3D2N in Caramoan with McTrail Travel & Tours

Before the year ends, let me write about my last trip of the year which happened in November. I’ve been lazy to write and the end of the year is giving me enough motivation. LOL. The trip happened during the ASEAN Summit holidays and because there was only a month’s notice, I didn’t have enough time to plan for the trip to Caramoan. I have always been curious about the place where the Survivor show filmed, but the long land travel always overwhelmed. That’s why I just chose to avail a package tour from a reputable travel agency for the convenience πŸ™‚

My Companions:

This was another trip with my boyfriend, but we were also accompanied by my good friends at this time. I missed going to the beach with Karla and Rhan. And this was a good opportunity for the friends and the boyfriend to meet and bond. LOL.

L-R: Francis, Ruby, Rhan, Karla, Morrys

McTrail Travel and Tours:

For our trip to Caramoan, we availed the package tour offered by McTrail Travel and Tours. I wanted this to be another DIY trip at first, but I realized that availing a package tour would be much cheaper. I chose Mctrail out of all the travel agencies offering the same package because of the great reviews on their Facebook page. It wasn’t all positive, but the way they responded to the negative feedback gave the impression that they really listen to their guests. They are also not the cheapest BUT the inclusions and the way they took care of us during the trip made the price reasonable.

Booking a trip with them was so easy. I sent a query through their Facebook page and they responded in a timely manner. It’s best to send a message during office hours on a weekday to get immediate replies.

For their tour packages, they base the rates on the number of people sharing the room. As of November 2017, these were their rates and the package inclusions:

3D2N Caramoan Package Rates:

  • 3999/head – group of 4 pax (Quad Room)
  • 4299/head – group of 3 pax (Triple Room)
  • 4499/head – group of 2 pax (Twin Room)

Inclusions:

  • Roundtrip van transfers (Manila-Caramoan-Manila)
  • 2 nights accommodation at Caramoan Town Proper
  • Six meals (2 breakfasts, 2 lunch & 2 Dinner)
  • 2 Days Long & Short Island hopping w/ roundtrip boat transfer
  • Environmental fee & cottage at Cutivas Island
  • Sidetrip to Saint Michael Archangel, Mother of Peace Grotto, Deer Farm, CWC & Penafrancia Basilica Minore
  • Not included:
    • Floating Cottage at Manlawi Sandbar (P200/cottage)
    • Entrance Fee at Mother of Peace Grotto (P30/head – optional)
    • Snorkeling Gear (P150-200/head)

Overall, I’m happy that I went with McTrail Travel & Tours to Caramoan. Booking with them is soΒ sulitΒ and hassle-free. I just had an issue with the driving but I sent my feedback and they assured me that they will address my concern. I will not hesitate to book with them again πŸ™‚

Manila to Caramoan:

Our transport to Caramoan was a spacious Toyota Grandia for 13 guests, the tour coordinator and the driver. There were 2 pick up points: Eton Centris and SM MOA. The pick up time at Eton Centris was supposed to be at 8 PM, but due to the ASEAN Summit traffic, the van arrived at 9 PM. This was no big deal for us since it gave us time to eat dinner before the long drive. Although we were the first group to arrive in Eton Centris, we had to give up the seats behind the driver because the other guests had children with them. As the youngest group, we were assigned to the last row where it’s guaranteed that we would feel every bump during the drive. Oh well 😦

After the 2nd pick up in SM MOA, the van was still spacious and comfortable for us all. It was a bumpy 12 hour drive from Manila to Caramoan. It was a miracle that I was able to sleep for half of it. My companions were all envious of my ability to sleep through the rollercoaster-like ride. LOL.

There were 3 stopovers throughout the trip and 1 emergency stop because one of the guests puked. I was only awake for the first stop and only vaguely aware of the rest because I was sleeping.

Our Accommodation:

Caramoan Rockwood Inn

We were pleasantly surprised and satisfied with our accommodations as Caramoan Rockwood Inn. The rooms were simple yet equipped with the basic necessities like the comfy beds, AC, TV and spacious enough bathroom. The only things missing were cabinets or shelves were we could store our things and a hot shower. We just dumped our stuff on the floor and took showers quickly to deal with these 2 things. LOL.

Room for 2 @ Caramoan Rockwood Inn

The best feature of Rockwood Inn has got to be the food they fed us all throughout our stay. Everything was delicious with generous servings! Their meals consisted of a vegetable dish, a meat dish and seafood. Their chili buttered crabs are so unforgettable. I devoured 4 of them during this trip alone ❀

Usual meal spread @ Caramoan Rockwood Inn ❀

The hosts were also very pleasant and took great care of us. One of my companions was allergic to all kinds of seafood and couldn’t eat anything during our last dinner there. We told one of the staff and they bought barbecued chicken just for him.

