Island Escapade Tour

Philippines Day 3 – Island Escapade 

Our 3rd day thankfully started a little later in the morning (I think we made it till about 5 this time haha) otherwise much the same. We killed time in the room until coffee shops opened at 7 and we headed out in search for sustenance. This time we tried a place called Tea & Shake which we liked much better as far as cost/ service/ and atmosphere.

Tea and Shakes for breakfast 

Then it was back to our room this time getting picked up shortly after 8 for the short trike ride back to the tour shack to pay and then onto our boat for the Island Escapade tour!
This time we were on the boat for like 30 minutes with just one couple so at least we weren’t crammed in waiting… but we still didn’t leave until almost 10. (*eye roll) It takes forever.

We were 3 boats back and had to cross the first 2 to get to ours

About the Tour
So today we picked the Island Escapade tour which would take us to 3 amazing beaches/ islands. (one of which I’d read was the best beach in the entire Coron area) Ordinarily the tour cost 1500 pisos (even with other tour companies) but since we booked both tours with the same company they discounted it to 1300 pisos or $25. The one thing none of the tour companies pointed out… was that these islands were 90 minutes by boat away. That was a pretty long, hot ride I’m not gonna lie but when you see the amazing beaches… you’ll probably agree with me that it was worth it. It included entry to all of the sites (3 island beaches), a full lunch at one stop with coke to drink, a snack after the last stop, and water all day aboard. For this tour, the first stop was 90 minutes away but then all of the stops after that were only 4-10 minutes apart so there is plenty of time to enjoy the scenery on the boat. Group numbers range from 15-20 but we easily had 20 people on both our tours. You have one tour guide and several boat men that operate the boat to accompany you. For a great price, this was a great tour! But know you have private options that started around 2700 pesos for 2-4 people for a full day. This cost however did NOT cover lunch OR your entry fees to all of the sites (which are around 100-200 pisos)
Maps of where our stops are in relation to everything else
  

Up first:

Bulog Island

Famous for it’s sand bar and next door to the most expensive resort in Coron (a couple thousand dollars a night… quite the change from our $25 a night rooms haha) The views were amazing and the color of the water.. perfection. You can snorkel, play in the shallow water, swim out a little deeper, or wander the small island. We had a little over an hour in this haven with the last 20 minutes being the only boat there. But then it was onto our lunch stop and next beach…

 Photo from our journey around the giant island of Coron
 Bulog Island’s sand bar 
 1 side of the island… 
 The other side of the small island 
 Our boat floating out on the amazing water 
 Trying to catch some air out on the sandbar that was already sinking beneath the water 
 Crystal clear water 
 Mermaiding out on art of the sandbar 
 Another mermaid photo without my crazy sun screen haha 
 A secret beach on the other side of the island

Bulog Island 😀 
Our boat and the sandbar behind me
Gotta have my “bow of the boat” photo

Cocoa Beach
Picnic tables, coconuts for sale, beach volleyball, hammocks, and most importantly: SWINGS This beach may not have been the most scenic but it was still great to hang out on the swings and not to mention eat another fantastic lunch. (pretty much the same as the day before minus the clams)

The “Swinging” Tree
Honestly the best part of this beach 
We had extra long tables on this day for lunch.
No clams, but we had pork, fish, and chicken plus Chop Suey 
Photo Op with the Cocoa Beach sign 
Pulling away from the beach and leaving the palms behind. 
After cleaning up we headed to the most beautiful of all….

Malcapuya Island
Our favorite and last stop of the day, this beach had the best and largest sandy beach, while still having coral and places to snorkel within range. There were more beautiful palm trees, the perfect depth of water, and the views from the beach of surrounding islands wasn’t too bad either. The boats park on a different side of the island, meaning you have a short 5 minute sandy walk to the actual beach (nothing that can’t easily be done in flip flops) There’s also little canoe boat men that for 100 pisos (about $2) you can hold onto as they pull you along over all the best coral spots to snorkel. This takes roughly 30 minutes and since only one of us brought goggles this day, we didn’t opt in for that but we heard it was really beautiful. Instead we spent our hour or so lounging in the shallow water and meandering amidst the palms. All in all, a great beach to visit if you have time when visiting Coron.

