I was in Coron one day before embarking  on a five day remote island adventure with Tao Philippines.

In the Filipino language, Tao means ‘people’.  This social enterprise has built its success on putting people at the center of its mission. Tao Philippines brings island villagers and explorers together with a social mission of supporting sustainable tourism and responsible community development.

I eagerly waited at my hotel rooftop cafe for a meeting that was being held later in the evening. While immersed in the view of the Coron Bay, I recalled the information about the expediation on the Tao website.

According to the information, this wasn’t a typical tour. There were no guaruntees. The only timeline we had to adhere to was the five days we’d be on our island journey together. There was no clock to tell us when we’d move on. Decisions would be based on the ocean conditions, the experienced crew, mealtimes, and maybe the position of the sun.

What was certain was the chance to reconnect with myself, detach from the hyper pace of a digital world, learn about Filipino island culture, and make some incredible new friends.

View of Coron

View of Coron Bay from my hotel.

 

Tao Boat Expediation

Preparing for boat launch

There were 7 crew and 16 people on our voyage. The mix included people ages from 23 to 70. We were from all different parts of the world from Chile, Brazil, Norway, England, Israel, Australia, Germany, Serbia and the U.S.

The Ocean

Where the sky meets the ocean

 

Docking First Stop

Docking at our first base camp for the night

Mornings came early. The spectacular sunrises beckon to put down the camera and to experience the moment as it is.  The same sun offered a fresh perspective each morning as it rose above the peaks of lush green island mountains.  The chirping of birds filled the comfortable morning air with a diversity of chords. The early wake up call of the jungle was a small price to pay for this daily moment of inspiration.

Bamboo Huts

Simple but easy living in paradise in open air bambo huts

 

 

Tao broughts us to truly remote islands, where it is just the crew, fellow explorers, and oneself.

 

Each island is its own paradise to explore with its own story to be part of.

We explored sunken ships and reefs teeming with vibrant sea creatures. A couple shared the first half of their honeymoon with us. We swam through tight underwater caves and jumped off rock cliffs. Some of us squabbled over music. Everyone oogled over islands puppies.

Each night, we shared stories, played cards, and enjoyed drinks with the crew.  There was a long debate about our “last meal” that involved purchasing and slaughtering a pig.

On our last day we swam with sea turtles as far as we could before losing them to the deep blue abyss. Approaching El Nido, we danced to the Macarena and Spice Girls.

We bonded in a uniquely shared experience.

We Are Tao

 


Highlights of Tao Philippines

  • Learning about Filipino island life
  • Snorkeling around sunken WWII warships
  • Exploring truly remote islands
  • Incredible flavorful meals that always included fresh vegetables, fruits, and seafood
  • Sleeping on the beach in bamboo huts
  • No Wifi for a true digital detox
  • Supporting a mission that helps local villagers build sustainable communities
  • New life long friends

Tao Philippines

New lifelong friends. Photo by Torill Furenes of Norway