Video blog: My first pawikan sighting at Apo Island

Snorkeling is one of my most anticipated activities whenever I travel. One of my most memorable snorkeling experiences was at Apo Island, Negros Oriental during my birthday trip.
pawikan + izah

From Siquijor, we rode a yacht called the Coco Adventurer along with 10 other travelers from different countries. We were the only Filipinos aside from the crew of the boat. It was a two-hour dizzying ride to Apo Island. But all of it was worth the trip as soon as I saw the turquoise waters and my birthday surprise underwater.

It was a bliss seeing the pawikan swimming freely in its natural habitat. We did not only see one but three pawikans. The locals know that they should protect the animals. That’s how it should be. Don’t touch or bother the animals. Just admire them at a certain distance.

Want to experience it for yourself? Then book a trip at Explore8 Travel.

Snorkeling in Coron: Siete Pecados vs. Twin Peaks Reef

When I first set my eyes on Coron back in 2010, I knew it was love at first sight. Since then, I vowed to return as a diver to enjoy Coron’s abundant marine life and mysterious wrecks.

This January 2013, I went back to Coron. And no, I’m not a diver yet. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed snorkeling in Coron.


During my first visit, my parents and I witnessed the marine life in Siete Pecados. Siete Pecados is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Coron.

It was named as such because it is composed of seven islets scattered on turquoise waters. When you snorkel at Siete Pecados, you would see colorful marine life. However, most of the corals here were dead.

Many years ago, Siete Pecados has been a victim of cyanide and dynamite fishing but now it has been a protected area. As the rehabilitation of corals began, the school of fish returned to the area.

Entrance fee at Siete Pecados is Php 100/head.


This time around, we snorkeled not in Siete Pecados but at Twin Peaks Reef as part of our Coron Island Tour. The skies were getting darker making the visibility low as well.

Most of my companions were tired. Hence, they stayed on the boat. My thirst for seeking new adventures urged me to still jump into the water. I was the only one who went snorkeling.

As soon as I went farther away from our boat and nearer to the limestone karst formations, that’s when I saw the flourishing marine life at Twin Peaks Reef.

The corals were much more colorful at Twin Peaks Reef rather than in Siete Pecados. Sea urchins abound as well so extra caution must be taken so as not to get pricked.

Seeing an anemone and its resident clown fish made my day! Oh yes, hello there Nemo and friends!  Time was passing by and it was time to bid farewell.


Between Siete Pecados and Twin Peaks Reef, Twin Peaks Reef has a better and colorful marine life. But I give a thumbs up to the efforts of the locals to rehabilitate the corals in Siete Pecados. Mabuhay sustainable and eco-friendly tourism!

This won’t be the last time, Coron. I’ll keep on coming back to you! :)

5 things I learned from Matukad

Expect the unexpected. And adventure begins when the unexpected knocks on your door.

Snorkeling used to be the highlight of every hop from one island to another but not in Caramoan. Matukad Island has given me something that I’d forever remember (unless I get amnesia or alzheimer’s disease lol).

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Coron Day 2: My Island Birthday Adventure (Part 1)

“…Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”—Joyce Kilmer

Words were not enough to describe how grateful I was to see the wonders of Coron Island. I felt so blessed. God made my day perfect! Thank you Lord! It was an answered prayer.

Nov. 17, 2010

Happy Birthday! I woke up from the greetings and messages of family and friends. The sun greeted me too with its warm rays. I looked up and saw the clear blue skies. This would be one great day!

After eating breakfast at the Village Lodge Restaurant, we went to the port and met the DIY joiners of our trip: Gina, Dennis, Mai, and Abi.

Siete Pecados

Perfect weather! The sea was calm as we made our way to our first stop in the itinerary–Siete Pecados Marine Sanctuary. We snorkeled here for 30 minutes.

Good thing, I had Wish (my Canon D10) with me. I captured the beauty of the marine life underwater. But still, I was not satisfied with my shots. It would have been better if I got closer to the subjects… and the only way to do that is to dive—And that I have to learn. Haha.

This blue fish (sorry, I don’t know the name of the specie) was the most decent shot that I got.

Our boatman, Kuya Eli, told us that before, coral reefs in Siete Pecados were destroyed by cyanide fishing.  And when the site became protected, the colorful marine life returned.

Snorkeling was followed by swimming at the fantastic, amazing, breath-taking Kayangan Lake.

Kayangan Lake deserved all those adjectives and more. It was truly a hidden gem. Its’ beauty was not easy to see but it was worth the sweat.

We climbed 100 plus steps. Thanks to the makeshift stairs which made the climb easier and less scary. Kuya Eli led us to a narrow rocky path, where we found this famous picturesque view.

