Four major and several minor tropical idylls comprise the Calamian Islands, and provide further supporting evidence to anyone who believes that Made by Nature will always trump Made by Man. Located at the northernmost tip of the Philippine province of Palawan, Busuanga, Coron, Culion, Calauit, and their assortment of mini-me islands are only an hour's flight from Manila. They feel eons away from civilization from their perch atop the convergence point of the Sulu and South China seas.
Calamian access is predominantly via a small domestic air terminal on Busuanga, the grouping's main island. Once ashore, inter-island boat tours, snorkeling and diving, a smattering of shops and restaurants, and a large outdoor market of the ocean's freshest catches on Coron, the island south of Busuanga, constitute the majority of this true getaway locale's goings on.
That's not to say a visit to the little known gems of Asia isn't well worth the trek. Sparsely-populated with people, but brimming with white sand beaches and lush jungles, the Calamian Islands are ocular and tactile feasts for those hungry for a big-city hiatus. Calauit Island's indigenous Palawan wildlife share their abode with a handful of free-roaming African species, including giraffes, zebras, impalas, and gazelles. The transplants are thought to be descendants of pets brought in during the once-Spanish-ruled region's indulgent Ferdinand Marcos era.
Coron Island's lovely seashore also has a freshwater complement inland, in the form of a pristine aquamarine lake, and some of the other islands house streams and hot springs tucked away in their interior crevices.
Calamian Islands Accommodations
Club Paradise Resort on the island of Dimakya is a SCUBA diver's and nature lover's Mecca, thanks to its placement alongside brilliant reefs populated with exotic marine life. Nearly half a mile of soft white sands flank the 52-room resort, itself the island's only man-made occupant.
Sharing the 19 hectare dot of Dimakya land is a wildlife sanctuary menagerie-ing the likes of deer, anteaters, monitor lizards, eagles, and herons. Club Paradise rooms promise spacious beds, hot and cold water, air-conditioning, mini-bars, and large verandas or balconies. Rates range from $160 to $250 per night, depending on room size and season of travel.
El Rio y Mar Resort on Busuanga Island is set amidst a 1,640-foot stretch of shoreline and distinctive panoramic views of the neighboring dots of land. Lolling about the island and lazing around the beach are all in a day's work in Busuanga, and capped off by one of the resort's bayview cabanas, made of imported cedar and native wood, and topped with thatched roofs. All are also air-conditioned, and have fully stocked mini-bars, refrigerators, coffee and tea making facilities, bathroom showers and wash cabins with hot and cold water, and large verandas.
Calamian Islands Activities & Excursions
Day trips between Calamian Islands abound, booked either through visitors' hotels, or arranged directly with local tour directors. In addition to snorkeling and SCUBA diving, popular activities include sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, Filipino spa retreats, and excursions to Busuanga and Coron islands' hot springs, Kangayan lakes, and the Twin Lagoons.
Ecotours of Coron is a local tour operator committed to promoting Calamian tourism through sustainable practices and Palawan community support. All of their activities and events incorporate local guides, native boat and vehicle operators, and indigenous cultural groups into guests' authentic island experiences.
- Club Paradise Resort: http://www.clubparadisepalawan.com/rates.php
- El Rio y Mar Resort: http://www.busuangapalawan.com/elrioymar.php
- Ecotours of Coron: http://www.corongaleri.com.ph/?pg=coron_tours_coron_ecotours