Awesome Coron and Busuanga! – Part II

20 02 2010

Days 2 and 3: Island Hopping and Banana Island Overnight

Island hopping is one real thrilling and unforgettable experience in Busuanga.  But you must really be a little daring and adventuresome especially when you go from late December to January, when the waters get rougher and the wind blows stronger.  The roof of our outrigger boat had to be rolled to make our sailing easier (and get a tan faster for that matter).  At times, the wind and water conditions can even go that worse as what we experienced on the 23rd of December as we sailed back to Coron’s town proper after an overnight stay in Banana Island.  Although a wave alert is available at DIYCoron site (owned by Owen, our tour service provider), you must be prepared to any change in conditions during the amihan (the season dominated by the trade winds) period.                                      

What a big disappointment co’z  we didn’t get a chance to stop by and snorkel in Siete Pecados, a marine sanctuary.  It was still low tide when we passed by on Day 2 so the boat couldn’t come nearer or it would destroy the corals.  On Day 3, the water was not calm enough to deal with. 

So our first stop was in Kayangan Lake, dubbed as the cleanest lake in the country for several consecutive years.   The view as we approached the bay was already amazingly beautiful.

Everyone was excited to see what lies above.  It was another challenging but more exciting 15-minute climb through the rocks to get to the spot to capture the famous postcard view. 

Then we had to manage another steep descent to reach the blue lagoon.  Only about three small groups were in there and one was about to leave so by the time we took our plunge, only a few were left.  After a short while, the lagoon was all ours (an advantage when you go during non-peak season).  It was paradise-like,  surrounded by limestone cliffs with the blue water calm and clear. 

Breathtaking scenery! I wish I knew how to really swim (thanks to my life vest that I can snorkel around).  Just a little below the water surface, near the rocks we saw some tiny friendly fish (visitors don’t seem to bother them at all).  No signs of big fish in the area.  We didn’t notice the passing of time co’z the whole experience was awesome.  I think it was almost 1 p.m. when we decided to leave and have our lunch back down in one of the picnic huts fronting the dock area.

We skipped Barracuda Lake.  According to the boatman, the climb to get to the lake could be treacherous – jagged limestone cliffs.  Sigh!

Twin Lagoons came next.  Our boat anchored on the first lagoon where the water is warm and blue. We snorkeled our way to the next lagoon thru a small edged opening underneath a hanging jagged limestone cliff, which was visible at that time co’z it was low tide, otherwise, we would need to climb up the makeshift ladder and dive. 

I was not too comfortable in the second lagoon which has colder water and is surrounded by grayish cliffs.  Water visibility and temperature are distorted due to what the divers term as thermocline.  At one part, the water was warm and suddenly in one part cold.   All these make for an unforgettable adventure.

Off to our next stop, Banol Beach, a popular stop-over for lunch.  Here we were welcomed by a small shoreline surrounded with limestone cliffs.  This powdery-white sand beach is literally small but fortunate we were that there was only one small group of visitors that time.  The sand is white.  The water is turquoise and pristine – a good spot for snorkeling and also kayaking.  A perfect place to get a good nap under the open huts with the sounds of the wilds and waves, but we couldn’t afford.  The water was more inviting for a swim even when the sun is still up.  We wanted to stay longer but there were other spots to see…

Then to the Skeleton Wreck… The skeleton of the bow (forward part of the boat or ship) was an eerie sight.  I and my sis-in-law felt the same way.  It was unexplainable.  But, we still managed to take a longer look.  It was a rare opportunity, anyway…  So the boat which was about 25 meters long was beached 12 meters from the shores of Coron Island.  This allows the snorkelers to see a good view of the wreck. Another unforgettable exploration of the island….

Our final destination for the day, the Banana Island, for an overnight stay… We had to leave early as the water got rougher.   Estimated travel time was an hour and a half.  By the time we reached the island, it was almost sunset. The water was cold as we disembark.  Two dogs – a black and a white – and the owner welcomed us.  We stayed in the beach for about an hour to enjoy the view, bury our feet under the sand and watch the sunset. 

When the wind was getting stronger and colder to the skin, we decided to leave the beach and proceed to our rented thatch-roofed cabana.  We were told that electricity here is sourced both from generator and solar lights.  

The water was a little calmer that morning as compared with last night’s.  Everyone had a hard time falling asleep co’z of the sounds of the strong waves – our cottage was just about 20 meters away from the shoreline.   

