Laiya in San Juan, Batangas is known for its long stretch of beaches fronting the Tayabas Bay. My family had been to a number of resorts along this place and for a reason of trying other resorts, we opted to try as walk-in guests in this resort very near the town-proper of San Juan.
The entrance to Kota Keluarga is impressive. It looks like an expensive resort, but actually has a reasonable price structure. The resort itself appears to be on the higher-end of the spectrum with its glass-walled cabanas fronting the beach, 2 very well-appointed swimming pools, a nice bar, and of course, it’s well maintained, clean cream-colored beach.
The road from the entrance to the beach is a mix of paved, concrete road, and dirt roads. The paved road ends at the Kota Keluarga Village, after which, we drove on a dirt road for about 3 kilometers.
Upon our arrival at the parking area, I noticed several cabanas with red tile roofing. I told myself “This must be expensive”. We proceeded to the reception area near the bar. I was impressed as I walked passing though well-manicured garden, and really nice facilities.
To my surprise. It was reasonably priced! And so I asked my family if we will use this resort. All agreed!
We were helped by its staff to unload our stuff and bring it to our open cabana. As I surveyed the place, I feel blessed to have been brought to this resort. The beach was not full – just a few groups, the facilities are up-scale, clean swimming pools, and the shore swimming area is just right – not too deep, and no sudden change of seabed contour. Best for kids!
We enjoyed the place almost just our family, as there were only very few guests in the resort. Our children explored the place some more. They found a good place for free-diving just about 10 meters from the shore. I joined them, and I was awed by the beauty of the deep with its corals and tropical reef fishes.
I also enjoyed playing with our puppy. We ran back-and-forth along the shore. I got too tired running around I have to stop, while the little puppy was very active and playful. Haha!
And of course! We enjoy a lot our family bonding moments! I had a couple of 360-degree videos with my wife, the children and I enjoyed our swimming in the deep. Really priceless moments!
It is indeed another weekend of full-pleasure! We had just a day tour in this resort, and everyone enjoyed the beach, the facilities, and even the food and drinks!
My family’s desire for outdoor adventure moves us to look for places we haven’t been to, for spots to discover.
That weekend in December, we planned to explore another place – the Binukbok Viewpoint in Bauan, Batangas.
It is about 2-1/2 hour drive from the city to the drop-off point in Bauan. We left home at about 5 in the morning so we can reach the cove by 8am. We were not disappointed: we parked our car at 7:30, had a boat ride for 15 minutes, and we reached our destination as planned!
Binukbok is a diving and snorkelling spot. The place is not for kids. There is no sandy beach; only big rounded stones lining the shores. But it was good! Just a few steps from the shores is a rich marine garden teaming with corals and reef fish.
Upon arrival at the resort, we were met by the very friendly resort owner, Kuya Manny, who immediately asked his staff to assist us to our reserved space. And yes, there is a flowing coffee tourists can take – unlimited.
The seafront is lined with native cottages, and behind the cottages, are small patches of “free space” where back-packers can pitch their tents. This is not a luxurious place to be, but good enough to satisfy one’s craving for snorkelling and diving.
Oh, the snorkelling area! It is so near the shore! The resort has stock of fish feed that you can use so that the fishes will swim to you as you go down the water. Indeed, fish of every kind swarmed around me when I did just that! So thrilling!
Of course, my grown-up children enjoyed their dive! They went to the deeper spots where there are more colorful corals. We just enjoyed all these marine creatures!
We had grilled tuna and pork ribs for lunch. The resort staff were so good, they even helped us cook on charcoal our meal grilled dishes.
We stayed in this cove for just a day. It was another day of family fun and adventure!
Coron Family Adventure – Day 3 Diving in Coron’s Breathtaking Spots
by Danny Tariman
This is our final leg of our 3-day Coron adventure. The past 2 days allowed us to see and experience the natural beauty of Coron: colorful corals in Siete Pecados, the awesome sunset from Mt Tapyas, the amazing interaction with wildlife in Calauit, the sunken ship, and more.
It appears that even to this last day of our 3-day escapade, we are still in for more surprises. We are so blessed to have a very good tour guide who guided us throughout, and even taught my wife how to swim without too much effort, and the best of it all, he knows the best shots in the various locations we went.
