Monday 14 April 2014 - Monday 14 April 2014
Looking to travel from El Nido to Coron? We wanted to do the same and met a mass of conflicting advice online about how best to cover this route. What follows is a summary of what we found and a description of our journey.
Firstly, the Fast Ferry Service by Montenegro Ferries (http://www.montenegrolines.com.ph/ ) no longer seems to run. If running this would be my number one choice so but otherwise you are left with several other options.
2GO Large Ferry from Puerto Princesa to Coron (http://travel.2go.com.ph/) This is a cheap option but only sails on Saturday and you would have to get to Puerto Princesa to catch it – 6 hours away from El Nido by road.
Daily ‘outrigger’ ferry boat. - More expensive than 2GO or Atienza ferry options as this is a tourist service (about PHP2000 each) and there are several different named boats that run, they vary in size and quality (full list here: http://www.lakas.com.ph/2013/02/boats-from-el-nido-to-coron-and-vice-versa/). The journey takes 8 - 10 hours and there are mixed reports about these. Clearly many people safely make this journey as there are daily sailings in season but there are some scare stories.
Cargo Ferry Atienza – I found it hard to get accurate information online about this option but here’s a blog about the journey. By all accounts it’s slow, crowded and cheaper than the outrigger boats.
Flying Fish Safari by Tao Philippines (http://www.taophilippines.com/tao-trips/flying-fish-safari) - New for 2014, this is a speedboat / island hopping experience combination thing. It’s expensive at around 4000PHP each and doesn’t run every day. The speedboat has no shade on it and you’re required to have a dry bag for your belongings. I couldn’t quite determine the exact route that the speedboat takes and wonder whether you’d end up visiting some of the same islands already visited if you’d been on an island hopping tour from El Nido
The company also offer a 5 day sailing tour from El Nido to Coron and that would set you back even more but sounds like a great experience if you have the time and money.
You can fly... To do this you’d have to transfer back to Puerto Princesa and fly to Coron via Manila or, if money really were no issue, you could charter an aircraft.
We travelled using the daily ‘outrigger’ boat service on a Monday which is served by a boat called MBCA Overcomer - the tickets were purchased from ‘Seahorse Charlie’s’ for 1800PHP where we were given some sage advice for the journey.
• Eat a good breakfast before you leave; you are given a meal but it’s not much
• Take some snacks and water on board but buy them the night before as few shops will be open in the morning
• Take a travel/seasickness remedy beforehand
• Take a light jacket in case of poor weather (not a life-jacket as we initially heard!)
• Wrap valuable electronics in waterproof bags
• Take a good book, a pack of cards or something like it for entertainment
We headed to the port after eating a healthy breakfast and decent coffee at The Alternative which opens at 6.30am and where we had ordered breakfast the night before to ensure that we made it to the port by the required 7.00am (for a 7.30 departure). Arriving just in time to clear security - you are not allowed to carry shells, coral, sand or other sea creatures no matter where they were purchased or picked up - and pay the port fee. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the MBCA Overcomer was not an ‘outrigger’ and larger than expected but not the size of other ferry services found in the Philippines.
Once the bags were in the hold we claimed our seats inside. The simple wooden benches were all under cover and could seat three but as the boat wasn’t full we were able to spread out in an attempt to doze, the lifejackets provided doubling as useful cushions.
The journey took eight, long hours.
The advice from Seahorse Charlie proved invaluable – especially about the food provided, which was billed as Chicken Adobo with rice but amounted to little more than a spoonful of cold rice with a few barely identifiable pieces of brown meat. We didn’t need our light jackets despite getting caught in a couple of downpours, clear plastic covers were quickly rolled over the open windows to keep the worst of the rain out, although I was glad that I had packed all electronics in waterproof bags.
Neither did we need to use our life jackets. The journey got a little rough at times and although we hadn’t taken seasickness tablets, no-one suffered despite previous ‘late night with rum’ shenanigans! I’m not sure that we were particularly lucky with the weather but the size of the boat certainly helped reduce some of the motion.
Time passed slowly. We were all pleased to arrive in Coron, just a short tricycle ride to Coron Town Proper and a decent, motionless bed!
Posted by stuartfinch
Archived in Philippines
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