What the Philippines is really known for: BEACHES!
As mentioned in my Cebu/Bohol post, we ended up flying into Puerto Princesa, but our main goal was Coron. We looked at ferries from PP to Coron as well as flights, but our best option was to go through El Nido.
We wanted to spend as much time as possible in Coron due to the shipwreck dives (I really wanted to do this). We also didn’t hear that great things about El Nido or Puerto Princesa.
But as I mentioned in the other post, due to Boracay being closed, we had a hard time finding accomodations….at least one good one, I’ll get to this soon.
We ended up booking 6 nights in Coron and one night in El Nido. However, there was a night missing in between the one night in El Nido and Coron- we weren’t sure were to go.
The guide book and some blogs say don’t take the vans at the airport to El Nido because they never leave on time and are a bit expensive, but we ended up paying 500 pesos each and left only 10 minutes after the woman said we would be departing. We ended up sitting with a man from Argentina, T. We had 5 hours to El Nido and so we got to talk with him a lot.
We later met up for dinner.
We stayed at Austria’s guesthouse and restaurant. It was pretty dirty and not that comfortable. They were full for the next day so we found a hotel (Balay Paragua) with AC. This was important. However, when we checked in they told us the AC was out due to “maintenance.” We are pretty sure they just turned it off to save electricity costs. It didn’t turn back on till 6 or 7 pm, but we wanted to use it around 2pm (height of the day for heat).
El Nido has a bit of beach, but during the mornings it is packed with boats waiting to take tourists island hopping. We didn’t do this and enjoyed a quiet town during the day drinking some great smoothies and cocktails. El Nido is packed with tourists and it’s more a place to party as there are a lot of bars and such.
The first night, we were walking around with T and ran into someone we met in Taiwan. It was funny to me because he was this hippie loving anarchy (he says) and all through the major city of Taipei didn’t wear shoes. Now we were in a beach town and he had shoes on. I am still puzzled by this.
Finally, we booked the slow ferry to Coron. The slow ferry takes about 6 hours and is 600-800 pesos cheaper if I remember correctly. If you want to take the fast ferry at 3 hours, I suggest booking ahead because there seemed to be a long line for it versus we showed up 30 minutes before departure and were able to board (the woman thought we wanted the fast ferry as most do and before we could say anything she pointed to the fast ferry). It was funny,
“No, we want the slow ferry.” I said with a smile. She looked surprised.
These tickets include a meal and we weren’t expecting much, but the slow ferry actually provided us a delicious lunch.
There were 3 girls from the UK and they didn’t eat much of the food and I’m pretty sure it’s because it didn’t fit their “high standards.” The way they were talking about the food and the boat has led me to this conclusion.
But, our adventure didn’t stop while on the boat! One of the propellers decided it didn’t want to work anymore so we had an hour and half anchored by an island fixing it. The crew was actually quite quick much to the attempts to slow them down by this European male. He kept going over to where they were working and getting in their way. Just so he could take pictures and I don’t know what. I’m pretty sure if he just stayed in his seat we could have been sailing a lot sooner.
Anyways, because it’s a long ferry, many people start laying down on the cushions or life jackets. I did and once I woke up and this British guy was leaning over me to stare out the window.
- I know it was daylight
- I know he was taking pictures
But really? You don’t lean over sleeping women like that. I bring this up because something happened later.
Finally, we met an Austrian woman who we ran into on an island hopping tour we took the next day. She didn’t recognize us at first with our snorkel gear.
This whole time, I was being bombarded by the hostel we booked, The Hub Backpackers and The Flat (same hostel owner and on the same property). They kept messaging me asking if we were coming and telling me that they were the cheapest lodgings in the city center. This led me, particularly, to start having thoughts about what it was going to be like, which didn’t help them at all.
When we arrived- I can honestly say, it is one of the worse hostels I have ever stayed at and it’s been determined that I have stayed in over 50.
I do not recommend this place- only if you have no other options and only for a night or two. We ended up staying 5 out of the 6 nights, more on this later.
It is owned by a Canadian (white) and Filipina couple. First, once again, the age difference was about 30 years. The Canadian was a bit of a talker, which rubbed me the wrong way completely. I did not like him. Dad gave him some chances. Not me. He called his little sailboat a yacht….
Anyways, he gave us this big spiel about you get what you paid for (again with the cheapest thing). Both Dad and I acknowledge this, but I’m not going to give him a glowing review when it’s average/below average.
The Canadian was even using his little 9 month old baby as a guilt trip to make us stay. Due to the situation of not having anywhere else to go we ended up staying.
There is no AC, just one fan in the room and The Flat didn’t have water at all. There are a lot of brown outs in Coron so it was very hot in the room.
Now, we are also pretty sure the Canadian is a bit of an alcoholic. This hostel is more of a drinking hostel. Not party, but just sit outside and drink.
Don’t expect to sleep at this hostel, I didn’t:
The first night we had a drunk sleepwalker who danced and banged around the room for about 2 hours then had another drunk soul trying to sleep in the wrong bed/room.
The second night the drunk sleepwalker was back, but just to drink and was talking very loudly most of the night.
The third night we had a drunk man that dropped his phone and tried finding it around the bed, but then decided at 2 am to lean over me while I was sleeping. Remember the British guy? This guy actually was from Wales. What’s with men from those English speaking countries and leaning over sleeping/unconscious women?
The fourth night we had a huge group that was talking loudly and finally Dad had to kick them out.
For the 6th night we booked a resort a bit far from town on the way to the airport as we had a flight back to Manila (via layover in Cebu city (again with late bookings and everything being full from the closure of Boracay).
The resort was lovely and what we needed after those nights in the hostel.
Our flights went smooth and we even ran into a couple we met on the boat to Malapascua.
Here are the dives we did in order:
-CYC Coral Reef
-East Tangat Gunboat
We booked with Sea Dive and did 3 days of 3 dives each. The first day in Coron, we did an island hopping/snorkeling tour and saw the skeleton wreck and other corals. But, I rather scuba dive than snorkel.
We had some cool people diving with us. The last day, it was a Frenchman who wasn’t certified yet and just doing a discovery dive (again as he did it on the first day as well). So, if you aren’t sure you like diving and just want to try it, you can do a discovery dive (2 dives). You get a personal instructor to make sure nothing goes wrong and you can only go to a certain depth due to lack of training. He really liked diving after the first day, but it takes 3 days to be certified so he just did another discovery one. However, because of his lack of training he used his oxygen quickly and we had to surface faster than if it was just us. But, truth be told, that was ok because an extra 10 minutes under water doesn’t really offer THAT much especially when we are just looking at corals and clown fish.
The Barracuda Lake was very interesting as it is a mixture of salt and fresh water and you can see the levels when it transitions- it gets fuzzy for a little bit as well as the temperature changes. That was pretty cool experience and different.
For the first dive we rented a gopro camera (please see post on Cebu for an explanation) and that was pretty awesome to have footage of the wrecks.
Because I am not 100% Advanced certified, they said I wouldn’t be able to explore the wrecks fully. However, our dive master took us on the easy one and it was a pretty immersive wreck exploration. I was more than happy with that- I don’t know what the hard one is, but the easy penetration was what I was hoping for!
For those who don’t know diving terminology: dive instructor is someone qualified to give you your diving certification while a dive master is someone how has done a lot of training/diving that they don’t need an extra hand. Both need to be renewed after a certain period of time like a year versus normal certification is valid for life.
Please click here for the post on Cebu and/or Luzon!
See you later!
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