Coron, Palawan. 7-11 December
In Coron we go on two dives, though one considerably more fun than the other. Our first dive is off a scooter when I lose control riding down a steep, gravelly decline. Thankfully it’s the slowest crash in history at 20kmph and we get off easy with just a few bumps and scratches (Lauren breaks her fall mostly with my phone). A good Samaritan on the road helps fix up the bike and we’re right back on it. Still a good reminder to keep driving carefully and not get too cocky about my newfound scooter-riding skills!
Without any further accidents we make it to Ocam-Ocam beach on the far side of the island, where the salt water cleans off the dirt and little sucker fish start eating away at the loose bits of skin on my sore leg, much to Lauren’s delight.
The island hopping tour in Coron is pretty nice, with a few good snorkeling spots, including a 25m long Japanese shipwreck hit by the US during WW2, which has become a favourite hangout spot for loads and loads of little nosy fish.
After another fun day out on and in the water we end the night at a rooftop bar with a few people from the boat for a couple drinks and views over the bay.
We have kept the best for last when we dive down a second time, this time from a boat into the water! It has been a long time dream of ours to see a certain marine mammal in the wild, and when we find out this might be possible in Coton we jump at the opportunity.
As it’s not included in any regular snorkeling and diving tours on offer, we do a bit of research and in the end find a company willing to organize a tour for us. On our last day in Coron we’re picked up from our hotel before dawn and drive to the northwestern tip of the island. Finally the road turns into a dirt path and 30 minutes later we arrive at a rickety old pier in the middle of nowhere where a boat is waiting for us to take us onto the water.
When we arrive at the site just one other boat is out on the water and two divers are looking for the animal in question. After some time we begin to despair, is it actually here? Then someone blows a whistle, which is our signal to jump into the water and swim towards the divers as fast as we can, and suddenly we see something in the distance: 2,5 meters long, brown and magnificent, our ‘white whale’, a Dugong!! (aka Manatee)
These gentle giants are pretty shy and usually only come up for air every 6 minutes, before descending back into the deep to feed on seagrass. We’re only snorkeling so have to wait until the Dugong appears from the darkness below, but today we are extremely lucky. The second time the Dugong comes up to take a deep breath he swims alongside us for a few minutes, and we couldn’t be happier!
It’s a totally unexpected and perfect end to our time in the Philippines, which has been superb. For now we prepare for the next step in our journey, but hope to return here one day!