Early April, we went to the Philippines together with Carole (our good friend from Paris) to explore the much-talked-about island of Palawan. More specifically, we went to Busuanga Island in the Calamian Group of islands in the north of Palawan, which is said to contain all the beauty of Palawan in a small archipelago. We couldn’t wait to get there…
We took again a rough overnight flight from Singapore to Manila, with an onward flight to Busuanga. We spend the first night in Coron town, where we did a great afternoon island discovery tour, including snorkeling above beautiful corals, swimming in a hot spring next to the sea, and making a long horseback riding trip through the surrounding forests. Towards the end of the trip, we stopped at a cliff overlooking Coron town and the bay… a magnificent sight.
The next day, we boarded the little outrigger boat that would be our base for the next couple of days. We organized a four-day kayaking tour around the islands of the Calamian Group, as this was said to be the best way to explore the stunning nature. The boat was fully equipped with everything you cold possibly need for a trip like this – the crew even managed to serve cold beers at the end of the day! The service was excellent… we had five crew members taking care of the three of us.
The first day we went far away to Calumbuyan island, and stopped to snorkel at some of the many wrecks in the area. The trip was very relaxed – snorkeling, some kayaking, fantastic food for lunch, some more snorkeling and kayaking, and then heading for a deserted beach to put up the tents, grab some cold beers and watch the sunset while the crew prepares a great dinner. What more can you wish for?
The second night we went closer to Culion island, in search of the elusive dugong. The dugong is a very rare sea mammal of between 250 and 900kg, and it’s the only marine mammal that feeds only on plants. It’s been spotted in a few locations in Indonesia and the Philippines. Our guide, Ranny, has seen a few close to Busuanga and he took us to the place of the last sighting. We kayaked through the remote bay for a couple hours in the afternoon and again at sunrise, but we weren’t lucky – no dugong in sight, unfortunately. But the thought that it was somewhere out there, combined with a beautiful sunrise over a remote bay, made it a very memorable experience.
The last day we spend kayaking around Coron Island, a large island in front of Busuanga, with a magnificent coast line. It’s famous for a couple of spectacular lakes inside the island, and we keen to see them. We first visited Lake Barracuda, via s steep climb over treacherous rocks, balancing ourselves with our mask, snorkel and camera. The lake was indeed very impressive, with ragged rocks visible 20-30 meters deep. Although people were swimming in the lake, the atmosphere was relaxed as is considered to be a holy lake. Before the next lake, we made a kayaking tour alongside the stunning vertical cliffs – combined with the crystal clear waters, it was truly spectacular! For the next lake we had to climb high up, from where we had a great view across the bay. Lake Kayangan was larger than Lake Barracuda, and just as nice. After this, we had to go back to Coron Town to disembark the boat and move to our hotel.
The next couple of days we went diving. The main attraction here is wreck diving, to see the wrecks of 24 Japanese cargo ships that were all destroyed by the US Air Force on 24 September 1944, in a 40-minute devastating attack. The wrecks were typically 100-150 meters long, and you could swim all through them - entering at the front, swimming through the cargo bays, along the engine room and out at the back again. Sometimes you had to squeeze through tunnels, but it was never very dangerous. There were plenty of lion fish and stone fish around, so you had to be careful.
Palawan is indeed a fantastic destination – stunning scenery, great diving, deserted islands, and lots of fun. If you’re considering to go, we can highly recommend the kayaking trips of Rannie Dulay (+63 921 256 8347).For more pictures, click here.