Overnight on Palawans Calamian Islands

Overnight on Palawans Calamian Islands

Diving Into the Wonders of the Calamian Archipelago

I must confess – when my boss first suggested we organize a company retreat to the Calamian Islands, I was a bit skeptical. “The Calamian what?” I had mumbled, racking my brain to recall if I had even heard of this obscure corner of the Philippines before. But as I started researching the region, I quickly became enthralled by the prospect of exploring this hidden gem.

You see, the Calamian Islands are a true paradise, a veritable oasis untouched by the frenzied pace of modern life. Nestled in the Sulu Sea, this archipelago is home to some of the most pristine and biodiverse marine ecosystems on the planet. Imagine powdery white sand beaches framed by towering limestone cliffs, crystal clear turquoise waters teeming with vibrant coral reefs and schools of rainbow-hued fish. It’s the kind of scene that looks like it’s been airbrushed or Photoshopped, but I can assure you it’s entirely real.

As I started planning our company retreat, I knew I wanted to immerse our team in all that the Calamian Islands had to offer – from heart-pumping adventure sports to rejuvenating wellness experiences, with a healthy dose of cultural exploration sprinkled in. And let me tell you, this place did not disappoint. In fact, our 3-day, 2-night getaway ended up being the highlight of the year for all of us.

Arriving in Coron: Gateway to Adventure

Our adventure began the moment we stepped off the plane in Coron, the largest and most populated town in the Calamian archipelago. As we exited the small airport, we were immediately struck by the stunning natural beauty that surrounded us. Towering limestone cliffs, blanketed in lush tropical foliage, rose up on all sides, creating a picture-perfect backdrop for our island retreat.

After quickly checking into our beachfront resort, we wasted no time diving into the first activity on our jam-packed itinerary – a guided tour of the iconic Kayangan Lake. Now, I’ve seen my fair share of picturesque lakes in my travels, but Kayangan is truly in a league of its own. The vibrant turquoise waters, flanked by dramatic karst formations, are so clear that you can see the sandy bottom several meters below the surface.

As we scrambled up the steep wooden staircase leading to the viewpoint, I could feel my heart racing in anticipation. And when I finally laid eyes on the serene, mirror-like surface of the lake, I was utterly mesmerized. It was as if time had stood still in this enchanting natural wonder. We spent the better part of an hour exploring the lake, swimming in its refreshing waters and snapping countless photos to commemorate the moment.

Chasing Waterfalls in Coron

After our tranquil experience at Kayangan Lake, we were ready to amp up the adrenaline with a waterfall chasing adventure. We hopped into our van and headed to the town of Concepcion, home to the stunning Barracuda Lake and Kayangan Falls.

Now, I have to be honest – the hike down to Barracuda Lake was no easy feat. The steep, winding trail consisted of seemingly endless stone steps, carved directly into the side of the mountain. But let me tell you, the payoff was more than worth the effort. As we emerged from the jungle foliage, the brilliant turquoise waters of Barracuda Lake came into view, surrounded by towering limestone cliffs.

We spent the better part of an hour swimming in the cool, crystal-clear waters, marveling at the unique geological formations that give the lake its name. Apparently, the high saline content of the lake creates a thermocline effect, resulting in a distinct barracuda-like shape in the water. Needless to say, it made for some truly stunning photo ops!

After refueling with a picnic lunch, we set off to conquer Kayangan Falls, which many consider to be the crown jewel of Coron’s natural wonders. The hike to the falls was no less grueling than the one to Barracuda Lake, but as soon as we caught our first glimpse of the cascading waters, we knew we were in for something special.

Kayangan Falls is an absolutely breathtaking sight, with a powerful torrent of water plunging over 20 meters into a crystal clear pool below. We spent the better part of an hour swimming in the refreshing waters, posing for photos, and simply taking in the sheer majesty of this natural marvel. It was the perfect way to end our action-packed day in Coron.

Exploring Culion: The Leper Colony Island

The next morning, we set sail for the island of Culion, a place that holds a particularly fascinating and sobering history. You see, Culion was once known as the “Island of the Living Dead” – a remote leper colony established by the Spanish colonizers in the late 19th century. At the height of its operation, the colony housed over 16,000 patients, effectively exiling them from the rest of society.

As we disembarked the boat and set foot on the island, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of reverence and melancholy. The remnants of the old leper colony buildings, now crumbling and overgrown, stood as a poignant testament to the suffering and isolation experienced by those who were banished here. Our guide led us on a somber tour, sharing the harrowing history of Culion and the resilience of its former inhabitants.

But the story of Culion is not one of pure tragedy. Today, the island has been transformed into a thriving community, with a vibrant local culture and a renewed sense of pride. We visited the Culion Museum and Art Gallery, which beautifully chronicles the island’s past while celebrating its present-day resilience. I was particularly moved by the artworks created by former residents of the leper colony, a powerful expression of their humanity and creativity in the face of unimaginable hardship.

As we wandered the quaint streets of Culion town, we couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of respect and admiration for the islanders. Despite the dark chapters of their history, they have emerged with a spirit of resilience and an unwavering commitment to their community. It was a humbling and eye-opening experience that left a lasting impact on all of us.

Finding Serenity in Coron’s Wellness Retreats

After the emotional weight of our Culion excursion, we were ready to unwind and rejuvenate at one of Coron’s renowned wellness retreats. And let me tell you, these places did not disappoint.

We spent the better part of the afternoon at the Eskaya Beach Resort & Spa, a hidden gem nestled along the coastline of Coron. As soon as we stepped onto the property, we were enveloped in a sense of profound calm and tranquility. The resort’s minimalist yet luxurious design, combined with the stunning natural surroundings, created an atmosphere of pure serenity.

We indulged in a series of rejuvenating treatments at the spa, including traditional Filipino hilot massages and detoxifying body wraps. The therapists were absolute masters of their craft, using a blend of ancient healing techniques and modern wellness practices to melt away our stresses and leave us feeling refreshed and reinvigorated.

But the highlight of our wellness experience had to be the private yoga session we participated in at the resort’s open-air pavilion. As we moved through the asanas, synchronized with our deep, steady breaths, I couldn’t help but feel a profound connection to the natural world around us. The gentle lapping of the waves, the soothing breeze rustling the palm fronds, and the golden glow of the setting sun all served as the perfect backdrop for our practice.

By the time we emerged from our wellness cocoon, our minds were clear, our bodies were restored, and our spirits were soaring. It was the perfect way to cap off our unforgettable adventure in the Calamian Islands.

Parting Thoughts and a Heartfelt Invitation

As I reflect on our incredible journey through the Calamian archipelago, I can’t help but feel a sense of awe and gratitude. This hidden corner of the Philippines has truly captured my heart, and I know I’m not alone.

The Calamian Islands are a testament to the boundless beauty and wonder of our natural world – a place where time seemingly stands still, and the stresses of modern life fade away. Whether you’re seeking heart-pumping adventure, cultural immersion, or transformative wellness experiences, this archipelago has something to offer everyone.

So, if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in a true tropical paradise, I can’t recommend the Calamian Islands enough. Book your unforgettable adventure with Philippine Getaway today, and let the magic of this hidden gem work its restorative wonders on your mind, body, and soul.

I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

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