Coron Fireflies Tour: A Review

In Coron, Philippines, there are many tours to choose from. Most of them are day trips around the islands, but one stands out for being a night tour – the Coron Fireflies Tour.

Fireflies Tour Cost and Details

The fireflies tour costs 950PHP per person, which roughly translates to $19USD. This includes pickup and dropoff at your hotel, the speedboat ride to the mangrove swamp, and dinner. They also give you some bug repellant lotion (you need it!), but I’d bring extra!

Kayangan Lake in Coron, Philippines - not on the fireflies tour! Read more

17 Things You Should Know About the Philippines Before You Go

If you have the chance, you should definitely visit the Philippines. It’s an incredibly diverse nation, with thousands of islands and indescribable beauty. Here are seventeen things you should know before you land:

1. Everyone speaks English, but not everyone…

Filipino children learn English in school, but Tagalog and other local languages are widely spoken throughout the islands. Especially for people in the islands like Habal Habal drivers, you might not get someone who speaks English. On the whole, you will generally be able to find someone around who does.

2. Each island is unique – with both beauty and safety

I know this sounds like a “duh.” But each island has its own character, and its own way of being. Check on which island you’re going to before judging it based which state it’s in. For instance – Siargao is technically in Mindanao, but is very isolated from all the problems on Mindanao island. El Nido is quite safe, but heading down south can get you into trouble (specifically taking boats out into the sea.)

Read more

Spreadsheeting: How Much I Spent in Coron

Coron was a bit more expensive than Siargao – Coron doesn’t have any beaches of its own, so basically every day is some sort of tour or adventure. It makes it incredibly fun, but it was also an expensive place to be!

Overall, for five days and six nights in Coron (five days actually in Coron, including in the nights the overnight layover in Cebu), I spent $512.42 USD.

How did that work out?

Airfare: $143.00
This includes my flight from Cebu to Coron and then my flight from Coron to Manila.

Accommodations: $88.01
This was for one night at a hotel in Cebu and then five nights at a guesthouse in Coron. It’s funny how happy I was for my own room in Cebu! The shared room in Coron was much smaller and had far fewer people in it than the one in Siargao, and was a great place to meet people.

Transportation: $12.00
Transportation was much cheaper in Coron – there weren’t a ton of places to go outside the tours, and it was all very walkable. This cost included my cab from the hotel in Cebu to the airport, airport transfers from the Coron airport to my guesthouse both ways, and then the airport departure tax in Coron.

Food: $44.87
Coron was absolutely centered around the tours – most of them included lunch and a snack, so I only paid for dinner. My guesthouse here served a free breakfast, so I had that in the accommodation as well.

The food in Coron was pretty good – I tried the brick oven pizza there at Trattoria al Forno and it was amazing! I was also more liberal with trying the street food. I discovered camote-cue and banana-cue and ubé smoothies! And managed to not get sick from it (I think… mostly).

Activities: $207.76
This was definitely the big cost in Coron! I took one island-hopping tour, one trip to the Caluit Safari, a fireflies tour, and then my scuba adventure. So for four days of tours, I didn’t think this was so horrible – especially because almost half of this was scuba diving! And it’s funny how not-horrible it seems in USD. When it was at the time and in Philippine Pesos, it felt VERY expensive.

For example, my scuba adventure was 4,635 pesos. Or $92.20. Which, by the way, I paid for with my Visa (because the accepted credit cards – very few places here do), and then realized Visa has a way better exchange rate than the one I got getting cash from Bank of America! But 4,635 pesos just sounds like so much! It’s funny getting used to other currencies with very different exchange rates.

Miscellaneous: $16.78
Miscellaneous stuff was really miscellaneous here – I needed some cash so I had to pay the $4.44 ATM fee to get it; I needed some super glue because my GoPro 3-way stick broke (seriously?!?! My BRAND NEW $80 stick. I am still more than a touch pissed off about it); and then birth control. In the States, they only were able to give me three months of birth control. I’ll be gone four months. And of course I looked it up, and the Philippines was the only country on my itinerary where I could get it without a prescription. So I bought some.

Ultimately, it came out to an average of about $85.40 per day.

Coron was more expensive to get to in airfare, and then the tours really added up. But it was completely worth it!

And that’s it for the Philippines! I’m now on my way to Cambodia. The Philippines was so much fun – I’m so happy I went and I have a suspicion I’ll find my way back.

