Mar 10-12, 2010
Skin Diving and Beach Camping at Calumbuyan Island
A Perfect Coral Dive
When I asked a snorkeling enthusiast which area in Busuanga is best for skin diving, without misssing a beat, he said, "Calumbuyan Island". That name has been etched in my mind ever since. I was in Coron in 2008, but didn't get the chance to visit Calumbuyan. This time however, the island destination was a high priority.
Getting to Calumbuyan Island from Coron Town
Calumbuyan Island could be reached by boat from Coron Town, but it's a P3000 price tag (max 5 pax). By land, it's only P100 by jeep to Brgy Concepcion and then P1000 by boat to Calumbuyan Island, return. Jeeps from Coron Town have 2 trips to Concepcion: 10am and 4pm. Char and I were lucky. Outback Greg, our super host who owns Tribal Adventures Tours, drove us all the way to the rough and tumble barangay of Concepcion.
From the fishing village of Concepcion, it took some scouting to find a boatman who'll take us to Calumbuyan Island. But we found Mang Boy. We made arrangement for return pick-up as well. The boat ride didn't take too long...30 minutes, as the island could be viewed from Busuanga mainland.
Because of its distance from the main action belt in Coron Town, the island was practically ours. Except for its manicured beach area, it was spartan - no water, no cottage, but yes, a toilet. Back-to-basic was great! We came prepared for beach camping - tent, earth pad, hammock, food, water, even binoculars for birding. The island is about 750 meters long and 250 meters at its widest - small enough to swim around...if you're an accomplished swimmer. The ocean current is only on one section where the water is funneled by the adjacent Dicoyan Island - that's where the corals are best.
Bird calls were everywhere but except for a kingfisher and a huge eagle, I didn't see much where the chirping was coming from. The island, even though is small, can be thick and brushy in the interior. Some birds were "stand-tracking" with the wind...staying stationary in mid-air as the wind gives them a lift.
Calumbuyan is really beach life at its laziest...hammock, birding, eating, star-gazing and sleeping...and yes, skin diving! With no phone signal or internet access, there was no distraction.
The Coral Reef
Calumbuyan's coral reef did not disappoint. Except for minor damage due to anchor dropping, the corals were pristine - alive, colorful and rich in marine life. To top it off, the drop-off is close to the shore. The drop-off is really where the beautiful gets to be MORE beautiful and colorful. It's possible to snorkel around the island and take deep plunges for getting up close and personal with the denizens of the sea. My highlight? I came upon a sea turtle...carapace about 15 inches in width. When I came too close, it sped off (check out the pic!).
The Challenges of Calumbuyan
The caretaker of the island is Mr. Crisanto. He's been at it for 18 years and enjoys a steady flow of regular customers. The fee he collects is used in part to protect the reefs. Mr. Crisanto was saying he wasn't getting any funding from any conservation group, and that he had to finance the buoys himself. He also mentioned being vigilant since even his neighbors would sneak-in some dynamite fishing, if he's not around. But he's quick to take action against anyone messing around with his reef.
The great thing about Busuanga, is that Calumbuyan Island's offerings are not unique. Just my looking at the map, you'd see a scattering of islands flanked by Culion Island and Busuanga. I've asked the fishermen what places are best for skin diving and they were hard pressed to give just one name...usually, there's a handful of places they can recommend. Next time you check out Busuanga, bring your mask and fins and camp gear. There's nothing like beach camping in Busuanga.
- Boatman: Mang Boy cell: 0910-592-1090
- Island Caretaker: Mr. Crisanto cell: 0908-740-3612
(Mar 18, 2010) i miss doing this! inggit ako! :(
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