Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Amazing Coron: Coron Inland Tour, Baywalk, Mt. Tapyas, Maquinit Hot Springs

On our first day, we did not waste a single minute to explore Coron. Since our flight was delayed, Ms. Rina of Coron Wonders has been waiting for us in Coron Reef. When our 2 other travel buddies arrived, we immediately started our Coron Inland Tour.

This tricycle is our companion for the rest of the tour. It's amazing how this vehicle morphs into different looks in many parts of the Philippines. In Coron, there are no cabs, so tricycle is their main means of transportation.

This chruch is just walking distance from Coron Reef. No need to hire a tricycle. However, this is not part of our tour package.

The first part of the Coron Inland package is a tour of the town's baywalk. It is a reclamation area almost similar to the baywalk in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. From here, you can see the isalnds and islets of Coron. This is also where public boats dock.

See how near it is from Coron Reef and La Sirenetta? You can just walk from there and explore the public market.

See the white building beside the public market? That's the premiere hotel, Coron Gateway.

You can view the sunset from the baywalk.

The next stop is the Municipal Hall of Coron, about 2 minutes away from baywalk.

Palayok or claypot is Coron's symbol. There's a giant one in front of the Municipal Hall, near Kawayanan Grill.

We are supposed to head to Mt. Tapyas after the baywalk tour. Since we started late, we did our Mt. Tapyas trekking on our last day. The journey begins here at Tapyas Road.

Mt. Tapyas is also walking distance from Coron Reef. It has 700 steps towards a giant cross. The cross is lit at night.

The steps are concrete so trekking here is easier than in Kayangan Lake. From the view deck, you will be able to see a top view of the Coron Islands.

The stairs has waiting areas in between, so you can rest for awhile to catch your breath and take some photos of the islands.

This view is just halfway the 700 steps.

Finally! We reached the top and it's all worth it. Tip: bring your own water as water here is priced double.

Ideally, after trekking in Mt. Tapyas, you will proceed to Maquinit Hot Springs. But since we did not went trekking during our first day, we went to Maquinit after our baywalk tour.

Maquinit Hot Springs accepts guests until 8pm but if you are already inside before 8pm, you can enjoy a hot dip until 10pm.

The way to Maquinit Hot Springs is very steep. You will pass by dark uninhabited areas. We went here at around 6:30pm and went through a part where we cannot see a single light. A bit creepy.

Water here is hot. And I mean really hot! If you have history of high blood pressure, this might not be a good idea as the temperature of the water here may cause surge in your blood pressure. Seriously.

But this water is therepeutic for tired muscles. So it is really advisable to go here after trekking Mt. Tapyas. The water here is salty as it is a convergence of fresh and salt water.

We had dinner in one of the cottages courtesy of Coron Wonders. We had tomatoes, fried fish, barbeque and salted egg plus a bottle of cold Coke.

We went home passed 9pm so that we can have enough rest for the next day's Malcapuya-Banana-Bulog Dos island hopping.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Amazing Coron: Malcapuya, Banana and Bulog Dos Islands

Our second day in Coron is supposed to be Coron Loop tour we booked through Ms. Rina of Coron Wonders (09178136159). But since our friend's flight was cancelled (she was the one on CebuPacific I mentioned in an earlier post), she said we can go on with our Banana-Malcapuya-Bulog Dos tour so she can join the Coron Loop tour the day after.

Fortunately, the weather was good and the sea is very calm that day. Ms. Rina fecthed us from Coron Reef Pension House at around 8:30am and we boarded this boat.

Ms. Rina told us that she will not be joining us for the day. Instead Kuya Juan will be our tour guide (he used to work in Amphibi-Ko, another inn near Coron Reef). We cruised the sea for about 2 hours and saw these beautiful limestones on the way.

Our first stop is Malcapuya Island. After researching for almost a year, I read a lot of good feedback about this island. And finally, I can now attest that indeed, this island is paradise. It has a long stretch of fine white sand, clear blue water and nice limestone formations. I read some comments that the sand is here is not as fine a boracay. I beg to disagree. Yes, the sand near the dock is not as fine as it has shells and small stones. But as you go farther towards the other end, there you will see the fine and white sand bar. The water is so clear that we even saw a small stingray not too far from the shore.

Here is a view of the docking area from Malcapuya's view deck.

A rumor says that the owners of Malcapuya Island bought this magnificent piece of nature at only Php 5,000. I dropped my jaw when I learned about this. Anyways, it's just a rumor and who am I to dig in? Just kidding. If I own this island, I wouldn't even trade this for a multi-million building in Makati. The place is simply breathtaking.

They also have huts for day tours and cottages/rooms for an overnight stay. We had our lunch here, food inclusive in our Coron Wonders package.

If you hate the seaweeds in Panglao, Bohol, I am sure you will love this part of Malcapuya.

Astonishing view of the island from the view deck.

Here's one of the cabanas available for an overnight stay. They also have concrete rooms for a premium price.

We strolled along the stretch of Malcapuya Island and arrived at these rock formations. I felt I am one of the casts of Survivor.

Jellyfish! But we only saw one.

Here's our morning snacks courtesy of Coron Wonders: sandwich, a delicious coffee jelly and Coke

And our sumptuous lunch! Crabs, Clams and Chicken Adobo.

After lunch, we headed to our next destination, Banana Island. If only I could spend a week in Malcapuya, believe me I will!

Banana Island is just a few minutes away from Malcapuya Island. Here, you can either go snorkeling, swimming or just beach bumming.

We chose snorkeling. Fishes galore!!!

The water is so clear that even without using an underwater camera, you can see the fishes roaming around from above water level. The seabed is rocky though compared to Malcapuya.

 Some corals, stones and sea urchins.

Look, I am chasing the pink fish!

Later that afternoon, we noticed that the sky is turning dark and that it is raining in some parts of Coron.

The sand here is not as fine as Malcapuya and not as white as well.The sand bar is shorter, too. But accomodations here for an overnight stay is more affordable than in Malcapuya.

It's going to rain!

Since rain is about to pour, we immediately left Banana Island and went to its neighbor island, Bulog Dos. Here, you will find a lot of giant starfishes.

From Bulog Dos, you will see Malaroyroy Island, where Two Seasons (a Boracay-based resort owner) is building villas. Their website says it will be open in the first quarter of 2012.

We just took some photos and ate our afternoon snacks (Putong Puti and Coke) and headed back to town. We docked at the public port in front of the Public Market and Coron Gateway Hotel becuase it's low tide already and our boat cannot dock in front of La Sirenetta/ Coron Reef. From the port we just walked home.