On average, my time in the Philippines came out to $48.80 per day (this one does NOT include the flights because I have a separate budget for those). I was happy with that, as my budget was actually $50 per day. If I hadn’t gone scuba diving, it would have been considerably less (but considerably less fun).

The Water Lights Up When You Touch It

When I was looking at all the tours in Coron, there was one called the “Fireflies Tour Coron.” Given that I remember spending tons of time in my childhood chasing after and catching fireflies, I wasn’t that excited to pay 950 pesos to go see them. I mean, cool, but skip-able.

And then I heard there was a phosphorescent bay on the way.

I met two girls in my room at the guesthouse – Allyra and Pouchi, and they were so fun. They’re best friends who grew up together (Rachel and Jess… they reminded me of us!) and it was their first trip together. So they were ready to have a fun time and they were incredibly sweet. We all decided to do the fireflies tour together (ok, I might have talked them into it once I heard “phosphorescent bay”).

Holy crap, these people are not marketing this tour very well. They talk all about the fireflies. But when I said “phosphorescent bay” that was what sold Allyra and Pouchi on doing the tour too.

On the way to the fireflies, the water LIGHTS UP WHEN YOU TOUCH IT.

Let me say that again: the water. lights up. when you touch it. Seriously. And was never once mentioned in any of the promotional literature.

The lagoon is filled with phosphorescent plankton that give off light when disturbed. And they even light up when you make a loud noise!

When you splash, you can see exactly where all the drops land because you can see it light up and then fade away! Or if you move a pole (maybe like your GoPro on a pole…) through the water, it lights up around it and you can see the trail where it just was.

That night, I was re-introduced to the six year old living inside me. I could not stop squealing every time I touched or splashed in the water. It was possibly the most magical thing I think I’ve ever seen. I could not stop looking at it or playing with the water. It was truly an otherworldly experience. And now one to check off the bucket list! I think Allyra, Pouchi and I were all screaming and squealing for basically the whole time the boat was on the phosphorescent part of the bay. They met their inner six year olds too!

Oh, and there were some actual six year old kids on the tour. I think they were far more mature, well-behaved and quiet than we were. It’s probably because they had adult supervision.

However… if anyone is thinking about going on this tour in Coron (or going to Coron specifically for the phosphorescent bay), I’d probably look elsewherere – I’ve heard Koh Rong in Cambodia has a beach with it, there’s one in New Zealand, I think there’s one in Florida, and one in Puerto Rico. I’m sure there are more.

In general, like many of the tours in Coron, this one was perhaps mis-advertised with even more than the fireflies. The pictures showed kayaking in mangroves, and the “free inclusion” was listed as a paddleboat. So I assumed you’d have some sort of personal watercraft like the pictures – likely a kayak. You did not. It was all one big group packed onto a speedboat – there were about 16 people. And they took the speedboat to the lagoon and the fireflies. Last I checked, a speedboat is NOT a paddleboat. There was no paddleboat to be seen. You also didn’t get a ton of time in the lagoon, as they were trying to get multiple boats through.

So it was an incredible, unforgettable experience that I’m so happy I went on, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to go back to this one. Ultimately, though, it was the perfect last night in the Philippines!

And sadly, I didn’t get any pictures of this because it was at night. So here are some pics from climbing Mt Tapyas earlier in the week!

A Very Unique Safari

Today I went on a safari to the Calauit preserve – essentially, once upon a time the Filipino President Marcos (likely best known to my American friends as the husband to Imelda) decided it would be a good idea to go to Kenya and bring back some animals for “conservation.” He thought the climate was similar and they would be happy here in the Philippines.

{{alternate history, you decide the facts: President Marcos’s son Bongbong wanted to have a convenient place to go hunting for big game. This one feels more probable to me?}}

So with that auspicious beginning, the animals were taken to Calauit Island – an entire (small) island dedicated to them, and tourists can now come and see the animals.

However, Calauit is very far north of the main town in Coron, so the tour picked us up at 4:30am and then we didn’t get back until almost 9:00pm. It was a VERY long day.

I have to be honest and say that I have very mixed feelings about Calauit – I’m not sure I’d do it again if I had a do-over, and I don’t recommend it to anyone considering it. It felt somewhat exploitive to the animals, and it didn’t feel like they were being well cared for overall.

