in its calm and beauty. One can even climb the jagged rocks for a better view and dive opportunities. While exploring Kayangan Lake, I then saw the PAL Express guy again coming down from the steep stairs. This time, I really didn’t have the intention of asking his name again.
From Kayangan Lake we were supposed to go to Twin Lagoons. The boatman however told us that we’re going to white beach strips first since our food had to be cooked first. Thank goodness he thought of that because I’m getting hungry after all the climbing, swimming, snorkeling and diving that I’ve done from Kayangan Lake. We now proceeded to Atwayan Beach for some beach activities and lunch. Approaching the island, I saw that there were several huts along the beach coast. I jumped into the water immediately while the bangkeros prepared our lunch.Atwayan was one of those little islands which served as picnic areas in the Coron area. Apparently there are a few of these little beaches for this purpose. Walking around the long strip of beach, it too had its little sights. Again, a beautiful strip of nature. A slice of paradise, that’s what I call Atwayan. It is home to a lady Tagbanua who takes care of the beach. She keeps it pristine — sifting the sand and such. I loved the place! I feel blessed spending and sharing a moment of my life in Atwayan with my kindred spirit. I could use all the positive adjectives to describe the place and they still wouldn’t be enough. Palawan has a lot to offer but, if I were to choose just one, Atwayan would it be.
From here, I received a text message from my friend Ramil that he and Allan has just arrived in Coron from Busuanga. My heart leapt and I will finally be able to see them again after such a long time! I told them to keep themselves busy with Coron town while I’m still enjoying my piece of heaven.
A quick lunch at Atwayan Beach and we headed out to sea, to the next destination which is a beach again. No more snorkeling or floating in the lake. It is now swimming on the beach. Time to head to CYC Beach (Coron Youth Club Beach). It was a bit of a long trip to CYC but who is complaining. As we were approaching the beach, I can see several bangkas lined up on the coast. Looks like there are a lot of people wanting to join the CYC scenery. The island has a small patch of white sand with a number of bakawan nearby. We didn’t anchor near the shore since our banca is too big but it’s fine with us since it was low tide. Anywhere you go, it seems that the water is just waist deep! We spent a couple of minutes swimming and giggling and chatting. It was refreshing to actually swim in literally tubig alat. It was sad to note, however, that some people actually abused the island. We learned that there is actually uneven “floor” near the shore due to people getting large amounts of sand for their own resorts. I bet, there could have been a sandbar somewhere. Maybe CYC should start asking for entrance fees and let the natives protect it.
After enjoying CYC Beach we now headed to Twin Lagoons, passing through to Twin Peaks. The two lagoons are connected by a tunnel underneath a rock formation through which tourists can pass. It is dangerous entrance added the appeal and challenge to tourists who dares to go to both lagoons. On low tides, you can pass through the tunnel with a kayak. During high tide guests who wanted to enter had to dive below avoiding the jagged edges of the limestone cliffs. Good thing we arrived when it was still low tide; thus, made it easier to swim through the entrance. The tunnel is about a few meters wide but for an inexperienced swimmer, it could be a challenging feat. Floating in the lagoon has a great view—not from below but from above. The blue sky cut by giant rock formation then deep blue water, who could ask for more? You can stay there forever until your skin is wrinkled like prunes for prolong exposure to water.
I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, waking up not recalling where I was just a moment before. Imagine (with my eyes barely open) the sun in all its glory, azure skies all around me, torquoise waters almost kissing my feet, not a soul in sight, just the silence of stillness with calm splashes as intermissions. I thought to myself, I must’ve done something good to have landed on this place. No exaggeration though until I felt my leathery burnt skin, ouch, which pulled me back to reality. Yet the slice of heaven remained and now, with eyes wide open, it was even more divine. I then realized that my so-called slice of heaven was Coron, Palawan.
Day 2 adventures ain’t over yet. Watch out for the 2nd Maquinit visit and the Kawayanan Grill Station experience and you’ll find out why.
See more photos for Day 2 here.