Loved all the colorful beach signs 

Paradise 
The side beach no one really swam at 
The main beach with perfecttt sand! 
And more crystal clear water of course 

Walking back to the boats 

On the way back we again had to travel around 80 minutes, this time taking a detour around part of an island and through waters so shallow, they had to kill the engines for part of it. As we glided through the shallow water, Tippe and I were lucky enough to be on the front of the boat where you could look down and there were DOZENS of giant star fish! They ranged in size but the biggest we saw must have been 10in x 10 in. It was a really cool spot to see and really ended the day on a high note… which was good since the ride back was bumpy, windy, and VERY wet. We were soaked by waves coming up and over the box, But it was worth it to see the star fish better than anyone else on the boat.
So fair warning, I recommend sitting on the front if you can but you’re more likely to get wet from waves and sunburned from sun exposure. Plan accordingly.

More views of Coron Island as we headed back to town
Did I just fall into the film Moana or what? 
Day 2 Boat selfie! 

Our boat dropped us off around 5:30 and we headed to our hotel to try to wash all the salt water from 2 days out of our hair. (it was a process for me, I probably conditioned at least 3 times.) Once we were all cleaned up, we headed back out our favorite restaurant, Island Boys Grill, for some more bbq pork. We had to be pretty economical with our dinner as both of us were running out of cash fast and the ATMs in rural towns didn’t like our debit cards, but I still splurged on two sticks this time. This restaurant’s BBQ was the best of the entire trip by far, maybe that I’ve ever had. Anyways the sun had already set on our walk over so we missed any opportunity to hike Tapyas for a sunset but I don’t think we’d have much energy after the long boating days to do it anyways. We headed back to the hotel, packed up our stuff, and prepared for an early morning rising to get back to the aiport and move onto our next island.

Day 3 Costs
Banana Bread and drink for breakfast $4.75
Island Escapade Tour- $25
Dinner- $3.60

Lodging
Luis Bay Lodge – $12.50 pp

Day 3 Total Costs: $45.85

A boating tour around Santorini

Greece Day 5: Boating day
We booked a super ridiculously long 10 hour tour with King Thira boat tours through our hostel for $45 to take us to the Volcano, Hot springs, Thirassia, and Oia. They weren’t picking us up until 10 so we got up early to head to the market for some food for the day. I ended up with sandwich making materials, chips, water, 1 soda, and yogurt for breakfast for around 11 euros.

 The bus took us to the main port on the island (not the one directly under Thira as it is not bus accessible) where we boarded our very piratey-esque boat. Then we turned on the motors to get going set sail for a day of adventure.

 Thira from below 
 A zoomed in version of the lovely switchbacks we did just the day before to visit the port 
 The Volcano bay where we parked to take a short hike

It was a short ride of like 40 minutes to the Volcano bay. Entrance to the volcano site cost around 2 euros so if you go make sure you bring a bit of cash for that entrance fee. We had 2 hours of leisure to eat our yogurt we brought with us and hike around the volcano.

 All the boats parked. (ours is the 3 mast one on the right) You can see Thira in the background. 
 Volcanic rock with the Greek Flag and Thira in the background. 
 The trail cutting through all the volcanic rock. 
 The throng of people you start off with. The tour guide was walking with us and stopping at points of interest to talk about generic volcano information so never fear. You can easily do your own thing and pass the mob of unprepared flipflops and wedge wearers. 
 Nearing the top of the crater where there is a loop trail. 
 I love Cairn gardens
 Awesome views when you’re smack in the middle of the Caldera. 

 Volcanic rock with a view of Oia in the distance
 Thira in the distance. 
 The central crater

 Back on the boat it was another short 30 minute ride to the hot spring area. (above) The boat gets you as close as it can and then you’re in for a swim. It’s SO COLD at first but as you swim up that channel a ways it goes from ocean to heated pool to bath tub to hot tub! All the while you can feel different currents of hot and cold water. It is QUITE the swim as it is 100% deep the whole time so you’ve gotta be really good at treading water or an expert floater (like I am) haha

 I almost talked myself out of it since it was a little chilly but SO GLAD I did it. Even if you just make it to the mouth of the channel it will be warm enough and unlike any other experience. After the 30 min swim it was less than 10 minutes to Thirassia where we had 3 HOURS to dry off. Left: The port of Thirassia. We spent the first hour or so just sun bathing on the boat to dry off.