One of the giraffes had a sore on his rear haunch, and it seemed to have something applied to it to make it better, but then they had the “small zoo” which was so sad. The giraffes and zebras seem like they likely have adequate room to roam.

In the small zoo, however, there were the saddest monkeys that I have ever seen. The cages were very small and clearly poorly kept – the monkeys really didn’t have room or things to play on. On one of the cages, the others in my group started feeding the monkey random food from their bag, which was reaching out of the cage to get the food. It did not feel quite right – especially because our tour guide was watching and laughing.

They let the tourists feed the giraffes, which was a cool experience. The giraffes are crazy strong when they pull the leaves off of the branches. I was so surprised by that and taken aback. While it was fun to feed the giraffes, there’s still something about it that doesn’t feel quite right. At least, compared to the monkeys, we only fed the giraffes the leaves that had been supplied for it.

So given that, I would not recommend going and supporting it – I honestly think the animals would likely be better off if they shut down the island.

It is, however, built for the Instagram generation – there aren’t many other places where you can get as close to the animals as Calauit lets you, and so there are fun pictures from it. And obviously, I can’t judge anyone doing it too harshly, because I clearly did it, and had fun while I was there! I just wish I’d known more about the animal conditions before and would likely have made a different choice.

To get to the animals, they have one jeepney that looks so old it feels like it’s out of a movie. They are also just as good with that as the animals – there were tourists who climbed up and rode on top so they packed twelve people in per jeepney! I can’t even believe it worked with that much load.

After the tour, we went back to the main island, had lunch, and then went on to island-hop for the afternoon. I have to admit that Filipino main dishes are not my favorite foods! They have rice with every meal (which is good because at the very least I’ll always have that to eat), and they love barbecue. Like a lot. They have a ton of different meats that they put on a skewer and cook, then douse in sauce. I find all of the meats here to be quite tough and overcooked, but on the plus side, I’m pretty sure they annihilated any bacteria through the cooking!

But I’ve fallen in love with their snacks and street food! I had a Ube (oo-bay) smoothie that was amazing! I decided to try it because at one of the stalls on the town square, they had a place with lots of blenders out and one blender was filled with a bright purple drink. Given my love for the color purple, I felt like I needed to try it. It was sweet and interesting-tasting, and I really enjoyed it. Later I learned that what they call Ube we call taro root. So I have to say that I like shakes made from taro root, condensed milk, ice, and I’m not quite sure what else!

The also have banana-cue and comaté-cue (no clue how to spell that one) that is amazing! I will be trying to recreate it when I get home (though I’m sure with limited success!). They take a skewer of either banana or sweet white yams and then cook it slightly (mainly the yams, bananas not so much), and then they caramelize brown sugar. Somehow, someway, they manage to douse the skewer in the brown sugar so that the banana or yam has a sweet, slightly crunchy outside. It’s a simple snack but it’s so tasty after being in the hot sun all day!

They also have some different types of bananas rolled in spring roll paper or battered and then fried. So good.

Back to the tour – we spent the afternoon on two different islands, and like everything here, they were just breathtaking. I’m definitely getting spoiled on gorgeous, uncrowded beaches with crystal clear water.

By the time we left, I was really ready to head out. It’s a long day of being in the sun and generally being outside – it was hot and even though I’d tried my best to keep up with water, I still felt a bit dehydrated. So we took the boat back from island-hopping, about 40 minutes, and then got back into the bus to come back to town. The bus ride is about two hours back to town, so that was pretty long too!

I went on the tour with a girl named Joyce that I met at the hostel I’m staying at. On Tuesday morning, she and I were both waiting to be picked up by other tours and we hit it off immediately. She was doing the Calauit safari today and I mentioned that I had been thinking I wanted to do that tour. So she ended up getting me added to the group, and we had a great time going today! Even when traveling alone, I’m rarely alone.

Getting to hang out with Joyce was definitely the highlight of the Safari day (well that and the beaches!). It’s so fun to get to meet new people and learn about their lives.

In fact, I was reflecting today that after almost two weeks of traveling alone, I feel like I’ve been around people too much! It made me laugh when I identified that feeling because there’s been a LOT of alone time. But because I’ve been staying in hostels, it’s a very social environment. I’ve met some really cool people and enjoyed hanging out with them. It is interesting how few people from the States I meet in hostels – it’s a very European, Filipino (at least here), Australian kind of crowd. People tend to be surprised when I say I’m from the US.

