Four days after we landed in Coron we decided to go for a bit of an adventure. As mentioned in our “Estralians are off to Coron” blog post, our goal was to discover some hidden gems in Coron. Our first discovery trip took us to the North Coast. To get to North Busuanga in Coron we decided to rent a motorbike. We think that traveling at your own pace is the best way to explore new places.
Why North Busuanga in Coron
We decided to ride all the way up to North Busuanga because when looking google map in satellite view, we saw that in the North, Coron has many small islands that looked quite close to the shore. We thought that it would be a cool experience to get a kayak and go explore these islands. After some ore googling where to rent a kayak in North Busuanga we read about a place called Vicki’s guesthouse in Maricaban Bay. Lots of people in TripAdvisor talked about a lovely lady, called Brenda, who works there and who could hook you up with a kayak (later on we found out that she now works together with The Cheeky Diver Inn).
Anyway, with all this information…or actually with F*#K all information, we packed up our wet bag, fueled up our pink motorbike, put on some good tunes and hit the road.
Estralians tip: When entering Maricaban Bay to google maps choose the longer distance (the difference is only 0,3 km). We chose the shortest distance and ended up riding through some very rough roads. When you get close to Coron Airport, just remember to go straight and NOT left.
Reaching our take-off spot – Maricaban Bay, North Busuanga in Coron
It took us about 1,5 hours to ride to Maricaban Bay. After reaching the area, it was fairly easy to locate Vicki’s guesthouse. (It is at the end of the one and only road that goes to Maricaban Bay jetty.)
After reaching Vicki’s guesthouse we asked if they have any kayaks to rent. We then got informed that they don’t, but that there is a lady called Brenda who may have a kayak or two. To find Brenda’s place she told us to follow the road back and look for a blue Toyota Hilux Ute :).
As we were not exactly sure how far back to we have to drive we kept asking from people on the side of the road if they knew where to find Brenda. Almost everyone had the same answer: “Yes, follow the road until Hilux” or “Find blue car sir”. By the sounds of it, everyone knew which vehicle this Brenda lady was using as her daily commute. (And rightfully so, as it was the nicest vehicle in the entire village.)
After finding the car we knocked on the door and asked for Brenda. We then got informed that Brenda was on a holiday in Manila. Not to worry though, as the gentleman greeting us was his associate and was gladly going to rent us a kayak. Bit of haggling and we got two snorkeling masks and a kayak for 500 Peso for all day. That said we visited Coron in the low season (June 2019). During high season expect to pay at least 500 PHP just for the kayak for a day and 150-200 Pesos per mask.
Our Grand Shopping Tour in woop-woop
Before taking the kayak on the water we decided to go and do some grocery shopping 😊 We had visioned a lovely day on an empty beach, eating juicy tropical fruits and cracking open some fresh coconuts.
Estralians travel tip: Preparation is the key to a successful voyage: Purchase your fruit, snacks, and water from bigger towns as you might not have much of a selection in smaller places.
In between us two, we have more than 18 years of traveling experience but still manage to forget to take our own advice. As we hadn’t pre-purchased anything, we went through 5 different corner stores.1st & 2nd store didn’t have water or fruit but we managed to get some cookies from there, 3rd store had their last bottle of water (COLD, great success), 4th store had some locally grown bananas (Masarap) and the 5th store had apples 😊. Not perfect but it’ll do.
The helpful associate
After our grand shopping tour, we went back to Brenda’s place to hit the water. Her associate, whose name btw is Dodong, was super helpful and friendly. Because we didn’t manage to get more than 1.5 l of water Dodong said that he could fill up some of his reusable water bottles and borrow them. What a champ.
Before taking off Dodong asked us how many hours are you staying for. We looked at each other and said that we are not sure. We then mentioned that we did previously some research and found that there is an island called Rock Island that seemed very nice. He then laughed and said that it is too far to kayak. He said that there will be an afternoon pour down. It’ll be so heavy that we won’t see anything in front of us. He said that he doesn’t recommend to be on the open water with a kayak when that hits. We then asked where is the closest place that we could find white sand and clear water. He then said that once we get out of the Maricaban Bay, there will be white sand everywhere.
