Panglao and Alona Beach – what a disappointment…

Ok.. to get to Panglao we got a van/bus close from the island city mall in tagbilarian. Unfortunately we were about the last ones to enter, so it was full and we had to ride outside in the back, an adventure by itself! About 1,5 hours ride along Panglao, which is a much bigger island that we thought! When we arrived we were completely covered in very fine white sandy dust. Now I understand why Philipinos always have a small blanket with them to cover their face and hair.

Enjoying the ride on the back of the van! Haha

Enjoying the ride on the back of the van! Haha

 We jumped of the van close to Alona beach, which is ”the place to be” as we had heard.. We had been recommended an accommodation by the spanish couple we met in El Nido a couple of weeks back. Citadel Alona or something like that it’s called.

They had rooms available for 750 php per night, with a fan. But I’ve never met so unfriendly philipinos as here. I was like ”Hi, do you have room available?” ”yes” ”ok, can I see it?” – no answer, the receptionist just grabs the keys and walks away. Haha. Nothing ”yes sure, follow me” or something. The atmosphere was very unfamiliar, but the rooms were ok, a good price and close to the main beach, they had a kitchen and a nice terrace over the street.

Our room, and my boyfriend sleeping..

Our room, and my boyfriend sleeping..

The terrace at Citadel

Having breakfast in the terrace at Citadel

After installing ourselves we walked down the road to Alona beach. We passed by many bars, restaurants, shops, cafés, souvenir shops, juice bars, dive shops etc. Horribly touristic. And everyone yelling at you and trying to sell you tours or tricycle rides, even when they see you are walking down to the beach?

By the way, there are sooo many korean shops and restaurants here! I wonder why?

By the way, there are sooo many korean shops and restaurants here! I wonder why?

Once at the beach we were like…. WTF? Is this the famous Alona beach? I’ve read many blog posts about this – how amazing panglao and alona beach is – but this is barely a beach! There are boats everywhere so it feels like a pier, it’s dirty water, and a very very thin piece of beach, the rest is restaurants, dive shops and other shops, people… We were quite disappointed. We knew Alona was going to be touristic – but it didn’t even have a charm. We found one spare place in the shadow and stayed there for a while, me reading a really good book, and Duilio fell asleep.

Zzzzzlepy Duilio in the tiny beach..

Zzzzzlepy Duilio in the tiny beach..

The local kids walks up the falling tree, and another kid drags the tree up and down and try to make the other kids fall of the tree

The local kids walks up the falling tree, and another kid drags the tree up and down and try to make the other kids fall of the tree

We met up with the spanish couple from el Nido, Guillermo is doing his dive master here at Bohol Divers Club, which is run by yet another spanish couple, so we hung out there for a while and arranged to go diving in the island of balicasag, it’s a marine sanctuary so you need to get approval to go there, there are limited spaces available to visit the island and the surroundings, so we booked it for the day after tomorrow.

So we had one more day to spend before diving…. We went to the other side of the beach, which looked like it was better, but it was a private beach, you have to pay 700php to stay there, haha. Instead we walked to a non-private part and slept there until we were hungry.

A nice part of the Alona beach, but it costs 700php to sit there... Not like other places where you only need to buy a drink to use it! SUCKS!

A nice part of the Alona beach, but it costs 700php to sit there… Not like other places where you only need to buy a drink to use it! SUCKS!

Haha. I look so happy....

Haha. I look so happy…. Inside the yellow floating things is the private part of the beach

We walked in to the ”Buzz café” by the beach – the best thing that happened to us in Panglao. It’s an organic café with many vegetarian options, I had vegetarian lasagna – so cheesy and with mushrooms – DELICIOUS!!!

We also got complimentary bread with different salsas as a starter, all home-made – and again – delicious! And also to my lasagna I got a salad with vegetables, fruits, and even eatable flowers, and guess what – delicious! Everything really feels like it’s made with love! Haha. We stayed there for a while, ordered coffee, ice-cream, wrote some post cards etc.

Everything we had here was the best we have had in Philippines by far. It was money well spent, compared to our expensive pizza last night haha.  It’s  just as expensive as all the other touristic restaurants – the difference is that it’s totally worth it!! 

 

View from the buzz cafe!

View from the buzz cafe!

The complimentary bread and salsas.... Mmmmmm!!

The complimentary bread and salsas…. Mmmmmm!!

Me and my vegetarian lasagna and the salad!!

Me and my vegetarian lasagna and the salad!!

Even the coffee was great and beautiful at the buzz café!

Even the coffee was great and beautiful at the buzz café!

Then we didn’t have anything to do… There isn’t really anything to enjoy here (Except for the Buzz café ;) We bought some pastries on the way home and had them with a coffee there on our terrace.

Next day, finally, diving! We went down to the dive shop to 8.30 and then out to Balicasag. Our dive group was a 3 chinese, me, Duilio, Guillermo and a Dive master.

Overall the chinese were quite special…
The girl had a long black dress, make up and even fake lashes, and she kept taking selfies for the whole boat trip! On the way diving! And they had a small stuffed toy rabbit with them, and they were going to dive with it!

The chinese had all the gear – dive computer, fins, cameras and everything – and the stuffed toy rabbit of course – we thought they were pro… but they weren’t good divers at all – the dive master had to hold the girl by her tank the whole dive because she kept sinking all the time and not maintaining the same level as him.. crazy. Funny to watch them under water, when they took selfies with the rabbit etc, I have just as many pictures of them as of fishes, hahaha.

