Our last stop before returning to Manila was the Island of Busuanga and its main town of Coron. The perspective of some more island hopping but especially some of the world’s best wreck diving made us take the long boat journey from El Nido upon ourselves. What was supposed to be a trip of about 8 hours, turned into a 12 hour odyssey. After 4 hours Dolf and I got sick – not because of the rough sea or the boat being to shaky. No, we figured that we both had something bad for breakfast and it felt terrible. Anxious to arrive in Coron, we noticed that the boat turned around all of a sudden. Apparently another boat of the same company had engine problems and needed to be towed into Coron Harbor. The timing for a maneuver like that could not have been worse.
The whole maneuver cost us about 4 hours and we arrived late at night – completely exhausted from the long trip and the effects of our light food poisoning.
Coron is a busy and bustling port town with its two main sources of income namely fish and tourism. Both of those are pretty evident while strolling through the town. The fish market with its enormous variety of fish and constant trading going on was especially interesting.
Still not feeling a hundred percent, we arranged motorbikes for the next day to explore the Busuanga. After an one hour trip to Concepcion, a small village on the east coast, Dolf and I decided to head back to Coron to eat, rest and then head to the west. We were still feeling exhausted and didn’t feel like continuing in the hottest hours of the day.
After some well deserved rest we both headed for the little fishermen’s village of Marcilla. There was supposed to be a very beautiful and remote beach, hardly ever visited by tourists. Sounded great and after checking the distance, the trip should not take that long. However, our map was not scaled and the trip took well more than an hour going along some really steep, rocky and dusty roads. Going along the hills lining the bay, we we could catch a glimpse of the bay every now and then. The views were amazing. We almost decided to turn around at one point but were happy that we did not after arriving at our final destination – the beach. There was not a single soul on that beach. The sun had just begun to slowly set and the atmosphere was great. After that long trip and being uncertain if we would ever make it, we really felt like having discovered a hidden gem. Unfortunately we didn’t have too much time left since we didn’t want to ride in the dark all the way. We took a dip in the warm and shallow water, floating around and reminiscing about our day and the trip to the beach. After snapping some pictures we already had to leave. With the sun ahead of us, we made our way along the coast and through the hillside of Busuanga back to Coron Town.
The second day we decided to do yet another island hopping trip. The special thing about this one was supposed to be the stop at two lakes inside of Coron Island – Lake Kayangan and Lake Barracuda, famous for its thermo clines. The scenery was beautiful but by that time at least I felt a little bit bored of island hopping. Maybe I just had a bad day but I couldn’t it enjoy the day as much as the previous trips in El Nido.
The highlight of our stay was supposed to be the wreck diving which Coron is so famous for. Several warships and cargo vessels of the Japanese Fleet sunk during World War II can be found in the bay. We chose to dive with Rocksteady Dive, a German run dive shop which operates a small fleet of colorful and very comfortable dive boats. We booked three dives and all would take us to different shipwrecks at depths at around 20 – 30 meters. The visibility wasn’t the greatest but the sight of a huge ship lying on the bottom of the ocean, covered in coral and surrounded by marine life made more than up for it. The most interesting and exciting part was diving into the wrecks itself. It was narrow, dark and gloomy and we could only dive into the wrecks one after the other. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to do more wreck diving soon.
On our last day before boarding the ferry to Manila, Chris did a couple of more dives whereas Dolf and I decided to spend the day relaxing. The day would be exhausting enough with a 17 hour ferry trip ahead of us. We boarded the cargo ship in the evening and took off into the dark night. Finally we all three realized that our trip is now almost over and we would have to split soon.