Monday, April 9, 2012

Coron's Calumbuyan Island & Coral Garden

Last 13-16 March 2012 in Coron, Palawan, is where I embarked on my first solo leisure travel. During that 4-day period, I was able to squeeze 3 days of island hopping, plus running and mountain hiking on the side.

My round trip airfare was only Php 835, with baggage allowance on Coron-Manila return trip, which I was not able to use anyway. It was my second time to board a propeller-type plane, about 60-seater, which is bigger than a 19-seater plane I had experienced during a trip to Romblon. After arriving at the Busuanga airport, I rode an airconditioned van to Coron town proper for Php 150 fare/person, for about 30 minutes of land travel.

Travelling alone, it is more practical to join arranged island tours. I availed the tour packages of Coron Galeri along San Agustin St., popular to backpackers. For my second day at Coron, I tried their Calumbuyan Island tour package for Php 990/person, inclusive of guides, entrance fees, and lunch meal. Snorkel and mask are available for rent at Php 100/set per day.

Once all the registered clients arrive for their chosen tour, the group will proceed to the wharf to board the boats. There were about 10 of us on the Calumbuyan tour, half foreigners and half Filipinos. 

Good thing that I brought a large plastic bag where I placed my backpack, to protect it from the splashing waves, during our 2-hour boat trip to the northern part of Culion island group. Another option is to place your bag under the boat's wooden deck, to keep your belongings dry. For all these island tours, it is unavoidable to get wet during the boat travel because of the waves.

Upon arriving at Calumbuyan island, I immediately noticed the white sand, the clear waters, and lots of fishes swimming near the shores. There are some parts with stones and pebbles, which can be easily avoided as I did not wear aqua shoes. Despite its seclusion, the island has toilet facility.

Below are some of the photos I took while snorkeling at the island, before my 3-year old waterproof digicam malfunctioned. Some guests saw a seahorse, but I was not able to chance upon it.

After snorkeling, lunch, and short siesta on the island's hammocks at the beach, we proceeded to a coral garden, about 1-hour boat travel on the way back to Coron town. It was the best coral garden I saw, very healthy and colorful with different species of corals and fishes. Unfortunately, my waterproof digicam can't take underwater photos anymore. :(

The last part of our itinerary is a snorkeling activity to the Lusong gunboat shipwreck. It is one of the 12 Japanese gunboats sunk during the Second World War in Coron islands. The ship's hull is very visible as it is the closest shipwreck on the sea surface. Its stem even protrudes out of the water during low tide. I tried to stand on that stem, but only for a few seconds, as the waves push me out of my standing position. It is now home to a lot of corals as well.

By 5:00 pm, we were back at the Coron wharf, after a day of tiring but refreshing activities.

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