Busuanga in Northern Palawan is often overlooked compared to Coron, even if the hordes of tourists that flock to the latter have to enter and leave via the Francisco B. Reyes Aiport, the only airport in the island. The few minutes they spent at this airport are to some extent, the only time they spent at ‘the other municipality’ in the Busuanga island.
But it was not the case for my friend and I, after we included Calauit as part of our Coron adventures early this year. I could now consider it as a blessing in disguise when we could not find ‘joiners’ with us in feeding the few remaining African animals at Calauit. We rode on motorbikes instead, since the cost of hiring an A/C van or an outrigger boat, the usual options in getting to Calauit island, is quite steep to be divided by only two persons.
This I gather, is a rather unpopular choice as the roads to Calauit are largely unpaved. This bumpy ride also came with free face powder from incoming vehicles and generous helpings of Vitamin D from the midday sun. Add to that the fact that straddling on a motorbike for hours is not the most comfortable position for your family jewels.
After Calauit, we headed straight for Salvacion to take our lunch at Dayon Kamo Lodge. This was also where we had our early breakfast that day. We also took a brief, yet much needed rest here for the long journey ahead. On our way back to Coron, we visited a few exclusive resorts that dot the scenic Western Busuanga coast – Rio Playa Beach Resort, Pierhouse Palace and Puerto del Sol.
But the most pleasant surprise for me that afternoon was seeing Concepcion Falls, which is probably the island’s only waterfall. You see, I expected only to see spectacular limestone karst formations, white sand beaches, and the blue seas that weekend. It never occurred to me that there should be a spring or a body of freshwater somewhere in the island that would supply the drinking water needs of both its tourists and residents. The waterfall is small, yet beautifully hidden amidst tall trees. The locals frequent this place to cool down from the sweltering heat.
There were no entrance fees collected and no visible signage too. I remember though that it was just a very short hike from the main highway or ‘somewhere at kilometer 41,’ according to Sir Boyet, who rented us the motorbikes we rode on.
He was also the one who recommended that we drop by this waterfall and all the other stops we made earlier. When we met him on our first evening at Coron, I am under the impression that he really knows every nook and cranny in the island. I could not recall seeing distance markers during our trip. Sir Boyet probably surveyed all these sites a long time ago and already knew by heart the various places that we should not miss.
Our final stop that afternoon was the San Vicente Ferrer Chapel, a charming little church situated on a hill. There are 76 concrete steps that lead to this church, which is made up of indigenous materials – shells, small stones and coconut. From a distance, one can see alternating and contrasting hues of the Busuanga mainland and the sea, the brown hills from afar and the blue horizon; a picturesque finish indeed to all the stops we made that day.
We started our trip at around 4:30 AM and got back to our inn at almost 5:00 PM. I think we have traveled a total of at least 160 kms or almost 6 hours on mostly dirt roads. It is a tiring, rugged and mad endeavor. But the unfamiliar and beautiful sights we saw on our way to Calauit and back, more than made up for the dusty feet, the aching muscles and the scorched faces we got afterwards.
There are plenty of touristy activities that can be had at Coron – the inescapable organized tours, shipwreck diving and climbing Mt. Tapyas, just to name a few. But if you want to escape from it all, Busuanga which is largely ignored, offers a different, off-the-beaten yet strangely rewarding adventure.
Boyet Motorcycle Rental and Carwash Station
Barangay 5, Coron, Palawan