On our trip to Coron, Palawan, we tried two different ways of exploring the Calamianes group of islands. First, we joined an organized tour via a tour operator. We chose to book with Calamianes Expeditions & EcoTours since it seems to offer relatively cheap island hopping tours. On the next day, we decided to try a DIY (do-it-yourself) island hopping tour of Coron’s islands.
First task was to find a boat that would offer us the best deal. It is best to make a deal with a boatman, and not through a third-party “agent.” In Coron, there would be people approaching tourists for island hopping trips. The van driver we took from the airport, for example, offered us boat rental. Dealing with them might not be a very good idea since they’re really acting like a third-party agent.
We made a deal with a boatman to take us to Malcapuya Island, touted as the best white beach island in Coron, and to other islands of our choice, for 3000 pesos. This is relatively high, most likely because the island is farther than the other known coral reef islands in Coron.
On our way to Malcapuya Island, we dropped by the house of our boatman. This was nice because the house was at a mangrove area, so in a way, we got a treat to traverse through the mangroves.
There are pros and cons to DIY island hopping tours. On the upside, we got to choose the islands to visit, the food served was what we actually liked, and we got to decide how long we wanted to stay in one island.
Since Malcapuya was so beautiful, we spent a long while there. In fact, we are already planning that on our next trip to Coron, we would be staying on that island, even for just one night.
Our lunch was better than those prepared at organized tours because we chose the fish we liked, including my favorite being samaral, and we got sinigang na lapu-lapu. Our boatman and his companion prepared the food for us.
The negative side of DIY tours are not too hard to tackle if you are the adventurous type. Arranging your own island hopping tour would mean you would have to buy your own food from the market. This could be a good experience in itself. It was pleasantly shocking to know how much cheaper fish products were in Coron.
If you’d rather not bother shopping for lunch ingredients, then it would be better to join an organized tour from a tour operator.