The “Ultimate” Coron Tour

The one tour basically everyone who visits Coron goes on is what they call the “Ultimate Islands Tour.” It’s a day-long adventure out of Coron Town and into the surrounding area. And the surrounding area is just breathtaking. The tour is split fairly well between lagoons, beaches, and snorkeling, so there’s something for everyone throughout the day.

The highlights for me were the lagoons – we went to the Twin Lagoon and Kayangan Lake. Kayangan Lake (kay-ann-gann) is probably the image you’ve seen most-Instagrammed from Coron. It’s amazing, but I was surprised to see that the image spot that everyone uses is actually not of Kayangan Lake – it’s the lagoon on the other side of the lake. To get to Kayangan, you have to climb up about 300 stairs, then climb back down them into the lake. And of course, to get back to where the boats park, you have to do it in reverse. It was a great workout for the day.

The lake itself is a cool place to go – it’s about 70% fresh water and it’s surrounded by these incredible limestone walls that just seem to come straight up from the earth. There are also a few caves around the lake that you can explore. I heard that the fact that they have marked off a swimming boundary now is because apparently, a tourist swam out into the lake and drowned earlier this year. So they require people swimming to wear life jackets, and they also have them stay closer to the boardwalk you get in from.

Twin Lagoon was really cool to see, mainly from how you arrive there. First, you go into one lagoon, and it’s got a little house on the water and the incredible limestone cliffs. Then, you have to swim through a cave to get to the other lagoon! Or you can go over the stairs, but that’s not nearly as fun. You have to use the stairs during high tide, though. When I went through, there was about a six to ten inch gap between my head and the roof of the cave. I made sure to keep my head down, because there were spikes coming out of the roof that looked like they would be painful to hit your head on.

For snorkeling, you primarily go to Siete Picados, Malwaway Reef, and the Skeleton Wreck. The Skeleton Wreck and Malwaway Reef are essentially the same spot.

I really enjoyed snorkeling there. There are some people who say the Skeleton Wreck was a small Japanese ship from World War II, and others who say it’s just a small random Chinese boat that sank. It wasn’t nearly as impressive as the Sangat, but it was cool all the same. I took the tour before I went diving, so the Skeleton Wreck was the first wreck I got to swim on or near.

As I was snorkeling, I made almost a full circuit of the island we were snorkeling around – whoops! We were only supposed to go for about 100 meters. I perhaps got lost and went much further. One thing that surprised me on the tour was the number of people who went on the tour who weren’t strong swimmers. And when I say weren’t strong swimmers, I mean they weren’t willing to go into any water without a life jacket, and when they were in the water, the guides would form a “human centipede” with them where everyone would basically hold the feet of the person behind them under their arms. Then the guides would pull them along so they didn’t have to do any swimming on their own.

Unsurprisingly, the “human centipede” was rather slow, which was part of how I got lost. I was one of three people who didn’t join the centipede, and didn’t realize how quickly I was swimming. I lost sight of the group, and that’s why I kept going around the island – I thought they were ultimately going the other direction than they went! Luckily, our tour guide grabbed the kayak from the boat and came to find those of us who had gotten lost. All three of us who went on our own ultimately got separated from the group.

One rule of snorkeling is that you avoid touching the coral at all costs – not only does it disturb the ecosystem, but it also is sharp. While I was climbing into the kayak (it was not a graceful moment), I accidentally kicked a piece of coral with the top of my foot. And while they weren’t deep, the whole top of my foot looked like I had about 15 paper cuts in all directions. So flip flops or any shoes were painful for the next few days!

Siete Pecados made me laugh. There’s a strong Spanish influence in the Philippines, and so the Siete really is exactly what you might think – seven. There are seven little islets around the reef, and it makes for a cool area to snorkel. You can go in and see these giant clams living under water – like the clams were bigger than my head! If I pulled one out of the water, it was probably big enough to cover my entire torso.

There were also lots of fish swimming around and I even saw a barracuda!