 3 hours though was WAY too long. 2 hours maybe. Still would’ve felt long but would’ve been better. For the last hour everyone had returned from eating lunch and was chilling on the boat. Then it started raining, all the shops in the port closed like 30 min before we even left… and it was a waste of time. My 1 big criticism is the pointless 3 hour stop at Thirassia.

 A long look at Oia, our final destination. 
 A rock with it’s own church

We had thought that we’d be watching the sunset from the boat but alas… it was a drop off in Oia to watch the sunset (what sunset?) which we’d done the day before. We were a tad bummed but as the sky was completely overcast and it was still drizzly, we were probably better off in town anyways.

BUT we did have to climb up from the port. SO MANY STAIRS (but not as bad as Thira) We had about 2 hours in Oia to kill until the bus would take us back to the hotel so we found a gelato shop that was out of the cold wind and had wifi and set up camp. Not the most thrilling evening but we did go to see if we missed anything at sunset and we definitely didn’t.

So all in all many pros and cons to the boat excursion we did. It was the cheapest boat excursion (as the catamaran tours started at 95 euros for 5 hour trips and didn’t take you to hike the volcano) and there were many cool experiences to be had. BUT the 10 hours thing just allowed for way too long of stops and felt like quite a waste of time. These were the options presented to us by our hostel. If you do enough digging before hand there are likely shorter options for cheaper. Next time I think I will dig a bit more.

Costs:
Breakfast/lunch/dinner: 11.5 euros for a loaf of bread with deli stuff to make sandwiches, chips, apple, soda, and water for the day
Gelato: 2.50 for 2ish scoops (wasn’t nearly as good as the previous day gelato in Thira though)
Boat tour with King Thira tours: 45 euros pp
Entrance to Volcano: 2 euros pp
Hotel again divided by 3 people: 19
Total for day: 80 euros

Quick little New Year’s Eve post. I actually had to work New Years Eve and New Years day so I didn’t quite make it to midnight but we still had a great night! We had a relaxing dinner and dessert, watched some movies, and for a brief couple of minutes, we ran out on my back deck to play with sparklers!

And by play, of course I mean pretend I’m a wizard casting spells with my wand.

We also wrote out our New Years Resolutions which of course I’ve already failed a nice chunk of them. Some of mine included:
1. Hike or run at least 15 miles per week. Considering I’ve been on graves, it’s cold outside, and my knee was hurting too much to actually run, this turned more into using the elliptical machine and doing more like 12 miles per week. But Hey maybe I’ll get there now that the weather is warming up!
2. Eat healthier (especially concerning fruits and vegetables) again a failure as the majority of the time I had an apple a day and sometimes through carrots or a banana into the mix. But hey maybe I’ll start this again now that I’m back on day shift?! … Probably won’t get much better though.
3. Started the 52 hike challenge which I am actually pretty excited about! So far I’m only at like 9 (which I think I forgot to record a couple to be honest) but again as the weather warms up, the days are longer, and I have a normal schedule again, I think this goal is definitely achievable! Read about the challenge here: http://www.52hikechallenge.com/

Recognize this spot?! Yep I posted about it like 2 days ago with the beautiful Fall leaves and now… covered in snow!

I bought snow boots and when I saw how beautiful the mountains looked from my house, I knew it was finally my time to go explore the Winter Wonderland!
(Sorry, this post actually precedes Christmas and snowshoeing chronologically…)

Sorry, photo over load, but the best part of going hiking on this go around was seeing how much the boys loved it! We had the trail completely to ourselves and all in all, it wasn’t too cold of a day! I loved seeing them both run around and Monty had the snow sticking to him which just made him the cutest snow bunny in my book!

We hiked around the little park area and headed up to Battle Creek Falls to check out how frozen they were! We weren’t disappointed by one bit of this trail!

The base of the waterfall had started to grow into a little bowl but it’s not nearly the size of what it would become in the the following months of January and February!

