We spent the better part of two weeks staying at Sea Dive Resort in Coron Town. The waterfront restaurant of the resort is sort of the “it” place to be in town, and as such we met quite a few people in our time there. One morning we met an American couple: Judith and Teddy. Both are successful business people who, over the course of a few days, inspired Nate and I and bestowed a great deal of advice upon us. Teddy was born in the Philippines and at 12-years-old made the journey over to the states to live with his family in the neighborhood of Echo Park in Los Angeles. He now spends half the year in Coron working on various projects: boat building, maintaining a banana farm, buying islands, caring for three young girls and now breaking into the political scene of the area.
Teddy and Judith invited us along on a boat trip to a nearby island that Teddy owns. To board the boat we took a 10-minute walk, balancing on wooden planks over septic water winding between small homes to Teddy’s traditional no-frills Filipino house. The girls sat on the bow like they were born to be on the water. We then went to his banana farm for lunch. Sadly, no bananas, or pineapples, or jackfruit were ripe for picking, but we had a delightful lunch and the girls entertained us by picking up our cameras and having a mini photo shoot.
The advantage of long term travel shines through when you have the time to meet people and spend your days on unique and unexpected jaunts. On the way back from the banana farm we were at a loss for transportation so we stood out on the road (all seven of us) and waited until a truck carrying a load of beer bottles (empty and full) stopped to give us a lift. What a day.
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.
The landscape around Busuanga Island is exquisite but the history of Coron Bay is what has put the island on the map, especially for wreck diving. The historical chapter relevant for divers began September 24, 1944, when a US Navy force of fighters and dive bombers attacked a Japanese supply fleet of up to 24 [...]