Monday, July 16, 2012

[CORON] Malcapuya Island

I usually prefer DIY travel over booking packages bundled with accommodations and flights or even just tour packages themselves. For Coron, however, I just chose to let the experts take care of my itinerary. My travel itineraries are perfect for lazy bodies who like waking up at lunch time, walking around for a few hours, and going back to the hotel or guest house to sleep again. No, not for Coron. This paradise is just too beautiful and I really have to experience it. Arriving late in the afternoon at the town center, I had early dinner at the floating restaurant of Zip Line Coron, a new attraction that I no longer tried because it looks like a joke. No offense meant, though. It's just that I've already experienced Lake Sebu and Dahilayan, and they have set the bar so high that each zip line ride that followed all seemed like a juvenile joke. Anyway, a quick side trip to Coron Galeri before I called it a day sufficed to set the itinerary for the next day.

Coron Galeri has around five or six tour packages, most of which cost under a thousand pesos for a minimum of five people. Alone? It is not that big of a problem because joiners are common here. Joiners are solo flight tourists that are included in other groups to fill in the missing seats so the minimum number of people could be reached. I originally signed up and reserved Tour B-2, but since Tour C was also available that morning, I opted to join them instead. They say that Tour C is rarer than either Tour B-1 or B-2, both of which they have on a daily basis, sort of. Tour C has just one destination: Malcapuya Island. A side trip to two other islands is also possible for an extra fee.

The trip lasts over an hour by boat but is definitely not a boring one. If you do not have motion-sickness whatsoever, you'll really enjoy the ride because of the stunning views. At least you could divide your time well between admiring the views and taking a photo instead of thinking hard how and where to puke. Coron is paradise. It is, without a doubt, the most beautiful place I have been to in this country. Its mountain ranges have a thick forest cover bathed in green. Mix that with the ocean’s diverse palette of blue and you have a visual feast that would be quite difficult to forget. I guess I shared that sentiment with the four Chinese on the other side of the boat, the two other Filipino solo travelers, and the sole Korean on board beside me. As we were adoring the amazing backdrop unfolding before our eyes, 1/2 of the boatmen pair was already busy grilling our lunch.

As the boat approached the island, the waters beneath us shifted to a clear shade of green that made the scenery underneath visible enough to be impressive, but the surprise was the island itself. We did not dock by the beach area but rather on the other side that was not as jaw-dropping. This meant having to approach the beach from the back, navigating through the rather tall grass which I feared to be hiding a snake or two. Anyway, all the worries disappear once you set your sights on that azure beach and powdery white sand.

I think I have never had too many WOW thought bubbles floating above my head since I have been to Batanes. Boracay is as stunning but seeing the crowd automatically gives you some sort of looming disappointment. The beach that comes closest to Malcapuya in terms of aesthetics would have to be Anguib, which is just as dazzling but too remote for me. Well, this island is also far-flung but the facilities make up for it somehow, as well as the tourists, who were just enough to give you that sense of community without being annoyingly plenty.

The Chinese worked their cameras and glam shot poses right away while the Korean complained because he thought we were going snorkeling. Of course, no one is prohibiting you from doing that but this simply is not the destination for it. They say there is an area out there where you can see Nemo but then if I really wanted to do that, I would have booked either one of the B tours instead. Malcapuya is a beach. A beautiful beach. The best thing to do is to laze in it, according to me, of course.

What did I do, then? Nothing. I was really excited to test if the Pentax underwater camera that I bought was a joke but there is no getting over laziness. In fact, that is what I always do at a beach: grab a Monobloc chair under a tent and glare at the deep blue until it is time to go home. After resting, I get up and walk around, getting my feet wet and my nape golden brown. No, I do not swim. Why? Well, because I hate salty water. I love salt, like extra salty fries or the like, but I do not like sea water at all. It annoys me. And I hate the feeling when it accidentally finds its way up your nostrils. Oops, yet another digression? Where were we? Ah, yes, walking.

Aside from the cool blue waters, Malcapuya also has rock formations of different colors, the ones calling the most attention being the orange ones. Or were they bright brown? Bright brown? WTF. Sorry, I have no master’s degree in color identification. Anyway, there was even a mini cave where I got in but immediately got out again because I thought I heard something hissing. Eek!

It is said that there is a sandbar on the other side of the island where our boat departed because it was already low tide by the time we left. That sandbar must have been invisible because we never saw one. The other side of the island also offers the clear blue waters but the shore is rather rocky.

After the sumptuous lunch, which was well worth it in my opinion because those grilled fish were heaven, I decided to have a look-see of the hut above the hill that one of the Pinoys was talking about. It was quite a short hike up that hill and the view was magnificent indeed. Although the elevation is not that high to command a good bird’s eye view of the whole group of islands, one would still see several swimming in patches of blue and green. If you have to pose somewhere, then better do it there.

The trip back to Coron was just similar to the one we had earlier except that all of us were dead tired so most of us slept, only to wake up to some occasional wave-slapping episodes because the sea was a bit rough that day going back. I love Malcapuya. It dethrones Anguib on the list of best beaches I have been to. It is one of those places that you just have to see before you die. Tomorrow? Pentax test!

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