everythINg 0n an Island
Sangat! they're on low peak these days I guess. They have this Lambingan Villa that can fit 10 people because it is reaaaaaaaaaaaally spacious PLus it has its own private beach... check their site : sangat.com.ph I will always dream of Kayangan Lake aka Infinity pool and SAngat Island..!
Climb Mount Tapyas
I hiked Mt. Tapyas around 5 PM after I had my pansit merienda at Jackie's Restaurant. I reached the summit where the big cross is located after 30 minutes but some people took 1 hour to get into the top it depends on your level of fitness. I am still healthy though I was soaked in my own sweat. I lose my extra pudding along the way :) It is around 723 big steps so you must have the determination. The trail was cemented with railings that you can use for support when you are tired. At the summit I saw the whole view of the little town of Coron and the bay with islands and islets around. I also love the sunset over Sangat Island. It is advisable to climb early in the morning or around 5 Pm in the afternoon. There is no entrance fee and open 24 hours.
Off-the-beaten-path things to do in Coron
Aside from the many popular things to do in Coron that have been mentioned many times already, here are a few that are still off the beaten path:
1. Explore the mangrove forests and their ruyukans (water channels). You may do this with a kayak or hire a small bangka (the bigger ones may not fir the narrow channels). A few of the good ones are at the mounth of Dipulao bay, Bintuan bay, Minit, and Decalachao river.
2. Climb mount Darala, Busuanga Island's highest peak (600m). You can do it and come down within a day. Bring food and lots of water. For a long and gentle climb, start from Mabintangen. For a mountaineer's climb, start from Pali or Balisungan. Even better, bring a sleeping bag and stay overnight. Seeing the sunset and the sunrise is worth the trek.
3. Go on a motorbike trek thruogh the dirt roads and mountain trails of the island. You can spend from a few hours to several days. There is a good bike rental in Bangcuang, the owner of which can hook you up with a guide or some local enthusiasts. Thet know routes that go through a lot of scenery and waterfalls.
4. Ride a horse to go up mount Tapyas, through its gentler slope at sition Banga. Last time I checked there was a horse rental outfit in Banga, near the road going to Mabintangen, at the foot of mount tapyas.
5. Makinit is a popular hotspring in Coron. There is however a lesser known hotspring right beside the sea in Bintuan, facing Sangat island.
6. Go bar-hopping is Coron and Tagumpay. Yes there are enough decent bars and restaurants in Coron already.
7. Stay overnight with a sleeping bag or a tent on Calauit island. You will wake up to the grazing of the zebras beside. No they wont harm you.
Coron and the greater Calamian Islands have a lot to offer for repeat visitors. You will never tire of the place. Somebody told me that out of the 7,100+ islands in the Philippines, 2,000+ are in the Calamian group! Why not have one for yourself, for a day, a week, or a lifetime.
Experience nature's wonders at Majika Resort
We had a great 1-week vacation in Coron last April, of which we stayed overnight at Majika Adventure Resort on Apo Island.
From our accommodation in Coron town we took a tricycle to the town's boat terminal behind the public market (We heard that they will be moving the market so that the entire place will be a terminal for all kinds of sea and land transport, and a place for tourist facilities.). We hired and boarded a banca (a motorized wooden boat with outriggers) to go to Majika.
It was an hour-long cruise through sea passages between small islands. The route was scenic. Then we passed through a long "ruyukan", winding through a vast stretch of mangroves. ("Ruyukans" are narrow natural channels through a mangrove forest.)
After emerging from the "ruyukan", the resort shortly came into view. It is a cluster of cottages beside a sandy shore, facing the majestic limestone cliffs of Sangat Island across the channel. Upon landing on the shore, we were greeted by Maggie, the owner, a tall amiable lady who considers herself to be an adventurer-for-life.
We were led to our cottage, where they also brought our things. Our cottage had a vernacular style with a spacious room that accommodates 2 double beds. There is a porch in front overlooking the sea, and a large nicely-done toilet backside.
We were treated to a sumptuous early lunch of Philippine delicacies in the resort's thatched banquet hall. Maggie told us that we will have a busy schedule that day.
