Experience “the last frontier”
The paddle proper gets underway around 9am after a briefing and a cup of coffee. Participants from Coron town an hour’s drive away by van leave by 7.30am, arriving around 8.30am. If you’re on a hired motor bike do give yourself an extra 30 minutes: you’ll want to snap some photos along the way and greet the locals!
When your guide has helped fit you to your sit-in sea kayak, giving some safety tips and perhaps demonstrated how to recover and re-enter your sea kayak should you capsize, you’ll be ready to push off.
At first we’ll hug the coast, getting our sea legs, before venturing into Dugong Bay, so named for being the home to the largest number of sea cows in the Philippines.
Keeping one eye out for dugong, jumping fish, sea turtles and sea birds, we’ll kayak a coast with unparalleled beauty in the rich and diverse Calamian, the name given to the archipelago of some 200 islands, the principal ones being Busuanga, Coron and Culion.
Depending upon the wind and tide, your guide will decide to tackle the circuit clockwise or anti-clockwise. You’re about the discover why the legendary marine explorer Jacques Cousteau named the area ‘the last frontier”.
Wildlife, Culture, Activity
The paddle ranges from 7 to 17 kilometres, and incorporates as many snorkeling opportunities as the destinations you traverse throw up. 9am push-off after an equipment and safety briefing from SandCastles Adventure Centre. A typical 12-km route is paddling north to a snorkeling spot, then west from expedition base SandCastles to the Minuit River: the early reaches of the river reveals a massive expanse of nipa growing out of the brackish depths; upriver the leaves of tropical trees drip into the river, requiring some slalom paddling.
In the water we pass tethered water buffalo cooling off in the shallows. Pacing the progress of we paddlers will be a colourful kingfisher or three, flying from tree to tree, staying just beyond reach of a camera without a decent zoom lens. Before turning to return, a stop-off’s in order, a chance for a snack and a dip. Exiting the river and hanging a left you get to Minit village, a fishing community. It’s a chance to soak up some local colour before exploring the estuaries and coastline of Minit, arriving at the house of Tribal Adventures’ guide Bobby. He and his family will welcome you, inviting you to enjoy his home. We’ll take lunch together.
We paddle on to the main barrio (village) of Cheey, located on another lovely beach. Exiting the kayaks we take a stroll to the village high school rebuilt after the first school — funded by Tribal Adventures — was flattened by a typhoon. Paddlers’ funds have also been used to build the school the second time around! Departing Cheey, we cross the bay, arriving at the Midpid Islands for a stroll and snorkel. The three Midpid islands are joined to the mainland of Busuanga by a sandbar at low tide. Our route–clockwise or anti-clockwise–will be largely determined by the timing of low and medium tide.
At afternoon merienda (afternoon tea) time, your guide will effort to have us break at a shady spot, ideal to string up hammocks, catching the tropical breeze and lulling all to a wondrous short siesta before merienda. Leaving our sanctuary, we kayak back to SandCastles, depositing those who haven’t had enough excitement at a final snorkel spot in earshot of expedition base SandCastles.