But the diving was really good, the visibility was amazing, like 20 meters! We saw turtles too. We did 2 dives, one by a wall, the marine sanctuary, and another by a coral reef, the black forest.

Colorful fishes and corals and great visibility

Colorful fishes and corals and great visibility

Dive along the wall, lot o small fishes

Dive along the wall, lot o small fishes

Turtle with friends :)

Turtle with friends :)

Guillermo, our friend and dive master trainee :)

Guillermo, our friend and dive master trainee :)

Hahah, love this picture, Duilio wondering wtf the chinese girl is doing.. haha

Hahah, love this picture, Duilio wondering wtf the chinese girl is doing.. haha

Hello diving rabbit!

Hello diving rabbit!

Selfie with the rabit!

Selfie with the rabit!

Other cool fishes

Other cool fishes

The dive master holding the girl by her tank so she wouldn't go deeper than him (then his dive watch doesn't help!)

The dive master holding the girl by her tank so she wouldn’t go deeper than him (then his dive watch doesn’t help!)

The crew and the boat was really good too, but there wasn’t any lunch included on the boat as it always has been before when we have dived in the philippines, and they didn’t have any dive computers to rent either, they had just ordered them but they hadn’t arrived yet. To bad, we really like to dive with computers, have to get my own soon!

On the dive boat! With guillermo and the argentinian couple

On the dive boat! With guillermo and the argentinian couple

 

After the diving we were hungry and went for lunch together with Guillermo and Candela and an Argentinian couple and their son that were on the boat with us to Balicasag snorkeling. The son adored Duilio, haha. They were from Rosario in Santa fe, but living in Madrid, haha, small world!

We went to ”Andreas”, which is a kitchen ”cantina” close to our accommodation where all the locals and the people working there goes to eat. There are a lot of pans with different dishes – and you say which ones you want and pay for that. I was surprised to find that they had many vegetarian dishes! I had lentil soup and then some spinach-thing and pumpkin-thing, tofu and rice – and there were plenty more vegetarian to choose! I think my whole meal was about 120 php and I even got a doggy bag with me since I couldn’t finish it.

The typical philippine lunch kitchen :)

The typical philippine lunch kitchen :)

Lovely vegetarian food! Lenses, tofu, spinach, pumpkin...

Lovely vegetarian food! Lenses, tofu, spinach, pumpkin…

Full and happy we went back to our accommodation and fixed a small package of 3kgs to send back home, with some salsa we got at the buzz café, some souvenirs and long armed clothes we haven’t used at all, haha.

Then we bought some Boracay Rum and Pineapple juice (the rum cost 108 php and the juice 95php, haha! – about 2 euros/usd each) and went to our terrace to have some drinks, listening to live music playing from the bar across the street, but having many drinks to the same price as one there, haha. Boracay rum has the same taste as malibu coconut!

Almost the same price for a bottle of rum as for the juice!

Almost the same price for a bottle of rum as for the juice!

We got more Boracay rum from a polish couple we had been talking to earlier that were leaving next day. We bought more juice and got a little bit drunk there by ourselves, haha. Then we got another half bottle from some other guests that also were leaving next day (as us) but weren’t drinking this night, but we gave that bottle to a french couple we started talking to there that had just arrived. Another bad thing with this accommodation – the terrace closes at 22pm! So we got to bed then.. Haha.

Next morning we finally checked out, 2,5 days to many here in Panglao, we took a jeepney to Island City mall (we got seats this time :)) and from there we walked to the bus terminal and took a bus to Anda – and yes – Anda is paradise!! More about that in next post!

Annonser

Enjoying Bohol on a scooter

The journey from Dumaguete to Tagbilaran in Bohol was about 1 hour and 45 minutes. It was the nicest ferry we have taken so far, big and comfortable!

The ferry from Dumaguete to Tagbilaran - big and comfortable!! We got our own seats, they where showing a movie and selling some snacks.. very nice!

The ferry from Dumaguete to Tagbilaran – big and comfortable!! We got our own seats, they where showing a movie and selling some snacks.. very nice!

When we arrived in the pier in Tagbilaran we grabbed our backpacks from the storage and walked outside – boom – all the taxi and tricycle drivers jumped us, and followed us all the way up to the street! They are really a pain in the ass sometimes. One van driver said he could take us to Loboc, where we were going to stay,for ”only 800php” but when we kept walking and saying ”no thanks” he ended up offering it at 300 php, haha.

Up from the road we took a tricycle for 60php – We bargained it down from 100 php, thinking the bus terminal was just around the corner, but it was actually quite far away! Philipinos always say ”just 1 or 2 kilometers away” but it felt much longer.

Tagbilaran is the capital of Bohol, and it’s only city. There was quite much traffic and many university students everywhere! Once at the Island City Mall, we took a jeepney to loboc, about 1,5 hour, which costed us 27php per person (0,50 euro or usd). Quite cheap :)

We arrived in Loboc, 24 kms inland from Tagbilaran and one of Bohol oldest towns. We crossed the bridge over the loboc river to get to our accomodation – Stefanie Grace Paradise Inn. It was not where it was pointed out on google maps, as nothing never is here in the Philippines, but we found it in the end.

On our way there we passed by a lady singing karaoke in her yard, you can hear it kilometers away. Philipinos LOVE karaoke, it’s everywhere, and they are not ashamed at all, sometimes they are good singers, but mostly not, and literally the whole neighborhood and more can hear it too. But it’s funny.

