Dispense with a noisy outrigger banca and opt for the motorised Admiral 38 sailing catamaran “Tribal Adventures” to take you on an unforgettable experience: snorkeling with a dugong, or seacow.
Tribal Adventures departs at 8am from Palawan SandCastles in northern Busuanga, one hour drive north of Coron town. Tribal Adventure Tours, operator of the catamaran, does a van pick up of guests from their Coron hotel at 6.30am for an additional charge.
This day tour takes you to northern Busuanga’s Dugong Bay, the picturesque island-dotted habitat of over 30 dugongs – the largest family of sea cows in the Philippines.
About an hour out of Palawan SandCastles, you’ll arrive off Calauit Island where we pick up a native Tagbanua guide: we do this because the habitat of the dugong is in the territory of the native Tagbanua, who through tradition and their own spiritual beliefs have a special affinity with the seacows.
We sail around the coast of Calauit for about 30 minutes before getting to the known sanctuary for dugong. It’s here we wait for the dugong to appear above the water, before submerging again. If it’s our turn, we enter the water quietly having donned our snorkel and mask, following our Tagbanua and Tribal Adventures’ guide. We don’t pursue or get too close to the gentle creatures, which are the size of a cow when mature. Often, in fact, a curious dugong will come over to check us out–we seem to be entertainment for some of them.
Spotting dugong, let alone snorkeling with one or more, isn’t guaranteed, and when there’s no encounter there’s the beauty of the coral reefs, turtle and fish as consolation. But since the Tagbanua have got on board our success rate for interaction has been over 90%–so there’s a good chance!
The catamaran sailing trip recommences with a cruise of Dugong Bay. The cat is a platform for adventure with sea kayaks that get lowered for use in the lagoons and bays we visit. There’s also further opportunity to snorkel: pretty coral reefs abound.
An ideal cruise finishing with a paddle of the Midpid Islands: if it’s low tide you’ll be bowled over by the snaking sandbar that links all three islands.
The Wow factor doesn’t end there. After arriving at SandCastles, you can soak in a fresh water spring plunge pool, sipping a beer.
Meals — morning merienda, lunch, afternoon merienda and sundowner are included, as is snorkel and mask, a crewed catamaran, a Tribal Adventures guide and a Tagbanua guide. The cost of two-way van transport is 5,000 pesos in addition to the catamaran dugong snorkel trip.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Palawan SandCastles|
|DEPARTURE TIME||8:00AM – from Coron 6:30AM|
On the trip we may also visit, estuaries, rivers and caves, as well as a very special seasonal nesting islet for the Arctic tern, and a larger island that is a nesting area for turtles.
|COST PER PERSON|
|4+ PERSONS||PHP 5,675|
|3 PERSONS||PHP 6,786|