Being the adventurers that we are, Tom and I wanted to see a side of Coron, Palawan that not a lot of people see. We wanted to get off the beaten track and escape the tours in Coron town and try to live like the locals do.
We left our big backpack in our hostel, packed a small day bag and rented a motorbike, ready to set out for a little roadtrip. We strolled by the motorbike shop of Boyet (09282929884) the day before and immediately decided to rent our bikes from him. Not only did he have good bikes, he also was very knowledgeable as he explained the different spots that we could reach using a bike. Plus, we got invited to stay in his father-in-laws house in this small fishing village for free! (Free is every backpackers favorite word!). The highlight of our Palawan trip was being able to meet and interact with all the locals, it was awesome to be able to experience how other people live their lives. So without further ado, here are our tips on how to travel like a local in Coron, Palawan.
Related: Top Things to do in Coron Palawan
Practice the “No-Hands” on the Wheel Wave While Driving
Throughout the drive heading to OcamOcam beach, we encountered many locals who as soon as they would see us, would completely let go of their motorbike wheel to give us the biggest wave and smile ever. Although it was completely unsafe, especially since most of them were driving with two or even three passengers, (welcome to Asia!) Tom and I never failed to laugh as we waved back. Don’t forget to SMILE and wave back. The Filipinos are some of the friendliest people in the world. Mind you, the roads are pretty rough. Get the biggest bike that you can! Trust us!!! Nevertheless, it was awesome to be back on a motorbike! The last time Tom and I did that we were in Koh Phangan, Thailand. The first stop on our roadtrip was the waterfalls in Conception. To be honest, it was nothing spectacular. It was small and unassuming, but quite frankly, a nice break from the intense heat outside. We stopped by some cool looking piers and rice fields, but it was mostly dirt roads, a few coastal views, and a lot of dust.
Stay Away from the Crowds and Go to Un-Spoilt Beaches
After a rough 3-4 hours of driving, we finally started seeing some signs pointing us to Ocam Ocam beach. The roads were rough and bumpy and we even accidentally missed one of the turns. Once we finally got there, we were pleased with our decision. Not a single tourist on the beach. Oh yeah, mission accomplished! Locals were very friendly and immediately started asking us where we were heading. To be honest, we didn’t really know. There was one “resort” called Ocam Ocam Beach Resort which was literally 1 hut with two rooms. We ended up choosing a small little hut by the beach right next to it. The caretaker, Mang Jerry (Mang is a Tagalog word that we use to address people older than us as a sign of respect) said we could stay there for P400 ($9) a night.
We could also use the kitchen and bathroom in their own home. You also have the option to camp for P200 a night but since we had valuables like a laptop with us, we opted to go with the hut. The beach was quiet and serene, with the stillest waters you would ever see. No annoying beach vendors, no resorts charging for beach beds, in fact, there were no beach beds! We practically had the whole beach to ourselves. From OcamOcam, we took a boat trip to Calauit Safari and Black Island (Wait for our entry about that boat trip as it involves making out with a giraffe, crashing a birthday party, 5 bottles of brandy, and a roasted pig’s head. I kid you not.)
Eat and Sleep like the Locals Do
As soon as the sun went down, we would gather inside their home, and would start cooking together. We would exchange stories about their lives and how he used to work as a deep sea diver. We would eat whatever catch the local fisherman would get, and if they didn’t have anything, we would eat rice. Mang Jerry and his family would gladly offer us some of their rice even if they didn’t have much. One night, they gave us some shark cooked in coconut milk and ginger. We were a bit hesitant, but it was delicious! The local sari-sari (small stores which sell a variety of basic items) store became our go to spot to find something to eat when the fishermen came up empty handed. I think the sari-sari store owner was a bit sad to see us go! It was a very humbling realization to see and experience first-hand how some people are so dependent on the ocean for food. So as I cooked dinner, Tom would pump water from their well and would carry it back to the house in order to wash the dishes using a bucket.
In the evenings, Tom and I would lay in the beach, which was deserted by 7pm. as everybody goes to bed early! We would lay there watching the stars as we talked about everything and anything we could think of. It was perfect. As soon as we got there, we knew the three day road trip would have to be extended. After three wonderful nights, we decided to head to Boyet’s father-in-laws place in a small town called Higari. We said our goodbyes to Mang Jerry and his lovely family, and hopped on the back of our bike to continue our adventure around Coron. Next stop was an awesome few days of island hopping, firefly watching and our failed fishing attempts with Mang Guido and his family. Did I mention we became honorary guests at some random children’s birthday party??
Want to explore more of the Philippines? Check out these articles
- Why you should Live Local while Traveling
- What to Expect when Visiting the Philippines
- Diving through WW2 Shipwreck in Coron Palawan
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