The staff at Stefanies was suuuper friendly, showed us our room – which was very basic, the bed was really uncomfortable and squeaked all the time, but the place it self was nice – it had a pool, a restaurant, a small shop, and a view over the loboc river.

Morning view over the loboc river lake!

Morning view over the loboc river lake!

Duilio going in to our room at Stefanies

Duilio going in to our room at Stefanies

We were hungry and had dinner there, I had some vegetables for 100php and Duilio had some fish, and then they asked us if we wanted to do a firefly boat tour along the loboc river, because there was another couple doing it that night. The price was 350php per person. We said sure, and the boat came to pick up right there at Stefanies by the river! :)

We went out for a small tour down the river for about 1,5 hours – I really enjoyed it, we were only 4 people plus the captain. He himself had started this firefly river tours a long time ago, but now it has become quite big. I saw fireflies for the first time in my life, there where hundred or thousands of them, and they all hanged out around the same tree, so it looked like a christmas tree! Super cool.

Fireflies!! I don't really have the best camera for night pictures, but you can still see something there! :P

Fireflies!! I don’t really have the best camera for night pictures, but you can still see something there if you have it at maximum brightness! :P

Fireflies!! I don't really have the best camera for night pictures, but you can still see something there! :P

Fireflies!! I don’t really have the best camera for night pictures, but you can still see something there if you have it at maximum brightness! :P

 

Next day we started with a nice breakfast there at Stefanies.  We had arranged to rent a scooter for 500php for a full day, and the scooter with keys was there at Stefanies in the morning, super comfortable that they can offer everything from here, we didn’t have to move anywhere haha. They are truly friendly and helpful at this accommodation. The owner spoke portuñol, he had been living in Brazil for 9 years and then 30 years in the states, before retiring back to his hometown here in Loboc. Well, he couldn’t just ”retire and do nothing”, so he started this instead :) He helped us with what we should visit and gave us a map over bohol.

some people doing stand up paddle around 8am on the loboc river

some people doing stand up paddle around 8am on the loboc river

We went up to Carmen to see the Chocolate hills, and on our way we passed by beautiful green grass fields and the stunning Mahogny man-made forest in Bilar. It’s about 2 kilometers densely planted mahogny treets, shady and chilly but really beautiful.

Around bohol, huge houses and big farm lands

Around bohol, huge houses and big farm lands

The beautiful mahogny man-made forest!

The beautiful mahogny man-made forest!

We kept driving up to Carmen, passing by many locals, always smiling and waving to you when you pass by, and it’s not only kids – also the construction workers! So cute. It still amazes me how friendly people are here.

After around one hour on the scooter we finally arrived to the famous Chocolate hills, we paid the entrance fee of 50php and climbed up some steps to the top of a hill, where we had a 360 degree view over the hills – there are over 1200 hills spread over an area around 50 square kilometers. It’s called the chocolate hills because of the color they get during dry season, which makes them look like chocolate, but when we were there there were mostly green hills :)

Drying wheat in the heat that they have harvested

Drying wheat in the heat that they have harvested

A cementary!

A cementary!

View over the chocolate hills and the nature around Bohol

View over the chocolate hills and the nature around Bohol

The mandatory picture in front of the chocolate hills :)

The mandatory picture in front of the chocolate hills :)

The chocolate hills

The chocolate hills

On our way back we stopped at Bilar looking for the butterfly sanctuary, which we couldn’t find on our way there, and barely on our way back either – once again said it should be on one site on google maps but was at another place, haha. They are not so good with signs here either!!

Very typical. The red dot is where it is supposed to be, but the blue dot is where it actually is.

Very typical. The red dot is where it is supposed to be, but the blue dot is where it actually is.

We couldn’t find it either because it only said ”Habitat”, nothing wit butterflies. It was interesting, they give you a small tour explaining about all the phases of a butterfly and how they help them grow and survive there. It was ok, I love butterflies and I had heard good about this place so I had high expectations, but it was very small and they only had 2 different kinds of butterfly now (changes depending on season). But still, I learned a lot. I didn’t know a butterfly only lived for 21 days! :(

Close up of a butterfly at the sanctuary

Close up of a butterfly at the sanctuary

Butterfly at the butterfly sanctuary

Butterfly at the butterfly sanctuary

While having a coffee break at the butterfly sanctuary, a cat just jumped up to duilios lap. I gave him half my muffin that wasn't so good.. haha.

While having a coffee break at the butterfly sanctuary, a cat just jumped up to duilios lap. I gave him half my muffin that wasn’t so good.. haha.

After a coffee break we went to Corella, another small inland town closer to Tagbilaran. There we visited the Tarsier Sanctuary, where tarsiers are observed and protected. They are freely living there in a natural habitat. There is another Tarsier place in Loboc but there the tarsiers are not free and feels very bad about being in captivity, so we didn’t want to go to that place.

Here it was really nice, it’s a big forest/park and there where only 5 tarsiers living there in different areas of the park. You are not allowed to touch them or to speak highly there, which is good.

The tarsier sanctuary in Corella, or the research center.

The tarsier sanctuary in Corella, or the research center.

 

Now you know!

Now you know!

Tarsiers are the smallest primates in the world, a fully grown tarsier weights maximum 150 grams! They have bigger eyes than their brain, and long tails – they look like a mix between a monkey, a bat and a rat haha. But they are super cute!

