I promised my kids we would travel again once they’ve been vaccinated. So when they finally got their second shot, I was eager to deliver on my promise. I wanted our first vacation in two years to be celebratory. So I thought, Palawan it is!
I was about to book a suite in one of El Nido’s famous resorts when my husband sent me a vlog about Paolyn Houseboats—a floating hotel in the middle of a lagoon. I immediately scratched our previous plan and booked a 3-night stay in this obscure accommodation located in Coron Island.
After a quick 1-hour and 5-minute flight, we arrived at Busuanga airport. A van was waiting for us for our 30-minute travel to the port where we were met by a Paolyn employee. This led to an exhilarating 15-minute speedboat ride toward Coron Island.
Racing toward the magnificent limestone formations the island is known for, we were excited to see what was in store for us. As we came closer and closer to the limestone walls, thru a clearing appeared the Paolyn restaurant, floating on the pristine clear water.
We were welcomed with warm smiles and greetings as we were led to our table. Out came a complimentary fruit plate for us to enjoy while we waited to be checked in. Once we’ve had our fill, another speed boat took us to the neighboring lagoon where the houseboats were moored.
The view of Laknisan Lagoon was jaw-dropping with its calm blue waters surrounded by a towering limestone rock. Towards the back of the lagoon was our houseboat—the Bamboo suites. At that moment, I could not believe it would be home to us for the next three days. I remember thinking this was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
We stayed in the suite at the Northeast corner of the houseboat. It offered the best view as it faced the expanse of the lagoon. Like a floating bahay kubo, the structure is made of bamboo, wood, and nipa grass. Furnished with two queen beds and two bunk beds, the room could comfortably fit six people.
There were also four electric fans, an air conditioning unit, a water dispenser, and free WiFi. The bathroom was clean, had his and hers sinks, a hot and cold shower, and a marine toilet. Outside the room is a smaller bamboo hut for al fresco dining.
The best part was we were just three steps away from the water! We loved doing cannonballs and diving off our private deck. We appreciated the free use of snorkels, masks, paddleboards, and kayaks that we used to visit the famous Twin Lagoons and nearby coral gardens.
Every night, we spent hours lying on the deck chairs, staring up at the stars. Away from all the city lights, the bedazzled sky was a rare sight to behold. We even kept score on who saw the most shooting stars!
Staying at Laknisan Lagoon was a wonderful adventure in itself but we discovered how magical Coron truly was when we toured its different sights.
We hiked over limestone formations to experience Kayangan Lake and Barracuda Lake. The otherworldly rock formations underneath truly took our breath away.
We delighted in the abundant and vibrantly-colored coral gardens of Siete Pecados, Atwayan, Malwaway, and Smith. At Skeleton Wreck, we spotted the tip of a sunken ship, just three meters below the surface.
Also notable are the white sand beaches—Vivian Beach, Smith Beach, and Banul Beach. In Banul Beach, we were fortunate to witness a sea turtle snacking on seagrass in the shallows.
Houseboat with a conscience
Besides providing such an extraordinary vacation experience, what impressed us the most about Paolyn Houseboats is their passion for sustainability, eco-compatibility, and social responsibility.
The hotel trains and employs people from the Tagbanua tribe, the dwellers of Coron Island, as its way of showing appreciation for being the only resort permitted by the tribe chief to set up a business on the island. The owners pay three times the usual hotel employee rate to help empower the tribe and uplift their livelihood.
Furthermore, the business is careful to keep the lagoon unspoiled. The houseboats and the restaurant are built on land and pulled into the lagoon by boat. No foundations were constructed that would damage the seafloor. For electricity, solar power is used.
They also utilize a drainage system that prevents sewage (bathwater, human waste, etc.) from being discharged into the sea. Waste water is siphoned from collection tanks and disposed of at a sewage treatment plant on another island.
To minimize food waste, guests are requested to order their meals for the next day in advance. All ingredients are bought fresh from the Coron mainland market early each morning.
The boat ride back to the airport was difficult. We truly felt sad to go. Paolyn Houseboats and Coron Island gifted us with an immersive, thrilling, and unforgettable experience. Another visit is an absolute certainty.
Booking a room at Paolyn Houseboats is priced at a minimum of P10,000 - P12,000 a night, depending on room size. Food, beverage, and tours costs are not included.
To book your stay, visit https://www.facebook.com/paolynhouseboatscoronpalawan or message +639051667804 through WhatsApp.
All photos courtesy of the author