7 things people tell you about Myanmar (they’re all wrong)

Myanmar Rainy Season

1. You can’t travel Myanmar in rainy season

Well, it put me off a little bit but I still went, right in the middle of rainy season. Sure, some places are off-limits in wet season but with my horrendous pink, knock-off, North Face waterproof I was ready for the rain, and a lots of it.  It might just be a fluke but over a week in and the jacket stayed safely in my backpack. The odd shower here and there was easily avoided and I got to avoid wearing the constant reminder of the hungover rushed purchase I’d made in Hanoi a few month previous for the majority of the time. The best bit about the not so rainy rainy season – hardly any tourists AND cheaper accommodation. Hooray!

2. Myanmar is really expensive


I suppose it’s all relative, so in comparison to the more popular SEA countries, yeah it’s a bit expensive but you can still do it on a shoe string budget. If you’re tight on cash you can easily eat for $1, avoid drinking (never an option for me especially when a litre of rum is $3), a find some travellers to split the cost of accommodation. Luckily, I met two lovely French Canadians, we squeezed three in a double bed whenever we could making accommodation as low as $6 in some places. And when we did splash out on somewhere fancy for $30, $10 each it was more than worth it. But, if you’re an unsociable solo travellers, dorms set you back $8-$15 a night.

3. It’s difficult to get transport places

IMG_4852If you choose to use the 2010/11 lonely planet as a guide to plan your trip then Myanmar is really difficult. Truth is, there are buses everywhere at all times and all standards, from the normal, cheap, crammed seated buses, to ‘VIP’ sleeper buses which are ALMOST as good as those in Vietnam. Some even come with blankets, water, a can of coke and complimentary durian cake, which, for me couldn’t be further from a compliment because it’s the one fruit on earth I think we could do without (there’s a reason they’re banned in Singapore)

4. There’s no ATM’s

Maybe 2/3 years ago, getting cash out was difficult, well actually there’s no maybe about it, it was hard! But Myanmar is developing fast and there are ATMs in most major towns. They do, however charge a huge $5 for each withdrawal.

5. There’s no wifi

It doesn’t work often, but it’s there! Most hostels and guesthouses have Wifi now.  So panic not, serial instagrammers can still post their amazing temple pictures (which by the way, are the best I’ve seen in SEA). Just don’t rely on it, if you’re planning Skype interviews and trying to organise flights etc. best plan on doing them somewhere with better connection before arriving in Myanmar.

6. It’s unsafe, especially for girls travelling alone

This ones a tricky one and I can only write about what experienced, which was nothing other than feeling completely safe.  I was, however, lucky enough to travel with two other girls so perhaps this ones a little bit unfair.  However, I met plenty of solo travellers in Myanmar, most of which were women and they all assured me they hadn’t run in to any unsafe situations.  Like anywhere else, keep your wits about you and be careful – especially when getting taxi’s alone. The only horror stories I heard were of solo female travellers getting taxis alone at all hours of the night.

7. The food is rubbish

Myanmar food

I’m a HUGE fan of food and spend a lot of my time travelling seeking out local dishes to try (hence the weight gain in Asia). My introduction to Myanmar food when I landed in Yangon soon put the ‘food is rubbish’ comments to rest. 19th street in Yangon was full of bloody delicious food and, with the exception of a few places, the food continued to be just as delicious in the rest of the country I visited. The samosas are to die for, the sides of chillies meant I could always reach the ridiculous level of spicy I love, and there’s never a lack of fruit and veg. I ate Shan noodles three times a day sometimes in Shan State…Oh and the Inle Lake stuffed fish….

So, DON’T GO TO MYANMAR – it’s rainy, unsafe, it doesn’t fit in with our cyber obsessed society, you can’t withdraw money and you can’t get anywhere on public transport…OR go and discover one of my favourite countries before it gets ruined by us demanding travellers!