They are nocturnal animals, thats when they move and hunt their food (they eat mostly insects and butterflies) – but during the day they sleep and don’t move, I was very surprised in the beginning how the guide could find them in the forest since they are so tiny and hidden! But the guide told us that they are very territorial so they always hang out at the same spot during the day.They go out hunting at night, and then they come back to the exact same tree for the day.

Where is the tarsier? :) (Look for the eyes!)

Where is the tarsier? :) (Look for the eyes!)

Sleeping tarsier!

Sleeping tarsier!

A cute tarsier who opened his eyes!

A cute tarsier who opened his eyes!

Now, before saying ”aaaww, bring me one home!!” – As me and all my friends say when looking at a tarsier, you should now that they are very shy and scared animals. They live completely alone except for the first 6 months of their life when they live with their mother, after that they go separate ways and never in groups with other tarsiers, the only time they ”hang out” with another tarsier is when they are mating, it only happens once a year and for about 10-15 seconds. So yes, they are very lonely and like to be lonely.

When they are scared or held in captivity, they commit suicide, banging their soft skull head against some hard object.. So sad! So please no, don’t touch them or hold them or captivate them, they will literally kill themselves then.

The bones of a tarsier, it's like a mini dinosaur!! So tiny! And look at the size of the eyeballs!

The bones of a tarsier, it’s like a mini dinosaur!! So tiny! And look at the size of the eyeballs!

Read!

Read!

After the Tarsier sanctuary we started to move to Sevilla to go to Sipatan twin hanging bridge, said to be one of the most dangerous bridges around here. From Corella we followed a sign to Sevilla to get there, and got in to our first bumpy and not cemented road here in Bohol. We were all covered in dust and our asses were soar when we finally arrived at the bamboo bridge, which was in the end of the road. It’s just a couple of kilometers in if you take the road from the other side – from Loboc, which I guess everyone else does, since we didn’t meet a single vehicle on our 9 kms on the road from the other side. Haha.

You pay 20 php to cross the 40 m long bridge. They have 2 bridges, one to cross to the other side, and the other for the way back. And on the other side they also have some handicraft store and refreshment booths (I bought a coconut, very much needed) before taking the bridge back. The bridge was build after the second world war to help local residents transport their farm products across the Sevilla river. What was before rope has been reinforced with steel wire cables for the security and stability. Sure it’s a little different to cross this kind of bridge than a concrete one, since it’s swaying and bouncing, but it didn’t really feel dangerous :)

Hehe... passing by albuqurque, Breaking Bad!

Hehe… passing by albuquerque, the hometown of Breaking Bad, on our way to sevilla :)

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0985.

On the Sipatan twin hanging bridge :)

The bridge

The bridge

We took the scooter back to Bohol and passed by the Loboc Adventure Park, so we stopped there to do the famous zipline over the Loboc river. It costs 350 pesos and you do it twice, one to cross to one side and the other to return. It was Duilios first Zipline, I thought maybe he would be afraid since he really hates rollercoasters, bu the enjoyed the zipline and was all euphorios about it! Haha. Nice experience, I felt like superman!

Ziplining over the loboc river! :)

Ziplining over the loboc river! :)

After that we were tired and had done everything we wanted to do in Bohol, so went back home, filled up the scooter with gasoline (about 80php – 1,5 euro/usd – after driving over 100km!).

We were completely covered in dirt and dust, so we took a bath in the pool (with a shower prior to it) – aaah, so good to feel completely weightless! Haha. Then we bought a wine and some chips at the shop and had it outside overlooking the sunset on the river, delightful! Then we finally had dinner :) I tried the Chop suey, which was the only other vegetarian plate they had, but it looked exaclty the same as the vegetables the day before, haha.

Our pool at stefanies! ahhh!

Our pool at stefanies! ahhh!

Sunset view from Stefanies porch... so nice!

Sunset view from Stefanies porch… so nice!

This is life!

This is life!

I was so tired so I fell asleep like 8pm or something, and slept until next morning!

After breakfast and some internet time (internet is fast at Stefanies!), we checked out. The owner drove us to the jeepney station in his car – once again – so sweet!! We where very thankful since walking a couple of kilometers in over 30 degrees with backpacks wasn’t something we were looking forward to, haha.

He also explained for the driver where to drop us of so we could go to Panglao, and it wasn’t the same place as where we took the jeepney to Loboc from. We just stopped somewhere and switched jeepney to another going over to Panglao.
More info about that in the next entry from Panglao!

A typical jeepney :)

A typical jeepney :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in Oslob, Cebu

After arriving in the airport in Cebu we went straight to Oslob. We were looking for a taxi to the southern bus terminal, where there are buses to Oslob.

In the airport the information desk said ”go down to the taxi station” but we went out instead, and found a taxi driver there instead. We had to walk about 5 minutes to the taxi though, but it’s a lot cheaper than taking it from the proper airport terminal.

We dealed a taxi to take us the whole way, mostly because there was a lot of traffic and we weren’t that keen on arriving in Oslob about 8 hours later, haha. It takes at least 1 hour to get to the bus terminal from the airport, and a lot of more hours with bus to Oslob. Instead we paid 2500php and it took about 3 hours to Oslob, of which 2 where just to get out of Cebu. And we passed by maaaany buses to Oslob along the way, so glad we had taken the taxi. :)

Cebu is a big city with a lot of vehicles and the highway consists of two lanes, one in each direction. This highway is also the only road along the villages on the way down to Oslob, so there are buses, cars, bicicles and tricycles on the road. It took forever. It’s actually just about 100 km away….

