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The magical beauty of Palawan’s Club Paradise

/ 07:25 AM July 13, 2014

BANUL Beach

It was drizzling when we landed at Francisco B. Reyes Airport in Coron, Palawan. Good thing the SkyJet plane had umbrellas for each passenger. We then rode a van that would take us to Club Paradise.

Half an hour of traveling on rough roads was made pleasurable by the resort’s tour guide. He regaled us with his vast knowledge of Palawan geography and history.

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The view on the road was stunning: the rough splendor of the landscape enhanced by the beauty of the ironwood trees all around; hills littered with cows and lush greenery. This was beginning to feel like a real safari experience.

Approaching the harbor, there was a faint sound of beating drums, which turned out to be the Club Paradise band formally welcoming us.

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From the harbor it took a 30-minute boat ride—highlighted by schools of fish swimming in the clear waters—until we reached the lonely and secluded Dimakya Island, home of Club Paradise.

SWIMMING in Kayangan Lake

The resort’s facilities were designed not to encroach on and ruin the natural surroundings. We were told that resident bats in the surrounding trees migrate every night to a nearby island to feed. It was fascinating to watch them. We also spotted monitor lizards swimming and lounging about in the swamps in the middle of the island.

While sipping iced cucumber and calamansi juice at the reception, we were briefed on the things we could do in the resort. And then we were led to a hidden beach with huts, where a lunch buffet was waiting.

The food was delicious, but something remarkable happened after the sumptuous meal. We were drowsy from all that eating and the trip from Manila. So we half-jested that it would be nice if our group could have brewed and iced coffee. A few minutes passed, the tables were cleared, and we were handed our room keys.

We were talking about the next day’s itinerary when a kayak sailed to the beach. To our pleasant surprise, it was our coffee being delivered—piping hot, with the iced coffee still cold. We laughed while applauding the resort’s initiative and excellent service.

Club Paradise’s Coron Family Tour consisted of five destinations: Kayangan Lake; a boat ride to a smaller island, Banul Beach, for lunch; on to Siete Pecados (Seven Sins) for some snorkeling; Twin Lagoons; and the natural salt baths of Maquinit Hot Springs.

The trip to Kayangan Lake started early because we had to take the boat again from Dimakya back to the harbor to board vans that would bring us to Coron Island. It was somewhat confusing because a number of places in Palawan (especially the northern part) is named Coron. In the Palawan language it means red palayok—which is what the red clay soil in the town reminds you of.

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Coron Isand was otherworldly, with an enchanting, mysterious skyline. The view is dominated by limestone mountains filled with bonsai trees. It was breathtaking, and this sight alone made the trip to Palawan truly worthwhile.

A short but difficult mountain climb led to Kayangan Lake. The lake was clean, cool and charming.

After swimming in the lake, we went to Banul Beach for lunch. The smell of pork barbecue filled the air, but the buffet had a distinctly seafood theme: kilawin fish, seaweed salad, clams, crabs, grilled tuna. It was like being in culinary paradise.

NATURAL bonsai trees cover the limestone formations.

Siete Pecados was surrounded by small limestone mountains. The boat anchored in the middle of the sea, where we spent time snorkeling and exploring the renowned coral reefs of Coron.

The water was so clear you could see the coral reefs and fish even without submerging yourself. We were not really into snorkeling, and just standing in the water yielded a wonderful surprise—spotting a Nemo (clown fish) and Dory (royal blue tang fish).

Divers can explore numerous Japanese shipwrecks in the area. (Forbes magazine has dubbed the shipwrecks in Coron as one of the best scuba diving sites in the world.)

Then off we went to Twin Lagoons. Again the boat stopped in the middle of the sea, which was surrounded by picturesque mountains. We had the unique experience of swimming in one lagoon and going through a narrow hole that led to another lagoon—which was contained inside imposing limestone rock formations. It was one of the most beautiful sights we have ever seen.

There was an unusual sensation when swimming in the Twin Lagoons—the upper part of the water was cool, while the lower part (if you are swimming horizontally, from the chest to the feet) was warm.

The last destination, Maquinit Hot Spring, was the perfect place to rest; the natural salt bath in this volcanically heated hot spring was invigorating.

Back in the hotel, another sumptuous buffet was laid out. While partaking of the feast, we were thinking of the soft bed in our room.

It was difficult to leave Palawan, although we smiled at the thought that when we go back, the magical beauty of Club Paradise would always be there.

Log on to discoveryhotels-resorts.com or clubparadisepalawan.com; call tel. 7196971 to 74.

For flight bookings to Coron, call tel. 8233366; log on to skyjetair.com

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TAGS: Banul Beach, Club Paradise, Coron, Coron Island, Dimakya Island, Francisco B. Reyes, Island Hopping, Kayangan Lake, Maquinit Hot Springs, natural salt baths, Palawan, Seven Sins, Siete Pecados, snorkeling, Travel, Twin Lagoons
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