Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Amigos' Coron Camino Part 1. Island Hopping through Siete Pecados, Coral Gardens and Kalachuchi Beach

The Amigos are always up for any excuse to do a "camino".  This time, Amigo Ross was home from Dubai so we planned a quick getaway ... to Coron, Palawan.  

Palawan contributes about 1,000 islands to the Philippines' total of 7,107 so it seemed just right that island hopping was first on our itinerary.    A good friend had recommended that we get a private tour which guaranteed that we would have the boat and the schedule all to ourselves.  

First stop was a popular coral reef called Siete Pecados Marine Park, a small area teeming with live corals and colourful fish..  There was big sign that asked visitors to please help preserve this natural habitat so ... no stepping on corals, no fishing, no feeding the fish.  Look but don't touch!

While we were busy gawking under water, our boat captain-cum-cook Morris was starting to grill up our lunch.  Hey, the sign didn't say anything about No Cooking!

After enjoying Siete Pecados,  the boat took us further out to sea to another snorkelling area called Coral Gardens.  

The current was a bit stronger and the waters deeper but everything was so clear and blue and green ... such a paradise!  More corals, more lovely underwater scenery.  Coron is indeed our national treasure.  I'm happy that the locals try their best to preserve this unique and beautiful environment and encourage tourists and visitors to do the same.

We were all delighted by the stretch of white sand and almost glass like  waters that we could see just beyond Coral Gardens.  This would be our lunch stop for the day.  This enchanting little cove is called Kalachuchi Beach for the many flowering plumeria trees that line the beachfront, drooping their blossom laden branches over  the small bamboo picnic huts. 

Because we got to the island ahead of the other boats that soon followed, we were able to pick the best spot for our lunch -- this little hut was set well apart from the rest.  It was like we were in our own little private cove within a cove.  

Our very efficient crew told us to relax annd enjoy the clear shallow waters while they prepared our lunch on the boat.  This gave me time to make a new friend on the beach.

  When we were finally called to eat, we were more than hungry, we were ravenous -- something about inhaling all that fresh sea air always brings out the appetites!  This salad of lato (seaweed) tasted so fresh,  I could have sworn our guide must have  harvested them while we were snorkelling.  The little globules popped in my mouth -- spreading the deep briny taste of the sea.

Grilled besugo or sea bream was cooked perfectly -- it amazed me that everything was prepared on top of a makeshift stove on an open grill at the back of the boat.  
The flesh was sweetish, soft and just about melted in the mouth.  Fish always tastes best when cooked at its utmost freshness and this besugo was so delectable, I am sure that it was freshly caught
just this morning.

The brochure for this tour promised a "sumptuous seafood feast" and lunch certainly lived up to that claim.  We were also served a tray of fat and fleshy spider crabs -- steamed to perfection.  
Our boat cum kitchen crew had also thoughtfully cracked the shells open so we wouldn't have to.  

For the carnivorous ones (present company included)  there was an abundance of grilled pork chops,  tender, and cooked to just the right degree of doneness.  Perhaps Captain Morris moonlights as a chef or cook somewhere, when he's not out at sea?  

Our crew had thoughtfully provided for everything including an ice chest full of cold bottled water and cans of soda.  Here's the whole glorious feast spread out on the bamboo table  -- before we demolished everything in sight.  


What could possibly follow that  filling and very delicious lunch?  How about a nap?
Sitting on the white sands, watching this canoe gently rocking on the shallow clear waters nearly lulled me to sleep.

But the cool blue sea was more inviting than sleep.  After a refreshing dip, the Amigos were ready to move on to the next stop of our island hopping tour!

NB  We booked this tour with Calamianes Expeditions and Eco-Tours.  Our crew was excellent!  Request for guide Niel, Captain Morris and crew Aris and J.R.  Ask your hotel concierge to contact them for a booking.

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