The drive was quite bumpy. Our driver wasn’t the best, it felt like he was the only one honking all the time. The sun went down and he had his high beam on all the time. I understand it’s easier to see the pedestrians along the sides, but he got a lot of angry signals from the meeting traffic. Every time we passed by a church he touched the cross hanging in the mirror and prayed.

We finally arrived around 8pm and we were hungry and quite tired. We stayed at Germaroze Guesthouse, and it was beautiful! A big house just by the sea, with a huge saloon with sofas and tables and framed family pictures of kids and grandchildren. It felt like we were at my grandmother’s house or something. The room was fantastic too, clean, with AC, nicely decorated and the best was the big and comfortable bed. We were just above the ocean so we could hear the waves super clearly too.

Our room at Germaroze Guesthouse, lovely! So confy bed!

Our room at Germaroze Guesthouse, lovely! So confy bed!

The saloon at Germaroze guesthouse

The saloon at Germaroze guesthouse

But before enjoying the bed we walked about 700m to the center of the town to find some food. Cute kids along the way waiving and saying ”Hiiii”, but the town center was really… nothing. This is a small town, it has around 25.000 habitants. There were some stands outside with food – but ONLY meat – a couple of kiosks and one restaurant – for the tourists I guess, and they had 1 vegetarian plate. The food and the beer were super cheap, half price from Coron and El Nido!

The town center of Oslob with the food stands

The town center of Oslob with the food stands

Having dinner at the only restaurant in Oslob. Duilio and the ass.

Having dinner at the only restaurant in Oslob. Duilio and the ass.

Then we finally enjoyed a couple of hours nice sleep before waking up at 5.30.
We had coffee and buns we got in the bakery last night and enjoyed the beautiful sunrise.

The sunrise at 6am at our hotel..

The sunrise at 6am at our hotel..

We took a tricycle from the guesthouse to Tan-Awan, about 10 kms to the south of Oslob, where you can snorkel with whale sharks.

Whale sharks and the largest known extant fish species, and they are friendly, slow-moving filter feeding sharks who mostly eat plankton.

We had a briefing about the rules – don’t go closer than 4 meters, don’t touch them, don’t use flash on the camera, don’t wear sun lotion etc. After the briefing you pay for your ticket (good, so everyone does the briefing first – but of course there’s always one or two stupid who have to disobey). After that you get your snorkel and then you jump into a small boat and go out to the ocean.

The rules

The rules

You have about 30 minutes to snorkel with whale sharks. And wow! Amaaaazing creatures. Local fishermen feed them there in the morning so there is a 99% possibility to see whale sharks. And we did! They are so cute! And really big. They can reach about 12 meters, but the ones we saw was about 4-6 meters I think, but still, only the mouth was like 1 meter wide.

We saw maybe 3 or 4 sharks, difficult to say since they weren’t all there at the same time.

Selfie with a whale shark!

Selfie with a whale shark!

Duilios selfie with the whale shark

Duilios selfie with the whale shark

So cute! Whale shark eating

So cute! Whale shark eating

This one passed just under me! huge!

This one passed just under me! huge!

Whale shark under our boat

Whale shark under our boat

There were many tourists around, it felt a little chaotic sometimes, especially one older man that had to go really close (not respecting the 4m distance at all) and take selfies. I’m both amazed and feel a little bit sad that this is a tourist attraction, but the whale sharks are free to come and go, and they come, so it can’t be too bad for them I hope.

For the town Oslob it has put it on the map though
, and you can see that there are many constructions going on around and new dive shops and hotels/guest houses opening.

The boats to the left are the snorkelers, and the ones to the right are the local fishermen giving food to the whale sharks

The boats to the left are the snorkelers, and the ones to the right are the local fishermen giving food to the whale sharks

We were finished about 7am in the morning, and took the same tricycle back – our driver Emanuel Luna who was very kind and chatty – waited for us during the whole time and guarded our bags :)

We had our second breakfast at the Germaroze guesthouse together with Dave and Lindsay from Holland who also did the snorkeling with us, and then we enjoyed our room a little longer, had a shower, packed our bags, slept a little bit – the check out wasn’t until 12 ;)

We checked out and took our bags and moved to the other side of the road waiting for the yellow Ceres bus going south down to Liloan. It passes by every 30 minutes and we waited for about 20 minutes, and you just wave at it for it to stop :) The bus ticket 32php each and took us to the southern tip of the Cebu island, from where we took a ferry over to Negros island for 62php each.

 

Next destination: Dauin, where we are going to dive and do the advanced open water diving course!

Puerto Princesa and The Underground River tour

We took a van from El Nido to Puerto Princesa for 500php each, it was a 6 hours drive to the south, give or take. The van was full. We only stopped once on the way for a 10 minute break (where I didn’t know how to go the toilet – it was so low – below my calves!). The van left us at the hotel we had booked – very close to the airport – Blue lagoon Inn & suits – we had decided to spoil ourselves a little for our two nights in Puerto Princesa.

We got bad news when we arrived though – we had booked the underground river tour through the agency at the hotel – and they informed us that we couldn’t do it because all the places had been booked already. They only allow 680 persons to do the underground river tour per day, and the only tickets they could give was to people who were actually having a flight out of Puerto Princesa the same day as the tour, and we had it next day at 15. We got very disappointed since we had booked it 2 days ago, and they didn’t tell us until we arrived. Which was the whole point of why we were going to Puerto Princesa.

