On top of every traveler's wishlist would probably be good weather. Unluckily for us, Typhoon Ompong decided to show up just in time for our trip. We took the challenge with good faith and kept our fingers crossed the entire trip.
This entry is for anyone who's as clueless as we were about going to Coron for the first time with the weather being moodier than girls with PMS.
Shit Happens for a Reason
The weather was perfect when we landed. We planned to climb Mt. Tapyas first and then pamper ourselves at Maquinit hot spring.
It was 4pm. We stood at the bottom of the mountain and realized it would take a huge amount of effort and energy to reach the top but we were ready. We started climbing the stairs and after 20 steps, rain started to pour... hard! Talk about good timing.
So we decided to proceed to Maquinit and half way there, Mr. Sun shows up again -- probably laughing at us for not waiting a few minutes more. We could've climbed Mt. Tapyas as planned if we weren't so hasty in making decisions!
At first, we reached Maquinit Hot Springs with regret. Being earlier than scheduled, there was still daylight. We entered a path of rocks, crossed a beautiful rustic bridge and this greeted us...
It was majesty & serenity at its finest. We stood there in awe for a couple of minutes with the realization that if we climbed Mt. Tapyas, we wouldn't have been able to see this.
Thank you rain. :)
Seafood (or food in general) in Coron is not cheap. So if you're on a tight budget, you can let go of that drowning-in-seafood-on-the-beach image in your head now. Of course, it's still cheaper if you buy from the market and cook it yourself.
But here's a quick, filtered (our personal choice) cheat list of places you can eat:
Big Mama's. We came here thrice during our trip. That should convince you already. The price is fair and food was great. The staff were really nice! We ordered bulalo, liempo, sisig & beef steak for around p150 each.
Kapemos. Cheapest eat in Coron. Nice intimate ambiance, very accommodating staff. The only place we found that offered decent meals for only p99. Visit them at night.
Centro Coron. To satisfy our shrimps craving, we found this restaurant that offered a huge bowl of sinigang na hipon for p400(good for 3) and then ordered 3 bowls of rice(p20 each)
Since breakfast and lunch were already included in our package, we only had to spend money for dinner which we budgeted around p150 per head max.
Coron Island Tour
Rent an exclusive boat via BeCool Travel and Tours and request Kuya Bong.
It was one of our best decisions. Sure, it's a few hundreds more than a joiners tour, but we got so much more than what we paid for.
We had an entire boat to just the three of us. Just imagine the comfort and freedom.
We had all the time in the world. We scrapped out some spots in the itinerary and spent more time in places we loved.
Most tours have the same fixed schedule so they tend to all be at one place at the same time. Kuya Bong brought us to Barracuda lake and Twin Lagoon at a time he knew no one else would be there -- peace & solitude.
Since it was an exclusive tour, we had his full attention. He swam with us and took photos and videos. He would go deep underwater to take amazing shots we couldn't take because we were lame swimmers.
We exchanged a lot of stories about Coron, his life and ours. We were offered a much deeper kind of hospitality. His boat was like his home and we were not his clients but his personal guests.
Your tour guide won't make or break your trip but they can take it up a notch or so much higher if you find the right one.
Banana Island-Malcapuya-Bulog Dos Tour
Typhoon Ompong may not have made a landfall but we definitely felt its presence on our third day.
We still consider ourselves lucky for being given ample amount of sunshine to take pictures in Banana Island and Malcapuya.
In Bulog Dos, we spent 30 minutes inside a small shack where we talked about random things as we waited for the rain to stop. We did get to see the sand bar but it would've been better without the gloomy sky and raindrops.
Things may not have gone the way we thought it would but we still had soooo much fun. We met people from different countries, drank fresh coconuts inside the boat, experienced a Rio Grande type of boat ride and did foolish GoPro video footages which we're too embarassed to upload.
The boat ride itself was already an adventure.
And most importantly, we met Kuya Jun, the second best tour guide in the world! :)
If we can do this again (which we will), we'd probably bring a lot of our friends so we can hire an exclusive boat with Kuya Jun as our guide, skip Banana Island and then spend more time in Malcapuya and Bulog Dos.
Save Tapyas for Last
It was our last day. We were a bit tired from 3 days of island hopping and lake tours. Did we have energy left to climb a mountain? Oh yes we did! Because a trip to Coron gives you that kind of hunger -- the hunger for more experience and adventure.
And just like hungry people, we had energy but not enough to climb 700+ steps.
Mt. Tapyas will suck every bit of your energy -- well, at least that of unhealthy couch potatoes like us.
After stopping every 20-30 steps to catch our breaths, drinking 250ml of water, aching muscles and countless mumbling of 'Are we there yet?', we finally reached the top!
Mt. Tapyas was the perfect ending to our Coron escapade. It may have caused extreme muscle aches the next morning, but I say, don't you ever miss it.
We'll be back for sure. :)