Firstly if you haven’t heard about Big Dream Boat Man then have a little browse of their website! It’s essentially a boat trip which takes you to beautiful islands and places all around Coron at times that other tourists aren’t there. (They are also about to start another route – Coron to El Nido!) It is run by tour guides which have plenty of experience and know the timings of all the day tours so they are able to create an itinerary which avoids the crowds. This way you get to see the true beauty of each place. It really does do what it says on the tin. I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many beautiful places with that little people in, as we did! The trip does come with a substantial price tag (£500) but in my opinion it is truly worth it! The price includes everything from the transport, all your food (there’s a lot and it’s GOOD!), accommodation on each island, snorkels, flippers and everything you will need basically! On the day tours there are often extra fees such as 250 pesos to hire a kayak but these extras are all included in the Big Dream Boat Man tour price.
They’ve kindly given me a 10% discount code for a little extra help with the price – just quote ‘kirsty10’
We’d heard raving reviews about the trip which is why we booked it but we were very apprehensive as we had no idea really what to expect so I thought I would include all the questions we had, with the answers we now have found out! In case you’re thinking of going!
What do you do with your luggage?
You can store your luggage in the below section of the boat – we took our huge 30kg cases on board. However this luggage can only be accessed if you really need to. They advise that you have a bag with everything you need in it for day to day, and another small bag for your overnight things which they keep in the cabin with the captain and you can take off with you each night. Personally I would advise taking a dry bag with your day things in so that you can take your camera/suncream etc on to each island. Most of the time the boat will anchor just off shore so you will probably be in water waist deep to walk to shore – therefore to be safe, a dry bag will help!
What do you need to pack?
- Enough swimsuits for 4 days of swimming!
- Something to throw on over a wet swimsuit – I took an oversized shirt to throw on after snorkelling etc.
- An extension lead of some sort as there may only be 1 or 2 plugs in a room so if you need to charge 2 phones and 2 cameras you will need a lead!
- Dry Bag
- Camera – you will want to take photos!! The guides are very helpful at getting your things over to the island safe and dry if you’re worried about equipment, don’t be!
- A bottle to fill up with water – plenty of water on the boat so you can top up a bottle and take it to each place with you.
- Mosquito spray! – There can be a lot of mosquitoes on the islands so definitely take enough spray/cream to last the full trip.
What is the accommodation like?
They accommodation is very basic I won’t lie. As you are staying on tiny little islands which you can walk around in about 10 minutes they just have a few small beach huts situated on them and this is where you will stay. As a rule the electricity is turned on from around 6pm to 6am so if you need to charge anything you can do it overnight. In 2 of the 3 places there were showers – they are pretty much just pipes with cold water flowing out and in one place there was just a bucket and tap. However it’s not as bad as you think! As it’s hot, a cold shower is all you want anyway and the bucket is actually pretty easy to use. We did have a ‘spider gate’ situation in one of our huts but Joy our tour guide quickly sorted it for us! There are also a few cockroaches around but it’s all expected with island life! Each island is beautiful and I saw some of the most stunning sunsets I’ve ever seen so it’s worth a few bugs!
Will I get phone signal?
If you have got yourself a GLOBE sim then you will have signal almost everywhere you go! I can’t speak for other networks but this seems to be known for being the best one in the Philippines. We had signal even in the middle of the ocean. The only place where there was limited signal was on Banana Island – the last place we stayed and the only place to get signal was at one end of the island.
What are the tour guides/ boat men like?
I became so attached to our boat crew, or as they call themselves ‘boatmen’. Our lead tour guide was Joy. He really made the experience as good as it could be. His energy really bounced off everyone, he was so positive and passionate about the islands/places we visited as well as environmental causes and this passion makes all the difference. He made it such a relaxed and chilled atmosphere but had the right balance of energy to get everyone involved and talking. They made everything they were doing look so effortless and relaxed but you could also tell a lot of thought went into everything we did. The whole crew were constantly cracking jokes and the way they enjoyed themselves really had an impact on the whole group. Our group all got on so well amongst ourselves as well as with all of the tour guides/crew. We had 8 crew members in total including the captain and honestly I miss all of them! I find it so interesting to hear other peoples stories. They all have wives and children and by the last night we were sharing photos and stories and having a laugh. Overall I can’t rave about them all enough! If you are lucky enough to go and happen to have Joy, Darwin, Ambo or Chef (to name a few) as part of your boat crew, say hi from me!