The rooms were very clean and nice though, and they had a swimming pool there. The shower was great, we had AC and TV and everything. The beds were super and the pillows too.. but we were still quite annoyed and moody… I had still problems with my stomach, diarrhea and gases making me vomit etc.. So I didn’t really feel like doing the town either. We went out for dinner in the area (well, Duilio ate mostly). The town is nice, quite big, lot’s of people and stores, but still not crazy like a big town, there are plenty of trees and it’s quite relaxed.

Our room and porch at Blue Lagoon :)

Our room and porch at Blue Lagoon :)

Puerto Princesa is a nice and cozy big town, surprisingly calm. :)

Puerto Princesa is a nice and cozy big town, surprisingly calm. :)

Having dinner out in Puerto Princesa.

Having dinner out in Puerto Princesa.

Then around 9pm I get a text from the staff at the hotel, asking us if we really want to do the underground river tour. Yes we say. And they say ”because we would need to change your flight date..” hehehe. So we e-mailed them our boarding pass and they changed the date for us, so we could do the tour. So we were happy again – but we didn’t dare to have many expectations we actually sat in the boat on our way in! Haha.

Next morning a van picked me and Duilio and six Vietnamese guys up from the hotel and drove to Sabang, about 2 hours away – 80 km to the north. We all fell asleep. Haha. Once in Sabang we had to wait about 1 hour until it was our turn to take a boat to where the underground river starts.

The words of wisdom at the entrance of the national park

The words of wisdom at the entrance of the national park

The beach of Sabang. Looks like it's going to be bad weather, but it never came!

The beach of Sabang. Looks like it’s going to be bad weather, but it never came!

We had a very sweet boat captain, who told us about the rules ”no smoking, no littering, no bathing”, and who later we saw at the beach picking up rubbish that was coming in from the sea. Super cute. He left us at this other place where we had to wait there again for about 1 hour more because it was so crowded. Luckily our tour guide at this place somehow arranged so that we could do the tour just after 20 or 30 minutes. We got some audio guide things and then we boarded a rowing boat taking us to the underground river. Now we were actually ”yay!!! We ARE going to see the underground river!!” :)

Our boat captain :) He has a stick down to the back to stear the motor

Our boat captain :) He has a stick down to the back to stear the motor

Our boat captain (he is so tiny!) picking up trash on the beach

Our boat captain (he is so tiny!) picking up trash on the beach

It was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1999 and in the end of 2011, Puerto Princesa Underground River was chosen as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. The underground river cave is more than 24 km long and contains a 8,2 km long underground section of the Cabayugan River. It’s is navigable by boat up to 4.3 km from the sea.

We were not allowed to speak inside the cave, we all had earphones with audio guide and the boat-guide who where paddling the boat used his flash head to point the things the audio guide talked about.

Got our audioguides, me in english and Duilio in spanish :)

Got our audioguides, me in english and Duilio in spanish :)

In the boat on our way into the underground river tour!

In the boat on our way into the underground river tour!

On our way into the underground river tour!!

On our way into the underground river tour!!

It was quite breath taking! It has many formations of limestone, and several large chambers and cave, one up to 65 m high, and the rock formations are quite unique. One formation sort of look like Jesus, then another like an angel, another like a woman, another like an eggplant etc. You can really use your imagination there.

And there were sooooo many bats there! Everywhere. We had to wear helmets and was told to keep our mouths closed, because we can either get bat-shit in our mouths but the limestone rocks are dripping and can be toxic. It was over all a cool experience, all though the tour only lasted for about 30-45 minutes or so.

Inside the underground river

Inside the underground river

the limestone has formed sculptures, these ones lookes like father joseph and mother maria

the limestone has formed sculptures, these ones lookes like father joseph and mother maria

JESUS IS TRAPPED IN THE CAVE!

JESUS IS TRAPPED IN THE CAVE!

So many bats!

So many bats! All the black dots there are bats!

Then we took the boat back to Sabang where we had lunch in a local restaurant our tour guide had arranged for us, and that was included in the tour. They had a buffét there, and even made me a own plate of vegetables for being vegetarian, so sweet. Then they had a live band, it was called ”The disables musicians”, and we tipped them 100 pesos. They played and sang nice songs, with Bob Marley, UB40 etc.

The lunch buffet :)

The lunch buffet :)

The disables musicians :)

The disables musicians :)

Then we started our journey back. We weren’t back until 16.30, and our plane was supposed to leave 15.20, so yeah, I’m glad we didn’t have the flight the same day!

We enjoyed the afternoon in the pool, which was hotter than the air, I was reading the book in the pool and feeling relaxed (all though with still with some stomach issues). We had dinner there at the hotel too and some drinks :)

Ah! This is life! Completely relax!

Ah! This is life! Completely relax!

Enjoying an afternoon dip into the hotel pool! :)

Enjoying an afternoon dip into the hotel pool! :)

My really good chocolate icecream shake at Blue lagoon

My really good chocolate icecream shake at Blue lagoon

Next morning we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel and then again some pool before packing our bags. Since I’m a genius member at booking.com, we have 2 extra hours for check out, so instead of checking out at 11, we could check out at 13. :) Perfect! We paid in the end of our stay, so for 2 people and for 2 nights at this nice hotel with pool, 2 breakfasts each, 1 dinner each, some snacks and drinks and 2 underground river tour with lunch, we paid a total of 7260 php (150 usd/euro). A little bit of a splurge, but quite ok! :)

We got a free ride from the hotel to the airport, about 3 minutes away, paid the airport tax, bought our first Philippinean souvenir, and then flew from Puerto Princesa to Cebu on the other side of the Philippines, took about 1,5 hours. Duilio wasn’t as happy with this airline (Cebu pacific airlines) as with the one from Manila to Coron (Philippine airlines) – because we didn’t get any free snack on the plane, haha.

