Last days in Coron, Visiting Malcapuya and Banana island

During the evenings after the diving we have been around in Coron town.

Coron town doesn’t have too much to offer except for the daily escapades to lovely places and great diving. So it’s basically a small gateway to all the beautifulness around. It’s totally worth a visit, but I would find it difficult to live there.

We loved to have the option to go to the pool of Corto Hotel (expensive hotel but Corto Divers belongs to that hotel, so we can go there and enjoy the pool for free :).

Corto Hotel and their nice pool!

Corto Hotel and their nice pool!

Had a super yummy chocolate and cookies shake at Corto Hotel (yes, expensive, but so worth it after a whole day diving!)

Had a super yummy chocolate and cookies shake at Corto Hotel (yes, expensive, but so worth it after a whole day diving!)

We have been out eating dinner, having drinks or walking around the kiosks buying food to cook at home.

It’s almost more expensive to buy all the food yourself than to eat it outside, well it depends on how many you are though and what you have in, but vegetables and fruits are quite expensive, same price for a mango as a big fish. Also it’s not really as good when you don’t have any spices or anything, it’s really a big difference to eat something nicely cooked than to eat rice with veggies and no spices or anything, not even salt, haha. But to have a coffee or a tea out is much more expensive than doing your own!! (about 10 times more expensive!)

 

A typical kiosk around Coron, this one is quite big though, we bought eggs, rice and beer here

A typical kiosk around Coron, this one is quite big though, we bought eggs, rice and beer here

Two ladies in town

Two ladies in town

School yard

School yard

One night we had dinner at a nice restaurant, and Duilio tried the local fish ”Blacked Dugso”, and he was sooo happy about it, delicious he said. My rice with veggies wasn’t as good as my veg food at Brujitas, but I got a doggie bag with me for next day ;)

Duilio, very happy about his food! :)

Duilio, very happy about his food! :)


Next evening we went down to Sirenetta
, which is a bar at the beach but above the water where there’s a lovely view to see the sunset. It was truly spectacular. Duilio had a pizza, but since I had already eaten at home, I ordered a cake and coffee. But my cake and coffee was more expensive than Duilios pizza and beer!! Sort of ruined the magical evening there. But but.

Beautiful sunset in Coron

Beautiful sunset in Coron

Happy about my coffee and luxurious chocolate cake, unaware of that "the dessert of the day" was more expensive than a pizza

Happy about my coffee and luxurious chocolate cake, unaware of that ”the dessert of the day” was more expensive than a pizza

We decided to stay another day in Coron instead of going to el Nido, but the room we had in the apartments above Corto Divers were rented out. Olivier, the owner of Corto Divers (I think, at least the responsible there), said we could stay in the ”maiden room” below, and we were just happy to not need to change more than one stair down.

In the morning we put our packed bags in the dive shop while and me, Duilio and Sandra, another woman staying at Corto Divers, rented a private boat to take us to Banana island and Malcapuya. Sandras boyfriend, Antoine, is doing his instructor training at Corto divers, and he arranged it for us while we were diving during the day earlier, so great!

So to rent the whole boat with crew and all cost us 4500php for one day, so 1500php per person, and Malcapuya is about 2 hours away with boat, so it’s not very close! It was the same boat as we had a couple of days earlier while diving in the Barracuda Lake. We decided to rent a private boat because the tour to these islands is about 1400php per person or something similar, but then you go with about 10-20 other people, and you can’t decide times, you just go to one place for 45 minutes, then to another 45 minutes etc. We wanted to have fewer islands and be there for a few hours, to be more relaxed.

We met up with the boat crew down by the pier at 8am and went to the market just next to it, and ahhh, so this is where you can buy cheaper vegetables and food! And so much easier than going to 10 different kiosks around town to be able to find something! Haha. We bought vegetables, fish, rice, coal, fruits, water, ice etc, and it was about 120php per person. Then the own boat staff cooks it for you! We also saw a man performing with a cobra there, hehe.

at the market, choosing fish (uh what a smell!)

at the market, choosing fish (uh what a smell!)

