day ninety-four: january 1, 2016: coron
Today, we left Manila and made our way to our first stop of our Philippines tour, Coron. We are staying in Coron Town, the jumping off point to all the other islands. If you're planning to come here at some point, know that Coron Town is super simple and underdeveloped.
We arranged for an island hopping tour tomorrow then went on a short hike up Mt. Tapyas to watch the sunset. We caught a trike, 10 PHP per person, to the trailhead then climbed 718 steps to the top. They even have their own version of the Hollywood sign, towering over the humble town below. From the top, we could see a view of the town, Coron Island, the ocean and the surrounding countryside.
day ninety-five: january 2, 2016
We didn't exactly have a smooth start today -- our boat captain was two hours late. He said he ran into "traffic", which I'm pretty sure doesn't exist here and then our boat wouldn't start. Oof! BUT, we did manage to get a bigger boat, fit for 20 passengers for the seven of us, which ended up being way more comfortable. Knowing that 25+ other boats went out that morning and more than likely would be going to the same places we were going, we asked the boat captain and guide to take us the reverse order to avoid the crowds. We visited: Skeleton Wreck/Atwayan Beach, Banol Beach, Twin Lagoon, Barracuda Lake, Kayangan Lake, and Siete Pecados.
Daniel, below, was our guide for the next three days. He cooked lunch for us, made sure my dad didn't fall off the boat (oh wait...he did fall off the boat once), he pulled Erwin with a life guard ring because he apparently can't swim very well, he showed us cool stuff underwater and he also took Marc and Erwin out to the bars at night. All in all a great guy, definitely look him up if you're ever in Coron. He drives a trike when he's not guiding island hopping. Just look for the trike named "Double D", that's him! And it's because his last name starts with a D, just in case you were thinking it was something else. ;)
At Twin Lagoon, we anchored inside the first lagoon then swam through a small underpass into the second lagoon. At high-tide, people have to climb a ladder over the rock. It was amazing how quiet and peaceful it was in the second lagoon, since it was protected by karst limestone rock formations and is hidden from the open water. The waters in the Twin Lagoons are a mix of cold freshwater and hot salt water, so sometimes the water isn't so clear and the temperature varies very quickly.
Barracuda Lake was our next stop, which involved a short climb through a jagged rocky wall that lead straight into the lake. The karst limestone not only towered above us but continued deep below the water line. The water was pretty clear and made you feel like you were discovering some underwater castle.
A photo of Kayangan Lake is probably what Coron is most known for. We climbed about 150 steps to a viewpoint, snapped some photos, then made our way down to the lake. Maybe it was the time of day that we went, it was beautiful but we weren't blown away. It probably didn't help that there were groups of people going to and from the lake so it didn't really allow you to enjoy the scenery in peace and quiet.
Despite what happened this morning, we all really enjoyed the day and are looking forward to exploring the area more with island hopping tour #2 tomorrow!