By now, I’ve probably done this hike in the winter at least 5 times with different friends and the mound at the bottom of the water fall got bigger and bigger each time! I absolutely love this hike every season of the year! Such a blessing to live so close to it 🙂

Moving right along with my next post! For Christmas, Braden and I gifted each other (along with a couple other things) snowshoes! I’ve just always felt that winter was so long and dreary and I never could enjoy it since I’d just be waiting all season for Summer so I can hike again! Solution? Hike in winter… with snowshoes!

For our first adventure, we headed up to Stewart Falls with some friends and our puppy dogs!

The snow was crazy deep but luckily some of the trail had been packed down! (The trail was deeper than Ollie is tall!) and if you went off trail, even with snowshoes we were up to our waist! Crazy! It was gorgeous and actually not too cold since you’re working hard to move around!

The frozen falls were beautiful! We didn’t make it quite all the way since our puppies kept licking their paws and seemed uncomfortable so we snapped some photos from afar and turned back! All in all we barely saw anyone else on the trail and the beautiful white solitude was just magnificent!

With the other winter hikes we went on, I never noticed Ollie’s paws bothering him but I guess with how high up we were it was a little colder. He still did great though! (We did leave Monty at home since I didn’t know there was a packed trail for him to be on and I knew the snow would be much too deep for him!)

It was so fun being out with our friends exploring and trying something new!
Just check out some of those gorgeous evergreens frosted with snow!

Just a quick post about Christmas! Because pretty sure I promised to show off some of my decorations. I went pretty far out since… I love decorating and Christmas! lol A lot is actually the same from our previous apartment, but some is new!
The tree and stuff hanging on the wall is all old but I love how easily I could swap out the beach gallery art for my christmas wreaths! Plus I topped off my formal living room with some new throw pillows and the glorious wreath that I wound up my front stairs!

To the right: the glorious wreath I did myself! ( picture doesn’t really give it true justice) I ended up buying just a normal green plain wreath and added the poinsettias, berries, ornaments, pine cones, etc… lot’s of things to spice it up and I love how it turned out! (1 hour in Hobby Lobby WELL spent)

Also changed out my table setting. The antler was actually there for the fall decor but I decided to keep it on for Christmas along with my new Reindeer burlap table runner and red reindeer!

Also how could I NOT give my boys their very own Christmas tree?! This little tree was actually left in the garage from the previous owner and wasn’t in amazing shape… It’s probably a 3.5 foot tree and is missing on of the support feet (Kinda leaning on the corner wall there) but it worked perfectly for hanging some of my boys ornaments! Plus it added some Christmas lights to my other living room!

I also aquired this adorable Good wishes sign and the Santa statue (he has a baby reindeer standing next to him that isn’t visible but super cute!) The other little reindeer statue I had before.

Above is the general view of my “shelf” of decor. I’ve got a little “Noel” sign next to my statue of Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus (which is my tribute to a nativity since I have yet to find one I really like and can afford) Then next to that is my poinsettas and Christmas countdown blocks. I already talked about the corner, but under the other window is my snowman music box (plays we wish you a Merry Christmas) my Ho,Ho,Ho jingle sign, and some Christmas words in the shape of a tree on the tile) Then I’ve got my “remote holder box” which was actually a gift box for Kneaders but has Christmas lingo all over it and I loved it!

To the left: is my new fireplace entertainment center which I LOVE! It’s also a space heater which I so needed in this chilly basement. Then I’ve got our family stockings hung in front of course!

And to top off this Christmas post, here’s a picture of a picture.  We decided to torture my dogs by taking them to meet Santa. I actually thought it would be a lot of fun but they were pretty wary of him.. Hence Braden and I ended up in the picture (weren’t really planning on it lol) to hold Ollie in it… That’s seriously as close as I could get him to Santa and just look at Monty’s face… so concerned lol. Anyways I still love the picture and framed it for the Dog’s Christmas corner. It was a perfect way to support the Humane Society (only $25 and you get the 8X10 print included!) Next year we may try a Christmas card picture without Santa… lol

And here’s another post about pre-winter days when it was still warm and glorious Fall/Winter. I recently discovered the series of mountain biking trails/ dirt road that connects Battle Creek to Grove Creek Canyon and its now one of my FAV walks!