The market place

The market place

The market place, vegetables :)

The market place, vegetables :)

Some kids are happy about the magic cobra that's about to pop out of the box

Some kids are happy about the magic cobra that’s about to pop out of the box

Then we began our boat journey, I think we all fell asleep for a while there haha. We started with Banana island, and it was quite a small island! The entrance fee was 200php, but there wasn’t really anything there except for one resort, then just beach and water and palm trees. Very peaceful. We stayed there for about 1-2 hours, I even began doing a new bracelet with the beads I bought in India :)

Our boatman approaching to Banana island

Our boatman approaching to Banana island

Enjoying Banana island, alone :)

Enjoying Banana island, alone :)

Some toys forgot on Banana island

Some toys forgot on Banana island

After a while the boatman came to us and asked us if we were hungry. Apparently they had already cooked the food for us! We decided to eat in the boat rather than take everything to the beach, and we had a delicious lunch. They really know how to cook food on a boat huh!

When we were full and a little bit sleepy again, we said we wanted to go to Malcapuya island, and we passed by Bulog island on the way just to check it out, but didn’t make stop there. The entrance fee to Malcapuya is also 200 php.

Lunch at the boat!

Lunch at the boat!

 

And Malcapuya, wow, what a paradise island!! It reminded me of Holbox in Mexico, which I like so much. We docked on the other side of the island, and walked through, there seems to be some people living there, there was a group of locals playing basketball all sweaty, a few cottages with roosters etc.

The beach – lovely! It was a big beach with white sand, turquoise water, palm trees, hammocks… perfect. We stayed there for about 3 hours, bathing, doing sandcastles, studying, sleeping, reading books…

At Malcapuya island - what a paradise!

At Malcapuya island – what a paradise!

<3

<3

In Malcapuya island

In Malcapuya island

Duilio fell asleep at Malcapuya

Duilio fell asleep at Malcapuya

We also got bit or burnt by something in the water… Don’t know what it is, but both me and Duilio had burning feelings and itchiness allover the body, which later turned into something like mosquito bites, it disappeared after a few hours again though. We got it at the exact same place, Duilio said he stumbled on a rock, so probably there were some kind of water insects or something that attacked us…

Itching!!

Itching!!

Around 3pm packed up our things to go back, not very happily though but we had still 2 hours boat trip back again.  What a lovely day, just what I (we) needed!!

We came back to the dive shop in Coron and got the keys to the ”maiden room”. It was a good room! Olivier had said it was ”nothing like the ones upstairs” but we were only overnighting, and it was much better than many of the rooms we had in Mexico haha. We even had AC! :) And, it was supposed to be 400 php, but we got it for free. Like, whaaat? Omg. How sweet is that?!?

So our last night we enjoyed a few drinks out in Coron. We went to the famous ”No name bar” and ordered 2 different drinks. Duilios was ok, some kind of mango, but mine really had an aftertaste of vomit, so I couldn’t drink more then the 2 sips it took to understand it. Then we changed place and found a dive bar by the water close to the Sirenetta, a very nice and cozy place with some sea influences, were we had beers (at least we know what that tastes like) and we got some free popcorn with that. Then about 22-23 it was time for us to move back home to sleep ;)

Enjoying our beer at the dive bar

Enjoying our beer at the dive bar

Next morning we ate up the last things we had kitchen as breakfast, said goodbye and took a tricycle to Coron Pier where the big boats to El Nido goes from (about 15 minutes away with tricycle from the town). It took us about 20 minutes to get a tricycle, because being Monday morning 7am, everybody was on their way to the school, and all the tricycles that passed by us where packed with kids in school uniforms! Finally we made it though. :) We had to pay and additional terminal tax of 20php except for the 1200php we had bought the ticket for already.

The boat was fine, not to comfortable, I thought it was going to be more a sort of ferry or something, but it was just like a bigger version of the other boats we have taken on the daytrips. It was a quite wavy day and the sea wasn’t very calm, but everything went well. It took about 7 hours to reach el Nido by boat, and lunch was included too. :)

Everyone sleeping on the boat from Coron to el Nido

Everyone sleeping on the boat from Coron to el Nido

 

Overall, little sad to leave Coron even if we both feel quite happy with our stay there, we have done the best out of it and 6 nights is enough :) It has been very enjoyable!