Coming full circle…


I really didn’t expect to ever end up back in Colombo airport, well, not outside the airport anyway! I loved Sri Lanka when I was there but with so many other places I want to travel I wouldn’t be going back any time soon. So, I was really surprised to find myself back there when my Sri Lankan airlines flight was delayed meaning I missed my connection to Heathrow. The delay was ridiculous, we sat on the plane for 5 hours in Bangkok airport before we even flew so I knew already that I had missed my next flight.  It happens, and you deal with these things but with my return home being a surprise for my Mum, and arrangements already been made for me to meet a friend in London when I arrived I was more annoyed than I should of been! I was tired, hungover (shock) and hungry and after 5 hours with no food or water the fact i missed my connection didn’t really cross my mind.  I presumed there would be plenty of flights to London from Colombo.

I was wrong…

When we eventually touched down in Sri Lanka, I went through the usual procedure of sorting out missed connections and was told that there wasn’t a flight until 1pm the next day. I already felt a bit nostalgic about returning home on the same Sri Lankan airline flight I’d taken to Asia 18 months previous, but when I had to leave the airport and step out into Sri Lanka I felt very strange! The first time I stepped through those doors I was prepared for the tuk tuks and the hustle and bustle of Asian arrival halls. I know now that back then I was preparing for something that has just become normal for me. Nothing worries me about these situations any more because you face them almost every day when travelling Asia.  My transfer to my hotel was another strange experience, when I first took the journey to Negombo it was my first insight to Asia. I hadn’t seen anything like it, I was so excited for the rest of my trip, and awaiting my first night in a hostel. Sri Lankan Airlines kept my bag in the airport which meant I had nothing whatsoever on me, no clean clothes, no shampoo, towel etc. I couldn’t help but think if I’d found myself in this situation 18 months ago I would have been panicking! I don’t panic now though, hardly ever.  I just get annoyed occasionally, because although you know its inevitable sometimes you can’t help but just want things to run a bit smoother which is a big ask!! I sat on Negombo beach, like I had done previously, with a different mind-set and realised how much I’d changed in those 18 months. It was comforting though, and with my latest decision to (try to) move to Berlin I thought “I’m ready for this”. I’ve done what I wanted to do in Asia, for now, and I’m ready for a new country, in Europe, to learn a new language and start a semi-normal life for a little while.


Siquijor wedding

After another amazing week with my adopted family in Siquijor, I said my teary goodbyes and started my journey up to Malapascua on the northern tip of Cebu island. Naturally, I had a wedding to attend on the morning I was leaving Siquijor so my travelling started later than planned.

The journey: I caught the boat from Siquijor pier to Dumaguete, a Jeepney to the port of Sibulan and another boat over to Lilo-an, the southern point of Cebu island. A 5 hour bus journey up to Cebu City and it was too late to go any further. So, I spent the night at Le Village hostel, which was surprisingly nice, if not a little expensive (400 pesos for a dorm). I was well rested though and had to leave early the next day to catch a bus up to Maya; the departure point for Malapascua. The last boat leaves at 3/4pm and the nearest ATM is an hour south in Bogo City so be prepared and take enough cash to last in Malapascua! The boat to the island costs 100pesos, unless in low tide when you have to pay 20 pesos for a smaller boat to take you out to the larger boat.

The diving: I’d finished my Open Water certificate a few weeks previous in Moalboal and I knew that there was no point in not getting my Advanced Open Water in Malapascua, my main aim was to dive with the thresher sharks and although I’d been to almost 30 m before (the dive master in Apo Island didn’t pay much attention to his dive computer!) the thresher shark dive is really only for advanced divers. I found my dive course and accommodation at Thresher Cove Resort, a bit out of town but a nice resort with a couple of dorms and good instructors. I chose 5 dives for my advanced certificate:

  1. Night Dive
  2. Deep dive
  3. Navigation
  4. Drift dive
  5. Photography

I’ll write about the dives another time, because for non divers it’s probably pretty boring! No-one can deny though, that diving with thresher sharks is incredible. The first time I dived with them I saw 4, no more than 4m away from me, I was so excited, screaming into my regulator I got such a buzz I had to do it again the next morning (luckily I got to use the thresher shark dives as both a deep dive and for my photography dive). Plus, with all the excitement I didn’t manage to get the footage I wanted on my gopro. I dived again at 4am the next day with the threshers and saw another 3.

