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CuyoJan 17-19, 2012
Cuyo, Palawan

Exploring Cuyo, Palawan

New Ship Route to Cuyo
It was many years ago when I first noticed on the Philippine map that there was an isolated cluster of islands with an unfamiliar name - Cuyo. It was so remote from the mainland that it left me curious and thinking...what could possibly be there? How different could it be? I had no planned itinerary to go there, but when a Yakult salesman told me a new ship route just opened from Coron to Cuyo, I dropped my plan to go to Mindoro and instead, make a booking for Cuyo.

Arriving Cuyo
The Asian Journey, a big roll-on/roll-off ship left 7pm Coron (it was 7 hours late - the scheduled departure was for 12nn) and after 9 hours, we arrived Cuyo at 4am. All the establishments would still be closed so I decided to stay on the ship and continue my sleep, as the ship won't be leaving anytime soon.

Before disembarking, I talked to the ship captain for travel tips. Interestingly enough, he showed me his nautical map of Cuyo showing a myriad of shoals surrounding the island cluster. I somehow got the impression the shoals were all beaches - no, they were mostly mud! I thought Cuyo would be a simple coastal village with nipa houses lined up along the beach, rough dusty roads, no electricity, etc. I made no research about the place except for a Lonely Planet excerpt saying most of the fish sold in Metro Manila come from Cuyo.

Walking Around
After walking around and exploring the area, Cuyo is more progressive than I thought. The poblacion area has paved roads, there is a clustering of public sevices right by the municipal building - police, health center, market. There are a few resorts, hotels and eating places. Cost is still relatively cheap and I found the people warm, friendly and laid back.

Cuyo Port Cuyo Port
Bararing Island Bararing Island
Pandan Island Pandan Island
Quiminatin Island Quiminatin Island
Nikki's Pensionne Nikki's Pensionne
Quijano Beach Quijano Beach
Coco Verde Resort Coco Verde Resort
Feroland Hotel Feroland Hotel

Shhhhh....Don't Tell Anyone About This
After checking-in at Nikki's Pension, I talked to some people and began constructing Cuyo's make-up in my head. Apparently, Cuyo is a hush-hush place for kite boarders who catch the wind 5 months of the year - that's also how long most of these expats stay. There is a long sandbar in Capusan Beach that makes it ideal to go back and forth on a kite - no corals, no houses, no light posts to collide into. Unfortunately, when I arrived, and up until I left, there was no wind. The kite boarders were tweadling their thumbs waiting for a favorable wind forecast.

Kite Surfing Epiphany
The kite surfing thing was like an epiphany to me. When I first saw kite boarding in Bulog Island in Coron, I said to myself, "I'm gonna learn this". I was completely stoked. However, I didn't know the first thing to do in order to make that happen. Now, I made a last minute decision to go to this island not knowing what to expect and I find out it's the kite boarding mecca of Palawan. To reinforce that sign, I met a local who was willing to teach. I was prepared to spend another 10 days in Cuyo just to learn it. How uncanny is that? It can't be coincidence.

The Instructor
I offered the guy an ex-deal: he gives me his 10 days of teaching, and I'll make his name a household word in the country as a kite boarding least on the internet. I thought I made an offer too good to refuse. Why? Because he can get money from anyone else willing to learn. But I don't think he can readily meet someone who can put his name high on Google's ranking for "kite boarding instructor Philippines". Surprisingly, I never got his reply on the day he promised. The following day, I accidentally bumped into him and all he said was he party-ed hard the night before. Hmmmm. Perhaps it's not kite boarding that led me to Cuyo afterall.

There is talk about making Cuyo exclusive to local instructors - i.e. no outsider with their students can go to Cuyo to teach. I'm sure that's good for the locals, but I wonder how that ripples through the kite boarding community across the country.

Motorbike Riding
Exploring Cuyo is best done on a motorbike. Rental is minimal plus gas. There is a coastal road but it's not reliable to follow. Sometimes it leads to a dirt road that narrows down. Best to ask locals along the way. Even with my GPS, I got lost a few times as the GPS map had no street markings. There aren't too many places to go to, but Quijano Beach Resort is a good one...also Coco Verde Resort. There is a high point in Cuyo that overlooks the water, but I never got there - without a local to show me the ropes, I was clueless.

Reef System
Cuyo could nurture its reef for the snorkelling market. But right now, there is heavy damage due to cyanide fishing. There is a great demand for live Grouper in Hong Kong. It fetches as high as P3000 for those over 1 kilo. Already, there are many aquariums collecting/buying groupers for that trade. The manner is which these groupers are caught remains shady. Law enforcers are overwhelmed with limited resources.

I was just getting started. There was more to discover about Cuyo.

--- TheLoneRider

P1163088 P1163089 P1163093 P1173096
P1173097 P1173099 P1173102 P1173105
P1173111 P1173117 P1173123 P1173125
P1173129 P1173134 P1173136 P1173142
P1173144 P1173145 P1173146 P1173179
P1183183 P1183205 P1193214 P1193222
P1193240 P1193242 P1193253 P1193262

How to get to Cuyo:

  • by boat:
    • from Coron, Palawan, take MV Asian Journey. Economy P700, Deluxe P800, Tourist/Aircon P900
    • from Iloilo, Panay, take MV Milagrosa. Economy P475, Deluxe P575, Tourist/Aircon P750
  • by plane: daily flights from Manila airport terminals 2, 3 and 4, to Puerto Princesa in Palawan. Air Juan connects Puerto Princesa to Cuyo. Air Juan Bookings:
    • Puerto Princesa to Cuyo 10.00 am, Monday, Wednesday and Saturday
    • Cuyo to Puerto Princesa 11.30 am, Monday, Wednesday and Saturday

Places to stay in Cuyo:

Places to eat in Cuyo:

  • there is no fine dining restaurant, but many carinderia choices offering good cheap food

These guys like this story:

Naomi Rae Estreicher
Naomi Rae Estreicher
Mariella de Laza
Mariella de Laza
Angelo Villanueva
Angelo Villanueva
Nonnie Gicana Jeruta
Nonnie Gicana Jeruta
Gibo Trebs Llarena
Gibo Trebs Llarena
Jay-Ar Caranto
Jay-Ar Caranto
Mryl Aquino
Mryl Aquino
Alex Bangcaya
Alex Bangcaya
Ronald Chu Palay
Ronald Chu Palay

Facebook Users

Exks LoftExks Loft
(Mar 17, 2013) Maganda nga dyan sa Cuyo tahimik lang din kakagaling ko lang dyan noong feb 20 - mar 4, 2013...and gusto ko ulit bumalik...madami din akong pictures sa Cuyo. Nilibot ko talaga lahat hehe (Cuyo is beautiful and quiet. I was just there taking lots of pictures. I went all over the island. I'd like to come back.)
Ulrich von SchroederSwissSurfer
(May 27, 2012) Dear TheLoneRider. Don't worry, everybody is allowed to teach windsurfing on Cuyo Island. You can book a qualified IKO level 2 instructor through the Quijano Windsurfing Retreat in Magsaysay on Cuyo Island. There you have also very good snorkelling at the Magsaysay fish sanctuary. I regularly visit Cuyo island and always stay at the Quijano beach where there is also excellent food. Check out their homepage with lots of pictures.
Mariella de LazaMariella de Laza
(Feb 27, 2012) hey, i heard from someone that there's a ship from iloilo to cuyo. I'll be doing the iloilo to cuyo route someday. seems more interesting.
Ronald Chu PalayRonald Chu Palay
(Feb 27, 2012) bitin ba ang ikot nyo? :-)

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