Sunday, February 05, 2017

Life is a beach - Relaxing in Coron, Busuanga and Uson islands

Coron - Barracuda Lake boat depot bw
Sun, sea, reefs, majestic cliffs, white sands, and dramatic sceneries. Coron is breathtaking. 

I am happy to announce that Coron is one of the places Mijo and I have added to our recommended destinations in the Philippines.

 We flew out of Manila's Terminal 4 airport early in the morning. During checkin, I overheard an interesting conversation earlier that day about the other domestic flights flying out of Terminal 3 instead of Termina 4. I got a bit anxious after hearing this thinking we got to the wrong terminal. Apparently, bigger planes going to Boracay, Cebu, Davao and other larger domestic destinations fly out of Terminal 3. Whew!
Coron - Manila terminal 4

Our flight left Manila at 6:25 a.m. and we were in Busuanga airport in less than an hour. Busuanga and Coron are islands in the northern part of Palawan - the main island in this part of the Philippines.
I would later learn in this trip that Busuanga is the name of the island where the airport is located even though it serves the tourist destination of Coron.  

Here was my first glimpse of the islands around Coron.
Coron - View from window 

 The area surrounding the Busuanga airport is vast and there was nothing around it as far as the eye can see. This gave me a first impression about Coron having a very provincial feel. And that is a good thing.
  Coron - Busuanga airport arrival 

Balinsasayaw Resort had arranged a van pickup for us. The van picked  us up from the airport to the main town of Coron. From the town, we were going to take a connecting boat because the resort is on another island - on Uson island. Here's a sign welcoming everyone coming from the airport.
  Coron - Welcome to Coron 

The drive from the airport to Coron town is around an hour. It didn't feel that long because of the idyllic countryside scenes I could see from the window. They were like an introduction setting the mood for the relaxing vacation to come. It was refreshing to see a lot of foliage and green rolling hills and mountains covered with unspoilt forest.
  Coron - Busuanga to Coron 

Finally, we arrived in the town of Coron. From the van, we were led to a pier where lots of boats, mostly outrigger canoes, are anchored. I could smell the salt of the sea from there. We were met by our boat operators, two young men from Balinsasayaw Resort. They were going to be our boat drivers slash local island guides.
  Coron - Coron town boat depot 

The boat ride from the town proper to Balinsasayaw Resort was around 20 mins. There was something soothing about these boat rides. The morning breeze brushing against my face. The water is so clear I could see the bottom of bay. I was saying to myself, "I could jump off the boat right now and start the vacation".
  Coron - Coron town to hotel 

Finally, Balinsasayaw Resort. It is in Uson island which is adjacent to Busuanga and Coron islands.  I could see cabins dotting the complex and a big hall in the middle.
Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort

Checkin was a breeze. There were two other groups hanging out by the lobby. One of the groups is a family of four. The resort does not have electricity during the day. However, wifi is turnoed on the entire day because it is powered by a power bank. The resort has generators so there is electricity starting at 6pm. We were told that the power company is coming to the island very soon. The no electricty condition added a more exotic feel to our stay there. Here's the view of Coron island from the resort.
Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort view

 The resort provides breakfast, multi-course lunch and multi-course dinner. We had to pay extra for the lunch and dinner because they were not part of the hotel package. The boat rental is also extra. 

And here is the view from our cabin. Isn't that awesome?
Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort relaxing view

After breakfast, we were taken to our cabin and we were told we can go ahead and start our island activities. The resort has several boats available to take guests around the area for a fee. We didn't have an agenda so we asked the guys to take us anywhere. They took us to a place called Siete Pecados. It is a group of small islands with shallow reefs surrounding them. We snorkeled here for awhile. The reef is alive. I saw lots of live corals.
  Coron - Siete Pecados corals 

Snorkelling around the Siete Pecados is not free. There is someone collecting the fee on a small boat. I was told the collector is from the Tagbanwa group which is an ethnic group in Palawan. The problem was, Mijo and I were not carrying money with us. The good news is that, at least in our case, the hotel paid for it but the fee was added to our bill. If you are doing the island hopping on your own, carry cash and be prepared to pay the small fee.
  Coron - Siete Pecados cover charge 

 Our next destination was Kayangan Lake. This lake is located in Coron island. The lake is enclosed by these steep lime stone cliffs which made the water calm and almost pool like. 
  Coron - Kayangan Lake swim time 

We had to climb a few minutes of a steep hike to get to the lake. From the highest point of the climb, we had to hike down to get to the lake. The wooden and stone steps are damp to wet so I recommend taking extra care during the climb up and trek down. Remember, you'll do this trek again going back to the boats.
  Coron - Kayangan Lake trek 

I was rewarded by great views from the highest point of the climb. We stayed in this area for a while just swimming and floating on the lake and admiring the dramatic vistas the water and the cliffs created.
  Coron - Kayangan Lake boats 

Afterwards, our boat drivers took us to a beach also in Coron island. I think they mentioned it is called Diana beach, but I am not sure. 
Coron - Coron island beach 

There were a couple of huts available for picnics. In fact, there was a couple having lunch together complete with champagne and white table cloth and napkins. No. I am not too nosy. Grin.
  Coron - Coron island beach boat 

This was going to be the only white sand that I'll get to visit this trip so I am glad that we stopped here. The rock formations are absolutely dramatic.
  Coron - Coron island beach walk 