 

Also see: Islandhoping the 7 highlights of Coron, Shipwreck diving in Coron

Shipwreck diving in Coron

We have been diving for 3 days now in Coron, lovely experience! Coron is famous for its shipwreck diving.

During the second world war year 1944, about 120 US Navy bomber planes attacked the 24 Japanese ships that had anchor at Coron Bay and around Busuanga Island. It’s a horrific history around this now very peaceful place, but it’s also what has put Coron on the map for divers. I don’t know if there are so many shipwrecks anywhere else.

I dived with Corto divers, I can truly recommend them, and the apartments they have above the dive shop :)

We took tricycles from Corto Divers to the pier, and then a small boat out to the bigger dive boat. Nice bungo boat with toilet and kitchen, and enough space for us all (not like the small inflatable motorboat we had in Portugal when we were diving where we had all the gear on the floor, and it was about the size of the little boat we took now to the bigger boat, haha).

The first day we were a bigger group of 7 divers with 3 dive masters. Me and Duilio had Nicole as a dive master, she is born here in Coron. The first day we had a Danish guy, Philip, with us too in the group with Nicole. I really liked her, she was very calm and explained the planned route in before hand, and she always said ”I want you to look around and experience, take your time!” – so yes, I felt there was no rush that I would get lost or anything if I found something, we really dived in a slow pace, enjoying and taking it all in. :)

We had 3 dives on the first day, visiting 3 different shipwrecks. We were around the Tangat-area, about 1 hour from Coron with Boat.

The first ship was “Sangat Gunboat” in the East tangatIt was a submarine hunter, but the submarine “loop” was beneath instead for above, as the regular submarines. LOA 35m, beam 7m, and depth 3-18m. This was our first shipwreck dive, we thought it was really big, but our dive masters calls it “the baby ship” haha. It was awesome, and the visibility was good too I think! There were many fishes inside the ship, and you could see the sun come in though the ships windows. We saw a few Nemos :)

“Sangat Gunboat” from the front

“Sangat Gunboat” from the front

The front of the baby ship “Sangat Gunboat”

The front of the baby ship “Sangat Gunboat”

Diving inside the boat! “Sangat Gunboat”

Diving inside the boat! “Sangat Gunboat”

After that we dived at “Morazan Maru”, that was a Civilian Cargo ship from the 2nd world war, the LOA was 112 m, beam 13m, depth 12-26m. After seeing this ship I understand that they thought the other was a baby ship! Haha. Saw many scorpion and lion fish on the wreck. We dived inside through a small quadratic hole on the top of the ship and had to use lanterns to see inside the ship. It was huuuge inside! Supercool to dive around there, imagining what had been there before while looking through the ”windows”.

The entry point to “Morazan Maru”

The entry point to “Morazan Maru”

Exploring the inside of “Morazan Maru”

Exploring the inside of “Morazan Maru”

Inside “Morazan Maru”. Love the wheels!

Inside “Morazan Maru”. Love the wheels!

Dive-selfie ;)

Dive-selfie ;)

After lunch we did the third dive was on “Olympia Maru”, an army auxiliary supply ship. LOA 128m, beam 16,7 , 5612 gross tons. It’s quite shallow, 18-24m, and you go in from the shore. The visibility on this one wasn’t as good as the other dive sites, couldn’t see how big this ship really was, but yeah, I could still tell it was  huge!

 

Hungry people

Hungry people

 

The big army wheel at “Olympia Maru”

The big army wheel at “Olympia Maru”

Some fishes going up on the stairs of “Olympia Maru”

Some fishes going up on the stairs of “Olympia Maru”

 

The second day we were doing 2 dives, and we were only 4 divers with 2 divemasters, me and Duilio had Nicole and Xuan from Spain and Ahmed from Palestina had another divemaster. It’s really good that we have so small groups, we can look out for each other and it’s easier to not lose anyone. We rented another boat for the day since there was another group going to the shipwrecks we visited yesterday. So we had the whole boat for ourselves.

