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November 06, 2014

TAO EXPEDITION: How @TaoPhilippines Ruined the Island Hopping Experience Anywhere Else (A Review)





November 06, 2014

TAO EXPEDITION: How @TaoPhilippines Ruined the Island Hopping Experience Anywhere Else (A Review)

01/04/2017 Updated Blog Post: TAO Philippines: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at What Makes @TAOPhilippines Successful?

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Tao Philippines Expedition is a social enterprise founded by Eddie Agamos Brock and Jack Foottit that immerses participants in the authentic Filipino island life while, at the same time, helping the remote island communities of Northern Palawan.

The expedition takes place in Coron, Culion, Linipacan, and El Nido--for 5 days and 4 nights. It is recommended to go from Coron (known for its shipwrecks and diving) to El Nido (known for the best islands and beaches). The expedition season starts in October and ends in June. 

Tao means "people" in Filipino and is pronounced as Ta-O (not as the single syllable, tao). 

Here's what I think about the boats, the accommodations, the activities, and the food in the Tao Expedition...

Tao Philippines Expedition Series




AURORA UNA

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It's best to join the Tao Expedition at the start of the season or during the off-peak months, so that you don't get crowded on the boat. We were aboard the Aurora Una with 7 guests + 7 crew for a boat with a capacity for 24 people--so it was very comfortable throughout the trip.

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The best spot is where the day beds are, on the roof deck of the boat, so you can take your nap during long trips.

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There's a small private toilet at the back, which flushes directly into the water.

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Make sure to bring enough juices, beer, and drinks for the trip.

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The kitchen is where the action is. There usually is separate food for the crew and the guests. 

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There's an inside area where you can leave your bags to keep them safe and dry. 

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It's great that the boat is equipped with an inverter so you can charge your batteries when needed.

(Note: There's limited signal throughout the trip anyway, so it's best to just disconnect and fully immerse yourself in the expedition. Just inform your contacts accordingly.)

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Flowing hot coffee and ginger tea is always available any time of the day.

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Lunch on the boat is always the best and you can use your bare hands to eat. :)

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The main deck area is where the group gathers and is usually wet.

 

WHAT TO BRING

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Bag: make sure to have a day bag, a main bag that you leave on the boat, and a dry bag for gadgets.

Sun Protection: sun block, sarong, sun hat or cap, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Water Bottle: a refillable water bottle to help keep you hydrated.

Toiletries: towel, shower gel, shampoo, tooth brush, tooth paste. 

Light: flashlight, head torch, or solar lamps to help you find your way in the dark, especially for base camps with no electricity at night.

Clothes: shorts, t-shirts, swimwear, rash guard for protection from the sun and jellyfish stings, lightweight trousers at night, and rain jacket (just in case).

Insect Protection: insect repellent and long sleeved top or shirt to protect against insect bites. 

Shoes: sandals or reef shoes.

Gadgets/Games: camera, underwater camera, GoPro, iPad/iPhone, frisbee, board games, card games, and a good book (since mobile signal is limited).

 

BASE CAMP ACCOMMODATIONS

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I love literally sleeping on the beach! Tao Philippines has a total of 16+ base camps along the route.

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This simple day bed with one pillow and mosquito net set up is great! But the pillow is a bit fat so consider bringing your own extra pillow.

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The toilets don't have running water; you have to flush on your own, and it's communal for boys & girls.

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The rustic shower area.

 

MOST AWESOME EXPERIENCES

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Snorkeling.

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Kayaking.

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Beach Bumming.

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Cliff Jumping.

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Playing Frisbee

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Reading your Favorite Book.

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Trawl Fishing.

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Playing Card Games.

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Arm Wrestling.

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Sunrise Watching.

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Sunset Watching.

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Tao Farm Tour.

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Playing Volleyball.

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Playing Basketball.

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Karaoke!

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Massage. :)

  

HOME-COOKED FILIPINO FOOD

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Breakfast. The food never repeats! The best breakfast for me is the Oatmeal with Banana Jam in Coconut.

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Fresh Catch of the Day! You'll get pampered with fresh fish direct from the sea.

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Lunch. It's the best home-cooked Filipino food I've tasted where everything is made from scratch, using only fresh seafood, chicken, fruits, and vegetables available during the expedition.

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Merienda. The merienda was a showcase of the best of local snacks, like my favorite Suman with Latik.

Suggestion: It would be awesome if we can have Halo-Halo as a snack finale during the trip!

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Fresh Sashimi! Nothing beats freshly made sashimi, from the fish caught in the expedition. :)

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Dinner. All the foreign guests literally raved about the Filipino food served in the Tao Expedition.

