From the air, I see a smattering of green-covered islands floating in the turquoise sea. As the plane makes a dive towards one of the bigger islands, I can see huge limestone cliffs fringed with forest cover. The trip from Busuanga airport to Coron took us through grassy fields and tree-filled hills. The inclement weather cannot conceal the beauty of the landscape.
When we sailed out to Kayangan Lake, we were amazed by karst upon towering karst. The water wore a green hue from afar and a very clear quality when we peered down. I've been mesmerized by the karsts of Halong Bay in Vietnam but I feel Palawan can hold its own with its far clearer waters that allow you to see farther down.
OF LAKES AND LIMESTONES. Kayangan Lake lives up to its billing as the cleanest lake in the Philippines. When the wind pauses and the waves slow down to small ripples, you can see straight down to the bottom. Over at Banul Beach, a stretch of white, fine sand meets steel-grey limestone cliffs with pockets of green growth. Seven small islands form the snorkel-friendly Siete Pecados. There are other beautiful beaches and places in Calamianes though some are considered ancestral domains and are therefore closed to the public.
Not to venture far when the darkness creeps in, going up to Mt. Tapyas at sunset is in simplest terms, just poetically breathtaking. When the dusk falls, Lambingan Bridge by the wharf seduces lovers of all sorts to go romantic over the beautiful scenery the darkness cannot cloak.
OUT OF AFRICA. For a slice of the African wildlife experience, it's worth the 4-hour inland trip and a short boat ride to venture to Calauit far north of Coron. This 37,000 hectare game preserve and wildlife sanctuary was created in 1976 by then-President Ferdinand Marcos in response to appeals by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to help save animals caught in the crossfire of the civil strifes in Africa. The giraffes, with their stature, are visible even from afar while the diffident zebras are almost always on the trot. There are rare animals here including the endemic bearcats and the adorable Palawan mousedeer.
It's exhilarating to island-hop and explore more of Coron. Which is why my buddy, Ironwulf, and I chose to include it among the sites for our photo safari series. Join us in Backpack Photography: Coron from April 23-26 and get inspired to shoot and learn in this amazing place. Interested? Visit www.ferdzdecena.com/workshops, email us at backpackphoto at gmail dot com or you can register here.
Attribution: Two for the Road, 1998 Anvil Publishing • Philippines Travel Guide, 2005, Jens Peters Publication