DIY Palawan: A First-Timer’s Guide to Coron

We’ve mentioned it a lot of times in our posts before, Palawan is love. We’ve wrote about El Nido in the past, now it’s time to focus on another famous Palawan destination, Coron. Coron is situated in the island of Busuanga and is part of the Calamian group of islands in Northern Palawan. Like El Nido, it’s famous for its striking white sand beaches and turquoise waters. In addition, Coron also features beautiful lakes and world-class diving spots. Widely known for its Japanese World War II shipwrecks, it’s a popular place for diving enthusiasts. Although, we haven’t explored all there is to do in Coron, we’ll share with you our experience and hope it can help you plan your own little getaway to this paradise.

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Karst formations in Coron

GETTING THERE

Getting to Coron is easy-peasy compared to El Nido. A 55-minute flight from Manila to Busuanga and a 45-minute van ride to town and you’re there. All local airlines have flights to Busuanga from Manila. Check out Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and SkyJet. You can watch out for their seat sales to get the best deal. We got a return flight for Php2,000 for this trip. Once you land on the airport, there are numerous van services that can take you to your hotel or you can set up a pick-up with the hotel you’re staying at. The van ride to Coron Town will set you back Php150 per person for a one-way trip.

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Do-It-Yourself Honda Bay Tour, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Most tourists go straight to El Nido from the Puerto Princesa Airport but there’s so much to see in this city that you shouldn’t miss. I had my recent reunion with high school friends here and the city is a perfect quick getaway with your barkada.

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GETTING THERE and GETTING AROUND

There are many local airlines flying to Puerto Princesa International Airport from Manila, Cebu and Davao daily. We flew with Cebu Pacific Air for only P750 roundtrip which we got during a seat sale. There are different ways to get around Puerto Princesa, these include tricycles, multicabs, jeepney and vans. For short distances, we usually just took the tricycle which is P10 each person. For longer distances, you can negotiate a rate with the driver.

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El Nido, Palawan: Sweeter the Second Time Around

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Big Lagoon, El Nido

Ahhhhh El Nido…I can’t help but to hum “Moby’s Porcelain” song in my head every time I think about this magnificent place. The place is teeming with breathtaking lagoons, limestone formations and white sand beaches. Palawan was recently voted as the best island in the world according to Conde Nast Traveler Magazine so more and more people are eager to visit the place, especially El Nido. To my surprise, there were even more foreigners compared to locals during my visit this summer.

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A Long Weekend in Cagbalete Island

After countless debates on where to spend the weekend, my friends and I decided to go to Cagbalete. Thanks to the papal visit, we had another long weekend to linger away. Unfortunately, the weather did not agree with us so we got stuck in the island longer than expected. Cagbalete Island is situated in Mauban, Quezon. This place has been slowly gaining popularity as more and more people visit this beautiful island.

Getting there:

  • We took the JAC liner bus in Buendia terminal bound for Lucena (P210). Buses leave every 30 minutes. We left around 2AM and took us 4 hours to get to Lucena Grand Terminal. From there, you take a mini non-aircon bus to Mauban for 2 hours (P50). It was an interesting ride seeing how the locals go about their morning (except that I didn’t have any sleep so it was one hell of a ride for me). Oh, and expect various live stocks and sacks as your seatmate.
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L-R: Try the Batangas batchoy at Lucena Grand Terminal. ; Mini van to Mauban.

  • Another option is taking the van to Mauban from SM Lucena (P60). Much more comfortable and takes less time as it has fewer stops on the way.
  • From the drop off point, you can either walk or take a tricycle (P8/person) to Mauban port. There is a P50 environmental fee and public boats leave at 10AM.

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Lake Pandin: A Quick Escape To Nature

Tired of the rush? The hordes of people everywhere you go? The traffic and the pollution?

Don’t get me wrong, Manila is my city (born and raised here!) and I love how you can keep yourself entertained and find something to do at any hour of the day. But I was away for a long time last year and mostly stayed in islands and small cities. This was when I realized that being in a big city is not for me. I enjoyed being close to nature. It revitalized me, lowered my stress levels and overall, made me happier. So being back in the concrete jungle for almost a month was taking its toll on me. I missed the quiet, the peace, the fresh air and just being around beautiful nature. I had to get out and recharge. And then I remember seeing this blog post a few years ago about this nice lake not too far away from Manila where you can chill on a raft and have lunch, swim and relax. With the help of my mighty friend Google, I was able to find this gem of a place: Lake Pandin, San Pablo, Laguna!

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Working in Palawan Paradise: Pangulasian Island

Approaching Pangulasian Island

Approaching Pangulasian Island

I am sitting at the departure area of Lio Airport. It’s 8:40 in the morning, in twenty minutes, I will be going back to Manila. Pangulasian Island has been my home for the past two months. It’s hard to find words to describe how my experience has been. Two months went by too fast.

Snorkeling at 6am waiting for the sharks

Snorkeling at 6am waiting for the sharks

Early morning kayak sessions

Early morning kayak sessions

Living in a beautiful island surrounded by nature’s bounty is an inexplicable thing. Waking up to the sounds of chirping birds in the morning, going for a run at 6:00 AM surrounded by lush greenery and all you can hear is your breath and nature’s sounds. Hiking to the top of the island to see the moon set and the sun rise with a 360 view of the stunning Bacuit Bay. There is no shortage of majestic, painting-like sunsets.

Pangulasian Sunset

Pangulasian Sunset

Digging my feet into the fine white sand and looking out into the azure waters. Witnessing turtle hatchlings, swimming with the sharks, monitor lizards gallivanting around the island, monkeys in the smoking area, kayaking under the moonlight. These are just some of the things I have experienced for the past two months.

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Pangulasian Panorama

Turtle hatchlings on the island

Turtle hatchlings on the island

Going to the island, I did not know what to expect. I have always lived in the city and living on an island with the beach a few steps from where I sleep has always been a dream. So when I got an opportunity to work in El Nido Resorts’ Pangulasian Island, I grabbed it. And I am so glad I did. In working there, I have met the loveliest and most genuine people. Thank you for the friendship and the random adventures I will always remember with fondness. It does claim to be “The most beautiful place in the world” and it lives up to that title. Through the real gem of the island – its people.

-Tanya

Evening class with the staff

Evening class with the staff

Last night in Pangulasian Island with the Marine Sports boys

Last night in Pangulasian Island with the Marine Sports boys

Saying our goodbyes on my last day

Saying our goodbyes on my last day

Goodbye, Pangulasian! I will be back!

Goodbye, Pangulasian! I will be back!

Countdown to Freedom!

30 days until our South East Asian experience as of posting! Crunch time to gather for funds and trip planning! Our dream has finally been planted and there’s no stopping now. So when did this all start? Well, we’ve been doing little trips locally and abroad for years now but it only lasted for days and weeks. We were inspired by travellers and friends whom we’ve met along the way who’s been doing it for months, for some, even years and how it was so life changing for them. There are risks along the way in terms of leaving our careers and not enough funds to go on with it. But somehow we just booked our tickets early this year armed with the gusto to really do it this time. First stop on our backpacking trip would be Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, a vibrant modern city with the mix of the old charm. We can’t wait for the enthralling adventures and endless craziness along the way! So follow Kat and Tanya’s experience as we write our stories on the road. We’re on a shoestring budget and we’ll be posting tips for your future travels and we’ll be adding tabs for specific countries along the way. So as for you readers, just go and explore because in the end it doesn’t really matter how long and where you travel, it’s the people and moments you experience along the way. As Mark Twain had once written, “Explore, Dream and Discover”. 🙂

– Kat and Tanya