We left the wharf early at about 8 in the morning. Our tour guide was so smart that he told us that we start in Cayangan Lake to avoid the over-crowding of tourists by mid-day.
The view of the lagoon as seen from the lake’s entrance was awesome. It was the picture-perfect angle for postcards. Because we arrived early, we saw only few tourists – this means we do not have to jostle with other tourists to get that good shots! Haha!
The lake is a fresh-water late. It is so deep that there are some tourists who took the dive with oxygen tanks. Our experience here was awesome. We had a one-of-a-kind family picture here where all of us took a dive at the same time while our tour guide took a series of shots.
My family had also some swimming formations at the water surface, while our guide took some shots from down-under. Really fascinating shots!
These two lagoon are separated by a narrow tunnel that is accessible to pass through at low tide, but during high tide tourists are advised to climb up a few steps to go to the inner lagoon. The inner lagoon has a natural mix of warm and cold water. Because of this occurrence where warm water meets cold water, the water is not so clear, you wouldn’t be able to see the deep.
We had a good swimming experience here. Upon the suggestion of our guide, my family had a centipede formation where we swam together, with our legs holding the next, forming a long line. And we swam from the inner lagoon to the outer lagoon, passing through a narrow tunnel.
The Hidden Lagoon is not much for swimming or diving. But the view was impressive too: very clear waters, with rock formations as a backdrop. We had a wonderful sightseeing, pass-through tour of this place.
We had a stop-over at this beach for our lunch of crabs, fresh fish, grilled pork belly, and local vegetable salad. It was really a feast!
Fine, powdery white sand lined the beach front. It was truly a good place for beach-bumming and swimming. We had very relaxed moments in this island as we rested for a while after our sumptuous meal.
Not much attraction on this small island called “CYC”. We had some photo shoots as soon as we disembark from our boat. At the right side of the island are some mangrove trees, and the left side is a bit wide beach where a lot of tourists, especially children, were crowding. There were also food vendors in this island trying to out-do each other racing in their small boats to reach the tourists.
My family enjoyed this spot very much, primarily because we love snorkelling and we all love to see the colorful and amazing creatures under the sea. Our 2 children had their own time, diving to the depths of the sea without diving gear (free-diving), while I and my wife were assisted by our tour guide who patiently “towed” us around the reef.
The view under the water was just amazing! Branching coral formations is so huge, and yet very colorful! We saw many giant clams scattered all-over the place, living in its natural habitat. Along the paths that we swam, we encountered also various kinds of reef fish.
We enjoyed the underwater garden of this Balinsasayaw Reef! After about 30 minutes of snorkelling non-stop, we got tired, and went back to the boat.
It was indeed another day of truly enjoyable moments with family! We had an undeniably awesome adventure in this part of Palawan. We love this place called Coron! Given the chance, we will come back again to this place, but maybe explore the neighboring El Nido!
Coron Family Adventure – Day 2 Encounter with Zoo Animals, Exploring a Sunken Ship and More
by Danny Tariman
We woke up very early in the morning to our long boat trip to Calauit Island. This is our second day in Coron, Palawan.
The tourist van picked us up from the hotel at about 5:30am. We were taken to the wharf where the boat will take us to Calauit. We were supposed to leave at 6am per schedule, but for some reasons, we actually left at about 6:30.
It was a long trip. But thanks be to God, the sea was smooth all throughout. We just had to contend with the loud sound of the boat’s engine; it was not deafening, though. While aboard, the boat’s crew served our breakfast, and flowing instant coffee! Haha!
We reached Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary at about 10:30am. After a quick registration process at the reception office, we immediately went out to meet the roaming giraffes, zebras, and others. We were quite excited as this is the first time we will have a live and unbounded interaction with these animals.
We were not disappointed. From a distance, we immediately saw group of zebras roaming and feeding on the grass. We also saw the long-necked animals just wandering around. It was really a sight!
We quickly took photos with the animals. Really a one-of-a-kind experience.
The good caretaker also toured us around. There are other wild animals kept inside the sanctuary: monkeys, eagles, turtles, snakes, porcupine, crocodiles, and many more. You just have to walk about a kilometer to get a good glimpse of the animals around.
Just before 12noon, we left the sanctuary to have our lunch at the Black Island. It was a short 30-minute boat ride.