A dartboard and billiard table to entertain the guests

I would highly recommend this place if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Caramoan. Continue reading

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6 Days in Coron, Palawan

Related Posts:

6-Day Coron Itinerary and Expenses for 2

Coron, Palawan is as amazing as the photos and videos about the place have led me to believe. I had the most fun and saw so much beauty in the 6 days that I was there. I’ll try my best to share our amazing experiences there in this blog post πŸ™‚

My Companion:

During this trip, I realized that the boyfriend has been my constant companion for all my trips this year. I am not complaining since I love being with him ❀

Ruby and Francis in Coron ❀

The Flight: Cebu Pacific

Our flight to Busuanga was on time since it was still early in the morning. As soon as we landed at Busuanga airport, there were several vans waiting to take passengers to Coron. We just told one of the drivers where we would be staying and they pointed us to the van that would take us there. Fare to Coron town from the airport and vice versa is Php 150. Travel time is approximately 30-40 minutes.

Our ride to and from Busuanga

We just had a few issues during our flight back to Manila though. First, we were surprised that a terminal fee of Php 100 per person is still being collected. It should have been included when I purchased our tickets. Second, our flight was delayed for about 30 minutes – not really a big deal for us though. Finally when we boarded the plane, the temperature inside was a bit warm. The flight attendants told us that it would get better once we were on air but I still felt hot. I’m not sure if the warm temperature caused it but when we were taking off and preparing to land, I had a hard time breathing and I felt that my lungs were being squeezed. It was for only less than a minute but it was enough for me to get scared. Also, we experienced some turbulence during the flight because we went through a storm at some point. It wasn’t the most comfortable and smooth plane ride I experienced.

Our Accommodation: Sea Horse Guesthouse

We got a bit spoiled with the pool at Puerto Galera but the hotels with a pool in Coron were waaaaaay outside our budget. I found Sea Horse Guesthouse while browsing through Agoda. Although it didn’t have a pool, it was under the same management as Sunz en Coron Resort which meant that the guests can use the resort’s pool for free πŸ™‚ Aside from the perk, the location of the guesthouse was right smack in the middle of Coron town which meant that almost everything (i.e. the restaurants we wanted to try) was within walking distance. The room rate also included free breakfast.

Reception

The staff were always ready to greet us with a good morning or evening even if we were just going down to the reception area to refill our water bottles. They were always able to help with our queries and attentive to our needs.

Our homebase for 6 days in Coron

The regular room rate as of September 2017 is Php 2,000/room. They also have dorm accommodations for Php 700/person/night.Β  I was able to score a discount by booking through Agoda so it was within our budget πŸ™‚

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Though our stay was great and pleasant, I have 2 areas where I wish they would improve: (1) the rooms didn’t have cabinets or any storage where we can put clothes. We either hung them in the only racks provided or they stayed in our bags. (2) Also, there were limited choices for breakfast: cornsilog, tocilog and continental breakfast. The corned beef meal and the jam which came with the continental breakfast were so good but we didn’t like the tocino meal. Since we stayed for 6 days, we found the choices very limited.

Breakfast can be availed at the rooftop which gave a good view of the sea and a portion of the town

Itinerary: 6D/5N

Day 1: DIY Coron Town Tour

We arrived in Coron early enough to avail one of the island tours if we wanted. But rainy weather welcomed us so we opted to wait until our room was ready, eat brunch at Kainan ni Tita Mariz, rest for a bit and start in the early afternoon for our DIY Coron Town Tour.

St. Augustine Church exterior

It was a short walk from the guesthouse to St. Augustine Church. I said a quick prayer to keep us safe during the trip and for some sun in the following days.

St. Augustine Church interior

We were supposed to ride a tricycle to the base of Mt. Tapyas but the folks at the guesthouse told us we could walk since it was near. They were right though we weren’t prepared to be so out of breath when we arrive at the base. They didn’t warn us that it was an uphill walk. LOL.

Stairs to Mt. Tapyas summit

A big cross sits on top of Mt. Tapyas

The climb up to Mt. Tapyas took 30-40 minutes including breaks. According to the locals, there are around 700 steps up to the summit. It was challenging to our knees but we made it! πŸ™‚ The view from the summit and the cool breeze managed to sweep our tiredness away.

Coron town viewed from Mt. Tapyas

Mt. Tapyas also offered a view of the nearby mountains

We didn’t wait for the sunset since it was a bit cloudy and I predicted that we won’t be able to see the sun anyway. We made our way down and the boyfriend was able to negotiate with a tricycle driver (there would be many waiting in Mt. Tapyas) to take us to and from the hotspring for Php 350.

Maquinit Hot Spring entrance fee rates

Maquinit Hotspring

The road to Maquinit Hot Spring was unpaved and rough – no wonder the drivers were charging Php 300-400 as it wasn’t an easy drive. We were so excited to soak in the hot waters after the 30-minute trip. Although soaking in a legit seawater hot spring was a new experience for us, we thought that the Php 200 per person entrance fee was not really worth it. The hot spring is usually 38-41 degree Celsius in temperature so it isn’t advisable to soak in the water too long. I love hot baths but I only managed to stay for 20 minutes. There are no shower facilities so guests can rinse off the saltwater from the hot spring. As we were leaving, we realized that we burned Php 400 (plus Php 350 tricycle fare) just so we can have a 20-minute hot bath and take pictures inside. Not really the best use of our money.