Although the diving was the main reason I went to Malapascua, there’s still so many other reasons why non-divers should go.  The beaches are STUNNINMalapascua Beach philippinesG, which surprised me, as the island has been battered by typhoons in the past (especially Yolanda which devastated Malapascua) on top of the popularity of the island with tourists I expected the beaches to be not quite as beautiful as they were. It’ still pretty clear on some parts of the island the devastation caused by Yolanda, especially in the north of the island, where you can see destroyed resorts sliced down the middle by the storm. Walking through Los Bambos resort was actually harrowing, two years after Yolanda hit, the resort is still un-functioning.  The owner hopes to rebuild one day and doesn’t want to sell the prime location but with access to machinery and building materials extremely difficult on the island I can’t see it being re-opened any time soon.  Some of the beach cottages are still standing, but with one, two or three walls ripped away, the insides still have furniture and bathrooms. Although it was sad to see how Malapascua had been destroyed so badly, I was at Los Bambos for another reason… to cliff jump!

Cliff Jumping: I’m not one to be scared and the pictures definitely don’t do the cliff justice…my friend counted to three and I was off! It felt like a long way down and I smacked the water in a rather undignified position that resulted in a very bruised arse for the following few days but it was more than worth it! (No pictures of the bruises I’m afraid…)

Malapascua Cliff Jump Malapascua Cliff JumpI could have stayed longer in Malapascua, carried on diving or just relaxed for another week on the beaches.  But, it was time I headed to go swim with whale sharks, something I’d been looking forward to since I decided I would travel the Philippines…and so, I left Malapascua and began probably my most disastrous journey to Donsol…

Everything gets bigger….


The good gains: your list of places you want to travel, your aspirations, your network of international friends, your vocabulary of other languages, your ability to cope in difficult situations, your organisational skills, your tolerance of other people, your patience – I could go on! All of these things grow and improve with every day you spend travelling, they all add to the person you become and you realise that before you travelled you really had a lot to work on that you didn’t even realise.

BUT…it’s not only the good things that grow. People don’t tell you this before you backpack but the two things that got bigger for me that I wish I knew before are:

MY BAG: I travel with a modest 10kg which creeHuge backpack!ps up to 12kg within a couple of months. Even if you’re super strict on souvenirs etc. when money is tight you scrap the pointless travel sized toiletries and opt for the more economical bigger bottles. I also carry food and coffee with me to save money, mostly porridge for breakfast, nuts and snacks for long journeys and enough tea and coffee to last me a while, incase of an apocalypse.

ME: whoever says you lose weight when you travel Asia is wrong. Drinking excessive amounts of beer every single day alongside the amazing Asian food and no exercise is the perfect recipe for growing a gut. I’m usually pretty healthy, I eat well and exercise regularly, but in most of Asia even when you opt for the healthy option it’s usually fried in tonnes of fat. Plus, when you move so often you can’t help but to try the local specialities in each place, it becomes a kind of treasure hunt to find the best of the local dishes, not those listed in the Lonely Planet but those places you know about by speaking to locals. It’s also almost a daily occurrence for locals to invite you to eat with them or drink beer…all in all, you gain weight. But it’s more than worth it, the food is so damn good, what a couple of pounds that you can’t lose when you’re back in a routine in ‘normal life’ (if you return to some kind of normality that is, if not, embrace the Asian beer/food belly and be proud!!)

Bohol – Panglao

Bohol beaches philippines travel backpacker

One of the more famous Filipino islands with tourists, Bohol was my next destination. When I arrived at Tagbilaran pier I was hounded by tuk tuk drivers, which is the norm in Asia. Whereas the normal protocol is; tuk tuk drivers asks where you’re going, you tell him, he offers some ridiculous price for the journey, you haggle for a few minutes and settle at a price which, although way higher than any local would pay, you think is reasonable. If you don’t reach that price you walk away and start the process again with another driver. This time was different though, and I blame it on the amount of tourists visiting Bohol for expensive resorts, not backpackers. Normal holidaying tourists compare the price to what they would pay at home, it’s always cheap in comparison and it’s much easier to take a tuk tuk than any of the alternatives. But, when I arrived and couldn’t get any tuk tuk driver to agree to take me to the jeepney terminal because they all wanted to take me directly to Panglao for 250 pesos (the jeepney is 20) I was a bit stuck. Not one driver would take me to the terminal, even the moto drivers were refusing the journey. As always though, I managed eventually and got on the back of a motorbike and got to the jeepney terminal for the rip off price of 40 pesos (it should have been around 10).  Jeepneys leave when they’re full and there was one just leaving as I arrived, there was no room for me and my backpack so I waited a good 45 minutes for the next jeepney to fill up.
All jeepney rides are pretty crazy but this one stood out in particular for me; jeepneys are almost always packed to the brim with people, luggage, chickens, food and whatever else can be squeezed on. I never have any doubt that when the jeepney is completely full, there is room for at least a couple more people. The ride from Tagbilaran to Panglao was PACKED, even by Filipino standards, and the driving was manic. Every time the driver slammed on his breaks a huge neon sign lit up at the front of the jeep saying “God save us” which of course filled me with confidence about arriving to Panglao alive!