As for the beaches on the tour, these were actually two of the beaches I was the least impressed with overall. Beach 91 they list as a stop just to make the tour look more inclusive. What it really is is a very small beach where they serve the buffet lunch. It’s not an especially pretty beach, and it’s crowded because they bring all the tour groups there for lunch. I was pretty suspicious of the food. I didn’t like the looks of the meat or fish that were laying in a buffet on a beach. So I stuck to rice, noodles, and fruit. But it was good and refreshing anyway!

CYC Beach stands for “Coron Youth Club” and it’s a very pretty beach – it’s actually where my first dive of scuba diving was. However, by the end of the day there are so many tour groups there that it’s not especially enjoyable. And you have to park the boat fairly far out and then walk into the beach. Which I was not about to do – CYC Beach is known for having a lot of sea urchins! I lived in fear of stepping on one of those things, so I just stayed on the boat.

It was a very enjoyable and jam-packed day. I feel like we saw a lot, but somehow it was mostly relaxing.

Every Day, Do Something That Scares You

I’ve always wanted to learn to scuba dive, but I’ve never gone. If I’m being completely honest, while I’ve always wanted to do it and thought it would be cool, I was afraid of it. Even when I’m on the bottom of a pool, my ears hurt – and so I was so scared for what would happen to them under water, and so scared that scuba diving would be incredibly painful. I could easily envision myself being one of those people whose ear drum ruptures under the water or something equally melodramatic.

One thing I’m trying to do on this trip is to do whatever it is that a place is known for. So anytime in the Philippines you say “Siargao” people immediately say “Oh, so you surf?”

Thus I went surfing in Siargao.

And whenever I said “Coron,” people would always say “So you like to dive?” and I would reply with something along the lines of “No, I don’t dive, but it looks pretty without diving and it’s way easier to get to than El Nido.” But then I got here… and I felt like such a wimp for not going diving. I mean, it’s not a patently dangerous activity (my filter for such things is whether I’d be willing to tell my mother what I’m doing before I do it. She did not find out about hang gliding in Rio until after the fact. My Internet sucked in Coron, so I didn’t get to tell her before I went, but the fact is I would have been willing to.) So it’s not horrifically dangerous – I was just scared.

I decided it was time to put my big girl pants on (or wetsuit, as it was) and give it a try. I signed up for an intro to scuba session with two dives at the best-known diving shop in town – Sea Dive. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I didn’t know if it would be a class with a lot of other newbies, or if I’d just be new in a group of people who knew what they were doing, or what. I also had no clue how much training there would be before going under the water.

It ended up being three divers on my boat with three guides – one guy was from the Netherlands and was working on his main scuba certification, another was a master diver from outside London who just needed a guide as a buddy, and then there was me. On the way, David, the guy from the UK, warned me that diving is incredibly addictive and to watch out.

We took the boat about 20 minutes away to a beach with a good reef on it – I went to the same beach as part of my islands tour a couple days before. I followed my guide, Ken, to the shallow area, where the water was about up to my chest.

There he went over the primary skills – I learned to breathe through a regulator, how to put a regulator back in if it falls out underwater, and how to clear my mask if water got in it. I did not do so well with mask clearing! You have to breathe in with your mouth and then breathe out your nose and it’s embarrassing to admit how difficult this was for me! I kept accidentally breathing in my nose right before blowing it. But I got it on the third try, and then he decided we were ready to go diving.

scuba diving in Coron

I couldn’t believe it was that quick, but I followed him down. About five or ten feet down, my ears started to hurt. I was trying to equalize them but it was not working! I tried a few times and then I got it (note to self: the “swallow” method does not work nearly as well as “hold your nose and blow”)! So on down we went. For the first dive, we went down about 15 meters (I was kind of surprised how far we went!), and it was incredible!

And then I thought about what I was doing. Breathing under the water. While 15 meters below the surface. Where my mask might fill up and I’d need to clear it. So I started kind of freaking out (mildly… like it wasn’t bad enough for my guide to notice anything!) and reminded myself of the wisdom from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Don’t Panic.

I took a few deep breaths, reminded myself I was safe, and continued on. Then I spotted a barracuda! And next we were swimming over some clown fish lounging in a sea anemone. It was sort of like living inside Finding Nemo.

After about forty-five minutes, we came back up to the surface and I had finished my first dive! At that point, I had a good rush of adrenaline from the excitement.