Right after lunch, we proceeded by banca (10 minutes) to a nearby Japanese WW2 shipwreck just off the cliffs of Sangat. We only used snorkels, but the water was very clear and the high sun allowed us to clearly see the huge shipwreck below. There was also a lot of fish swimming around us, waiting for morsels. It was great.
Then we went to a hotspring on the shore of Sangat Island. The banca stopped at the edge of a mangrove forest and we got off with our snorkels on. We swam through a very narrow passage through the mangroves in order to reach the hotspring. The hotspring, which is salty, is right on the water, flowing out from under the huge rocks there. A riprap wall was built around it so that a small pool is formed. Outside the pool, a layer of warm water forms on top of the cooler water from the surrounding sea. After immersing in the hot pool, it was very refreshing to dive into the colder sea.
We got back to the resort around 5:00pm. After a short rest, we hiked up the grassy hill behind the resort to see the sunset. It was an easy climb. At the top we were greeted by a panoramic view of Apo island, its many hills, and its mangroves. Beyond are the surrounding seas, the many small islands of different sizes and forms, and the spectacular Sangat Island just across the channel. In the distance is Coron Island (the island, not the town), an even more spectacular limestone formation. As the sun gradually set, the seas turned from shades of aqua to a deep purple. It was dusk when we got down to the resort.
During dinner, Maggie advised us about a special attraction that we have to experience that night. For the entire day we have had great experiences. But nothing would prepare us for the highlight of our trip.
Right after dinner, we were assigned to our kayaks, 2 to 3 persons to each. Led by the resort's guide, we rowed toward a shallow sea. The sea around the resort is protected by surrounding islands. There was hardly a ripple that evening. It was a clear moonless night, eerily quiet, except for the gentle sound of our paddling and the occasional joke about the darkness, etc.
As the lights of the resort receded from view, we were enveloped in darkness, except for starlight. In the unpolluted air of Coron, the stars were shining brightly. We would clearly see the huge swath of the Milky Way. The surrounding islands formed dark silhouettes in the otherwise star-studded sky.
Upon reaching the shallows, we began to see tiny twinkling lights under the water, accentuated by larger disc-like lights on the shallow seabed that shone a few seconds longer. (These are the bio-luminescence of various marine life, from plankton to jellyfishes. The unspoiled seas of Coron have maintained their biodiversity.) When we slapped our paddles on the sea surface, thousands of tiny lights would suddenly flash all around us. We had the same effect when we knocked on our kayak, causing it to vibrate. The wake of our kayaks and the ripples made by our paddles were also glowing, caused by even tinier plankton. After spending a lot of time in the shallows, satisfied, we paddled on to a nearby mangrove forest.
Then the piece-de-resistance. In the distance you do not see anything. But as you get right beside the mangrove forest, you see thousands of fireflies flickering individually. We went further into the mangroves through a channel and soon we were surrounded by a multitude of fireflies. Some were up on the branches while some are hovering inches above the water. The flicker would sometimes lessen and then intensify again. The intense flickering seems to come in waves that move across the mangrove forest, as if the fireflies are reacting to each other. We stayed there for probably an hour (I could not read my watch in the darkness.), just paddling around and gaping at the ever-changing lights. It was one of the most enchanting moments we have experienced, to which nothing could compare.
Needless to say it was a long tiring row back to the resort. But definitely worth the effort many times over. For this experience alone we will definitely go back to Coron, and to Majika Resort.
We woke up late the following morning. We were still too tired to do anything else. After breakfast our banca took us back to Coron town, richer in experience. Until now I have not gotten over that wonderful once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Is this Island private or is anybody can go there and have a picnic?
Re: Sangat Island
We are still undecided whether to stay Sangat Island Reserve or stay in Coron Town and arrange a trip to Sangat Island.
Thanks for your info – that is very helpful.
Re: Sangat Island
Don't know if I'm too late here. My husband and I stayed several nights at Sangat in 2003. We loved it! It is peaceful and quiet. Not a a lot to do, but gorgeous scenery and diving. I would definately stay there over the mainland of Coron.
Re: Sangat Island
well, thank you for that, somertyme. I would get lost myself in the Island sometime late of May 2007!