I lived in Coron for two years, and to me, one of the things that a nature lover or traveler should include in their bucket list is Dugong watching. If you are done with the usual Coron island tours, I highly suggest this activity.
For those who are not familiar with what kind of creature a dugong is. Below is a picture of what they look like. A lot of people told me that dugongs are manatees but lately, I discovered that it’s not. It belongs to the same family in which manatees belongs to and is a relative of elephants.
Dugong watching is not for everyone. It’s like fishing, it requires patience and a long list conversation topics because you will just literally wait on a boat at certain spots for a long time. This is way different from Oslob whale watching. Dugongs are left in the wild and in their natural cycle so it’s not 100 percent guarantee that you will be able to see them. They are pretty shy animals but if they feel like it, they will just photobomb you.
You have to wake up really early for this. Tour normally starts at 6am. They can start the trip a little bit late but the earlier the better. The chances of seeing a dugong will be higher.
The dugong search will be around the waters of Calauit in Busuanga and Maricaban. What’s so special about these places? Seagrass. Dugongs eat sea grass which explains why they are also called seacows.
Vicky’s Guesthouse is a bayside guesthouse in Maricaban that arranges this dugong watching tour. Their boat package with a guide is Php 4,500.00 and they can only take a maximum of 4 people. Since dugongs are sensitive to noise, the lesser people-the better. They can consider additional 5th or 6th person but there’s an additional cost.
What I like about the tour organized by them is that in case, you don’t see any dugongs, they would take you to a nice beach or coral reef nearby so you can still enjoy the day.
If you are staying in Coron town, please take note that Maricaban is at the opposite side of the island and it’s even farther than the airport.
There are people who stay in town and just do this as a day trip. Transfers can be provided with an additional cost if you will book it through Vicky’s Guesthouse.
Some backpackers just motorbike their way to Maricaban. It can be a great adventure going there. You’ll pass by rice fields, nipa groves, luscious forest and mangroves, and small rural houses. The roads are still under construction so expect rough roads.
But it’s really convenient to just stay around the area, San Jose. Aside from Vicky’s Guesthouse, there’s Riverhouse in Decalacahao Pier.
I stayed in Vicky’s Guesthouse because it is more catered to backpackers. They only offer private fan rooms for 2 persons. The ones with shared bathroom are Php 700 and the one with private bathroom is Php 900. Their website is http://vickysguesthouse.wixsite.com/site Don’t expect anything fancy. It is a simple yet homey place run by a lovely family.
I used to be finicky with guesthouses on water because of the terrifying drainage system I have witnessed in a similar type of accommodation in Coron town. But in Vicky’s Guesthouse, the surrounding water below is clean! You know that your poops don’t go straight to the waters. You can even do muck dive there. When I was there, I even saw Lionfish and Moorish Idols!
There is also nearby mangrove area which you can explore by Kayak from the guesthouse.
In Vicky’s Guesthouse, you can just sit by their window, go boat watching, and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of Maricaban while having an ice cold beer. If you simply need to breathe and get away from it all, this is the place to go to.