Palawan | The Crystal Clear Lakes in Coron

There is one place in the world that never ceases to amaze me – Palawan. It is the ultimate tropical escape. I love all areas of Palawan but Coron has always drawn my attention because of it’s two crystal clear fresh water lakes that hide behind tall rock formations, Barracuda Lake and Kayangan Lake.

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Barracuda Lake is every free-diver’s dream because it plummets from the surface following the beautiful walls of rock to dark depths. The fresh water allows your body to sink quickly like you were wearing weights. See my video below or click here to see how easily I sink in Barracuda Lake. The air in my lungs help me float but once I release air slowly I gradually sink faster and faster. The underwater video and photos were taken with my GoPro Hero 4.

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It’s great to snorkel in the area and even better to scuba dive. It feels as if you were exploring the moon. There are also these cute little flute fish that stroll past you when you’re in the water.

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After the underwater adventure, it’s nice to grab a life jacket and float out to the deeper end to get a 360 view of the entire lake. This is where I like to lay back and relax. It’s fun in a scary way not knowing exactly what is below you. Since they say there are Barracuda in the lake, don’t wear anything shiny because they might think you are the silvery fish that they prey on. Well, I’ve worn shiny things in that lake before but nothing has happened to me, yet!

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To get to Barracuda lake you take a short wooden staircase up and through the rock formations. Kayangan Lake is a higher hike, just a 5-10 minute walk up the steep mountain where you can take a beautiful shot of the view from the top, then climb down to the lake.

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Each lake has a wooden walkway for people to sit, hang out, or put their things while in the water. This site leaves you feeling relaxed and full of wonder. Even though you know many people come to this lake every day, it still seems like you have just discovered one of the most incredible places in the world.

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Coron Tour Tip:

Book a banka boat tour and make sure your package consists of Barracuda Lake, Kayangan Lake, Black Island, and one of the sunken shipwrecks. If you have to choose between lakes, I suggest making Barracuda Lake your top priority. It’s definitely worth it! Before getting on the boat, rent fins and masks with a snorkel because you’re going to want to see the beauty beneath the surface.

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Fresh Food from the Wet Market

During your day tour, you’ll need to take a break for lunch. There won’t be any restaurants on the islands so head to the wet market in Coron Town before boarding your boat. Buy fresh seafood, meat, fruits, and vegetables. I always like getting Crab, Prawns, Fish, Pork (Liempo), rice, squash, carrots, zucchini, and mango. Buy soy sauce and mix it with Calamansi for a delicious dipping sauce. The boatmen can grill your food at any island you wish to stop at. I usually look out for the white sand beaches with huts and tables. Freshly grilled seafood on a tropical island is the most satisfying way to eat!

Coron Shipwrecks

Once you’re done eating, it’s time for more exploring! I usually head to one of the Coron shipwrecks. There is a shipwreck near Barracuda Lake that is shallow enough for snorkelers to see. If you’d like to go scuba diving, there are deeper and larger shipwrecks to explore in the area.

If you stop by Black Island, there’s a small cave that holds a little pond of water situated behind the beach.

All of the sights and experiences you can have in Coron are mesmerizing and thrilling. I’ve been there several times and it always seems like the photos I have taken or the memories I have never do justice. In my opinion, Palawan is one of the top destinations in the world and I plan to return many times.

Julia Quisumbing

Make Your Own Salad Stop

If I come home from a hard workout and don’t have food in my fridge, I go down to Salad Stop for a quick meal that’s healthy and delicious. Salad stop has got to be one of my favorite go-to places. They have all types of salads and salad-wraps to choose from.

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My favorite wraps on the menu are Cobb Salad Wrap with added corn and Greek Salad wrap with added grilled chicken. But the best part of it all is that you can make-your-own. I recently made my own recipe and it’s now my new favorite so I thought I should share it!

 

SALAD-WRAP RECIPE

  • Cajun Shrimp
  • Lettuce
  • Alfalfa
  • Tomato
  • Onion
  • Avocado
  • Corn
  • Jalapeño
  • Roasted Garlic
  • Ranch Dressing

 

I’ve been trying to eat less red meat and chicken lately so I wanted to try a Shrimp wrap. This one worked perfectly! The mix of flavors tasted Tex-Mex, which I love! Jalapeño is a great option for those spicy food lovers out there but if you aren’t good with spicy you can always try it without.

