Before my eyes met paradise, Manila was wrapped in dark nimbus clouds. We were under a blanket of rain while we followed the storm’s trail. I was in a chase with luck; hopefully, my flight would not be one of those being announced as cancelled on the radio while my father was driving under heavy downpour to the airport.
Checking in, I was at ease although the place was jam-packed. Cebu Pacific’s ground crew informed me that there were no flight advisories concerning my destination. That was to my relief. There was only one thing I could wish for at that moment: to get my own two feet onto the grounds of Busuanga and not to place my vacation leave and last minute work transitions to waste.
|Inside the cabin of Cebu Pacific|
The flight was rough, although I knew the Captain was doing his best to fly smoothly, gliding through the air; the skies were just a little bumpy. The clouds produced a few hiccups which the cabin crew related to us as turbulence. Halfway battling the storms, we could see nothing but a sheet of white cotton. We were in the middle of the clouds not wanting to give us a way to pass through. A few minutes after, the lumps of cotton started to fade. I started to see a mantle of a dark blue coil outside the window. Finally, I have seen the ocean and soon enough, a couple of green surfaces crossed into my sight. There were white sand outlining the shapes I ought to believe were islands and there were a few white sprinkles—those I believe were waves breaking from the winds onto the shores.
The sight I was seeing from my seat was magical. I felt like I was Peter Pan, flying through the rough airway until I found Neverland.
Busuanga, the gateway to Coron, greeted us with heavy rainfall, heavier than the one in Manila. But I was delighted to be soaked in the rain that smelled fresh, different from the whip of precipitation and smoke from the metro.
|Mt. Tapyas Hotel|
The following morning was still gloomy, sprinkles of rain continued to touch the ground but it never stopped us from setting our foot trail along the little town of Coron. The neighborhood was intimately little, the whole town was embraced with the warmth of courtesy, treating every local as if they were all of the same kin. Plastic bags in the market were nowhere to be found, shoppers will have to bring their own paper bag or carry sold goods with their bare hands—something I have tried myself as I carried a pack of dried squids and salted fish as a pasalubong for home. This was something very peculiar to me. It made me appreciate how basic the lifestyle is, the simplicity of the town and the townsmen’s living was something I didn’t want it to lose. This was its character. And although the town reserves its being rural, cafes and restaurants were on isle along downtown Coron, but not too extravagant to catch most of the attention as the best about Coron was yet to be explored by the wandering traveler.
It was not more than half an hour until our chauffer, Kuya Vhier, was able to bring us to the Maquinit Salt Water Hot Spring. Spa-like pampering was what awaited us and it was next to the shores fronting Siete Pecados. Mangroves walled the surrounding of the spring, making it appear like a hidden sanctuary where the gods take rest.
|Maquinit Hot Spring|
Soon after the sun had risen the next day and the dark clouds have finally hidden away, Kuya Vhier introduced us to Kuya Richard—our boat diver and tour guide and made way towards the pier where the hotel boats were docked.
|Mt. Tapyas Private Boat|
The waves of the ocean brought us closer to where the magic truly ensembles in Coron. We were leaving a land inhabited by human beings and were about to enter the last paradise to be ever discovered… and enchanting one, as I would like to believe.
|Siete Pecados Islands|
The boat took a slow motion nearing seven different little rock islands where greenery was sprouting from every edge – the Siete Pecados was very enticing that one cannot resist getting near it. We are yet to find out that there was more down under than what is seen from the sea surface. The islands were like ice burgs covered in lush greenery, like huge turtle backs floating in the water. This was my first encounter with the waters of Coron, and I was warmly welcomed by the fishes in the sea, as if wanting to shake hands with me.
|Marine Life under the Siete Pecados|
Before we knew it, the boat was swiftly sailing along a coast engulfed in a padded rock formation, that of which seemed like huge walls of moss. We were nearing a coast which was filled with an appetizing aroma of grilled meat-induced smoke. The boats sitting next to us had little grillers aboard where the fishes they caught while sailing were cooked.
|The trail leading to the Kayangan Lake|
We took the first step out of a hundred more heading towards the cliff above which housed a cave, the cave windowed what could be the most exhilarating sight you will ever see. Sitting on top of that huge rock after more than 20 years of my existence, I finally learned that Neverland does exist and it was right in front of me. It was exciting to know that maybe, just maybe this is the part where Tinker Bell showers off her powder dusts and lets anyone fly with the wind.
|Uphill stairs to the Kayangan Lake|
|A view from the top of the Kayangan Lake|
|Rock Formation underwater|
But I had to leave, we had to see what was next in the series of climax I was experiencing. The Barracuda Lake was just subsequent to Kayangan, the boat took stance at the opening of a staircase towards the Barracuda, a lake which has gotten its name from the stories that the lake abodes a number of huge Barracudas under its dark, deep blue waters. Whether this story was real or a product of imagination, the mystery drew more awe among its visitors.
|Trail to the Barracuda Lake|
Bauan-Atwayan was like a calling. There were silent whispers that lingered through my ears, enchanting me to come close, closer to its shore where nipa huts were hoisted on top of the powder like sand. Never did I think that I was born as a beach person. But I got to know more of myself now. The beach did not only make me draw names on its fine white sand but it made me trek towards a few more wandering with the rocks and floras naturally landscaped in belts with the sand bar. I was examining every detail on how the sand collates well with the rock formation. Playing with the crystal-clear waters of Bauan-Atwayan was the best way to wrap a day’s worth of fun and adventures.
|Bauan-Atwayan Sand Bar|
The sun was setting and it was about time to board the boat and take a nap while smoothly sailing the seas back to town.