Black Island & Bat Cave
The Black Island’s coast is so beautiful: wide beach, creamy soft white sands, and crystal clear waters. Perfect to beach bumming. We were told that this is called “Black Island” because of the rock formations which looks black from a distance.
We had our lunch in this island. It was a feast – I mean really feast: generous servings of seafood, fruits, and chicken! We had a good eat here.
But more than the food, we truly enjoyed the beach in this island.
In the island is another attraction: a bat cave, which is just a few steps away from the hut where we had our lunch. Inside the cave is a freshwater pool, which was very cold. I had dipped into the pool for few minutes. It was amazing to see a big cave in the island.
We moved on to our next destination after spending almost 2 hours in the island.
From the Black Garden, we had about an hour and a half boat ride to this amazing submarine garden. Wow! I was so fascinated by the colorful and huge coral formations in the area. I was with our children, while my wife was being “toured around” by our guide by pulling a rope where some tourists have just to hold.
We had a very enjoyable experience viewing the underwater scenery: corals of every kind: branching corals, plate corals, both soft- and hard-corals. Really captivating! My children and I were just floating on the sea with our life vests.
After about 30 minutes of snorkeling, we moved on to our final destination for the day: the ship wreckage.
Lusong Ship Wreck
It was a short boat trip from the Coral Garden. All of us found our way to quickly jump into the water as this was one of the highlights of our trip. We really wanted to dive and see this famous Lusong ship wreck. We actually got assurance from the tour operator to make sure that we will visit the ship wreck.
The ship was lying on its side. It was about 12-15 meters long – I really don’t know. But it was quite long. The ship is already full of marine life: carbuncles, sea weeds, moss, and others attached to its side. Oh! There were plenty of fishes swimming in the wreck!
On the other side of the wreck is quite scary. It was very deep. I can’t see anything, except for the deep blue waters.
We didn’t stay long here as the sun was setting down already. And so we left the place at about 5pm and headed back to town.
We arrived Coron town already dark, but it was good: we can see the lights of the town lining the shores, and the Cross on top of Mt Tapyas glowing bright.
It has been a long day full of adventures. It was another wonderful day, an experience of a lifetime in Coron!
Coron Family Adventure 1 Diving the Depths of Sea & Scaling the Heights of Mt Tapyas
by Danny Tariman
This was a very much anticipated family trip. We had long planned to visit this world-famous tourist spot, and finally we are going to Coron!
We know that we would have a lot of swimming activities in this amazing adventure, and so my family brought with us our entire snorkeling gadgets, including flippers or diving fins.
We arrived Coron at about 9:00am after an hour flight from Manila. We landed at Busuanga Airport which is about 30 minutes drive to the town. We couldn’t wait to land as excitement grew, as we view the beautiful island from windows of the aircraft.
After checking-in at the hotel, we immediately look for a place to eat breakfast. We wanted to taste local food, but it was a bit early for good restaurants to open. And so we settled for a good carinderia (a small eatery).
Since the start of our packaged tour will start at 4pm yet, we decided to do some island hopping activities. We approached the hotel’s concierge who was so kind enough to arrange for us a boat and a tour guide to take us to the islands.
Our tour guide Arjay (0927-2846263) fetched us in no time. He was very conversant with his task as tour guide, and even guided us in buying some food stuff for our lunch in the island. This is not part of the tour package, and so we have to organize the food too. We were so impressed with this young man who guided us in our tour – very courteous, always ready to assist, and has big dreams for his life.
This is our first stop. This small group of islets has a very rich marine life. With its very clear waters, I can easily see the deep. It is teeming with colorful corals of all sorts of species. We had a very good first-time experience for snorkeling in this place.
Our children enjoyed their free-diving to the depths of about 15-18 feet. I can see them reach the bottom of the sea, while I and my wife just enjoy skimming the surface of the water for our snorkelling.
We had our lunch in this pristine white beach. Our tour guide cooked for us our lunch of seafood and salad! It was really good. The beach is just perfect for our lunch and after-lunch swimming. The water is so clear and clean, you can see your feet even in the deep! There was a brief rain shower while we were resting in this beautiful beach.