 

I always get my healthy Salad Stop Wrap with a Just Coco which is 100% Coconut Juice; naturally extracted, bottled fresh, no sugar added, no preservatives. It’s literally “Just Coco”!

Honestly, living in the Philippines is weird in one way – we have coconut (Buko) everywhere yet many places don’t serve it because it goes bad quickly. There were a few stands that I liked that would open the coconut in front of you and pour it into a huge bottle but those stands are nowhere near where I live (BGC). This is the freshest and tastiest bottled coconut juice I have ever had.

 

The salad-wrap plus the coconut juice was a total of around P520.

 

I’m very happy with my new creation and would love to hear what other people think. So if ever you are in a Salad Stop, try this order out and let me know!

 

Julia Q.

Surf’n Siargao

My Dad is a travel nut, meaning he can’t stay sane being in one country or place for 1 month. I trust his taste in travel locations since he’s probably seen about 85% of the world already. He kept raving about Siargao in the Philippines these past few months and I kept wondering why. He said it’s a great surf spot but I thought about how we have La Union and Baler, which are only a 4-hour drive from Manila. I got curious so I told him to plan a family trip to Siargao. He agreed only because there are great birds to photograph there.

To see my travel vlog about Siargao on YouTube please click here.

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We went to Siargao for the weekend on August 24-27, 2017. We stayed at Siargao Bleu Resort. The resort was a great stay and had an amazing pool surrounded by villas. The best part about the pool was the tanning beds in the center. If I would design a pool, it would be just like this, with an extremely deep end of course.

We got there in the morning and were welcomed with coconut water out of the shell freshly opened by the staff. This was by far my favorite welcome drink of all, no added sugar, tropical, and fresh. Most of the trip we spent by the pool just relaxing, drinking wine, and swimming. My boyfriend Gui had a blast taking photos of me (sarcasm). Most boyfriends should be used to that by now with the Instagram era but mine seems to have a hard time adapting. I find it fun to torture him anyways.

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By the pool, I strutted my Mimosa (@mi.mosa.co) black minimalist One-Piece Swimwear with an Under Armour cap.

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The next day, I put on my @meninastyleph_ reversible shibori bikini and went to Cloud 9 to go surfing. I did not have a long-sleeve safe guard top, so I had to borrow a pink one from my Stepmother. That means my total upper body was sun-guarded but my bottom wasn’t. At Cloud 9, we were greeted with very energetic surf instructors. I really liked my instructor because he answered all of my questions very well, was patient and made it fun. Cloud 9 has a very interesting long wooden bridge that goes far out into the ocean. The end of the bridge has a 3-floor viewing dock also made out of wood. You walk to the end, go down the stairs into the water and paddle out to the waves.

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This was my second time to surf; I was able to stand, ride the wave to the end, and was even able to turn with the wave! Once that happened all I thought was, “I want to surf more!” And finally understood why people love it. It’s relaxing, there’s nothing else to think about or to feel except for catching the next one. There were these paddle Boarders with oars that were standing, rowing, and riding waves, which I thought was funny in a cool way. There was even this Australian girl who looked like she was around 7 months pregnant that the locals would call out to as “Mama” and “Watermelon”, and she would respond by smiling humorously. Apparently she had been living there for the past few months. I don’t know how good it is to surf when you’re pregnant but she seemed to know what she was doing. Healthy mind and healthy body means healthy baby. That baby is going to have a good life with a mom like that.

I will definitely be returning to Cloud 9 in the future since the vibe was amazing. You can watch my Siargao Surf and travel video on my youtube channel JuliaQuis.

I don’t know what’s happening lately but the sun definitely feels like it’s getting stronger. During the 2 hours of surfing, I got extremely sunburnt that it actually hurt for a week. That type of pain has never happened to me before. I was a wakeboarder before and I grew up in the Philippines on the beach so it was a shock. My upper body was safe since I was wearing a rash guard but the back of my legs were completely red and sunburnt. My surf-instructor told me not to put any sunblock on my legs since it would make it slippery. I shouldn’t have listened because I was laying on my stomach paddling majority of the time and that was for about 2 hours straight. I had to spend the rest of my Siargao trip in the shade, icing and putting aloe vera. 2 weeks later the back of my legs were peeling! I had to wear pants or jeans everywhere, it was so bad. I’ve learned my lesson with surfing; cover your entire body with 3 layers of sunblock or more! My face was a little sunburnt but I used my trusty face moisturizer, which saved me yet again.