The guides made us lunch on the boat (sweet and sour pork, seared tuna steaks, rice, and salad – it was seriously good) and we ate while on the way to the second dive site. I wasn’t diving on the second site, so I had about an hour to enjoy. This one was a cargo ship that sank in WWII and it was in deep enough water that there wasn’t a beach nearby. I went up to the bow of our bangka (the boat) and laid out in the sun.

I didn’t realize I’d fallen asleep, but I heard someone standing near me and realized the other guys were coming back up. I laughed at how hard I’d slept and how quickly I’d fallen asleep. It was perhaps the best nap of my life – so many things about it were just perfect. The sun wasn’t too hot, there were some decent clouds, the waves were just gently rocking the boat and it was fantastic.

Then we went on to the third dive site, which was the wreck of the Japanese gunboat Sangat. I didn’t know when I signed up that I’d get to dive on a wreck, and I cannot tell you how excited I was!

As we were getting ready to go in, one of the guides saw me leaving my GoPro behind and was like “Wait, why aren’t you taking your GoPro?” I just replied that I had a lot to think about, what with not forgetting to breathe (not ever holding your breath is apparently one of the first and most key rules of diving), worrying whether the mask would fill up, etc, and I didn’t know if it would be good to have the distraction. He just laughed and said to take it, that I’d be fine.

He was completely right, and it was so fun to take videos and pictures under water. They’re not great, mainly because I was mostly concentrating on diving, but still… so fun to have! Of course, we were about ten feet down when I realized I forgot to put on the red filter for underwater – so the pics are super blue, but whatever. Live and learn.

scuba diving sangat gunboat wreck

The Sangat has been down long enough that there is a reef that has grown out of the boat, so there’s a ton of sea life to see. It was creepy and fun to be diving on a wreck.There were giant Angelfish, and lots of rainbow parrotfish. When I saw one of those it made me laugh – we had one in our aquarium when I was a kid (named Rainbow… creativity for the win) but it kept eating the other fish, so my mom eventually flushed him down the toilet. As I saw it in the wild I laughed and thought to myself “I need to tell Mom that Rainbow pulled a Nemo and made it back to the sea!”

All too soon, it was time to head up again. We got out of the water and were in the boat a bit before the other divers, so I grabbed a Coke and enjoyed the sun on the bow of the ship. As I was watching the shore, I saw a family of monkeys! I’ve never seen monkeys just in the wild before! They were playing and chasing each other and going up and down the beach and then through the treetops. I probably watched them for about twenty minutes.

As I watched them, I thought to myself how incredibly perfect the entire day was. It already ranks among the highlights of best days of my life – I had so much fun and felt so relaxed. It was a great time to reflect on how crazy lucky I am to get to have this whole experience in my life – and a time to remember that sometimes facing your fears leads to the best memories.

Oh… and my ears are totally and completely fine.

Spreadsheeting: How Much I Spent in Siargao

Many people have asked me how much this trip costs, and to be honest – I’m fine being transparent about it! So I’ll try to recap for each destination how much things cost and how much I spent. It’s likely going to be a lot lower than you’re thinking!

Overall, for five days and four nights in Siargao, I spent $292.89 USD.

How did that work out? (Note that these do not add perfectly to the $292.89 above… they’re a bit off due to currency conversion and rounding. But like $2… so whatever.)

Airfare: $88.10
It cost me about $90 to fly round-trip to Siargao from Cebu. (I’m not including my flight from the States only because that’ll come in a later recap of the whole thing…)

Accommodations: $44.72
I decided to try the “real” backpacker thing and got a bed in the dorms. To be honest, by the time I got in at night I was so exhausted that I didn’t care. But I’ll also be going with not-the-dorms in a lot of places as well.

I did like the dorms on this trip – because I was staying with other people, it made it much easier to find people to go grab food with, or go do something together.

Transportation: $26.73
This includes cabs in Cebu to the airport and the van ride from the airport to the hostel in Siargao. It also includes the habal habal rides I took on the island.

It’s insane how cheap this was on the whole – the airport is about an hour away from most of the things on the island – and a van to get there is 300 PHP… or about $6.67US. Way cheaper than airport transfers most places! And habal habal rides cost 20PHP per ride – or about $0.45.

Food: $77.89
This definitely increased after discovering the amazing acai bowls at Shaka on the island. By Siargao standards, they’re pretty pricey – it’s the same 300PHP as the ride from the airport (or about $6.67). But those were worth every cent. I think I could eat those every day for the rest of my life and be very happy.