A typical Filipino jeepney...my favourite mode of transport!
A typical Filipino jeepney…my favourite mode of transport!

Anyway, eventually I made it after dark with the usual task of finding accommodation. After looking at 4 or 5 places that’ve realllly of my budget was starting to lose patience, I was exhausted, hungry and it was getting really late. I settled eventually for an overpriced room at Lequit guesthouse for 600 pesos a night. Luckily I found some cheap local food and rested my head for the night despite being constantly woken up by the unbearably itchy mosquito bites I’d acquired in Apo Island! I hadn’t had  many low points in the Philippines but the exhaustion that night definitely kicked in and I wanted to leave as soon as I could the next day.

Alona beach, Panglao, bohol

I persevered though, and stuck out a whole day in Panglao, unable to afford any diving or other activities I spent the day on the beach reading my book and relaxing. The beach definitely had a different feel to any other I’d been to the in the Philippines, it was still nice though, the water was bright blue and crystal clear and the sand was pristine. Panglao was probably, in hindsight, not somewhere I should of visited, I knew it would be touristy but I have no regrets that I checked it out, I just worn be going back! It’s huge cliché but every cloud does have a silver lining and deciding to stay one more night here and leave early the next morning allowed me to meet some friends who asked for advise on travelling the Philippines, one of which I convinced to go to Moalboal the next day and learn to dive with my amazing instructor, Barbara!

At least the dogs were lovely!
At least the dogs were lovely!

Apo Island 


Apo Island can be seen from Siquijor and every day I was there I couldn’t wait to visit. I’d heard so many good things about Apo, especially the diving, and this would be my first diving outside of my course. A lot of people dive Apo from Dumaguete and don’t actually stay on the island. With no electricity, limited water and hardly any accommodation options, I don’t blame them! After taking to ferry from Siquijor to Dumaguete (100pesos for non Aircon long boat) and a short jeepney trip to Malatapay I waited around for the ‘3pm public boat’. As I was waiting, a group of travellers who I’d noticed on my previous boat turned up. I’d already clocked them barging past people on the last boat and when they arrived at the port they ordered halo halo from the local eatery I was sat at, once one halo halo was made, they ordered another, while others from the group put their hands in the food containers on the counter grabbing whatever they liked. They spilt drinks and halo halo all over the table, the poor lady serving didn’t once get a please or thank you and the manager had to sit from afar counting everything they’d rudely grabbed without telling the staff. There seemed to be a lot of confusion about the public boat, with three other backpackers not being allowed on for no apparent reason other than the fact the lady selling the tickets had taken an unnecessary dislike to them. Travelling alone definitely comes in handy for boat trips in the Philippines as there is usually space for one more person on every boat, trying to find room for two or three is definitely more difficult. The loud, rude group from the local eatery had space on their boat so I had no choice but to fill it. Luckily, it’s a short boat ride to Apo Island, around 30-40 minutes for 300 pesos.   Accommodation is limited on Apo but the popular choice seems to be Liberty Lodge, where I stayed. I think this is the only place with a dormitory and with all your food included it’s not a bad deal. I arranged my dives as soon as I arrived, excited to get back in the water and see how I cope without my instructor! Despite being both a deep dive and a drift dive in strong currents, the dive school had no problem with me diving at Coconut Point, a beautiful dive spot with huge schools of jackfish, beautiful corals and turtles. The dive master was nowhere near as good as I’d had in Moalboal, which is usual outside of the PADI course, nevertheless I’m glad I did my course where I did!! After a dive at Coconut Point, we headed to Rock West, yet another amazing dive site.    With diving done for the day I spent the rest of the afternoon snorkelling with turtles. This was probably the best place for swimming with turtles since I went to Gili Islands, they were huge and seemed totally unphased by the swimmers around them.      Accomodation Liberty Lodge – 800 pesos per night including three meals a day.