It’s probably around 2 miles both ways with a couple hills to keep things interesting. The best part for me is that most of the time I’ve gone, it’s been empty so I could let the dogs run free (like a normal walk) without actually have to do a “kill yourself” steep hike like everything else near my house. lol It’s nice when you just need a rest day and hey, the views from up there are still pretty spectacular!

The boys just love it! and I love how close and easy it is to do. 😀 It does get quite muddy though so be forewarned about that if you ever have a hankering to try it.

(this is actually at the base of Grove Creek Canyon but I discovered it while exploring this trail so it gets included in this post. I loveee streams!)

Well… I failed again at keeping this thing updated,but never fear I’m about to embark on numerous blog posts to get you all caught up.
Where did I leave off? Sometime in November/ December I believe?

Picture to the left: my sweet heart Braden hanging Christmas lights up on the house!! I was soooo stoked to get them up there and we had to do it early before it started to snow 🙂

Also while enjoying the early warm winter days, my good friend katie and I hiked up Grove Creek Canyon near my house in Pleasant Grove. It’s a steep hike and winds up a cliff face which I LOVE! Excellent work out, even better views, oh and hey one day I’ll do the full loop and hike a little extra to come down battle creek! That will be an adventure! We only hiked until we hit the snow which was about the top of the waterfall. In the pic just above you can see our adorable dogs posing on the trail. I just love Ollie’s little head tilt here!

Sorry for the delay there but we’re finally reaching the end of our cruise and I couldn’t bear to write about it… (jk not that emotional already planning my next big trip) But it was a great last top.
We saved part of our excursion budget for the fabulous Costa Maya! When we were first booking this cruise and I found out Mexico was on of our stops I KNEW we had to do some Mayan ruins. Their some of my favorite things to see so I pleaded with everyone to do the best one on the list (that wasn’t at Belize because there was no way we were passing up the zipline and cave tubing experience) and so we ended up at Chacchoben.

We got off the boat at a decent hour, got on a bus, and headed to the jungle! And we all loved our tour guide! He made the bus ride over very pleasant and informative 🙂

And I’m going to say I was a little biased by the idea of actually being able to walk on some of the stones up the temple. (wish we could’ve gone to the top like you can do at Tekal but it was…. a step up. HA!) And hey all for the experience.

Right off the bus it was great hearing to watch out for fire ant piles seeing as we were all in our sandles… oops! I definitely watched where I was going.

The size of Chacchoben was really astounding. The only other ruins I’d been to was Tulum (which don’t get me wrong is GORGEOUS especially it’s location… but it’s not huge and you can’t climb on anything… ugg typical American tourist) so seeing as Chacchoben has at least 4 large pyramids and a few more that were still buried in vegetation waiting to be restored, but you could see the hill they were under and how they connected in the big picture, this place was HUGE.

Here’s some background now: Chacchoben’s name means Place of the red maize.
The first settlements in the area have been dated back to 1000BC and by 360AD Chacchoben was one of the largest Mayan communities in the region. It was basically one huge prestigious ceremonial center which explains all the temples! (I mean there’s a lot!)

Lot’s of pictures 🙂 I think one of the most interesting things for me to learn about was how these pyramids and cities actually looked back in the day. I mean… did you know they were RED?? They covered it in like a red plaster and ohhh many I can only imagine how incredible they looked. In the picture above they managed to preserve a small portion of the plaster which has tiny bit of red to it still. It’s also interesting to think about all the carvings that also covered these temples. So interesting!

I will also say this: it was a hot and humid day! Definitely the right day for tank and shorts (but maybe not the sandals… still calculating if the risk is worth it facing fire ants…)

Above is all of us with our wonderful guide! He gave us all so many great tidbits of information and I think the biggest take away (and this was his own personal mission) is to not spit your gum out on the sidewalk since it has plastic in it and kills birds. lol (this was stemmed off the conversation on the origin of gum being down here in the jungle) …
also don’t mind the next pics they were from my knock off go pro but I like the angle I got with it…

The excursion wasn’t too long and I think we had about an hour bus ride there and back but it was worth it and our guide was so great! We also got some pretty cool souvenir (if I do say so myself..) including a miniature red stone pyramid! to remind me of what they actually look like when I peak back at all my pictures!