The waves started to rest while lumps of land began to appear in my vision, Malcapuya Island which grew coconut trees on white sand was where everybody took a spot to bathe their selves under the sun, receiving that perfect tan. But the view deck was a cherry on top; a few steps toward a rock formation at the end of the sand strait gave me an interesting feeling which I cannot comply in words. The cliff at the top was exhilarating, extraordinary even. I took of my shoes and went to walk close to the edge while gripping my toes at the rough surface of the stones. Banana Island was in my sight from that deck while below me were rocks and water splashing all over.
|Malcapuya Island View Deck|
Sailing another few minutes from Malcapuya and we reached the Banana Island which didn’t grew a single Banana tree, but its shape is like that of a banana leading it to its name. A few reefs have scattered along its beach while green bushes were growing from its white sand. The sun reflected sparkling lights from the turquoise water making its body a large luminous glass. The Banana Island was surely one of its kind.
|Banana Island Shores|
The reef at the Banana Island has overwhelmed me to run after the fishes, as if playing with them in the waters. But Kuya Richard gave me a little gist that what was happening next was more than what I could dream of.
|Banana Island Underwater|
The Bolog Reef was our last stop in the waters. The boat brought us a few meters away from a different island and hailed in the middle of the ocean, I didn’t know what to expect underneath, but exactly where the boat rested was a kingdom. You can imagine it from there.
|Bolog Coral Reef|
The Bolog Reef is like a kingdom for the most beautiful creatures under water. The reef was made up of glowing sea weeds, clams and elegant corals which appeared like crowns. It was so beautiful that I even got to find Nemo in his anemone. I was full of excitement that the mouthpiece of the breathing tube I was wearing did not stop me from shouting in joy and applaud in water. It was a whole new world down there. My thirst for adventures has kicked in me again and asked my guide if it was fine to take off my life jacket, he was hesitant as the water was deep but he gave in by lending me the floater which I had to strap around my shoulder in case I would need to grasp some air above the water. I went deeper as I wanted to have a close interaction with the marine creatures of this kingdom. They were very welcoming; the school of fishes swarmed towards my body and it made me chase them while touring their kingdom down under.
|Finding Nemo in Coron, Palawan|
It was magical, in a way that magic has never come to life before. In a way that even the word magic could never suffice.
The water beneath was crystal clear and playing with the fishes has just gotten to a whole new level. It was definitely fun. I tried to keep a record of how the fishes look liked, but the variety made me lose track and so I just savored every minute of amusement.
It was getting late in the afternoon and we had to say goodbye to our play mates in the sea. It was time to head back so I kissed the waters goodbye and told the kingdom that I will be back again soon. We took the 2 hour-route again to the mainland but this time, it felt fast and swift, calm and steady.
The sun was about to set but our excitement never ran off.
After a quick shower at the hotel, we tied our running shoes and geared up for a 700+ step-climb up above towards the Mt. Tapyas Cross – a view deck of the entire Coron overlooking the splendor of the town and the islands. The sun was setting and the time was perfect. The sky slowly became golden as it illuminated golden sheets to the waters as well. Neverland was saying goodnight in the most extravagant way.
|Coron in Sunset|
Since the day I stepped foot in Coron, a spell has captured my heart. The warmth of its people, the intimate township, the free lifestyle, maybe the wonderful feast or the charm of its nature- its land and waters which are inseparably marvelous, or maybe it’s a little bit of everything that keeps the mystery of Coron unrivaled.
A mystery I could not explain and a mystery that will make me come back for more.
Wander Dude Notes:
Wander Dude Notes:
- AirPhil Express, Cebu Pacific and Zest Air run direct flights from Manila to Busuanga. I personally prefer Cebu Pacific's aircraft for this route.
- One would need a pair of snorkeling gear to experience the wonder down under, but there are a lot of for-rent gears all over the town at P150.00.
- Wear swimming/ water shoes, it helps you move faster and walk easier on trails.
- Tour packages helps you get rid of all the stress in managing your whereabouts, Mt. Tapyas Hotel has one of the best offers in town. See post here.
- It is undeniably safe to wander around downtown. When shopping, always bring your own paper bag.
- Best buys are Cashew Nuts, Dried Fish or Squid, Shell key-chains or South Sea Pearls.
- Prepare cash, most stores and restaurant does not accept credit cards or debit cards.