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Coron Bay Island Hopping

by becca on March 18, 2010

Coron Bay is famous for wreck diving and tourism in this area seems to be thriving because of it. And though the diving was the initial draw, visitors are now flocking here for the top notch island hopping.

We’ve spent two days on rented bangkas island hopping, and two days kayaking to the best snorkeling spot we’ve found in the area. The first day in Coron Town we shared a hired bangka (P1500 or $30 for the day) with two Slovenian girls and did (most of) what they call the Coron Island Loop. The island is about a 20 minute ride from Coron Town and is managed and protected by its indigenous people, the Tagbanua. Here we took a short hike to Lake Kayangan whose crystal clear waters sit in a bowl created by the island’s mountainous interior, swam through an underwater cave to Twin Lakes where we could see and feel a thermocline, snorkeled and ate lunch at the aptly named Seven Islands Marine Sanctuary, and finished the day at the site of a sunken fishing boat called Skeleton Wreck.

We were so impressed with the wealth of fish and coral at Seven Islands (not to mention the stunning scenery above the water), that we’ve twice rented a kayak and paddled to the spot. There’s a resident school of batfish there that are not shy and have a reputation for following people around. You can see in the photos how close they’ll get, taking a quick nip at your snorkel if dangled in front of them. On our second trip we met Mars, a student of Marine Biology who’s studying the fish in the area and brought us to his research center: a hut on a floating platform surrounded by nets attached to a wooden structure to form cages, which he has full of different fish brought to him by as bycatch from local fishermen. We got to swim in these “cages” which included a shovel head shark, a black tip shark, eels, “gatorfish”, and many others. When his research is complete, he’ll release the fishies through a program run out of Manila.

Yesterday we were craving the water yet again so we hired a bangka to take us to a couple of relaxing spots to snorkel and have lunch. The pier in Coron is reached by walking through the public market, so both days on the boat we bought fruits, veggies, rice and fish (less than $1.50 for a kilo of tuna – not bad!) and the boatmen cooked lunch for us. The first spot was an island surrounded by coral (better in some parts than others) and lined with two small beaches, large rocks and a mangrove. We swam around the entire island in about 1.5 hours and returned to the boat for lunch. The second spot was a bit deeper, providing walls and pinnacles to be explored.

I feel like we haven’t scratched the surface of exploring the islands in the area – as every island we visit, we pass a few others. Our next adventure is taking a boat about two hours from Coron Town to a private island and sticking around in one of the rustic huts for a few nights. Stay tuned.

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