Sun

01

Nov

2015

How I fulfilled 3 Lifelong Dreams on the #1 island in the World

Discovery Palawan Cruise, Philippines © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
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I find myself out at sea, taking a sip of Piña Colada as dolphins skip and play in the sunset. Is this real life? Yes, and it's just day 1 of an epic cruise to Palawan, Condé Nast's #1 Island in the world!

 

 

Dolphins playing out at sea - Discovery Palawan Cruise © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

 

I knew the Philippines was a popular diving destination, but what I didn't know was that you can take an adventure cruise there as well.

 

Yes, going on a cruise, scuba diving, and seeing the iconic limestone cliffs of Coron are 3 things I've always dreamed of doing. I never thought I could do it all in just 3 days, though!

 

I took most of these photos on a trip with Discovery Palawan. Get ready to change your diapers, kiddos...it's time to fall in love with the Philippines.

 

Aerial view of Apo Island - Mindoro, Philippines  © Inggo Escalante via @idreamedofthis
EPIC SELFIE: See that tiny orange inflatable boat? I'm somewhere there, deep below the sea...



To be honest, the thought of being on a "liveaboard" cruise ship for many days made me a bit nervous. Would I get seasick? All the equipment and diving procedures were intimidating as well. Our bodies have this natural desire to...you know...stay alive, so when you start actually breathing underwater, it takes some work to convince your brain that everything's going to be OK. Haha.


 

Our dive boat approaching Apo Island - Mindoro, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

1st Stop - Diving at Apo Reef Natural Park

Well I was determined to live these dreams. Our cruise departed from Batangas, which is about 2.5 hours south of Manila. On the way to Palawan, we were going to stop at Apo Reef Natural Park, Mindoro. This place has some of the best dive sites in the Philippines, and I was excited that I would have my very first dive there!

 

Nathan Allen @ Apo Reef Natural Park - Mindoro, Philippines via @idreamedofthis

 

I'm happy to report that I had zero problems with seasickness...and learning to dive was both easy and fun! Our instructors did a great job making all the technical stuff easy to understand...plus reassuring us that proper diving is an incredibly safe and rewarding experience.

 

Honestly, I felt comfortable very quickly...and I was amazed by Apo Reef's stunning underwater world. Divers, there is an incredible Tubbataha Reef cruise as well!   Now, onward to Coron...

Apo Island's beautiful beach and lighthouse (click photos for more info)

 

 

Coron, Palawan - The Stuff DREAMS Are Made Of

Can you believe this place!!? They had to pinch me so I knew it was real. The best part was that our cruise ship arrived before the crowds of tourists - so we had it all to ourselves!

 

Lagoon at the entrance to Kayangan Lake - Coron, Palawan - Philippines ©Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Lagoon at the entrance to Kayangan Lake - Coron, Palawan
Limestone Cliffs @ Coron, Palawan - Philippines ©Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
The famous limestone cliffs of Coron
Kayangan Lagoon - Coron, Palawan - Philippines ©Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Nathan Allen Bio via @idreamedofthis

(Click photos for more info)

I made a joke about hiding behind the rocks here...so the boat would leave and I could stay forever!

 

Check out a live map of the cheapest flights all around you right now...pretty cool! - Nathan

 

Swimming in Kayangan Lake, Coron

From this lagoon, you can hike over to the brackish waters of Kayangan Lake. At first I thought there wouldn't be much to see underwater here, so I didn't bother snorkeling. Big mistake...


Kayangan Lake Swimming @ Coron, Palawan - Philippines ©Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

 

When I noticed all the fascinating rock "cathedrals" below the surface, I went back for my mask and snorkel. Cool, huh? There also some friendly "needle" fish - they are harmless, and don't seem to mind people much. If you're a diver, you can choose to explore Barracuda Lake instead.

 

Cathedral formations @ Kayangan Lake - Coron, Palawan - Philippines ©Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Underwater "cathedrals" in Kayangan Lake
Snorkeling @ Kayangan Lake - Coron, Palawan - Philippines ©Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
In a place like this, smiles are hard to hide!

Underwater Photos From Coron

On my very first dive at Apo Reef, I saw a wide variety of colorful corals and fish. Sea turtles often make appearances, and I even saw a few (harmless) sharks! Haha...I was so excited. I really wished I had my camera, but at least I got to take these shots in Coron...

 

School of Jack fish, taken with my TG-4 @ Club Paradise - Coron, Palawan - Philippines ©Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

This school of Jack Fish was swimming right near the beach at Club Paradise.


Snorkeling @ Siete Pecados, and a Shipwreck!

I'll never forget seeing my first shipwreck...it was submerged in about 12 meters of water, so I could still see it while I took pictures from the surface. Coron is famous for WWII wreck diving. Next time I hope to be fully certified to dive, so I can really take advantage of all this cruise has to offer!

(Click photos for more info)

 

As always, I used my Olympus TG-4 underwater camera for these pictures:) If you snorkel here, please remember to keep your fins up, and avoid any contact with corals. Touching them is not only harmful to you, but the corals as well. Hopefully these incredible places will be preserved for many more generations.

 

Discovery Dive #2 @ Club Paradise

Our final stop was Club Paradise Resort. It really is the quintessential "island getaway"! I felt like I was in a movie when I was there. By the time I did my second Discovery dive, I never wanted to leave. Aside from being the perfect place to relax, dive, or even play the piano (seriously), the island also has some fascinating wildlife if you hike around a bit!

(Click photos for more info)

Explorers might see giant bats called "flying foxes" roosting in the trees, and monitor lizards that are only slightly smaller than their relatives - Komodo Dragons! Don't worry though, if you don't want to find them, they won't find you:)


Our (Small But Mighty) Cruise Ship

Just like some of the colorful staff on board, our ship itself had quite a story to tell. It was built in Holland, and was previously named "The Hans Christian Andersen", after the famous Danish fairy tale author. How fitting, because I myself have Danish ancestry, and there is a Hans Christian Andersen quote that sums up my experience on this cruise perfectly:

 

"Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale."

(Click photos for more info)

Yes, sometimes, life really seems too good to be true. 


The service, food, and accommodations on this ship were truly top-notch. I hear this is the most comfortable and stable liveaboard ship in the Philippines, and I don't doubt that for a minute. Also, can you imagine sitting down for dinner - with a sunset view like the one below? Just one of many reasons why I will never forget this experience.

 

Sunset Dinner aboard the Discovery Fleet Palawan - Philippines ©Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Every evening, dinner comes with a new view...

 

FYI, some of the guests brought their children on this cruise. There are plenty of things to do, for divers and non-divers alike. Options include kayaking, island hopping, and various other beach activities. Again, this is an adventure cruise...on a more intimate ship than the giant vacation cruises.

Contact Info For Discovery Fleet Palawan

I'd like to thank Discovery Fleet for the opportunity to share this experience with my readers. Also Melo Villareal, Yvette, Chester, Colin...and the new friends I made along the way:) 3 bucket list achievements unlocked!

 

For inquiries, please call Yvette Lee: (+632) 519 5674-76 loc. 328

 

Pricing and more information: www.discoveryfleet.com

 

For convenience, consider a stay at Discovery Suites in Metro Manila. That's where the van to Batangas picks you up, and it's quite nice.

 

For cheap flights, I had a lot of fun playing with this new site:)

 

 

Oh, and check out this EPIC drone footage my friend Inggo took of our trip!

 

 

Thanks for reading, and feel free to share the island love!


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Nathan Allen has spent 6 years taking photos and documenting life in Asia.  A long-term traveler, he lives by the motto "spend less, see more".  Follow him HERE.

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