Published: April 27th 2011March 4th 2011
It's been years since I was last here in Coron and let me tell you a lot has changed since! 1st the road from the airport to Coron town is now paved, and the small center is bustling with tourists, and restaurants abound, when back then I struggle to even find a good place to eat lunch! Lots of backpackers, some staying to work for a bit with travel companies, I have the same thinking, and I met MJ, a guy who runs his own travel and excursion tours around the Calamianes region. His take is a tad bit different than others, he tries to take people to areas not popular with the mass tourists, remote islands to snorkel or overnight in, eco friendly etc. I got intrigued in this concept, why not, you just walk around the town and you'll see why, everyone is running almost the same tours.
I did sign up for one day of snorkel tour though, for 650 pesos the cheapest in town, they were good indeed, went to the highlights, Kayangan lake, the twin lagoons, the coral gardens etc, but my disappointment was when we started to snorkel, there are lots of dead corals
and not as pretty as I remember it, 8 years ago the twin lagoon is teeming with coral fish now hardly any, same goes with the other spots. I did like the snorkel area around the CYC island, a public beach/island nice white sand but the place is tad bit dirty, broken glass on the sand so you have to be careful where you walk.
Me and some backpackers, all 7 of us decided one day to spend the night at CYC island, like I said it was dirty, trash all over the place so we cleaned it up first with a broom, then we set up our kitchen and sleeping area. The sand is pristine white but you need to clean the beach of debris, and watch out for broken glasses all the time. Well once you passed that obstacle, we loved it, it's our own paradise, fantastic color of the water, nice breeze from the sea. Tourists boats started to come though around 10am to snorkel and they come and go through out the day but they leave eventually, that's the good thing. I found 2 big lizards here while looking for firewood, they ran away from
me, they look like monitor lizards to me. At night the stars are out and gazing at them was a spectacular experience. We'll be back...
In my short time in Coron I now have a circle of friends, like Angela, owner of Singapore rest. next to Sea Breeze where I stay, Gio, a Dutch backpacker who is very popular with the locals especially the girls, Andreas, a Swede dude who like me helps out with MJ on his tours.Nat, who has been here for a year or so now after having left Sweden works for different travel companies. Favorite hang out place to chill is the newly opened Cueba bar, owned by Rodney, he and his bandmates run this friendly quaint little place, and they have a cute resident kitten, we are regular customers every night, sometimes they have accoustic performances, we also did our fake tattoo(henna) here. Julius who works here is also involved with MJ's travel company so we work together.
It's a small town and in no time you get the scoop of dramas going on in little nooks here and there, before you know it you too are a player in the saga. I
won't name names and issues (as they might be reading this!)but it makes for an interesting stay as I never watched tv during my whole stay here, I call it TeleCoron, subtitles available in Swedish...
Our first assignment with T3 Calamianes, MJ's company is to help out with the excursions, a tour of Coron island on Day 1, Andreas went with them, and I went on Day 3, kayaking around Sangat island, which for me was incredible! I did not get to kayak but the place is nice, full of mangroves, I was busy helping out with the food set up, but we did get to snorkel at the last spot, a mangrove teeming with life, seaweed garden, but what is unique here is the thermal vents, you feel the hot/cold water and see the thermocline if you pay attention when you snorkel, imagine a hot spring in the mangroves! well that is what exactly it was...
I was a regular browser at the public market, morning and late afternoon to check what seafood they have available. There is a type of lobster here they call "pitik" it is cheaper and for me better tasting than the Pacific
spiny lobster. But it is well in demand especially in hotels so if I want it I have to get to the market early. we also tried sting ray and "lato" which is a kind of seaweed good as fresh salad. fruits and vegetables are also available but not cheap, they hardly grow these things here because rainfall is not as much as other islands like Mindoro or mainland Palawan.
Coron to me though now very touristy is better than El Nido, they don't have a beach right in town but the island excursions take you to some of the most beautiful white sand beaches i have ever been on, snorkeling is good particularly Banana and Malcapuya islands, Siete Pecados and CYC island, doable on a backpackers budget. Since I stayed for a month here I rented a room at SeaBreeze Lodge where I paid 200 PHP a day, quite cheap but I have to pay in cash upfront, the only drawback is the place also rents out room by the hour, so prostitutes regularly brings in their customers at night and occasionally you get to hear the action going, your choice, you get to listen for free or
used for the bird's nest soup
ignore it and use earplugs!
There are more photos below