Corals, Cliffs and Crustaceans in Coron, Palawan

Corals, Cliffs and Crustaceans in Coron, Palawan

My mom’s 70th birthday was coming up so the family got together for a week-long trip to stunningly beautiful Coron, Palawan. With two of my siblings permanently residing on foreign shores, this was the first time ever that the entire family (with spouses) was actually complete.

Already in her twilight years, our mother has gotten everything material that she could possibly want out of life, so she couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present than this now rare occasion of familial solidarity. Here are pictures from our week-long family adventure.

Our Cebu Pacific propeller plane touches down safely in Busuanga.
Coron, Palawan

Around Town

Coron Village Lodge

Our home away from home for a week.
Coron, Palawan

Unbeknownst to us, Coron is known primarily for its world-class diving spots. It doesn’t have any real beaches to speak of, which is probably why there weren’t any 5-star resorts around (at least as of this writing). Many of the hotels appeared to be geared mainly towards scuba divers.

We rented two apartments, each of which had two rooms housing six people each.
Coron, Palawan

Ghetto-fabulous. Spacious but spartan with a small kitchenette, the hardest part was sharing one bathroom between six people. It was the kind of bathroom too where there was no formal division (nor curtain) between the shower and toilet. 😯

Notice Ren’s feigned optimism regarding the bathroom situation? πŸ˜†
Coron, Palawan

Despite the less than 5-star amenities, the rooms were clean and comfortable with good air-conditioning.
Coron, Palawan

I’ve never seen annatto trees before so I thought these were pretty cool. The seeds from the fruit are used as a spice (achiote) to impart color and flavor to certain foods. Locally, it’s often used as a cheaper alternative to saffron when making paella.
Coron, Palawan

Our favorite part of the resort? The restaurant/bar where Ren and I spent many an afternoon and evening downing bucket after bucket of ice-cold SMLs. They had decent and inexpensive food as well, though they were out of many items most of the time. 😑
Coron, Palawan

A very eclectic chandelier
Coron, Palawan

Mt. Tapyas

Mt. Tapyas is a low-lying mountain with 718 steps leading up to a large cross and a spectacular view of Coron Bay and the adjoining islands of Calamianes. Here’s the base.
Coron, Palawan

Off my fat ass goes. The things I do just to get a decent shot. πŸ˜†
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

100 down, 618 to go. Notice Ren’s shoulders starting to slump? πŸ™‚
Coron, Palawan

The view becomes more breathtaking the higher up you go.
Coron, Palawan

400 baby. Time to take a little breather.
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

I see the end in sight.
Coron, Palawan

Welcome to the 700 Club.
Coron, Palawan

The summit! It’s hella hot up here though, as evidenced by Jen seeking refuge at the base of the cross seconds after reaching the top. πŸ˜†
Coron, Palawan

Spectacular views indeed.
Coron, Palawan

This flower looked like a purple vajayjay.
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

Touchdown!
Coron, Palawan

Coron Public Market

Located close to the loading docks, our mom bought fresh food from this market early in the morning each and every day. Cooking all the food directly on the boat, our boatmen prepared some fantastic and very memorable lunches for us.

You’ll see pictures of our fabulous feasts towards the bottom of this post.
Coron, Palawan

Dried versions of these long, elongated squid referred to locally as “ballpen” squid. Though we didn’t get to taste them prepared this way, we did enjoy them adobo style cooked in their own ink.

Very interesting and just one of a few seafood dishes that I had the privilege of trying for the first time here in Coron.
Coron, Palawan

Dried fish
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

Everyone loves a good sausage. (That’s what she said! πŸ™‚ )
Coron, Palawan

Freshly harvested lato or seaweed.
Coron, Palawan
*Photo courtesy of my brother Erwin and his Panasonic Lumix GF1.

Coron, Palawan
*Photo courtesy of my brother Erwin and his Panasonic Lumix GF1.

Seaweed salad with tomatoes and onions. If you’ve never had lato before, they’re quite interesting in flavor and texture. Those little balls pop in your mouth and release a somewhat slimy liquid. When fresh like they are here, they taste of the sea without being fishy. Very nice.
Coron, Palawan
*Photo courtesy of my brother Erwin and his Panasonic Lumix GF1.

