Snorkelling with sharks

The blacktip reef shark lives in warm, shallow, tropical waters. It has a small territory it usually stays within which is why it is an easy target for avid snorkellers if one knows their favorite spots and is able to get an “off-menu” tour.

The black tips on its fins, in particular on the dorsal and caudal fins, gives it its name.Though it has a white belly and dark back that helps them camouflage with the dim seafloor and the brighter ocean surface which means one must be very alert to spot them.

These sharks grow up to 1.5 meters and is a species that cannot stop swimming, or they will simply sink. However, as a means of preserving the species, females are able to reproduce asexually if no males are available.

Beware of the macaque

This near-threatened crab-eating macaque is a ferocious creature. It lives around Southeast Asia and spotted in a coastal lowland forests in Miniloc, Palawan. This monkey lives in troops and whilst their social composition is a matriarchy, the males are pretty aggressive. They look even more so when showing their teeth beneath their moustaches and cheek whiskers. And even more so when a second one behind you does the same.

Local transportation

Filipino ingenuity and necessity for a mode of transportation gave birth to these tricycles. They originated from military trycicles left behind by the US military during WWII. This popular mode of transport is a motorbike with a roofed sidecar bolted to it to transport passengers and anything else through the narrow streets and small towns in the Philippines. The engines of the tricycles range from around 50-125cc which means they never go too fast; but the rides sure are bumpy!

More islands than days in ten years

All of the Philippines is made up islands which makes the country the second-largest archipelago in the world. It is estimated that it is composed of around 7,500 islands with only 2,000 of them inhabited.

Out of all of them, the small island of Palawan has been named one of the best islands in the world due to its incredible natural beauty. It is no surprise once visitors start discovering the big range of lagoons to swim in, accessibility to do island hoping tours, marine biodiversity to discover snorkelling or diving world class sites; and white sand beaches to laze and enjoy the sunset from.

Once devastation, now a destination

At 9 am on the 24th of September 1944 the US Navy strike force fighters and dive bombers attacked and sunk a dozen Japanese ships at the height of World War II. Considered one of the biggest naval victories of WWII for the Americans, the attack only took 40 minutes, and when it was over, a wide area of devastation was left behind in Coron Bay. Almost 80 years later, it is now home of some of the best shipwreck diving sites in the world.

Near Lusong island, a Japanese submarine hunter and gunship boat with a length of 30 meters is a popular snorkelling site. Presumed to be an auxiliary patrol boat, the Lusong Gunboat, lies close to the surface at a depth that ranges from just 5 to 15 meters. It is amazing how in such a short time the ocean has take over this man-made machine.

Islands of the Tagbanuas

A few hundred steps up and down take you to see the majestic Kanyangan lake. Though this is one of the most photographed views in Coron, this view is actually not the lake itself but the middle point viewing deck looking back to the open ocean into Coron bay. The lake itself sits behind the photographer and is composed of 70% fresh water and 30% salt water.

In the Calamian islands, the local native tribe, the Tagbanuas live. Tagbanuas people believe their ancestors still live on this island and thus entrance is limited up to 4pm everyday. Tagbanuas only let visitors into Kanyangan and Barracuda lakes, 11 others are Panyaan (sacred) and closed to public. Both lakes have been awarded the cleanest lakes in the Philippines; and Kanyangan lake was even awarded cleanest in the world recently.

Tagbanuas used to make a living by collecting swiftlet nests at the top of the island’s high limestone cliffs. This edible bird’s nest is used for making the bird’s nest soup. Now every visitor pays a fee which gives the tribe a much less hazardous means of income.