THOUSAND ISLAND BLESSINGS
Stretching from its northern tip near the island of Mindoro all the way down to the tip of Borneo, Palawan is known romantically as the ‘Land of the Promise’. It has certainly become a promised land for a growing contingent of travellers entranced by news of roughly 1780 islands and islets, virgin rainforest, and sugar-white sandy beaches.
At first Jack and Eddie used rented boats and temporary crew to ferry friends and select others around, but word of their odysseys soon spread among travellers eager to get off the vigorously stamped South East Asian path. A 72-food bangka (traditional fishing boat) named Aurora was purchased, a reliable pool of boat personnel was secured through a combination of trial and error and happy accident and the business started to expand. From these humble beginnings, Tao has grown to become one of the biggest tourism success stories in the Philippines. The company now has four boats and trips sell out months in advance.
Its five-day expeditions—an invigorating blend of socially aware eco-tourism, laid-back lounging and rambunctious rum-fuelled evenings at remote beach camps—have become a favourite of discerning visitors looking to discover for themselves one of the few remaining undeveloped tracts of beach paradise in the region. I’m blown away by the experience from the start. Having been based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for the past two years, Manila’s gruelling blend of traffic and noise offers little in the way of novelty factor and the fresh sea breeze that hits me when I get to Coron Town is a tonic. The ‘adventurers wanted’ sign on the wall outside Tao HQ is another promising indicator that the next few days will offer timely respite from Asia’s more cacophonous persona.
Excerpt from the March issue of epicure.
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