And of course we had to take pictures with all the tacky tourist spots at the cruise port before getting back on our boat and sailing home. (my mom captured this really tender moment between Aunt Lisa and me… not really sure why we were holding hands… but hey you can’t beat the Aunt/niece relationship! haha Love all these lovely ladies that accompanied me! After at least a year of getting people pumped for a ladies cruise trip, and then another 8 months of planning and then waiting, we finally got our adventure. Can’t wait for the next!

And now to write about probably my other close favorite stop on the cruise: Mahogany Bay/ The Isle Roatan in Honduras. First of all this stop is mostly great if you are on Carnival cruise line and really just want a cheap easy beach day. Mahogany Bay itself was developed by Carnival to be a great beach stop for travelers, and great beach stop it was! Other great excursion options included boating, wildlife exploring, and snorkeling.
We went with the cheapest option.

For just 20 bucks a person for the entire day you got unlimited rides on this magical beach chair life, plus a beach chair (with cover if you wanted) snorkel gear and a float pad for out in the water. We made use of all those things!
One of my favorite parts about this area was just how accessible it was. After the 1.5 hour bus ride each way at Belize, it was fabulous to just get off the cruise ship and be at the beach.

The chair life was probably a 5 minute ride and went over some lush gardens and gave us great views of the bay itself. It was also really cool to look over and see our cruise ship just chilling over there!

Behind us you can see the typical port market. They had great souvenir shops and restaurants which we hurriedly made use of to get all our souvenirs before getting back on this ship.

Here’s some more cool views of the gardens and bay straight ahead.

Coming in for a landing…. Later on because one ride wasn’t enough we went for a full ride again and got scorched. It got soooo hot sitting up on those things so be warned.. if you go later in the day reapply your sunscreen and wear shorts before doing so.

Taking off on another ride but I switched partners for Jordan 😉

And back at the end. Gotta love my selfie stick lol

The cruise ship really was that close… First thing first we grabbed our snorkeling gear and hit the beach, It was pretty clear water but not exactly teeming with fish. We finally got lucky and found a pretty huge coral piece where we saw more fish.. but it was still pretty bare but fun for an inexpensive activity. We saw plenty of fish like the one to the right and tons of little purple minnow sized fish!

We also grabbed our float pads and just enjoyed swimming out in the water. i’ll tell you what the weather was perfect! The sun was shining the whole day and it was just hot enough that the water felt AHmazing. I think I actually spent the majority of time out in the water snorkeling, swimming, or floating.

ok so we also took A LOT of pictures while we were out there. There’s a couple real gems including the always necessary “butt” picture. we all just thought it was so cool how close we were swimming to the ship too.  I mean it’s RIGHT there!!! Not many cruise ports do you get to experience this!

Our little swimming area was marked off so we didn’t get out in the way of ships or boats like catamarans. It was pretty convenient for orienting ourselves for pictures.

Looking back at the beach from whence we started. It was a pretty big area and although a lot of reviews said it was stupid crowded for them, it wasn’t really bad for us at all!

Also good news: if you just wanted a free day you could come swim down at the beach for free! You wouldn’t get the snorkel equipment and not sure if they had beach chairs that weren’t reserved but hey just take the awesome nature paths instead of the flying beach chairs and you have one perfect free beach to explore!

In fact, instead of taking the flying beach chairs back we explored the garden trails and they were pretty cool! They were teeming with iguanas, cool views of the bay, benches, and even a couple swings!

Now as great of a day as it was… I only applied sunscreen once or twice… and still got fried! I always forget to reapply until it’s too late and boy… I was red. The best part was since I was out in the water most of the time it was the parts of my skin that was exposed out of the water.. like my forearms on the raft I was pushing around.. or the back of my legs… lol DON’T FORGET TO REAPPLY OFTEN. lesson learned… for this year at least.

Back at the shops they had a Fat Tuesdays with all these big feet and props! We each got a photo with big feet as there were just enough. I was a buccaneer!

Oh and we may have had a HUGEEE Pina colada from fat tuesdays while lazying around on the beach. They were prob the best pina coladas EVER. which topped off one amazing day!