I’ve seen it in pictures. But seeing the real thing made me utter, Wow! The Philippines is really blessed!

There’s also a small cave from where we stood but we hesitated to get in since we didn’t have any spelunking lights. After taking photos, we returned to the original path and found another stairs going down to the lake.

On the way to Kayangan Lake

The struggle and sweat to climb was worth the serene scenery! The crystal clear blue-green water surrounded by the greens draped in the limestones was like a scene in a dream. But everything was real. It was not a dream.

A school of fish was also swimming in Kayangan Lake, which was said to be the cleanest lake in the Philippines. It was refreshing to plunge into the waters.

It’s really best for swimming since the water was not that salty. Kuya Eli told us that the lake has brackish water: 70% fresh water and 30% salty water.

After spending around three hours in the lake, we returned to our boat for the next destination—Barracuda Lake.

Unlike Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake can be reached by just 37 steps. But lo and behold, the make-shift stairs were built in between the sharp and steep limestones. One should really be extra careful with the steps. From the stairs, the deep blue waters can be seen already.

We found a French couple (I forgot their names) dipping in the Barracuda Lake.  The French woman said, “Beautiful country!” and the French guy seconded, “and good people!”

I smiled and thanked them. Despite the recent travel advisory by some European countries, tourists like them still visit our country. I can see hope in our tourism industry but first, the Department of Tourism should really listen to its stakeholders and change the “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” slogan. Foreign tourists would have a hard time understanding it.

Anyway, Barracuda Lake was named after the barracuda fish. Kuya Eli told us that divers visit this place to see a cave deep down, where the barracudas are. Another reason too was the thermocline, a transition layer between the mixed layer at the surface and the deep water layer where the temperature changes.

The limestones underneath the water looked like shimmering gold. Since I can’t dive yet, these were the only shots that I got.

After exercising our muscles, I heard my grumbling stomach. It’s lunch time! Our boatmen grilled the tuna and squids in our boat.

We also had grilled liempo and crabs. Ang sarap sarap! Bountiful lunch for my birthday! Ang saya saya! Mmm…

This post is getting longer. I’ll tell the next part of our trip to Twin Lagoon, Banol Beach, Skeleton Wreck and CYC Island in my next post.

Wanderlust in Samal Island (PART 2)

As promised, here’s the second part of my adventure as a wanderlust in Samal Island. You can read PART 1 here

Tripadora became an Island Explorer! This was my first do-it-yourself island hopping tour. I didn’t avail of any tour packages offered. Instead, I tried to arrange the trip for me, my brothers and my lola.

Since Bluwaters Resort has its own boat, we availed the services of the boat. Half-day island hopping costs me Php 3,500 (all four of us). I know it’s a bit pricey and a pain in the pocket but I valued the beauty that my camera can capture more than my torn pocket.

We left the resort at around 8:30 am and started sailing amid the greens and the blues of nature.

Our goal for the day was to see not only the grandeur of the islands but also the underwater treasures of the Coral Garden at Talikud Island, the neighbor of Samal Island.

Talikud Island is a haven of turquoise waters and unspoiled beauty. Locals called it Talikud (Talikud means “at the back”) because it’s literally situated at the back of Samal Island.

Before going to the Coral Garden, we passed by Babusanta Beach, where other island hoppers stop by for lunch.

Photo-Op first with Wish, my Canon D10 before plunging to the waters.  I snorkeled with my brother IG.

Check out the magnificent treasures underwater. Too bad, we didn’t find Nemo. We forgot to bring bread crumbs to attract the school of fish.

Snorkeling was indeed tiring. So don’t forget to bring water and bananas to boost your energy.

Another wonder at Talikud Island is the rustic beauty of Isla Reta.  Isla Reta is divided into two parts. At Isla Reta 2, you can find a small cave and can catch a glimpse of wild birds.

Here’s a photo of a wild bird (sorry, I don’t know what specie this is.) caught by Rash, my Canon 450d. Due to the limited capacity of my lens, this was the best that I can get.

Meanwhile Isla Reta 1 has cottages and boasts a stretch of fine white sand. We didn’t spend much time here  so I’d definitely return for a beach camping!

Of course, we didn’t forget to pass by the world famous Pearl Farm Resort. And since I didn’t have the budget yet to experience Pearl Farm, I just captured it in photos.  Here’s a photo of the Samal Houses.

I must admit, I’m a photoholic. So here’s a stream of photos of the eye-candy sights that I captured.

Samal and Talikud Islands definitely struck me. I shall return just like McArthur!