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The second best part of Siargao was the food! There are a lot of foreigners that have bought land, and opened restaurants and resorts. Most restaurants are a fusion of Filipino-European-American. The quality of the dishes tried was a great surprise on this little island in the Philippines. If you want to know where I ate please read, “Where to eat in Siargao”.

I had a great time in Siargao and plan to go back soon, with a lot of sunblock of course!

Julia Quisumbing

Siargao | Where to Eat

Kalinaw Resort Restaurant

This restaurant was lovely and used a Filipino-bamboo style interior design. It was a 3-minute walk away from our resort, Siargao Bleu. You’re right in front of the ocean with a fresh breeze. They had delicious truffle pasta and I really enjoyed the beef Carpaccio. The ambiance was nice and calm there.

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Kawayan Siargao Resort Restaurant  

Kawayan Restaurant was one of my favorites. It’s a French-American restaurant with delicious dishes that are plated nicely. On the road it looked like a little café but as we entered it was only a bakery and we were told the restaurant was next door. I was very happy when I discovered how good the food was there. I was so hungry from surfing for 2 hours and was feeling the sunburn starting, so I asked for a cool Mango Rum Shake; Mango shake with a shot of Rum. This is my go-to tropical drink when I’m at the beach. The Philippines grows the best mangos in the world, so if you’d like to try Mango Rum Shake anywhere, it has to be here! The restaurant also had a billiards table to play with while waiting for your meal. We ordered Ceviche with sliced mango as an appetizer and it was amazing. It had that tangy, zesty flavor of being marinated in vinegar and herbs, which went so well with the sweetness of the ripe yellow mango. I’ve always loved Ceviche and our Filipino version, “Kinilaw” but I’ve never had it that way. I liked it so much I thought about using that idea for our place in Batangas, Eagle Point Resort.

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I ordered Prawns marinated in orange and whisky with roasted tomatoes. They were very well cooked and there was a burst of flavor. I really loved this dish and wish I could have prawns like that every day.

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Overall, I was very happy with Kawayan Siargao Resort Restaurant. We even went back to the bakery after lunch to try a few desserts. They were delicious too!

Kermit

 This place was a tricycle ride through some small streets then a little walk through a small track. We decided to go to Kermit because my stepsister Nikki heard that there was good pizza there. The setting is mostly outside with rays of lights rushing through the trees. The pizza was thin crust and you could choose the toppings, and was pretty tasty. I enjoyed it especially because they had this crazy hot sauce on the table and I used it as a dipping sauce. Little did I know that it was going to destroy my mouth minutes after, and I eat fast! I probably chugged 3 glasses of water after that. I enjoyed the pizza a lot though, great place!

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HARANA

Harana was right next to our resort as well, about a 2-minute walk. It had a very cool beach and bungalow vibe happening. It was nice to listen to live music there with local bands. I only had one drink and was very happy with it; the local wine there, which wasn’t really wine but it-tasted good!

Bravo

What a great place to get Spanish tapas and paella. I went here for my last dinner and the ambiance was great. It was full of an international and fun crowd. We got a table on the sand with short relaxing chairs. Everything we ordered was delicious. I was devouring the patatas bravas (Spanish style French fries) because I had been drinking all day and well, carbs taste the best when your stomach is full of wine. I really enjoyed this spot and would have wanted to spend the night drinking cocktails by the bar.

Emerald Restaurant

We had dinner at Emerald Restaurant, it was quiet, cute and simple. The food was shockingly good as well. I started to realize that most of the restaurants in Siargao had great chefs. I chose the Truffle and chicken pasta. I do love truffle pasta so I will be sharing my favorite spots to get truffle pasta in Manila soon. The pasta was cooked perfectly and flavor was very fulfilling.

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Shaka

A great spot to grab some healthy bowls for breakfast! I got some crazy mixed bowl with fruit, chia seeds and bunch of other stuff. Everything there is pretty tasty. Just don’t get a smoothie and a bowl, get one or the other as it’s actually pretty filling!

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I was so incredibly happy about my food experience in Siargao and cannot wait to return!

Watch my Siargao video below!

Julia Quisumbing