This is where I got close to the limestones. The stones are sharp to the touch. It is amazing how water can sculpt these rocks over time.
  Coron - Coron island beach lime stone 

 We went back to the hotel to break for lunch. Since we've been out and about for at least four hours, we were very hungry. The good thing is that lunch was ready as soon as we got off the boat.  This was the first time we've learned about the resort's multi-course lunches and dinners. The lunch was fresh and so good.
Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort lunch mix

After the lunch, we took a power nap. We needed to rest after that active island hopping and delicious lunch. Afterwards, we freshened up. We asked the resort's concierge if we can get a bout to go to Coron town to walk around and check out the scene in the mainland.
Coron - Coron island view

Coron - Coron hill 
Coron town is a bustling town dotted with shops, markets, restaurants, bars, diving sites and locals and tourists. First, we wanted to check out some souvenirs. To get around, we took a tricycle and asked the driver to take us to the nearest souvernir shop. After the window shopping, we took another tricycle to go back to the center of town to sit down for a cup of coffee.
  Coron - Coron street scene 

We found this coffee shop called Pacific Cafe and they make good Americanos. We paired the cups of coffee with petite brownie and a muffin.
  Coron - Coron Coffee Kong coffee 

We had to go back to the resort before it got dark. 
Coron - Coron boats

It was fun filled and active day. We ended the it with this delicious multi-course dinner.
Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort dinner chicken

Breakfast the next day was Filipino breakfast for me and Western breakfast for Mijo. We made sure we ate breakfast early so we have time to rest before heading to our next island hopping experience. 
Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort breakfast mix

 Coron island wreckage was around 20 minutes away from the resort on the Coron island side. There were several boats already anchored in the area carrying scuba divers.
  Coron - Coron island boating 

The water was so clear and lots of fish in this area but the water here is a bit choppy compared to the other areas we explored the day before.
  Coron - Coron Island wreckage underwater 

  Coron - Coron Island wreckage fish 

Here's the ticketing guy again but this scene was expected.
  Coron - Coron Island wreckage cover charge 

Our next destination was the Twin Lagoon. On our way there, I absolutely enjoyed the serene Coron island scenery.
Coron - Coron island hopping 

I still couldn't get over how beautiful the cliffs and the water created. Absolutely stunning!
  Coron - Coron island lime stone cliffs 

 Twin Lagoon is separated by a ledge. This part is the best part of my Coron experience. There were already lots of boats anchored near the entry to the other lagoon so we had to anchor farther. This means more swimming for us.
  Coron - Coron Island lime stone cliffs

It was a low tide that day and we were able to swim through a small entry to go to the adjoining lagoon. We were told that during high tide, people had to go over the ledge.
  Coron - Twin Lagoon narrow gap thru 

If Kayangan Lake was dramatic, the Twin Lagoon is much wider, the cliffs much higher so the scenery is much more dramatic. I was using a waterproof camera, not an iPhone, so taking selfie was a bit challenging but I got the gist of it in the end.
  Coron - Twin Lagoon lime stone frame 
Coron - Twin Lagoon lime stone cliffs Coron - Twin Lagoon narrow entrance 

We must have stayed here for a long time because my hands were  getting wrinkly.
  Coron - Twin Lagoon narrow gap 

On our way back to the boat, I noticed we were anchored near an abyss.  Since I don't scuba dive, I've never seen anything like it. It is quite beautiful at the same time sort of scary. Don't drop the camera!
  Coron - Twin Lagoon abyss 

 Barracuda Lake was our next destination. We were told this lake is the biggest of the lakes in Coron island. 
Coron - Barracuda Lake getting there 

The hike going to the lake was a bit on the dangerous side. I was very careful hiking and walking toward the lake. The rocks on our way there were sharp.
Coron - Barracuda Lake narrow passage

Our short but challenging hike was rewarded with this beautiful sight. Clear water, dramatic vistas.
Coron - Barracuda Lake jagged cliffs

There is a wooden ledge where you can leave your stuff or sit to rest.
  Coron - Barracuda Lake platform 

 Maquinit Hot Springs was our last destination that day. This hot springs is hot. It is just weird to be wading in a hot pool when the weather is hot.
Coron - Maquinit hot springs pools 

The place is also dotted with mangroves.
  Coron - Maquinit hot springs dipping pools 

There are huts for picnics.
  Coron - Maquinit hot springs huts 

Here are more views of the Balinsasayaw Resort. Thank you guys for taking such good care of us. We totally enjoyed our stay.
  Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort welcome view  
Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort room view Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort relaxing view Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort main hall 
Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort dock night Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort dock day 

This is where we enjoyed our siestas. We called this siesta with a view. I also had time to check out the beach and rest of the resort area.
  Coron - Balinsasayaw Hotel hammock 
Coron - Balinsasayaw Hotel Uson Island sand Coron - Balinsasayaw Hotel boat Coron - Balinsasayaw Hotel arrival 

Here are the rest of the delicious meals we've had at the resort.
  Coron - Balinsasayaw Resot breakfast mix 
Coron - Balinsasayaw Resot lunch mix Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort lunch filipino Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort dinner seafood 
Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort dinner chicken Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort breakfast filipino Coron - Balinsasayaw Hotel breakfast 

It was great to unwind at the same time discover this part of the Philippines how is truly beautiful.
  Coron - Balinsasayaw Resort boat service  

  Coron - Coron mural

Bye, Coron. Hope to be back again soon.
  Coron - Busuanga departure aerial


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