Siquijor – the tourist post


The hardest post for me, I’ve thought about this a lot. I selfishly would like to leave this place out of my blog, both because I don’t want it to ever get ruined by tourists and because I could never do Siquijor justice in writing about it. But, with the loveliest people I’ve ever met there it’s only fair that I encourage visitors to their magical Island. So, I will write about the usual tourit things here, and follow with the real Siquijor experience I was so blessed to have.

Known for its healers and witches, Siquijor is a mystical place, a place most Filipinos are afraid to go. Some locals, and especially the governer are trying to loose the reputation of being an island full of sorcery, but I’ve heard too many stories that I believe to be true to doubt that there are healers in Siquijor. There’s something mystical about the whole island, and if people are scared to visit because of what they hear then great, more tranquility for me and less chance of it being ruined. Anyway, after 2 hours on the Allison cargo ship from Dumaguete (100 pesos) I arrived in what was soon to become my favourite place.

Sunset on Siquijor

After checking out the two most popular and recommended hostels in San Juan, Casa Miranda and Lorna’s End of the World (very strange name!), it was dark and I realised that the island was pretty busy, no rooms in either hostel. A blessing in disguise though as I was recommended to knock on a local ladies house who occasionally rents out rooms. Opposite the fire station, next to Capaly Spring Park, a big orange house is the house of Nelia, who invited me in with open arms and gave me one of the the best rooms yet in the Philippines. Like a home from home, Nelia has an old lady who lives with her and helps out around the house with laundry and cooking which all came free with my room! Sometimes, they were a bit too nice, especially when I was suffering from the usual tanduay hangover and the old lady would scream “EAT!” At me as I used the bathroom at 8am!! I love the local dried fish and rice for breakfast but sometimes I need a little bit of time before I can stomach any food!

I rented a bike as soon as I got to the pier in Siquijor town, for 250 pesos a day which gave me the freedom to explore for 7 days and actually made it possible to me to meet the amazing siquijorian family who changed my experience to the most memorable and authentic I’ve had to date. The 72km coastal road stretches around the whole of the island which means you can drive around the whole circumference in a day. The scenery is stunning, littered in Palm trees like nowhere else I’ve been and the smiling locals are adorable. Women walk the streets covering their faces from the fumes, but still, when I rode passed they would remove their cloth just so I knew they were smiling at me, even though I could already tell from their eyes. With plenty of time here I managed to tick off most of the tourist spots in my days riding around.

Travelling from San Juan, I headed north eat to Siquijor town, past here is Larena where I stopped at Kiwi Resort to check it out. The beach is nice and apparently snorkelling is also good. There was the odd dive boat leaving from here too and although I’ve read the diving was good in Siquijor I was saving my money for Apo Island. Around the rest of the island are the Tubod Marine Sanctuary, accessible from Coco Grove Resort (a huge expensive, orange eyesore) where you pay a 200 peso consumable fee and a 50 peso marine sanctuary fee. The snorkelling is good, not the best I’ve ever done but the corals are beautiful, unfortunately I wasn’t lucky enough to see any turtles but apparently they’re there, if you catch them at the right time.

Further west towards Lazi, is the Century Old Balete Tree, where you can get a fish pedicure for only 15 pesos! Driving from here to Lazi boasts even more stunning scenery and smiley locals . The next stop is the Lazi Convent, and taking a left here takes you to the stunning 4-tiered Cambugahay Falls where I relaxed with a fresh Buko and a puppy after taking a swim. West again from here is the popular beach of Salagdoong, which for me, was crowded and over rated! There were a lot of tourists there, mainly Filipino (all of the touristy places I talk about are really referring to Filipino tourists, there are still few westeners) the food was overpriced and the beach was tiny, plus with the entrance fee you have to pay I really think there are nicer places in Siquijor.

