The trip itself was unplanned, but I have been wanting to see Coron since I read about it in, of all things, Outside magazine, many years ago. I got an email from CebuPac about a zero-fare promo, and I got myself a roundtrip ticket to Busuanga for 1500 pesos. I went alone as I have no time to coordinate skeds and invite friends for the trip, and I have to purchase the tickets right away.
I flew there last Saturday in a small commuter plane, an ATR-42, from NAIA 3. We arrived about 11 am, and we boarded a van from Busuanga to Coron town. I previously booked a room in KokosNuus, a German-owned resort about 500 meters from the town center.
Since I arrived around noon, I pretty much called it a day. I took a nap (I had only a few hours of sleep, as I went to see Armin van Buuren the previous night), had my lunch at a place called Binalot Tong Daon (literally wrapped in a leaf, one of the best tapa I've had so far), and then had another nap. Afterwhich I made arrangements to go island hopping for the next day (approached a group of strangers and asked them to join their group, easy enough :P) . Then I hired a motorcab for 200 pesos and went to the Maquinit hotsprings for a dip.
Sunday is a big day. I joined a group of people from Manila for the island hopping tour. We hired a boat and brought fresh seafood and rice from the market, and set out. First we went to a group of islands called Siete Pecados (Seven Sins), where I snorkelled.
The next place we went to is the highlight of the trip: Kayangan Lake, a freshwater lake hidden behind the limestone cliffs of Coron Island. I've heard that this is the place that inspired Alex Garland when he wrote The Beach, and I would totally agree - the place is so much similar on how he described it in the book, although it was set in Thailand. There were a few tourists there when we arrived but it is not crowded, and I quickly lost myself in the sheer beauty of the place - azure, clear waters, bounded by jagged limestone cliffs, accented by creeping vines and foliage. It would come close to my idea of paradise.
After swimming for a bit and chatting with some of the visitors there we went back to the other side where the Tagbanua caretakers live. The boatman that we hired already prepared the food that we brought, and we had lunch - crabs, fish, salted eggs and boiled rice - which filled us with gusto.
The next leg was Twin Lagoon and Barracuda Lake. Twin Lagoon has a small cave that you have to swim through to get to the other side, while the lake is somewhat similar to Kayangan Lake, with the exception that the way there is a bit more difficult (navigating through sharp-edged boulders is not so easy), and that a barracuda or two is known to be seen there.
We then spent some time in a beach - Banol - which is nestled on the side of limestone cliff, with sugary-fine sand and a lone calachuchi tree blooming with flowers adorning its facade.
The last leg of the trip was at Skeleton Wreck, where I snorkelled again. The wreck itself - a Japanese warship sunk by the Americans during World War II - lies on shallow waters, at about 20 feet. I did not spend much time there, as I felt tired already, and I've been detecting the tell-tale signs of sea lice again.
The trip back to Manila was early morning on Monday. I felt that I should have spent more time in the island, but I was contented, and the trip was a very memorable one, and I intend to go back to Coron for a diving trip. Possibly in February.
(pics, from above: a visitor in Kayangan lake; mangrove forest at Maquinit hotspring; a view from the trail going to Kayangan; the cave in Twin Lagoon; me at my element, at Banol beach)