Loading Dock

Obviously, this was where we got on the boat at 8 am and got off at 5 pm every day.
Coron, Palawan

Our boat looked like this, with a capacity of about 10 adults.
Coron, Palawan

Ren excited to go snorkeling.
Coron, Palawan

All aboard mate!
Coron, Palawan

Island Hopping

Uhhh…no comment. πŸ™‚
Coron, Palawan

My two handsome nephews
Coron, Palawan

We frequently passed this island known locally as the “Sleeping Giant.” Notice why? πŸ˜‰
Coron, Palawan

Cool picture of my sister BJ, my mom, and my sister-in-law Jen.
Coron, Palawan

Kayangan Lake

Approaching these misty, limestone cliffs, I’m reminded of the opening scene from Jurassic Park. I wonder what secrets are kept by these beautiful, ancient formations?
Coron, Palawan

As we approach the island, the fog begins to lift.
Coron, Palawan

Quick family picture before getting off the boat to explore. My brother Francis and his family were yet to arrive.
Coron, Palawan

To reach Kayangan Lake, you have to do this 15-minute climb up the face of the mountain then walk down into the lake. Not too bad though the steps were uneven and a bit treacherous at parts.
Coron, Palawan

A magnificent view from the summit.
Coron, Palawan

Uh oh, more boats coming means more people so we better get moving…
Coron, Palawan

A colorful cave along the way
Coron, Palawan

As if inviting you, the dense forest finally opens up, revealing this breathtaking, wondrous secret. Known also as the Blue Lagoon, Kayangan Lake is a sight to behold.
Coron, Palawan

With brackish water (part salt/part fresh) that tasted mostly fresh, the water of Kayangan Lake is supposedly the cleanest and clearest in the Philippines. No arguments here.
Coron, Palawan

With nary a ripple in sight nor a sound in the air, places like this demand stillness. This is a sacred sight for the locals so please remember this when you visit.
Coron, Palawan

Even these planks were beautiful.
Coron, Palawan

Ren striking a pose before getting in the crystal clear, blue-green water.
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan
*Photos taken with a disposable Kodak underwater camera.

With mind-boggling stalagmites rising from the lake’s floor, only the surrounding limestone cliffs really know how this mysterious lake came to be.
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

I couldn’t really tell, but the lake must have been around 50-80 feet at its deepest parts. Even at those depths, I could still see the bottom, which is a testament to just how clean these waters were.
Coron, Palawan

Primordial soup or the last reminders of an ancient, forgotten civilization?
Coron, Palawan

After the tiring hike back to the boat, Erwin and Jen catch some z’s on this make-do hammock.
Coron, Palawan

Limestone Cliffs

These magnificent, towering rock formations are reason enough to visit Palawan if you’ve never been.
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

My two pretty nieces and nephew chilling out on the boat’s bow with their uncle Erwin.
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

With a precipitous, near-vertical face, this cliff exemplifies sheer beauty. πŸ˜‰
Coron, Palawan
*Photo courtesy of my brother Erwin and his Panasonic Lumix GF1.

Coron, Palawan

And of course, the most beautiful sight of them all, my lovely RenΓ©e swathed in an ocean of blue… πŸ™‚
Coron, Palawan

Snorkeling

Coron, and Palawan in general, is known for its superb snorkeling and dive sites. Torpedo-like Raffa can’t wait to get in the drink.
Coron, Palawan

Apparently, neither can Ren. πŸ™‚
Coron, Palawan

Stunningly beautiful coral gardens
Coron, Palawan
*Photos taken with a disposable Kodak underwater camera.

No shortage of fishes here!
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

Miguel feeding the fishes a few pieces of bread.
Coron, Palawan

I even had them eating out of my hand!
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

The spectrum of fishes here was simply amazing.
Coron, Palawan

Even through his mask and snorkel, you could see Raffa’s giddiness from a very satisfying session of fish feeding.
Coron, Palawan

Twin Lagoons

An amazing site accessible only when the tides are low, you have to swim through this little crevice in the rock to get to the lagoons within.

What makes this site even more incredible are its thermoclines, which are different layers of abrupt temperature changes within the water, so swimming from one spot to the next would take you from icy cold to cozy warm in an instant. Amazing!
Coron, Palawan
*Photo courtesy of my brother Erwin and his Panasonic Lumix GF1.

Here’s Ren right before entering the crevice…
Coron, Palawan
*Photos taken with a disposable Kodak underwater camera.

…and here she is again surfacing on the other side.
Coron, Palawan

Because of the thermoclines, the water had an oily appearance, which you could kinda sorta see here. That’s Ren flailing about. πŸ˜†
Coron, Palawan

Around the Islands

Here’s Erwin and Jen snorkeling at Coral Gardens.
Coron, Palawan

Mangrove forests, home to the Palawan mangrove snake and the elsuive tamilok.
Coron, Palawan

I know you’re in there somewhere tamilok. You may have evaded me this time, but you won’t be so lucky the next. 😈
Coron, Palawan

Crystal clear waters
Coron, Palawan

Now THAT’S a vision – my beautiful and sexy wife Ren getting down to Drake’s Fireworks featuring Alicia Keys. Hamana hamana! 😯
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

What the heck is Marianna up to…?
Coron, Palawan
*Photo courtesy of my brother Erwin and his Panasonic Lumix GF1.

Oh I see. Banzaaiiii!…!
Coron, Palawan
*Photo courtesy of my brother Erwin and his Panasonic Lumix GF1.

Coron, Palawan

Here’s crazy Marianna again pretending to eat a jellyfish. Don’t try this at home folks.
Coron, Palawan
*Photo courtesy of my brother Erwin and his Panasonic Lumix GF1.

