The flight to Coron had stunning views I was full-on able to appreciate, despite being on a propeller plane. Those things give me anxiety – still recovering from a scary ride in Myanmar… This flight however, may have renewed my faith. Islands surrounded by tight rings of turquoise, speckled the deep blue of their ocean backdrop. I’m pretty certain we spotted a couple of whale sharks – the closest we will get to them on this trip since we cancelled our whale sharks excursion, concerned about the animal rights (or lack-thereof) factor of that activity.
Arriving was easy peasy – a grab-your-bag-and-go experience. No conveyor belt or other airport obstacles and as we stepped outside, there was our hotel shuttle.
Ok, so we are normally not resort people. We love our hostels (in mild climates) with private rooms, budget hotels, Airbnb’s, and guest houses are our jam, but this time we opted to treat ourselves to a resort with a cozy room to keep our camera equipment safe, with air conditioning and our own bathroom (I can’t remember the last time I showered so many consecutive days). The resort is a drastic contrast from the rest of town, which has left me feeling guilty about our choice, but I have to remind myself that there is no way we could afford to do this for more than a few days, or at all in a more expensive destination. I work hard and deserve a vacation that allows for the least amount of hassle and lots of sleep. Coron Westown Resort is very beautiful, complete with three pools, a koi pond, and restaurant, but it is located outside of town just enough to need transportation in and out each time by means of tricycle – a motorcycle with attached passenger space. The fixed price is 30 pesos/person (roughly 50 pesos to the USD).
The town itself has a distinct backpacker vibe, the air filled with diesel exhaust and wafts of dirty dreadlocks. People warned me that I would struggle to find plant-based food while visiting the Philippines, but I never had an issue. When traveling with specific dietary needs or preferences, TripAdvisor and the happy cow app make it very eater-friendly. Plus the base for most Asian dishes is either noodles or rice. Just keep the veggies, hold the meat, and voila…vegan! Scroll to the bottom to see some of our plates.
The Coron Island tour was great, featuring 6 stops throughout the amazing islands for snorkeling and swimming. That said, a number of those stops are crowded with other boatloads of visitors, but I think that’s probably always to be expected. Our little drone, Henry, enjoyed stretching his wings over a number of these stops – the Philippines are so photogenic!
- Kayangan Lake
- Twin Lagoons
- Siete Pecados Marine Park
- Beach 91
- Skeleton Wreck
- Malwawey Reef & Coral Garden
- CYC Beach
Overall I wouldn’t recommend the Island Escapade tour. Choose the Coron Island Tour over this one. YES – the stops were GORGEOUS – like straight out of a two-page feature spread of a top travel mag buuuut there are only three beach stops, yet not reliable shade at all of them and to us translucent folks, that is priority numero uno. That reminds me…shoutout to my fellow pales – if you think you have enough sunscreen, you’re wrong. Bring extra moisturizer and aloe – you’ll need it. And if you think you have enough water – add more.
- Malcapuya Island
- Banana Island
- Bulog Dos Island
The day between our island trips was spent diving with Reggae Dive Center, one of the highest rated on the island. A three-tank dive day was a heavy prospect for me in the beginning, but the promise staying out of the sun was appealing. Plus, we ventured through a couple World War II ship wrecks which is an incredible experience. Overall, I wouldn’t say that swimming through them felt super comfortable, in fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so clumsy… it’s hard to know which way is up when the ships settle at wonky angles. I had a run-in with fire coral once on my first dive in 2009 and I’ve been scared to touch anything underwater since. That said, I wouldn’t have been able to navigate without being able to push off the sides a tad (buoyancy is a struggle).
The wrecks we dove were Morazan Maru, and East Tangat, both sunken by US air raids on September 24, 1944, settled in the sand now, home to hoards of sea life and forests of coral – beautifully eerie yet strangely peaceful.
We had a great time in the Philippines but if it’s your goal to head down there, add an extra day or two to treat yourself – relax by the pool, get all the massages, or rent a motorbike and take to the streets – that will be our biggest regret on this trip – that we didn’t go out and adventure on our own. Everything we saw was provided to us.