I never thought that in the middle of those rocky islands is a good, deep freshwater lake! The water was so clear too, you can see the rock formations lining the lake perimeter. I understand it was about 20 feet deep! While we were enjoying the swim, there was a couple of tourists who dived with complete gadgets – tank, suits, and all.
The view was awesome: a background of greyish limestone, and emerald-colored lake!
From this, we decided to go back to town for our 4pm tour.
At 4pm, our designated tour guide arrived promptly at the hotel. Our first stop was the Town Hall, which was just a few meters away from our hotel. After a few photos taken, we went to the bay area – a reclamation area – where a nice boulevard welcomes tourists and residents alike. The view was good, you can see the Coron Island group.
We also visited a souvenir shop where an assortment of local crafts and goods are available. You may want to buy from there a watertight bag for your electronic gadgets’ protection while touring the seas.
Mt Taypas is that little mountain overlooking the Coron town. At its peak is a Cross which is lighted as darkness sets in. This mountain is about 210 meters above sea level, not really that challenging for those to love to trek mountains. It has concrete stairs starting from the foot of the mountain, with a number of “resting areas” every 10-15 minutes of walk. It has around 740+ steps.
We started our trek to Mt Tapyas at about 5 in the afternoon, to catch a good view of the sunset. A lot of tourists go up at this hour of the day, just to catch the sunset. We were not disappointed as the sun started to set. It was indeed spectacular view!
At the top, we toured around the peak. The view at the back overlooking rolling hills was a refreshing sight.
San Agustin Church
This Catholic Church is the church in Coron town proper. For those who tour Coron on a weekend, it is best to check the schedule of Masses with the hotel’s reception or concierge.
We dropped by this church, first, to offer our thanksgiving for the safe trip and for the good weather, and second, to lift up to God our personal prayers.
Maquinit Hot Spring
Our last stop for the day was the Maquinit Hot Spring. We left the church at about 6:30 in the evening, and reached this hot spring resort about an hour later, passing through unpaved roads with lots of pot holes along the way. It was a tough ride! Haha!
The visit was a good culminating activity for the busy day. Immersing our entire body in the hot pool somehow relaxed our tired bodies. But it was really hot! I would suggest that you immerse little by little so as to acclimatize your body to the really hot pool. I had the mistake of immediately jumping into the pool; it was a “shocking” experience. Haha! It was so hot I had to jump out of the water as quickly as I jumped!
But it was a very relaxing experience, and a good final activity for the day!
It was another long weekend. Our family had planned few weeks before, to go and “discover” Buruwisan Falls.
We have heard of this falls, we passed by the drop-off point many times in the past, but we really have not planned to go out and see this falls which is very near the Metro. But this particular weekend, we intend to trek.
It had been raining in the city for the past couple of days due a tropical typhoon in the northern tip of the country. But this has not dampened our spirits to go and trek that Saturday.
And so, we left the city at about 5:30 in the morning, did a 100-km drive to Macatad, in Famy, Laguna. We had a brief stop-over in Pagsanjan where we had a quick breakfast, and arrived at the drop-off point at about 8:00.
After the usual registration process and payment of fees, we got our trek guide “Kuya Dondon”. We were quite fortunate to have him for our tour guide: he was very helpful, and cheerful, and knows the place and the various trails quite well.
We started our trek at about 8:30am, passing a hanging bridge. Oh! We forgot to have our usual stretching exercise before the start.
The weather was good that morning. But the night before, we were told that there were rains. Because of this, the trail was wet, muddy, and slippery. It was a long trek. After almost an hour, we reached the summit of the first mountain. Yes, first mountain. Because we have to pass another mountain before the descending trail to the falls.
We passed a number of pit-stops which sells fresh young coconuts. I like these young coconuts – as it refreshes my thirst plus it is a good source of electrolytes. My family had a good drink of its juice and take its white meat!
It was quite a difficult trek mainly because the trail was wet. And because it was wet, it was muddy and slippery. It took us 3-1/2 hours to reach Buruwisan Falls! It would have been an easy 2-hour trek if the trail was dry.
The final descent to the falls was even trickier. The trail was very steep and rocky! But all the weariness due to the long trek were gone when we were greeted by the towering and enchanting Buruwisan falls. According to Wikipedia, the drop height of this falls is about 50 meters!
