My day started the same way it did on my second day. The skies were overcast and a downpour is threatening. I fervently prayed that the skies clear up because a gale warning would mean that the island tour would be cancelled. And yet again, He didn’t fail me as it the skies started opening up.
My third day in Coron is mainly island hopping. This covers three major destinations: Malcapuya Island, Banana Island and Bulog Dos Island.
Our first stop for the day is Malcapuya Island, known for its white sand beach and the coral gardens surrounding it. On good days, one can encounter manta rays. And after sailing through rough waters, we were able to reach the island after an hour and a half. On good conditions, it takes an hour to reach it by boat.
The beauty of Malcapuya Island is immediately palpable as the boat docked. For a beach bum, it is an ultimate destination with its fine white sand and the clear waters. To shield travelers from the scorching sun, there are tents set up. There is also a buko stand if you get thirsty from soaking in the water and the sun.
About 500 meters from the shore, there are coral gardens. To access it, however, one must hang on the sides of small boat or locally called “bangka”. One trip of the bangka is about thirty minutes and can cover a lot of of the coral gardens already. It costs PHP 50.00, a small consolation for the boatman.
The coral garden offers a visual feast as fishes of varied colors swam around us. To capture up close the beauty of these fishes, one can feed them bread crumbs. Again, too bad for me as I do not have any underwater camera.
Our next destination for the day is Banana Island which is about 15 to 30 minutes away from Malcapuya. This is where we had our lunch, buffet style. Just like the previous day, our lunch is composed of a local fish dish, steamed crabs, grilled pork and grilled chicken. Our dessert is composed of watermelon and mangoes.
After lunch, we are free to roam around the island. As my lack of sleep was catching up with me, I didn’t indulge in any of the water activities in the island such as swimming and snorkeling. My fellow travelers commended the coral gardens in Banana Island as the most beautiful of the coral gardens they’ve seen so far. It is also quite easy to navigate as it is a bit shallow and nearer to the shore.
For me, I just walked around the island. Just like Malcapuya, Banana Island has fine white sand and clear waters. Along the shore, I saw a bunch of small rocks. To bide my time, I tried piling them up, remembering what I learned in my previous Sagada trip that if you are successfully able to pile up 10 rocks without it falling apart, then you’ve attained inner peace. Of course I already know the answer to this even before I piled them up. The best I could manage is eight.
After my “rocky” expedition, I just sat down and relaxed as I watched my environment with perpetual bliss. I noticed fellow travelers trying to catch a crab on one of the large holes on the shore. Though they failed to make the crabs come out of their hiding it was quite amusing how they persisted.
Bulog Dos Island
Bulog Dos Island is our last stop for the day. The island is smaller compared to the first two. Bulog Dos is adjacent to Bulog Island which is a private island owned by Two Seasons. It is said that Maria Sharapova, a top-notch women’s tennis player, has stayed at the Coron Two Seasons hotel.
On low tide, one can see the sand bar connecting Bulog Dos to Bulog Island. However, access to Bulog island is not allowed to the public as it is a private property. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the sand bar as it was already late in the afternoon. Around the island, one can also snorkel and swim because the waters are also clear.
At around 5 PM, we were already back in Coron main town. Though I am happy nothing untoward happened during the day, I am beginning to feel the nostalgia as I try to enjoy my last few hours in Coron. Although it is quite taxing, I still enjoyed my day.
After taking a bath and resting for a bit, I proceeded to the town proper to buy pasalubong. Coron’s main product is cashew nuts and they’ve found quite a lot of ways to cook it, from spicy to caramelized. As always, I bought the customary refrigerator magnet. It seems that travelling isn’t complete without a refrigerator magnet.
Later, I dropped by a cafe to chill down before going back to my lodging. For foodies, there are a lot of restaurants in Coron that offer a plethora of meals, mostly seafood. For those who don’t like seafood (just like me), the restaurants also offer vegetable and meat meals.
The most famous delicacy is probably the balinsasayaw soup. The name is derived from a local bird whose nests are being cooked into soup and is said to be one of the best tasting soups. Getting the nests, though, is a challenge as the locals have to get it on the cliffs or inside very tight caves. I didn’t get the chance to try the soup though.
I wrapped the day earlier by continuing to read Love in the Time of Cholera by Colombian author and Noble Peace Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez. This is my 500th novel and I am reading it on my friends’ recommendations.
And thus ends my last night in Coron. I don’t think I’m ready yet to go back to my tedious reality in the Big City. If only I could extend more.