The Best Coron Island Hopping Tour, according to Big Dream Boat Man
“When I was a child, I lost my left pinkie due to an accident, and was bullied throughout my childhood. I grew up to be a shy and quiet person. One day, my friend Bob (captain) introduced me to” Dream Boatman “, I was hired as a crew member. Everyone on the ship treated each other like a family member, and welcomed me like a family member. From then on, I watched Bob talk to the crew and customers in fluent English every day, and decided that one day I would also become a captain and show my beautiful country to people all over the world. Today, I can chat with you. I am a confident person, and I think one day I will become a captain.”
Lin, one of the sailors, showed us his nine fingers. As part of our dinner ceremony, he shared his story. This is the first night of our 3D3N trip to Cologne with the Dream Boatman, an eco-friendly exploration company founded by a British and a local in Cologne in 2016. We spent a whole day exploring the hidden islands, snorkeling with colorful fish and turtles, swallowing fresh and delicious seafood, and sharing laughter with everyone on the ship. Now we drink after dinner on a deserted island around us, and exchange our stories with each other.
After taking part in several island hopping tour groups for two weeks, with more than 20 people participating each time, this non-mainstream tour is very appreciated. Here are my real comments on the life trip of the Dream Boat in Cologne, and why if you only make a trip in Cologne, this should be it.
Carefree booking experience
On Big Dream Boat Man’s website, booking travel is a carefree experience. Just choose a suitable date for you, pay 1/3 of the deposit, and then wait for your inspection preparation documents via email to explain what you need to pay attention to and carry (I have prepared a baggage list for you below!).
You will need to buy your own travel insurance for this trip. I suggest you do this, not only for this particular adventure, but also for each trip. If an accident happens, you hope to get medical care and compensation in case of any unfortunate event abroad.
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You also need to pay in cash upon arrival. If you have any special requirements, that is, dietary requirements, you can submit them by email before the investigation. I have some questions, and the team responded within 24 hours.
Journey on unconventional routes
There are no shortage of one-day tours in Cologne, which can take you to the island. I personally participated in two of them, the Cologne Super Ultimate Day Tour and the Cologne Island Free Day Tour (you can read my comments on these day tours here). Although they are also interesting, I have to share them with other tourists wearing life jackets. On several occasions, we went to the scenic spot where it was raining because the route of these group tours was not flexible at all. The biggest advantage of BDBM exploration is that because it is a private multi-day tour, we can avoid the peak of popular scenic spots and venture to islands that are not on the radar.
Note: BDBM does not provide fixed stroke. Depending on the weather, the boat may take you to other scenic spots or change the order of call. I personally appreciate this!
Day 1: Kayangan Lake, Gemini Lake, Banana Island
At 11am, we gathered at the Luis Bay restaurant, and then walked to the dock to board the boat. When we left the port, cool drinks were served and the crew introduced themselves. Soon after, we arrived at the first stop, the famous Kayayan Lake, when the group tour group was leaving. We can reach the half-way viewing platform without waiting in line. We spent half an hour alone by the lake before the other two people arrived by private boat. After swimming and relaxing in the clear fresh water for an hour, we returned to the boat where there was lunch waiting for us. Talk about lunch with scenery!
The next stop is the Gemini Lagoon, another popular place. We enjoyed this place without many people. Once you have swam through a small gap, the towering cliff welcomes you to the swimming area where salt water and fresh water mix. Some places are a little too cold, but swimming in them is a magical experience. We stayed here for about 45 minutes, and the freshly fried banana deep-fried dough sticks welcomed us back to the ship.
When we went to Banana Island, our base camp tonight, I couldn’t help smiling at the happy experience of the first day. Our first night was spent in an old concrete hotel. A standing fan, a large mattress and a private bathroom, people can’t ask for more. When taking a bath, put the water from the well on the island into a large container. You can pour the water on yourself with a water ladle.
Day 2: Dititayan Island, Curion Island, Luzon Gunboat, Luzon Coral Garden
After breakfast in Banana Island, we started our day’s journey, and then went to Dititayan Island, which is famous for its beautiful white sand bar. We were the first ship to arrive and stayed on the sandbar for 20 minutes. Lying on the soft sand, we basked in the sun and felt very dreamy. This is a beautiful beginning for today.
Next, we stepped out of the water activities and explored the island of Curion. The captain and another crew member took us to Culion Church, which is made of coral. We also walked to a scenic spot to enjoy the sparkling water from above. The rest of the crew spent time replenishing groceries on the island and preparing lunch for us. I like this stop very much because it is also an opportunity to experience more local islands.
After lunch, we came to the Lusong Fort and the Lusong Coral Garden, where we had free diving around the sunken ships in the World War II. It is so interesting to check the gunboat when our crew shows their free diving skills through the ship board. When we finished our exploration of the sunken ship, we continued to take risks and snorkeling around the richest coral garden in Cologne. We were even lucky to find three turtles!