A short dip at the hotspring and a few tables and chairs can’t really justify the Php 200 entrance fee

To end our day, we ate at Lolo Noy’s Food Restaurant. The locals say that it’s one of the more affordable restaurants but we still managed to rack up more than Php 500 in our bill. We ordered a LOT.

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Day 2: Reef & Wrecks Tour c/o JY Travel & Tours

We were picked up from the guesthouse by JY Travel and Tours and taken to the wharf to wait for our other tour companions for the day. Looking back, this tour was the most tiring out of the 3 that we availed as it involved a lot of snorkeling and swimming.

There are only 4 destinations in this tour because the spots are far away from each other. We arrived at our first destination after almost an hour of travel from Coron wharf. Our tour guide told us to wear our snorkel masks and life vests and jump to the sea so we can take a look at East Tangat Shipwreck which sunk during World War II (same with all other shipwrecks in Coron). It was eerily amazing to be able to see a piece of history under the ocean.

East Tangat Shipwreck

We only spent about 30 minutes in the site and traveled for an hour to get to Pass Island where we will be eating lunch. It was a bit gloomy in the morning but the sun was shining when we got to the island. The fine white sand and cystal clear waters were very tempting but my stomach was more important. LOL. Lunch prepared by JY Travel and Tours was satisfying and delicious. I just wasn’t blown away like our tour lunch in El Nido.

Usual lunch served by JY Travel and Tours. Grilled fish, meat, vegetable dish, seaweed salad and fruits for dessert. No other seafood 😦

Approaching Pass Island

Clear blue waters ❀

The next stop was the Lusong Coral Garden which in my opinion is the best among the coral gardens I’ve seen in during my travels. Our boat dropped us off at the starting point and we were left to swim by ourselves so we can leisurely take in the beauty of the coral garden. It wasn’t so easy though because we were swimming with life vests against the current. Boyfriend and I had to stop several times to recharge and catch our breaths. We swam all the way to where our boat was waiting and they took us to the our final destination of the day which was only about a minute away.

Lusong Coral Garden

Lusong Coral Garden

The Lusong Gunboat is my favorite shipwreck I saw in Coron. Since it was located in the shallower parts of the sea, I can see the ship in almost its entirety. And as it was low tide during our visit, I could stand on the bow with the water up to my chest. I was standing on a piece of history! Disclaimer: we asked permission from our tour guide if it was okay to stand on the shipwreck and he said fine because the part of the wreck where we could stand didn’t have any corals we could potentially disturb.

Lusong Gunboat Shipwreck

The clear water was a blessing so we can see below

Continue reading

6-Day Coron Itinerary and Expenses for 2

I recently went back to Palawan for the third time to explore Coron. I traveled with my boyfriend and we spent 6 days there. We enjoyed every minute of it – despite my sunburn and boyfriend’s allergy attack during the trip πŸ™‚

I am still organizing the photos from our trip so I am not yet able to write our detailed itinerary and experiences, so I’ll start with sharing a summary of our itinerary and expenses. To be honest, I was shocked at how much we spent when I completed the list. Haha! It’s definitely not a low-budget trip. However, I’ll share tips on how to lessen the expenses for a trip to Coron below.

Please click on the picture to view the details more clearly πŸ™‚

Note: I didn’t include the expenses we incurred when boyfriend went for a check up at the local hospital to get his allergies checked. We bought medicines and an after sun lotion for my sunburn on the same day. We spent a little over a Php 1,000 on those.

Traveling to Coron on a tight budget?

  • Consider staying in guesthouses or homestays. While walking around Coron town, I saw several establishments which offer as low as Php 1,000 per night for a double/twin room. I am sure there are cheaper accommodations available which I didn’t see while in Coron or while browsing the internet.
  • Eat at canteens or carinderias around town. We saw a row of carinderias near the public market but we never went there to eat. We were always tempted to try the dishes served by the famous/best restaurants in town and we never only order 1 dish even if the serving is enough for 2 people. LOL. This is why we spent so much on food.
  • Travel with a large group so you can score discounts when availing the tour packages. I used up a lot of charm to ask for a discount when I was reserving slots for our island tours to no avail 😦 Tour operators will be much more generous when you are with a large group.
  • Wait for the now-elusive piso fare from Cebu Pacific so you may have a chance to score round trip tickets to Busuanga for less than a Php 1,000. I booked our tickets while it was on sale but it still hurt. This was the most expensive domestic ticket I bought in all my seat sale-booking years 😦 Boyfriend and I just wanted badly to go to Coron.
  • Shorten the days of the trip. I think 4 or 5 days in Coron is enough. I booked for a 6-day trip because we wanted to have a chillax sort of day when we arrive and before we leave.

Hope this helps you πŸ™‚