 

Chilling out in El Nido, Palawan

We arrived in El nido, Palawan, around 14 with the ferry boat from Coron. The ride went well, as said in my previous post. We were quite hungry, at least me, since they didn’t serve anything vegetarian on the boat, so I had plain rice only.

Our first impression of the small coastal town El Nido was that it was more calm here, and a much more organized town than Coron. It feels like there’s less traffic, at least the noise is lower (seems like they have quieter tricycles here), and with pedestrian streets on the sides. There are a few trafficked roads and narrow alleys connecting the roads, kind of making small squares in the town, where no cars or motos can go and there are only small shops and restaurants there.

We had lunch at a pizzeria and pasta place. I had a vegetarian pizza, and it was surprisingly good! Then we took a tricycle to Corong Corong where we had rented a beach cottage. It’s about 10-15 min away with tricycle, in a quieter place. The ride was only 50 php there!

Me with my very tasty vegetarian pizza!

Me with my very tasty vegetarian pizza! And the local philippine beer, red horse, of course. :)


We are staying at Arbor Beach Cottages in Sitio Lugadia,
and paying about 8400 php for 5 nights with breakfast and wifi (about 30 USD/euros per nigh). It’s quite expensive for being Philippines, and also for the standard of the cottage, but it was one of the cheaper options for a cottage close to the beach here in el Nido. This place only has 2 cottages, and we have about 10m to the beach, and a swing just beside where I like to sit and read my book in the mornings. :) Also the sunsets are just beautiful from here!!

Our room at Beach cottages. Basic, but enough :)

Our room at Beach cottages. Basic, but enough :)

In our porch just by the beach in Corong Corong!

In our porch just by the beach in Corong Corong!

Sitting in the swing outside our cottage just by the beach.... Love it!

Sitting in the swing outside our cottage just by the beach…. Love it!

The two rooms at Arbor Beach Cottages :)

The two rooms at Arbor Beach Cottages :)

Duilio watching the sunset from Arbor Beach cottages

Duilio watching the sunset from Arbor Beach cottages

The breakfast is good also, Mark who is our host and very sweet, comes with it in a cute picnic basket every morning. We had pancakes the first day, they were huge – very thick but good! Really filling. Another day I tried an omelette and Duilio had eggs and bacon, but we were hungry again after a few hours, so after that we sticked with pancakes every morning, haha. We love to have it on our porch! :) We actually love to just hang out here… We got quite lazy haha.

Yummy Pancakes! Mark does them really fluffy and thick - makes me full for half a day!

Yummy Pancakes! Mark does them really fluffy and thick – makes me full for half a day!

Breakfast at our porch

Breakfast at our porch

We really just wanted to have a tranquil place, and the location is perfect. We thought it was going to be more remote, but there’s plenty of things going on in the area. We have “Happiness beach bar” just besides us, but the noise isn’t bothering at all, and they close at 22. They have great food, with many veg options like falafel and hummus with pita bread and that sort of Arabic/Lebanese food.

Having some different sauses and hummus with falafel and pitabread at "Happiness beach bar", about 2 meters from us ;)

Having some different tapas and hummus with falafel and pitabread at ”Happiness beach bar”, about 2 meters from us ;)

With Guillermo, Candela and Vicente from Spain that we met on different occasions. Having something to drink at the beach bar :)

Another night with Guillermo, Candela and Vicente from Spain that we met on different occasions. Having something to drink at the beach bar :)

A couple of hundred meters to the other side there’s a bar called La Republica which is on the hill with a stunning view over the bay and perfect to watch the sunset. A spanish guy is running it, and the menu is a typical spanish tapas menu, with ”tortilla de patatas” ”gazpacho” ”patatas bravas con aioli” ”sangria” ”tinto de verano” and many other. I’ve tried all the vegetarian ones :) Hehe. We arrived quite early one day and just stayed there for a couple of hours, it got really crowded when the sun is about to go down!

Enjoying some tortilla de patata and tinto de verano with this amazing view over the bay at bar republica!

Enjoying some ”tortilla de patata” and ”tinto de verano” with this amazing view over the bay at bar republica! All alone :)

Sunset view

Sunset view from the bar

When there is sunset it gets really crowded! Good we were here on time ;)

When there is sunset it gets really crowded! Good we were here on time ;)

If we walk on the ”highway road” on the hill above the beach towards el Nido town, there are also quite many shops, tour companies, hotels etc, so basically you have everything you need here. We arranged a tour through Mark here in our accommodation one day, and it goes from the town, but that’s the only time we have actually been there.

We tried ”tour C”, and honestly, it was quite bad. First we had to wait a couple of hours with no info of why, we just stood there waiting until we could board, and then we sat there waiting until we left… we left about 10.30 from the bay. Not at all as arranged as in Coron. We had to go in the water to get to the boat, with water up to our chests; they don’t have a pier or anything.

Put your backpacks on the head and walk to the boat!

Put your backpacks on the head and walk to the boat!

Then we were many in our group, like 15 or 20 people, and the guide wasn’t around the first hour because he jumped on the boat on another island, so we didn’t get any introduction to the tour our each other. The only ones we talked to during the whole day was another Spanish couple, Vicente and Valeria, and we hung out during the day and later at night haha.