Beneath the falls is a relatively shallow basin of water. According to our trek guide, the inner part of the basin could be 10 to 15 feet deep. We did not try. Hehe! My son & I had a good swim in the icy cold water in the periphery.
We had some good photo shoots here. While relaxing at the beautiful scenery and refreshing river, we had our lunch right at the riverbank beside the falls.
We were so tired by this time, and we wanted to just go back to the drop-off point. But our trek guide tells us that a nearby falls is just about a 5 minute walk. And so we went.
It was a 10-minute walk actually, really short distance from Buruwisan. This is called Lanzones Falls. It was a remarkably smaller falls, but the view is just as wonderful: gushing waters cascading from the rocks and splashing to small basin below.
Our return trek was much faster! It took us only 2 hours with a couple of stops! Thanks to our guide Kuya Dondon (phone 0912-961-3105) who led us to another trail which was much shorter but quite steep. The deep descent was okay, since we were going down. It would have been a difficult one if we passed this trail going up.
We thank the LORD for this another wonderful family adventure experience!
Family Adventure Diving & Snorkeling in Laiya’s Best Kept Secret Spot
by Danny Tariman
My kids were itching to have another dose of “vitamin sea” – that of going to a beach. We had searched the internet for a good location as we had been to most of the popular beaches in Batangas province. But this time, we are not settling for just the beach; we wanted to have a fairly secluded place not with many people, and a spot for diving and snorkeling.
And so, this particular long weekend, we drove to Laiya in Batangas. Leaving the city at about 4:30 in the morning. We passed by SLEX toll way and STAR toll way exiting in Lipa, down to town of Rosario, leading to the municipality of San Juan where this resort is located.
Turning left from the main road, we passed thru a dirt road (not so rough though) for about 2km. When we reached the junction, we were greeted by a lush rustic narrow road going down to the beach. The entrance itself is “Instagramable”.
Upon reaching the beach resort at about 7am, we were awed by its freshness – crystal clear waters, blue skies, clean small shoreline perfect for my family. It was a good match for us looking for some “private place”.
As planned, we had our breakfast at the beach. We took our food packs and had a good eat of fruits and buns. We brought our food without the usual corkage fee that other resorts charge. The resort has no restaurant, just a few covered tables lining the beachfront.
We learned from the caretaker that the owners would want to maintain just a few visitors on any day. Good for us because we also like to be in a place with only few people. The resort has simple yet clean bathrooms and toilets, with water taps.
Immediately, my children explored the seas. I and my wife soon followed. Wow, the water is so clean and clear, you can see the bottom clearly even at the depth of about 4 feet! We explored the right side where my family had a good snorkeling experience. You can see live corals, and an assortment of reef fishes.
Further to the reef is a deep basin where my kids had a “free diving” – that dive without the usual diving gears. My daughter had a “free diving” lesson in the city a few months back where she learned the techniques of free diving. I enjoyed watching my kids going down to the deep. Oh! I saw a big anemone, and of course, its inhabitant, clown fishes. My son saw a number of live clams too! Really wonderful place for diving, and snorkeling!
At about half past ten, we tried to explore the other side of the resort, the left. This is the place for beach bummers and for swimming. The beachfront is just around 80-100 meters wide, not sandy but is covered with small pebbles and broken corals. Good for us, we brought our aqua shoes, as it could be hurting our feet.
The leftmost point of the cove is a good distance to walk. We saw a lot of tourists on boat go to this point and we thought it was good exploring!
We passed by a trail, where beautiful rock formations lined the shoreline. We even had to go down again to the waters to shoot some photos. It was good. The sea water is so clear. And you can swim almost in private.
We continued our short trek – about 30 minutes, where we had at some point, decided to wade through the very tempting clear water. When we reached our destination – the end of the cove, there were a lot of tourists taking photos. After some photo-ops, we went back to the resort.
Back at the resort, our children grilled tuna jaws. Oh, we had more than enough of tuna flakes! So deliciously fresh! We ate with our bare hands of course, on plates lined with banana leaves! It was a very satisfying home-made meal.
It was truly a wonderful experience at Johnny’s Resort. Our kids enjoyed, I and my wife enjoyed. And yes, we all enjoyed the snorkeling, the dive, and the crystal clear waters! We love the awesome underwater marine gardens! We will surely come back!