The order of this is adjusted to fit with the weather/ timings of other tours (avoiding them) etc. but to give you an idea, this was our route.
– Left at 11:30am from Coron Port.
– 1.5 hour journey to Kayangan lake where we stayed for 1.5 hours. This was the most beautiful place (see in photos) and only our group was there! This really set the tone for the trip as everywhere we went continued to amaze us.
– Around 2:30pm we set off from Kayangan lake and had lunch on the boat as we travelled another 1.5 hours to the next stop which was to snorkel above a shipwreck.
– Left around 4pm and arrived at Pass island at 5pm which was base camp for the night. This was the most basic of our accomodation as it was a little hut where we shared a double bed. There was a fair amount of bugs/lizards in our hut but we still managed to get some sleep.
– Up to eat breakfast at 7:30pm. Breakfast was amazing with loads of options including pancakes, rice, pork, eggs, bread and fruit.
– Left at 8pm and travelled for 1.5 hours to Black Island. (The granite rock makes it black and is where it gets its name). There were two caves on the island which looked very interesting from the photos but we chose not to go in as there were swarms of mosquitoes at the entrance so be warned! One of the guys in our group came out with around 50 bites! The beach is beautiful and there’s a little shipwreck and reef just off shore so there’s plenty to see if you don’t go into the caves.
– At 11:15am we left Black Island island and headed to Dibutonay Island for lunch – half an hour away. Ate lunch altogether around a table on the island. Our tour guides collected some wood for a bonfire later.
– Left at 2pm and went to Maltatayok Island where we went snorkelling. There was a beautiful reef and we even saw a stingray. We stopped here for around an hour.
– Arrived at North Cay Nature Park at around 5pm – where we were staying for the night. This accommodation was the best – a single bed each and a large room. The shower was in bucket form but again this was fine! The tour guides made a bonfire and provided rum and drinks after dinner. We watched the stars and even saw a couple of shooting stars which was pretty amazing!
– Left around 8am and travelled for 1 hour to Coral garden. This is the most insane reef I’ve ever seen! So colourful and so many different fish, even a little turtle! We were very apprehensive about this as we were told we were going to do a 40 minute swim from one side of the island to the other in order to take in the full reef. However our guide Joy reassured us it would be fine – two of our guides took floats in case anyone got tired and Darwin – one of the other guides – paddled round on the paddle board in case anyone panicked and needed to get out the water. This reef also has a shipwreck at the other side which you can swim down and through if you’re brave enough! We left as other people started to arrive – so again it was the perfect timing.
-Next up we went to a salt water Hot spring – This took around 20 minute’s to get there. We were taken on a paddle board through a forest to the hot spring as you can’t swim in the water due to jellyfish.
-After this it was a 1.5 hour journey to Culion Island. This is a place which often people are scared to go visit. This is because a large majority of the people of Culion used to be infected with Leprosy. Our guides explained to us how the Leprosy was officially declared gone from the island and the people in 2006. It’s a stunning island with lots to offer so the aim for them is to increase awareness that it’s not a dangerous place to go anymore and therefore increase tourism again. We drove around on electric tricycles (all included in the original payment).
-We then stopped at Ditaytayan Island. We wanted to visit the Sand bar but there were people there so we walk through the island over to other side to find an untouched paradise. It was so beautiful and there wasn’t a single footprint on the sand. By the time we got back to the boat everyone had left the Sand bar and we were able to go and enjoy it by oursleves.
-Last stop was Banana island – where we stayed for the night. We arrived around 5:30pm just before sunset. We had dinner altogether for the first time – with our tour guides – and we all sat around a table. We pretty much went to bed around 9pm as everyone was shattered!
– We had to leave at 7am to make it to Twin Lagoon before anyone else (the day tours leave at 9am). We managed to get away around 7:15am and it took half an hour to get there. We had breakfast on the boat on the way and then arrived to the most beautiful 2 lagoons. The water is comprised of both fresh and salt water so as you swim through you can feel the water change from hot to cold.
– After Twin Lagoon we headed back to Coron. We went past Vivian beach which was around a 20 minute journey. It was the cutest little beach however the tide was in so the beach was very small! We admired from the boat before a half an hour trip back to Coron Harbour.
As I said, it was honestly the most incredible trip and I couldn’t recommend it more. I will definitely be back to do the Coron to El Nido trip soon! We have since done a couple of day tours and have felt such a different atmosphere on these trips, not mention the crowds of people you visit each place with. The Big Dream Boat man trip really is worth the money!