The guide didn’t actually tell us much about the places we visited, just ”this is the hidden beach, bring your flipflops because it’s rocky on your way there” and that kind of information. … And the places weren’t that spectacular; they all looked sort of the same.

We visited Matinloc Shrine, the hidden beach, star beach, helicopter island and then we were supposed to visit the secret beach… And it was the only place we were really looking forward to see, but we couldn’t :(

Helicopter island. Looks like an helicopter from above. But from below it looked more like a whale..

Helicopter island. Looks like an helicopter from above. But from below it looked more like a whale..

The secret beach

The hidden beach

Duilio the allmighty...

Duilio the allmighty…

Nice lunch buffét!!

Nice lunch buffét!!

hanging out on the boat with Vicente and Valeria from Spain

hanging out on the boat with Vicente and Valeria from Spain

View from the top of the last location

View from the top of the last location

To bad we couldn’t visit the Secret beach on Matinloc island, it was there which Alex Garland wrote a book about during his 6 months here in Palawan, and that inspired the movie ”The Beach” (with Leonardo Dicaprio) which was based on this secret backpackers paradise. But the movie didn’t get the rights to film in the Philippines because they didn’t want to destroy it with tourism, so the movie was shot on the Phi Phi islands in Thailand instead.

Anyhow, you can only reach it through a whole in the rocks, like a cave, but the sea was so turbulent and there was a lot of waves and current, so we couldn’t go there because it’s dangerous. Instead we went to a small place on the other side of the lake… not that remarkable at all.

We still enjoyed to be seeing the surroundings, but we would have probably enjoyed to take the tour A instead. Valeria and Vicente had done it the day before and showed us pictures and it looked amazing. We then found out about a place that sort of do that tour, but on a stand up paddle instead, which we wanted to do. We found the office but the ”business was closed for this week to arrange some things” – so then we just didn’t do any more tour.

One day we walked from our cottage southwards along the beach and the rocky sides (low tie) until we reached Marimegmeg beach and las cabañas, beautiful!

Walking along the rocks and the beach, easy when there's a low tide :)

Walking along the rocks and the beach, easy when there’s a low tide :)

We walked by a beach where they were burning some trees they had cut down, building something there..

We walked by a beach where they were burning some trees they had cut down, building something there..

Marimegmeg beach

Marimegmeg beach

Marimegmeg and las Cabañas, where you can do zipline

Marimegmeg and las Cabañas, where you can do zipline

We got a text from another spanish couple that we had met at Bar Republica the day before, and they were planning on renting some scooters and driving to Pacnan beach about 20 kms to the north, so we joined. We found a scooter at ”Islandfront Cottages” close to where we live in Corong corong, and since it was around noon, we only paid 400 php for a half day, but we had to return them at 18.30. Guillermo and Candela, couldn’t find any cheaper than 600 in el Nido town where they were staying, so they took a tricycle to Corong corong to rent it from the same place too, haha.

Then we started our journey! The streets are really good, we passed by small villages along the way, rice terraces, school kids, and lot’s of green and beautiful scenery.

Rented scooters and drove to the north :)

Rented scooters and drove to the north :)

Then the good road ended, and we got to construction work and bumpy and sandy roads. Since we had to go slow there, a lot of kids walking the same road reached out there hands so we could make a ”high five” with them, but sometimes they actually grabbed onto your hand and wouldn’t let go and run besides the moto, haha. It was really close that we would fall, since it was like beachy sand on the road. Maybe the kids have a challenge within the group of other local kids there ”how many tourists did you throw out of the moto today?” haha.

We arrived the Nacpan beach, it costed 50 php in a tourist fee. The beach was amazing, reaaally long beach and almost empty. We found some hammocks under some palm trees, and there was one guy in the tree cutting down coco nuts, and I had one for 50php. :)

Yes, there's a man in the palm tree there taking down coconuts :)

Yes, there’s a man in the palm tree there taking down coconuts :)

This is life!! Having a coconut from the tree above and drinking it in the hammock while listening to the waves....

This is life!! Having a coconut from the tree above and drinking it in the hammock while listening to the waves….

Hanging out at Nacpan beach - lovely!

Hanging out at Nacpan beach – lovely!

There were a few restaurants there with about the half price of food as in the other places we have around our accommodation, so we were happy. Me and Duilio got our food quite fast, it was really good, but Guillermo and Candelas food was probably forgotten, because we reminded them 2 times and it took 2 hours for them to get the food! Well well. This is a place where you should go to early in the morning to really enjoy a full day there. After lunch we hung out in the hammocks again. Love them!

Having lunch at Nacpan with Guillermo and Candela

Having lunch at Nacpan with Guillermo and Candela

Ahhhh... this is life! Again. I just can't get enough of these hammocks!

Ahhhh… this is life! Again. I just can’t get enough of these hammocks!

Reading a book in the hammock.... heheh.

Reading a book in the hammock…. heheh.

Riding back from Nacpan beach to Corong Corong... happy with our day!

Riding back from Nacpan beach to Corong Corong… happy with our day!

 

Our last day we were super tired and a little bit bad in our stomachs, so we just hung out at our beach and the porch for the whole day, haha. We saw our last beautiful sunset here in Corong corong, as always, lovely.

Anyhow. Now we have been 5 days in El Nido. As said we haven’t done so much island hoping, but we have enjoyed our time here as true vacations, eating and drinking good and watching all the beautiful sunsets by the beach.

Enjoying the last sunset from our beach.

Enjoying the last sunset from our beach.

 

Next destination: Puerto Princesa!

 

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