Cambugahay Falls siquijor philippines waterfalls
Cambugahay Falls

Another great motorbike ride was up to the highest point in Siquijor; Mount Bandilaan  which takes you through the town of San Antonio, where most of the islands “witch doctors” are believed to be. With a small tower at the top to climb, there is a 360 degree view of the island here, you can also see Apo Island, Negros, Mindanao and even Bohol in the distance. This trip has another special meaning for me because it was while asking directions to the mountain that I met my Siquijorian family. Read about my special, blessed experience with them here because they deserve a post of their own, not to be crammed in with tourist attractions!

The final touristy thing I did in Siquijor was to ride up to the very strange Triad coffee shop and restaurant in Larena. Like a spaceship perched on the side of a hill, I can’t quite understand why anyone decided to build this thing there! I only stopped in for a drink and to look at the view, luckily there was only one more table occupied, but from what I could see, Triad gets huge tables of day trippers huge empty tables littered with spilt food and drinks were being cleaned up by the staff. I dread to think what it was like as the bus loads of tourists were there!

philippines beaches coffee shops restaurants triad lerena
Triad coffee shop and a beach in northern Siquijor

There’s so much to do in Siquijor and I can’t wait to show friends and family all of the sights on this amazing island, but they are just the beginning of all the beautiful things about this island. The people here make Siquijor so special I will make sure I visit again and again.



After non-stop dive chats that I couldn’t join in with in Coron, I’d already considered doing my PADI, but when reading my guidebook for the Philippines and reading “excellent for diving…” At the beginning of almost everywhere I was going, I knew I had to do it in the next place I went. So, Moalboal it was! A four hour bus ride North west of Cebu City, Moalboal is a chilled beach town, with just enough people around to have a good time but not too many that it takes the charm away from travelling.  The ‘strip’ is littered with dive shops, and because the diving is the major reason people go, day times are very quiet here. Even if you don’t dive it’s worth a few nights, the snorkelling is amazing too and it’s a good option close to the city. But, for me, Moalboal will always be special, it opened up a whoe new (expensive!!) hobby for me, and I will always remember the amazing dive spots I was lucky enough to learn at.

Giving my amazing instructor a much deserved kiss!

Diving was never really something I fancied previously, I never understood why people loved it so much, I’ve always been happy snorkelling and I’ve been lucky enough to snorkel in places with great visibility, turtles, reef sharks, colourful corals, I didn’t understand why people would pay so much money to go scuba diving. After signing on to my course, passing the theory and havin a quick practice in the pool, I was ready for my first dive and I quickly changed my mind about it being on par with snorkelling! It really was like discovering a new world, and I loved learning about how to dive. The types of dives, the equipment, different techniques, entries, exits, the precision in dive planning; it has been a while since I studied and to get my brain working again was great!

I was more scared than I expected though, especially since I often get problems with my ears, I thought “if I’ve paid this money, done the studying, decided I really want to dive, then I get in and can’t equalise, what do I do?!” I was on a boat with some very experienced divers for my first dive, and as I was one on one with my instructor, whom I completely trusted I didn’t really ask any questions or show my slight nervousness. Before I knew it, I was about to step off the boat, and only a few minutes after that Barbara was signalling for us to go down. Deflating my BCD was a bit scary, I went down slowly, equalise, a bit more, equalise, and although it took me a while to get down, I did it. It didn’t feel as strange as I thought it would, and I wasn’t scared when I was down there. Apart from when we were doing our skills, taking my mask off was definitely the worst for me, I hate saltwater in my eyes and with my eyes closed I knew I’d get disorientated. I soldiered on though, passed my skills, and did four fantastic dives in Moalboal; Talisay PointTonga Wall and two at Pescador Island. Turtles, brightly coloured nudibranch, moray eels, clown fish, trumpet fish, catfish- my introduction to diving couldn’t of been better.


Moalboal backpackers – the cheapest option at 275 pesos a night for the dorm, it’s ok, especially when you’re diving all day.

Susan’s Seaside rooms & restaurant – 500 pesos a night this family run guesthouse is in a great location, right on the beach away from all the other tourists. The family who run this place are lovely and welcoming and I’d send anyone there way. A little pricier than I like to pay, the constant provision of hot and cold water as well as plates, bowls etc meant I could save on the pesos eating at susans rather than out in town.

