Thursday, April 27, 2017

Isla Culion Historic Tour and Snorkeling with Kawil Tours

In 2009, my friend and I did a DIY tour of Culion Island: we took the public boat from Coron to Culion and just roamed around the town by ourselves, without any guide. We only knew that Culion Island was once a leper colony and that the church we visited was really old.

This time the walking tour around Culion Island was more rewarding, thanks to our local guide, Elee of Kawil Tours, who knew a lot about the island and its history and who shared stories of days gone by not mentioned in the markers around town (I don't remember seeing these markers in 2009). We visited the Culion Church, the bastion (with canons) beside the church, the little plaza with a statue of Major General Leonard Wood, and buildings of historic significance around town. (We did not get to visit the museum because it was closed on a Saturday.) It was supposed to be a walking tour, but the unrelenting summer sun forced us to take a tricycle (paid for by Kawil Tours) for the rest of the tour. (Kawil Tours also paid for the bottles of water and the halo-halo that we craved for during the scorching summer walk around town.)

Culion Island

La Immaculada Concepcion Church

The people of Culion looked up to Major General Leonard Wood

After leaving Culion Island, we dropped by Crowning Glory Reef, just a few minutes' boat ride from Culion Island, for snorkeling. Crowning Glory Reef is a Marine Protected Area and, wow, were the corals magnificent! I am the laziest person alive and do not like to exercise but the fierce current gave me a great workout (without my breaking a sweat haha!) and I had an awesome time doing so (I thought I'd never say this in relation to exercising!). Tip: If you know how to use and are comfortable using fins/flippers, bring and use them in case nature gives you the same challenge it gave us.

Crowning Glory Reef

Much as we wanted to stay and snorkel some more at Crowning Glory Reef, our strength ran low and we accepted defeat and went to our next and last stop: Lusong Gunboat Wreck. The wreck is in shallow waters and is clearly visible and perfect for snorkeling (no diving required!). Corals have grown on the wreck all the more making it a pretty site for snorkeling.

Lusong Gunboat Wreck

Dennis, one of the guides, freediving at Lusong Gunboat Wreck

Private Tour or Join In Tour? Join-in Culion Historical Tours through tour operators based in Coron will go from Php1200 to Php1800 per person inclusive of boat, guide, lifevest, and lunch. These join-in tours will visit Culion Island (Culion Church, Culion Museum, and other historical landmarks) and will drop by a marine park for some snorkeling. For our Culion tour, although quite expensive at Php11,600 for 5 pax (inclusive of boat, guides, lifevest, lunch, snorkel and mask, and other expenses at Culion Island such as tricycle rides, water, snacks), we opted to go on a private tour with the only tour operator based in Culion.

Where did we book our private Culion Tour?
Kawil Tours
facebook page

Would I recommend this tour operator? Yes. A big resounding yes. Especially if you are interested in the history of Culion, once a leper colony. Kawil Tours is based in Culion with owners/guides who grew up in Culion, and could therefore share accurate stories of the island. On top of that, the owners/guides are very accommodating and will really look after their guests. And although they are based in Culion, a 1.5-hour boatride from Coron, they came to pick us up at Coron Town on time.

Coron 2017
Coron Accommodation: Centro Coron
Starry Starry Night at Kingfisher Park
Coron Ultimate Tour with Calamianes Expeditions and Ecotours (DON'T!)
Coron Island Escapade Tour
Isla Culion Historic Tour and Snorkeling with Kawil Tours (you're here!)
Coron Accommodation: Zuric Pension Coron

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