Woke up to a leisurely morning on the island. The other group of tourists were up early and leaving as we were getting up (sometime between 6-7AM). It made me glad that we did not have a strict time schedule to follow.
One in our group from came down with a serious fever in the middle of the night. The Doctor who was part of our group, seriously there was a doctor, was unsure of what was wrong. He could have a virus, stomach cramps, or even constipation, whatever it was the tour guide was visibly worried. The decision was made that one of the village boats would take him and his girlfriend straight to Coron town our final destination where the tour company representative would take them to the local hospital. Never a dull moment on this tour. We seemed to have a flair for the dramatics and some of the dramatics were not just of our own making.
Once we settled in on the boat for breakfast and bid the Swiss couple farewell we set off for Datayayan island. It was so picturesque with its long curved sandbar and waters deep enough that you could almost get off the boat right on to the island. Again another turquoise blue-green water experience where the snorkeling was good and the white sand beach was inviting. I did not really snorkel too much at this island. I had a great nap on the beach and I do not for one second regret that. I did get to see some of the animals despite not snorkeling. A giant sea-snail was “swimming by” you did not need snorkel gear to see it. It really looked like something prehistoric and it was taking it’s time moving around the reef, so it was easy to observe. Even if you just sat in the water you would see the small schools of fish whiz by.
We ate lunch on the boat here before heading to Skeleton Reef. Skeleton Reef is a sunken Japanese WWII naval ship that you can see while snorkeling. This region of the world is part of the Pacific Theater, which was one of the main battle fronts between the Axis and Allied Forces struggle for control during WWII. As an US history teacher, I was excited that this region, which is known to be the best wreck diving region in the world, had one that was visible to the non-scuba people.
It was pretty murky and gloomy, but you could see the 70-year-old shell of the boat where fish have now taken up residence. It was shallow enough that you could swim down and touch it, if you wanted, but to see it was good enough for me. Besides, Finding Nemo taught me that sharks like to hang out inside the wrecks 😋. It was a little creepy, I mean Skeleton Reef doesn’t exactly sound the friendliest. In thinking about all the death and destruction that occurred during the war it was eerie to see the boat with my own eyes and imagine that such horror happened in such a beautiful place.
Our visit to Skeleton Reef, also marked our return to the touristy part of the Philippines, as this stop is a regular feature for island hopping day trips from Coron town. There were many tour boats at this wreck site and some of them were feeding fish, so not only did we see the wreck, but we also saw lots of fish. According to our guide, feeding the fish is not allowed, but later in town we saw fish feeding advertised, so there are definitely some double standards.
Our last stop was Barracuda lake. It is a fresh water lake located on Coron Island, not to be confused with Coron town our final destination which is on a different nearby island. Situated in a sort of crater, this lake was beautiful scenery and very calm. It was right before sunset, so all of the other tourist boats had left and we had this lake to ourselves. It had been a long time since we had been in fresh water, or “sweet water”as the Europeans liked to call it. After a relaxing swim, we headed back to the boat for the last time. Setting sail from Coron Island we could see the port of Coron town in the distance.
It was a little bittersweet as the sun set and we disembarked. There were hugs all around for everyone crew and tourist that we spent and survived the last four days with. It is quite a bonding experience and it is what you make of it. The unforgettable memories of our adventures together on the many islands of the Philippines with a new appreciation of rum and cola. It is not the kind of vacation for everyone, but an experience that is one of a kind weather permitting. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.