And then I went to the restaurant Kalinaw Saturday night, which is a nicer place on the island. I spent 1000PHP or about $22.22 on dinner. It was worth every cent. There’ll be a food post to come but that included a wood-fired pizza with the toppings imported from Italy (I kid you not) and a banana-split with homemade ice cream and freshly made chantilly cream.

Otherwise, food on the island was insanely cheap. Most meals were at or around 250PHP, and after having the giant acai bowls for breakfast, I tended to do one combined lunch/dinner in the late afternoon.

Activities: $44.67
I spent most of the time lounging on the beach reading, or wandering around Cloud 9 or in General Luna so I didn’t spend a great deal on activities.

Because a group of us from the hostel got the boat for island hopping around Siargao together, the whole afternoon of going to three different islands (and lunch included!) cost about 350PHP or $7.78US.

The rest of this was things for my surf lesson (worth every penny!).

Miscellaneous: $8.87
In the reef near where you surf, there are sea urchins. Which are poisonous and shoot spines into your foot if you step on them. So you need some booties or reef shoes to protect yourself.

Alas… I went off to try to find some (because they said you couldn’t rent them for a lesson) and of course bought the wrong ones. So that was about $9 wasted. Whoops.

And luckily, my surf instructor helped me find some (that I COULD rent) for my lesson, and that cost is included in activities.

Ultimately, it came out to an average of about $58.58 per day.

Even with keeping my house at home, I think this is less than I would have spent in Florida?

UPDATE: See the full round-the-world trip cost breakdown here!

Siargao Sunrises, Sunsets and In-Betweens

I feel like this place can’t be real – but yet it is. The colors here are incredible, the beaches are practically empty, the water is perfectly warm, and the food is pretty good. I just don’t know how it gets better than this! I definitely started this trip off on the right foot.

And before you get tired of all the sunrise and sunset pictures – just know I culled these down by a large number. There are LOTS more pictures just as incredible. Though to note – some of these are grainy just because I made them smaller for uploading (seriously the Internet here is like living in 2002)… sigh… but when I get to terrestrial Internet then I will likely update some pictures with better quality.

The sunrises here are just as breathtaking as everything else on this island – the one bad thing is that they start right around 5am. So I’ve been getting up early and wandering out to the beach to watch the sun come up. It’s the most peaceful and relaxing thing ever.

On Friday morning and Saturday for sunset, I went down to Cloud 9, which is the main surfing area here. Saturday evening, there was a small rainbow that was just perfect – you can kind of see it in the picture below.

As I was watching everything going on at Cloud 9, I saw this girl learning to surf – we’re going to pretend this is a picture of me, because I’m 99% sure this is exactly what I looked like during my surf lesson!

And then a few more of just playing around on the beaches near the surf break. Like everything here, they were practically empty!

On Saturday, I decided to spend most of the day hanging around the main town – General Luna, and reading my book in the lagoon near where I was staying. As I walked to General Luna, I can upon a group of kids who immediately saw me and said “HI HI HI HI HI HI HI HI” as Filipino kids seem to do whenever someone passes. So I stopped and said hi, and they told me how pretty I was… that’s another topic for another day, but it’s very different from the States (and incredibly awkward for me… how do you respond to that?). Everywhere I walk it’s all “You so pretty” and “OY Guapita!” (Guapita means pretty apparently). And then there are the marriage proposals. So the Philippines has definitely solved one life problem – if I ever decide I really need a husband, there seem to be many willing men on Siargao. (Mom, that’s a joke. Promise. 🙂 )

Anyway, back to the kids on the beach – as they were walking out of the water to come talk with me, I saw one wearing a Kevin Durant OKC Thunder jersey. I was shocked to see it this far away, but took a picture as proof. I then wondered if maybe it got sent here for sale when he left? Not sure how it made it over here, but it was a sight to see!

The lagoon on the beach where I was staying was gorgeous, and when the tide was in, the lagoon had about half a meter of water. So it was perfect to sit in and read my book! And like everywhere else… I was either the only one in the lagoon at all, or there were maybe 2-3 other people along the entire beach.

And then we come back to some sunsets – I really just can’t get over the sunset here. I love having the time, and taking the time, to just sit and watch it go every evening. It’s so serene!