Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Family time in Coron, Palawan

I have been wanting to go to Coron  for the longest time. So on a whim, I booked the whole family for a 4 day trip.

We stayed at  Coron Westown resort. I booked through agoda because of the extra 10% off I can get off the credit card promo (better check your credit card if they have similar promos)

We booked a family room (it is like a suite... it has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. - 1 king size bed and 2 queen.) the rooms were clean and nice and worked well with my family (I had 4 kids, 1 yaya and me and my husband) all for about 7,000+ pesos ($155/night). They have smaller rooms that run about 3,800 ($85/night). They are the biggest hotel in town with 3 swimming pools, a playground and spa. You could probably get a cheaper room in town (a bedspacer kind of room with no air-conditioning for maybe 500 pesos but I would rather have aircon anytime!)... The breakfasts were ok. I highly recommend the waffles. (yum)

You can prebook a airport pickup 150 pesos/ way (we booked two way so it's 300 pesos). The airport is a bit far from town... maybe 45 minutes drive.

We took the air philippines flight from manila _ note that this is a propeller type plane. (in case you are queasy about small aircraft)

There are a lot of options depending on how many people are in your group and what activities you would like to do. For us, since we were 7, we booked our own boat for the island hopping adventure.

You can join a group tour when  you arrive (there are tour desks when you go out of the airport)

One of the groups is Coron Galeri. I was looking at their tours and I think they are quite affordable - they include lunch and snorkeling equipment.

To breakdown the tour... they have a 650/ pax one where you visit nearer sites (like siete pecados, kayangan lake etc) see their website (this includes all the applicable entrance fees to some islands)- more on that later

For us however, we opted to hire our own boat and shop for our own food in the market (across where you ride the boats). Our reason for this is that we would like to be able to control our time and where we would like to go. We also brought our own snorkel equipment.

For the nearer island hopping. We paid 2,500 for the whole boat and bought some pork liempo, fish, rice and fruits for our lunch. The boatmen were the ones who would cook all the food for us.

Day 1 (note. we also brought our own kiddie life vest for my 2 year old)

We first went to siete pecados  ( seven sins) a protected marine park where you can snorkel and see all the beautiful sea life and coral formations (fee $100 pesos-- yes.. there are fees!) --- careful only that you don't get too near as it is prohibited to step on the corals.

2nd stop was  kayangan lake ( the cleanest lake in the Philippines). warning though. before you can get to the lake. you have an uphill climb (about 200 meters) on a rough man made path (not cemented... only carved). Once you reach the top, you can get a picture taken with the view of the bay (the famous view). then you have another trek down to the other side of the lake.

We went during off peak (even then there was a line trekking up). I had with us our 2 year old and you can guess how we climbed up that hill. (huffing and puffing).

on the other side you can see a very clear lake (fee 100 pesos) - it is made up of brackish water (salt and fresh mixed together). there are wooden walkways you can traverse and from there go snorkeling in the lake.
cleanest lake in the philippines

By the end of the snorkeling time.. it was already lunchtime and we had to go back to the boat. the boatmen had already cooked our lunch (grilled liempo, fish, rice, squid) in the boat. We went to an island where they had nipa huts for us and the kiddies had a nice time eating and then playing in the sand.
kitchen on board

After a fullfilling lunch.. we went to the twin lagoon. I found it a very hard swim (you have to swim from the boat to the side of the mountain to go up to reach the other side. (the path is narrow). On low tide, you can swim under a hole.

I think it was the brackish water but it was VERY hard to swim. (it was like swimming in jello). Here is what it looks like to climb.. (a bit scary since we had a 2 year old the and the rocks on the side were a bit sharp)...


Day one left us exhausted from all the swimming.... so Day 2, we booked an easy day with visting 2 island (about 45 mins boat) also, since it was further away, we paid for more for the boat 4500 for the whole day hire. If you are not coming as a group, I suggest you join one of the tours from Coron galeri. You can also opt to do a calauit day trip (we didn't do that since we were super tired already)

some photos from day 2:

The snorkeling was great.. we got to feed some fish and see a lot. (relaxing day)

all the islands have 100 peso fees (so much so that the boatmen call it the 100 islands! - LOL

--the marketplace (wet market) is not at all cheap.. meat and chicken are much more expensive than Manila.
-- maquinit hot springs is very near town.. you can drop by as per our tricycle driver's advise, better if it nearing sunset
-- tricyles are 30 pesos per person for ride into town from the hotel.
-- there are several chinese restaurants in town, I just forgot the names ---
-- avoid lobster king (too much hype.. lobster too expensive too!)
-- there is some hiking involved going up some of the lagoons and lakes (if you have elderly or people with limited mobility)

overall.. we had fun but it wasn't the WOW trip I expected. I think I enjoyed our trip to BOHOL more see here (its a 3 part blog post)

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