Let’s wander away and discover our own paradise – North Busuanga in Coron
About an hour after our arrival we were ready to hit the road. When we started paddling, we weren’t exactly sure where we were heading. Nor did we know how long it will take us. About 30 min of paddling toward the open waters we finally saw an island from distance. We were not sure what island it was, but it looked very tempting. We had no idea how far this island was but we wanted to try to reach it (it seemed about 2 km but later on we found out it was nearly 6 km).
An hour later, we reached the (maybe) halfway point and were now in open water. As we progressed further the waves started getting higher and the wind was getting stronger. (Unfortunately, the wind was blowing against us and not from behind us) While paddling we were grateful that 5 months ago we started going to the gym. All the hard work at the gym was definitely paying off. Kayaking without a clear idea of where you’re going is both mentally and physically exhausting especially if you are new to rowing (which Estralians most definitely were).
Soon enough our hands got wrecked and covered with blisters. Despite that, we “played through the pain” and pushed forward. Estralians have a motto to “Never give up”.
The storm is coming
One of our close friends Tamor is a champion in rowing back in the Baltic countries. While rowing, we remembered him saying that you need to work smarter not harder. The only thing you have to do is find a rhythm together and keep going. So, with his wise words on our mind, Simon kept calling out….left, right, left, right, left, right… and we rowed together like a well-oiled machine!
Even with the best of our efforts, we noticed that there is a chance that we wouldn’t reach the island before the storm. Being out in the open water with a kayak with the storm coming was not the kind of holiday experience we wanted to have.
A glimpse of paradise in the distance – North Busuanga in Coron
Our efforts didn’t go to waste though. Seemingly around 500 m Southwest of us we noticed an empty beach that seemed to have white sand and clear water. (We thought that it will take us 5 minutes to get there but in reality, it took 15). After a quick debate, we decided to turn our kayak around and head for that beach.
As we reached the beautiful beach, we noticed some heavy rain clouds in the distance. At that moment, we were not sure whether the clouds will pass or come straight at us. 20 minutes later it turned out that turning around, was one of the best decisions. It literally started pouring down rain. You couldn’t see more than 10 meters in front of you. Later on, we heard that there was a Typhoon near Manila and Palawan was getting the tail end of it)
As we were looking for cover, we noticed some seating areas. (Probably meant for boat tour lunches). We decided to carry our belongings under one of those cabanas and settle in. We put on some music, covered the table with our lunch (fruits and crackers) and kicked back and waited for the storm to pass. Even with the rain, it was great as we were surrounded by palm trees, white sand, and beautiful lagoon-like water.
Another Estralians travel trip: Always carry a pack of playing cards with you. It is a great way to kill the time, not only at the beach but also at the airport waiting for your next flight.
Sunshine in the rain
About 15 minutes later, the rain stopped and suddenly it was super calm like the storm never even happened. It was absolutely beautiful, not a single soul around just the two of us swimming, snorkeling, exercising with coconuts, admiring massive seashells and just relaxing.
Time to head back
Heading back to base was all smooth sailing as the water was super calm. We decided to stay in the shallower parts gliding over the corals. Water was so clear that it felt like you are floating on nothing 😀 You could see the bottom of the ocean with all the marine life going on about their daily lives. This is what makes Palawan so beautiful, even on a day with 95% cloud cover, the water is still as beautiful as ever.
After about 45 minutes of rowing, we were back at Dodongs place where we took a quick shower to wash off the saltwater. We then packed up our belongings, thanked the lovely gentleman and hit the road back to Coron.
Later that evening, when we were telling our host about our adventure, he told us that we should have mentioned him about our plans. Apparently, him and his mates have a summer house in Maricaban Bay. He said that it is located in the area where you can see the rear dugongs. Ou my….what a shame that we didn’t have this conversation prior to our trip.
Anyway, taking this trip was absolutely worth it as it tested our ability to work together as a team and challenge ourselves. Plus, the beach that we reached was as gorgeous and secluded as we had hoped. (If you are not physically and mentally fit then we recommend hiring a boat instead. Doing the trip with a kayak is not easy and will require previous experience.)
Estralians recommendation: When traveling to Coron don’t just settle with the island-hopping tours. Rent a bike and go wonder around the island, there is so much more to do and see in Coron.