After breakfast, we decided to explore the whole stretch of the island. Between the sandbar and shore of the island, a few corals and colorful clams embedded in a coral can be found sitting in the above-ankle-deep water.  At first, we thought the clams were corals until our boatman, who followed us, told that they were clams.  We stood there dumbfounded.  Stunning! 

A little farther, our boatman showed us a small dwelling of three clown anemonefish (a.k.a. clown fish), then one surprisingly came out. 

We headed to Bulog Dos Island after lunch.  Just a few minutes away from Banana Island, the shoreline is even smaller than Banol’s.  The sand is also powdery-white.  This is a good place to snorkel.   

We didn’t notice that we had gone quite farther exploring the water – lots of fish – big and small – and sea urchins.   The boatman who guided me on my swim back to our boat even showed me a giant squid.  Our snorkeling didn’t last that long co’z there were still a number of islands, in our itinerary, to see.

Malcapuya Island was next.  “Puya” is Cuyonon for “girl,” so Malcapuya literally translates into “You’re bad, girl.”.  This is said to be the Boracay of Palawan.  We took the back side to dock our boat and then walk up the hill past some coconut trees and huts to go to the beach.   The main strip is the widest among the island beaches, a half-kilometer stretch of white-powdery sand.  

From the view cliff on one side, you can see another magnificent view of the water and the other islands.   How I wished we had enough time to swim in the crystal-blue water. It was such a brief encounter!  I’ll definitely return to this place…

The waves were getting bigger as we sailed farther toward Coron’s town proper.  We were hoping to see Siete Pecados and CYC but it was no longer a good idea.  Our return cruise was at its most challenging situation.  The wind was whipping harder, the water was rougher.  The young boatman was really good to be able to maneuver the boat.   Each tried to put on a brave face that time.   We were all dripping wet.  We failed to take our snack.  But we didn’t mind anymore.   All we wanted was to safely reach our destination the soonest.   We never had the chance to see Siete Pecados and CYC Island but we were grateful for another beautiful sight – the sunset

… and the safe arrival.   It took us more than 3 hours.   

Hasta la vista, Coron and Busuanga!

Awesome Coron and Busuanga! – Part I

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Awesome Coron and Busuanga!

20 02 2010

Who wouldn’t get excited with Busuanga and Coron?  If you’re a real nature-tripper or lover, these islands will surely be in your list of must-see places and once you set foot in these awesome places, you would love to go back and appreciate their beauties over and over again.  I, myself, would love to explore again these places.  One visit is not enough to complete the islands experience.   Each spot has its own beauty to offer that I wouldn’t want to miss, not even one.  I can proudly say, “The Philippines is rich indeed in natural wonders.”

Day 1:  Inland Tour and Maquinit Hot Springs

After a brief visit to the municipality hall via trike (three-wheeled motor vehicle), we proceeded to the Lambingan Bridge.  The bridge itself was not a sight to behold but the view starting from near the end – view of the vast bay and the distant mountain cliffs. 

At first, we thought Mt. Tapyas was an easy climb.  Under the still scorching sun, at past 3 p.m., almost 2 hours earlier than our schedule, we took our first step of the more than 700 steps.  We didn’t stop in the first few resting sheds co’z we still had the energy until up higher and became thirsty and drenched in sweat.  My brother went topless when past halfway up.  We planned to time our climb and count the steps but forgot all about them co’z of the stops (and rests) and sightseeing (and picture takings). 

The sight was well worth the arduous climb. Stayed for more than an hour to enjoy the panoramic view of the rolling hills, Coron Bay and the adjoining islands… and catch the sunset.  

The descent was quite easier sans the sun and along the way down, we caught a glimpse of a tiny animal running fast towards the bushes (I and my sis-in-law was quite sure that it was not a rat, mostly likely a bird).  According to the trike driver it must have been a quail co’z there are quails in the area.

A dip in the 40o Celsius Maquinit Hot Springs, said to be the only known saltwater spring in the country, was the best way to end the day, to soothe our sore legs and tired bodies.  The about 30-minute ride along the bumpy and dark road, with only the trike headlight illuminating our way, was part of the excitement.  Sitting amidst trees, Maquinit is truly an enchanting and relaxing place.  I guess there are two reasons why it is best to go from dusk to evening – the temperature may be unbearable when the sun is still up and you might be turned off with the slippery bottom due to algae (and think the water is unclean as I thought).  

Awesome Coron and Busuanga! – Days 2 and 3: Island Hopping and Banana Island Overnight