Giselle, the boat we went out with today!

Giselle, the boat we went out with today!

We visited the Barracuda lake that we had visited earlier on the highlights tour, but this time we dived there. Not so much marine life – but it was still a completely unique experience – first of all – it was a very clean lake – truly crystal clear.

But the coolest is the big differences of temperature in the water, which looks like layers of blurriness, but I was SO SURPRISED that it was so hot at the bottom of the lake!! We have all learned the sign for ”cold” while diving, and Nicole told us the sign for hot, but I never thought I would need to use it haha. Until I got to the bottom, and it was like a sauna!! The dive watch said 38 degrees but it felt much much more. It was like a really hot shower! We dived only in the bikini and without wetsuits – happy we did!! Haha.

Crystal clear water at thebarracuda lake

Crystal clear water at thebarracuda lake

First time I dive without a wetsuit!!

First time I dive without a wetsuit!!

Duilios hands are in the same temperature as my camera, the rest is either at a hoter or colder level of water haha

Duilios hands are in the same temperature as my camera, the rest is either at a hoter or colder level of water haha

At the end of the dive we took off our fins, des inflated our BCDS and “walked” at the bottom. It felt like walking on the moon, almost weightless, but it goes soooo sloooow haha. Much harder than you can think, cause you still need to keep a balance haha J Then we climbed up along the rocky sides, they were quite spiky and it was about 15m climb up, I caught myself being afraid to fall down, when I remembered that I was in the WATER and I could actually swim! Hahaha. It was a really cool experience :)

Walking at the bottom of barracuda lake

Walking at the bottom of barracuda lake

The rock formations on the sides of barracuda lake

The rock formations on the sides of barracuda lake

Climbing up to the surface of barracuda lake!

Climbing up to the surface of barracuda lake!

The second dive was at Twin peaks, a coral reef close by. Besides many corals we saw sea horses, sea stars, crabs and nudy branches. A weird thing I’ve seen a couple of times now is something that looks like a metal ball, apparently it’s called “bulls eye”, and is an alga. Weird. I’m also fascinated about all the translucent sponges, like membranes.

Diving around Twin peaks

Diving around Twin peaks

Corals at Twin peaks

Corals at Twin peaks

The interesting transluscent sponges!

The interesting transluscent sponges!

A special nudybransh that Nicole hadn't seen before! at Twin peaks

A special nudybransh that Nicole hadn’t seen before! at Twin peaks

A Sea horse on the move!

A Sea horse on the move!

"The bulls eye"

”The bulls eye”

Duilio :)

Duilio :)

 

The third day and last dive day for us we went about 2 hours away from Coron with boat, with the same group as yesterday but in Corto divers boat again. I enjoyed our way there by lying in the proa reading a book and glancing at the water beneath the book, haha.

Not complaining!

Not complaining!

The first dive was at “Akitsushima”, a navy seaplane tender, where the planes used to land on the sea. LOA is 118m and beam 15,7m, 4724 tdd long tons. Depth 22-36m. This shipwreck was huuuuge. We went inside and it was literally millions of tiny fishes everywhere. We could see the engine room inside. We used our lanterns here to be able to see something. Sometimes we couldn’t see each other even when we were a couple of meters apart due to the fishes, but we had already decided a meeting point, where the ship had broken, and where we were going to exit.

It was really cool. It’s good that we did this wreck the third day after getting some more experience on buoyancy yesterday. Duilio has become a better diver, but they gave him a bigger tank with 3 liters more air for this dive since it’s much deeper here then the other dives and we consume more air. We went down to 30 m!

“Akitsushima”, a huge airplane tender ship!

“Akitsushima”, a huge airplane tender ship!

The mast in “Akitsushima”

The mast in “Akitsushima”

We went in through a small hole in “Akitsushima”

We went in through a small hole in “Akitsushima”

Inside the “Akitsushima” - huge!!

Inside the “Akitsushima” – huge!!