Dive shop
Quo Vadisapparently it’s a little pricey but you get what you pay for. I’m so glad I learnt to dive here and my instructor Barbara couldn’t of been better! There were lots of experienced divers here, one of which has done over 15,000 dives! A fair reflection of this dive shop.

Coron Island Escapade Island Hopping

Malcapuya Island, Coron

Everyone else was diving, and I had a full day to fill so I thought an arranged Island hopping trip would be a good way to fill the day. I’d already seen the highlights of the other trips offered by the tour agencies so I decided to sail to the furthest of the Island hopping destinations and visit Malcapuya Island, Bulog Island and Banana Island. I’d already waited around in true Filipino style for long enough to be a bit irritated, especially after I’d been told the boat would leave at 8am and instead I sat on it for at least an hour while a boat next to me tried to move a squealing pig on to the pier. I also found out that I’d been ripped off, massively for the first time. I paid 1,700 pesos for my trip, everyone else on the trip had only paid 1,200 stupidly I didn’t question the price because I had gotten used to the honestly of the Filipinos, even the tricycle drivers usually quote the right price straight away. But it was also late when I booked, 11pm the night before and I couldn’t be bothered to haggle. Off to bad start, the trip had no choice but to get better, which it did. Malcapuya was a beautiful Island as were the second two islands we visited, the sea was even calmer than my previous boat trip in Coron and the day was spent mainly lying around on beaches and eating yet another amazing lunch.

Of course, I was preparing on the way back for the battle I’d have with my hotel to get my money back for how much they had over charged. I was expecting the worst and thinking of compromises that would at least help a little bit, like free breakfast for me and my friend the next morning.  I walked in tired, and dreading the conversation, I told the receptionist what had happened so she rang her manager, telling me to go upstairs and shower and that the manager will knock on me when she arrived. An hour later I was summoned downstairs, “there’s nothing we can do that is our price”, I explained it was unfair every one else on the boat had paid 500 pesos less for the exact same trip and that the price difference was huge. She shook her head and explained again, that was what they charged for the trip and I knew that when I booked. The conversation started to get difficult as I expected, but out of nowhere, the manager pulled out 500 pesos and handed it to me! I have no idea why or how she went from determined that was the price to handing over the cash value of what I told her I was owed but I was happy!

Coron DIY island hopping


A personalised island hopping trip, shared with some good friends actually works out less expensive than the tours, and much more fun! We selected 5 spots for our boat to take us to and opted for lunch to be included:

  • Seven sins islands
  • Kayangan lake
  • Twin lagoons
  • Skeleton wreck
  • CYC beach

Seven sins, our first stop was great for snorkelling, despite the amount of jellyfish we had to avoid! Visibility was good and we took as much time as we wanted swimming around the islands looking at the beautiful corals and fish. The highlight of the trip, and I think for all my friends was Kayangan Lake. The boat pulled up on the other side and we were told to walk to the top for a view point and over to the other side for the lake.

I wasn’t sure what I expected but I couldn’t possibly imagine the beauty of the lake we were about to swim, dive and paddle board around. The water is crystal blue, and we were lucky that there were hardly any other people there.

After a good hour swimming here we walked back to the other side of the island for a delicious lunch, the lunch on boat trips in the Philippines were already becoming the best meals I ate here!

Twin lagoons were beautiful but nothing compared to the lagoons if already seen in El Nido. The water wasn’t as clear, unfortunately, and there quite a few boat trips here already which took the charm away from the place.

Skeleton Wreck was next and  another good snorkelling stop, although there were other tourists here feeding the fish which irritated me! It was a bit awkward when I realised I’d worn the same bikini as the striped fish here…

coron island hopping skeleton wreck snorkelling philippines
Skeleton Wreck

The last stop, CYC beach was a perfect way to end a great day. The only boat here, we relaxed with the dogs and had some much deserved rest after an active day of swimming. One thing I noticed on this trip compared to those is El Nido was how calm the water was, it was flat the entire time and looked like a huge silk sheet rather than sea water. Another day over in Coron and another gorgeous sunset awaited us when we returned, as did some mango daiquiris….

CYC beach. mango daquiris and sunset coron palawan philippines
CYC beach. mango daquiris and sunset