When our ship sailed to the second base camp on Pas Island, we ate snacks, played board games, and took a nap on the multi-chip network. We didn’t expect that the prime time of Perth Island would be so beautiful. This is my favorite base camp in this expedition! Here’s more about sleep status.
Day 3: More snorkeling+sunken adventure, South Reef, Black Island, unknown camp
On the third day, more snorkeling and sunken ship exploration began. There are colorful corals and fish on the sunken ship. It is very lively and interesting to explore. Then, we came to my favorite stop in the whole trip – South Reef. This is simply incredible — there is no other people in front of us, the water is incredibly blue and calm, and the coral reef itself is beautiful white sand, with a small jungle on it. I have the best surfing experience here. Yes, there is a canoe and a vertical paddle on the boat. We have fully utilized them.
After a big meal, we came to Black Island. On this secluded island, due to the geographical location, there are few one-day tourists. We saw a giant lizard, a legendary rooster (I don’t tell a story, let the crew tell you), and two mysterious caves for spiritual rituals. These caves are absolutely amazing. The water depth in the two pools is enough to jump off the cliff. Then we spent an hour in a daze on the beach, and then went to today’s base camp — I don’t remember the name of the island, but I think it’s not important
The team members set up a bonfire on the beach, and I have begun to miss this epic adventure. We slept in a straw hut. The next morning, after watching the sunrise on the island, we rushed back to the main island of Cologne to say goodbye to everyone.
Unique overnight experience
It is estimated that the accommodation conditions for this expedition are very simple, but I think this makes the experience more unique and unforgettable. They are connected to several base camps, some of which are composed of basic beach houses, with independent shower and toilet facilities, while others may be camps or hotels. Until noon, you will not be sure where you sleep that night. I think it adds a little excitement to things.
I have to admit that I am a little uncomfortable with the smell of water in the first base camp, but it makes me realize how much I take it for granted to get clean water. This is also an opportunity to put yourself outside the comfort zone, which I absolutely appreciate. In other words, I like our second base camp very much. It has lovely beach houses and incredible location, which is very suitable for watching the sunset. We didn’t camp in tents, but for some people it may be. Although towels and basic toiletries are provided, if you bring them yourself, they will be more environmentally friendly. There is enough electricity at night to recharge our batteries. If you need to go online, some base camps even have signals. I personally use the flight mode, which is a very needed digital detoxification.
If you are used to camping, sleeping and toilet conditions are not a problem for you. If you usually stay in a hotel during your trip, take it as an opportunity to experience different things!
The company boasts its crew service, and they have full right to do so. From the moment we boarded the ship, we were treated as family. Although most cruise ships will give a brief introduction to the crew, and there is always a clear gap between them and the guests, the BDBM crew sincerely want to communicate with us, and their curiosity about each other’s culture has led to many meaningful conversations. I think I really understand them – their childhood memories, personal goals and their favorite parts of work. They even handmade bracelets and anklets for us as souvenirs. Obviously, they love their work and are proud of it. Their spirit and enthusiasm contributed to this trip.
There is delicious food every day!
Most of us believe that the food we ate in this expedition is one of the best food we ate in Cologne. Our chef has worked in high-end restaurants, and we are absolutely impressed, especially considering the limitations of mobile kitchen. Each meal is served with different things. The food is always too much for us to eat, and it is always delicious.
For breakfast, it is a typical Philippine+Western project combination, including rice, sausage, eggs, pancakes and toast. For lunch and dinner, our chef dotes on us every day with delicious seafood (we have eaten fish, shrimp, squid, and even crabs on this trip), healthy vegetables, carefully cooked meat and fresh fruit. At least six dishes are available for each meal. Drinks are available at any time – have I mentioned that alcohol is free!? After snorkeling in the salty water for an hour, nothing can match a glass of fresh beer. Between the two meals, we tried local snacks, including banana deep-fried dough sticks and Ginathan. I’m serious. When I said it was very challenging to be hungry during this expedition.
If you have any specific dietary restrictions or allergies, please communicate with the team in advance and they will make corresponding adjustments.
This is an adventure for everyone.
There are eight people on our ship: a couple in their 20s, two Australian women in their 60s (absolute rock and roll), a single female traveler, a single male traveler, and a pair of brothers and sisters. So, really, this is an adventure suitable for all types of travelers, although there is a minimum age limit of 14 years. Sorry, children!
You will meet like-minded people who are taking a unique adventure and appreciate the real local culture very much – you know, just like yourself. The eight of us get along very well. Although some of us need some time to be alone at any time, there is a lot of space on the boat for quick rest or reading. During the whole journey, we ate well and had no chance to starve. You need to have a healthy body, although there are no particularly demanding activities. I found that the daily travel process was well designed, and we had enough time to rest between stations. Sleep and shower are quite basic, but no one has any major complaints.