Cool wheels and mechanims inside “Akitsushima”

Cool wheels and mechanims inside “Akitsushima”

 

We had a break for lunch and siesta and then proceeded with a shallower dive at “Okikawa Maru”, a navy auxiliary oiler ship. Loa 160m, beam 20m, 10043 gross tons, depth 10-26m. The ship was also super huge, couldn’t see it all, we entered to a small part and used the flashlights again. Awesome. Then we dived along the corridors on the sides of the ship, cool to think that people had walked around there like 70 years ago. Many many nudybransches there. There was a quite high current there, so it was a little more difficult dive. On our way back up, we had to hold on to the cord up to not drift away with the current. Especially while doing the safety stop, we were all horizontal in the water haha.

 

Diving along the corridors of “Okikawa Maru” (tipped down)

Diving along the corridors of “Okikawa Maru” (tipped down)

I guess this is where the “Okikawa Maru" got bombed, because it was all in a strange pile instead of looking like a ship

I guess this is where the “Okikawa Maru” got bombed, because it was all in a strange pile of construction instead of flat or looking like a ship

Some things that grow on “Okikawa Maru

Some things that grow on “Okikawa Maru”

Me, Nicole and Duilio :)

Me, Nicole and Duilio holding on to the line :)

 

So… Diving in Coron is now over for us. I’m happy to have experienced both shipwrecks, the lake and the coral reef. I’m also happy we got really good food for lunch cooked on the boat itself everyday! I’m really surprised that they can do so much in a tiny kitchen on a boat. The staff was great. We had water and beverages the whole day, got help to check the gear, put on our fins and everything. Everyone has been very friendly and helpful.

If you want to have a good experience in Coron – dive with Corto Divers! :)

 

See also: First days of Coron – Islandhoping the 7 highlights
Last days of Coron – visiting malcapuya and banana island

 

First days in Coron, Philippines – Island hoping the highlights

 

Now I’ve finally met up with my boyfriend and we spent one night first in Manila.

We arrived in Coron with Philippine Airlines, the flight only took about one hour, but it was delayed one hour too, haha. It was a small airplane, but it worked fine, we even got a snack and all on it even if it was only 1 hour! The airport in Coron was really tiny, and as in the galapagos, they hand over the luggage by hand in the waiting hall.

Our airplane :)

Our airplane :)

At the airport of Coron :)

At the airport of Coron :)

We took a minivan for 150 pesos (3 euro/usd) to our accomodation in Coron town on the other side of the island, about 30 minutes drive away.

We are staying at Corto Divers apartments just above their dive shop, super nice apartments!! We have a big bed and it’s really nice furnished. We share lounge, kitchen and bathroom with the other residents.

Our common area at Corto Divers, so nice!

Our common area at Corto Divers, so nice!

Our room at Corto Divers in Coron :)

Our room at Corto Divers in Coron :)

The internet doesn’t really work here though, I’ve been trying to upload pictures to the blog but as for now I’ve been about 10 minutes and it’s only come up to 17% of ONE picture. And I have plenty!!! So…. We’ll see when I can upload this post! Haha. Anyhow.

After installing ourselves in our room we walked around Coron town, can’t say it’s a beautiful town really, mostly because it’s very noisy from the tricycles and there are no good pavements to walk on, so you always have to watch out for the vehicles. If the mainstreet would be without vehicles or if they had pavements for pedestrians everywhere (that weren’t used for parking!), and fixed cozy warm lights instead of cold white lights at night, it could be a nice little town.

The mainroad in Coron

The mainroad in Coron

People are very friendly here and say hi to you all the time. It’s very calm by the docks when you just go outside the main road, and it’s safe here. People are honest here too and don’t try to scam you (compared to India where you had to bargain all the time).

We had dinner at a place called Brujitas, which had delicious food, and quite many vegetarian options. A little bit more pricy than what we had eaten in our hotel kitchen in Manila, but this is an island. I got a doggy bag with me too :)

La Brujita

La Brujita

Dinner at Brujitas

Dinner at Brujitas

We booked a tour around the highlights of Coron for tomorrow (1500 pesos, about 30 euros, included boat, guide, entrance fees, lunch and snacks) and then bought some beers and chips on our way back home and watched some TV at night.