Coron, Palawan

Man, it’s a long boat ride…
Coron, Palawan

Feels like EDSA during rush hour.
Coron, Palawan

Gastronomic Adventures

Floating Feasts

Just because there weren’t many interesting restaurants in Coron didn’t mean that I’d come back with no gastronomic tales to tell. As previously mentioned, our mom bought fresh food at the market every morning which our boatmen painstakingly cooked for lunch onboard.

Here’s the grill located towards the stern of the boat.
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

Known locally as surahan, these fish with the brightly colored orange rings on their tails were amazingly good. They were so succulent and tender that my brother went so far as saying that they reminded him of Chilean sea bass. Hey, at only PHP 10 per fish, sura-hand me another one dude! πŸ˜€
Coron, Palawan

Roasted eggplants in paradise.
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

Succulent crabs
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

Here’s the entire spread. If you’re wondering what that tongue-looking thing at the bottom is, it’s a cluster of fish eggs.
Coron, Palawan

A feast fit for a king, or a matriarch. πŸ˜‰
Coron, Palawan

Special thanks go out to our hardworking and affable boatmen who made each meal (and excursion) that much more enjoyable and memorable. Here’s Renante preparing the soy-calamansi dipping sauce for our liempo (pork belly).
Coron, Palawan

Here’s hazel-eyed Loloy cutting up our eggplant.
Coron, Palawan

Santino’s Grill

Among the few restaurants that we tried, Santino’s Grill was the only one worth any ink. We wound up enjoying two meals here, including our farewell dinner.

Crispy kangkong
Coron, Palawan

Steamed crabs
Coron, Palawan

Seaweed salad
Coron, Palawan

Their house specialty – baby back ribs. These were exceptionally good, prompting Ren to call them the best ribs she’s ever had in the Philippines. Finger-lickingly dee-licious!
Coron, Palawan

Scuba Diving

Almost everyone in my family scuba dives, including 10-year old Raffa, so a few of us went on a dive or two. I’m not really a fan of scuba diving so I sat this one out with Ren.
Coron, Palawan

A-ok!
Coron, Palawan
*Photo courtesy of my brother Erwin and his Panasonic Lumix GF1.

Fish feeding in the shallow area
Coron, Palawan
*Photos courtesy of the dive master’s underwater digital camera.

Coron, Palawan

Fish schooling. Why they’re schooling in this pattern only they know.
Coron, Palawan

Enough with the kiddie shit, time to go to the deep end.
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

I have no idea what Erwin’s counting…
Coron, Palawan

Pretty blue fishies
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio…
Coron, Palawan

Who’s Yorick?
Coron, Palawan

They found Nemo…and Nemo, Jr…and Nemo the Third.
Coron, Palawan

On fourth and long, Erwin and BJ channel Ochocinco and go deep for the Hail Mary…
Coron, Palawan

Beautiful but menacing lion fish. You can look, but don’t touch!
Coron, Palawan

Three’s Company?

In parting, I have to show you this all too bizarre love triangle.

On this one small island were these two cats and monkey that lived communally. They survived off the food that tourists gave them (which was a lot) and they rested together in the thicket pictured below. Can you see the cat through the clearing?

They appeared to live harmoniously as well, with the monkey even caressing one of the cats’ faces at one point. Bizarre indeed!
Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

Here’s a shot of all three of them together. It’s tough to see the monkey since he’s being obscured by the dark roots, but you can click on the image to see where he’s sitting.
Coron, Palawan

With a week’s worth of snorkeling, sunshine and seafood under our belts, we complete the second leg of our mom’s 70th birthday celebration and fly back to Manila for the final installment of this 3-post mini-series. Stay tuned. πŸ˜‰

More on Palawan

A New Natural Wonder in Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Underground River, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Palawan Mangrove Forest
Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa
Tamilok, the World’s Longest Oyster
The Edge of the World
Kayangan Lake, Coron, Palawan
Ay kay Layo ng Lamayo!

JB Macatulad

JB Macatulad

JB is one half of Will Fly for Food and its chief itinerary maker.Β Β He's the one to blame for all the crappy photos and verbal diarrhea on this blog.Β Β Don't listen to him.
JB Macatulad


There are 5 comments for this article
  1. march gary at 12:48 am

    Is this accessible to wheelchair bound people? Pls.advise. thanks

  2. JB Macatulad at 6:33 am

    Hi Gary,

    I’m sorry to say that the facilities in Palawan (and in the Philippines in general) aren’t quite up to speed. You’ll need to do a lot of transferring to and from the boat, which can often be very unstable.

    If you’d like to visit Palawan, I suggest more upscale resorts such as the El Nido group or Amanpulo. These are 5-star resorts so will be better equipped to accomodate travelers with physical disabilities. You can Google them online to find their websites. I hope this helps. πŸ™‚

    JB

  3. Marianna at 11:00 am

    Hi Tito JB it’s Marianna.can you bring us all back?hahaha πŸ™‚

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