Next day I woke up about 3am and couldn’t fall asleep again, so I went up and did some meditation and listened to all the roosters ”singing” or whatever you say about what they do. There are houndreds of them! I made some ginger and lemon tea then and enjoyed watching the sunrise. After that I did 1 hour of yoga until Duilio woke up and we had breakfast together.

At 8am we got picked up by the tour company and went down to the harbour in a minivan. It was a really nice boat, we saw many other’s that wasn’t as nice as this one I think. (My picture is now at 95%,!). Our tour guide was super funny, he made jokes about everything! This trip was mainly a bath and snorkel trip.

Me on the boat preparing to dive in (snorkel in;)

Me on the boat preparing to dive in (snorkel in;)

We went to the Coron Island and started at ”Seven Pecados”, which refers to the Seven Islands area. Legend has it that seven sisters drowned there, having defied their mother who told them not to go swimming.  Because of the Mothers grief and love for her daughters, they were transformed in to the seven beautiful islands of Siete Pecados.  We snorkeled around one of the islands watching lots of coral floor and small fishes. Crystal clear water!!

Snorkeling around Seven Pecados, much to see here!

Snorkeling around Seven Pecados, quite deep! Much to see here!

Snorkeling!

Snorkeling!

After that we went to Barracuda Lake where we docked the boat. From there we had to hike up a hill (from where we had a stunishing view over the Barracuda Lake) and then hiked down on the other side to the second larges lake in Coron, Kayangan Lake. It was truly clear and blue water, very nice to swim in, but not much marine life and the only thing worth snorkeling was the rocky side on the lake which had some cool formations. But the surrounding was beautiful!

Approaching the Barracuda lake

Approaching the Barracuda lake

View over the Barracuda bay

View over the Barracuda bay

Hiking up and down to the other side

Hiking up and down to the other side

Me and Duilio :)

Me and Duilio at Kayangan Lake :)

Duilio snorkeling in Kayangan lake

Duilio snorkeling in Kayangan lake

Then we went to Beach 91, a tiny small beach where they served a nice buffeet with beautiful paradise view. The buffét was good, they had both meat and fish, and for the vegetarians there were some eggplant, rice and then a weird seaweed salad. Haha.

Then we moved across the lake to the Skeleton Wreck. We snorkeled above a small shipwreck there, only half of it was visible, but it’s cool that you can see it from the surface!

 

Lunchbuffet at beach 91

Lunchbuffet at beach 91

 

Paradise at Beach 91

Paradise at Beach 91

Skeleton wreck

Skeleton wreck

With fishes :)

With fishes :)

From there we went over to Banol Beach, it looked like a small small beach island. Very shallow water, we walked there from the boat that was docked like 30 m away. We enjoyed on the shore together with a dog, which I don’t know who it was or how it got there.

There was also a banana-lady that was cruising around in a tiny boat there, she sold fried bananas, a kind of sweet snack, for 10 pesos each. We were all hungry again so we got a bunch of them! Mmm!

 

Banol beach, tiny little beach! Very sweet!

Banol beach, tiny little beach! Very sweet!

Hey doggie!

Hey doggie!

Ah, this is paradise!

Ah, this is paradise!

The banana lady! 10 pesos for a snack :)

The banana lady! 10 pesos for a snack :)

Our final stop was the Twin Lagoons, the boat docked at the first of the two Lagoons and we snorkeled through a crevice in the rocks to the other sides lake.

The first lagoon had salt water and the second hand sweet water, which results in an increase and decrease in water temperature as well as a blurriness in the water, where the two meet. So many blurry pictures! So.. just a few from there.

Views from the boat

Views from the boat

Ahhh, this is life! At twin lakes

Ahhh, this is life! At twin lakes

Someone last a card in the twin lake

Someone last a card in the twin lake

It was a really nice tour and we are happy that we got to see a little bit of the surroundings of Coron.

Tomorrow we’ll start diving!! :)

 

See also: Shipwreck diving in Coron
Last days in Coron, visiting Malcapuya Island and Banana island