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Not only was it a showcase of Filipino flavors, but also of Filipino sauces and ketchup. :)

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Best of all, you get to enjoy the food with Ice Cold San Miguel Beer! How I wish there was San Miguel Premium All-Malt, Cerveza Negra, and San Miguel Super Dry available in the expedition. :)

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Cheers to the most awesome experience in the Philippines--the Tao Expedition!

 

TAO CORON TO EL NIDO EXPEDITION PHOTO ESSAYS

Tao Expedition - Day 1 Coron to Patchy-20.jpgMeet our Tao Expedition group: Dallas and Miranda from Wisconsin, Adrian and Raqui from New York, Rich from the UK, and Alex from Germany. 

Day 1 of the expedition was dedicated to exploring the islands around Coron, snorkeling around the different shipwrecks, and making our way to the small island of Patchelyn (Patcy for short), in between Coron and Culion.

Day 1TAO EXPEDITION: Coron to El Nido Expedition Pre-Departure (A Photo Essay) 

Tao Expedition - Day 2-98.jpgOn Day 2 of the Tao Expedition, we continued to explore the islands between Coron and Culion Island. We decided to stay at the Buluang Base Camp and end the day with a Karaoke night to remember.

Day 2TAO EXPEDITION Day 2: Patcy Breakfast, Maltayok Beach, & Buluang Karaoke! (A Photo Essay)

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Day 3 was highlighted by some cliff jumping, the best lunch ever, and an isolated base camp. 

Day 3TAO EXPEDITION Day 3: Cliff Jumping & Guinto Base Camp (A Photo Essay)

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We snorkeled in an aquarium-like coral reef with the clearest water I've ever seen. Then we had lunch and a tour of the much-anticipated Tao Farm before finally settling in our Tao Village base camp in El Nido.

Day 4TAO EXPEDITION Day 4: Linapacan Clear Waters, Tao Farm, & Tao Village (A Photo Essay)

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We explored the islands around Bacuit Bay, El Nido on the last day of the Tao Expedition...

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Overall, the Tao Expedition is one of the most awesome experiences in the Philippines. It's a great way to discover the beauty of the Palawan Isles, authentic Filipino culture, and the best home-cooked Filipino food. At the same time, you are helping the remote island communities in Northern Palawan.

I was pleasantly surprised with the different base camps where you literally sleep on the beach. It's best to go with your close friends or significant other, especially if they enjoy the beach and the outdoors. It's more popular with Fil-Ams and foreigners, but still a best kept secret among locals.

Budget about P25,000 for the trip + P1,500 for the tips + P1,000 for beer, drinks + ~P5,000 for air fare, accommodations, and transfers in El Nido & Coron. 

You may go through internet withdrawal syndrome because there's no signal, and the communal toilet without flowing water and a proper flush takes some getting used to. 

Don't forget to bring a dry bag, underwater camera, insect repellant, and head lamps.

You have to experience this at least once in your lifetime! A must-do in 2015. :)

TAO PHILIPPINES
Tao Expeditions has been described as ‘One of the most pioneering cultural eco-tourism projects in the Philippines’. It is a journey to the most remote region in Palawan to discover a tropical archipelago of hundreds of paradise islands, inaccessible to independent travelers through its remoteness and lack of tourist infrastructure.

Email: info@taophilippines.com
Emergency Contact Numbers: +63 908 874 9075 or +63 998 411 3576 
FacebookTao Philippines
Instagram@TaoPhilippines
Twitter: @TaoPhilippines
Websitehttp://www.taophilippines.com/

Coron Tao Office: Don Pedro St. Coron town (in front of Sea Dive resort). 
El Nido Tao Office: Serena St. El Nido town. 

Tao Expedition Fee (2015 Season): P25,000 for regular 5 days/4 nights per person 

50% Deposit due to secure booking : 12,500PHP

What's included?

  • The journey with us onboard.
  • All meals, snacks, and refreshments.
  • Your overnight accommodation at Tao base-camps or in the islands.
  • Fees and environmental tax in islands and nature reserve.
  • Equipment: Mask and Snorkel (no Fins).
  • Local fishing gears (drop line and line trawling).
  • Kayaks. 

Not included: 

  • Accommodation before or after the trip with us.
  • Transportation to and from the meeting point.
  • Towels.
  • Alcoholic drinks.
  • Fins for snorkeling.
  • El Nido Tourism Development Tax (P200) in your stay in El Nido.

Click here to check the 'Open Group Expedition' schedule.

Must Read: IMPORTANT TRAVEL TIPS AND INFORMATION FOR ALL TAO TRAVELERS

Here's the map of the expedition: Tao Expedition Map

Tao Philippines Expedition Series (2014):

Apulit Island Resort Experience (2011):

Coron, Busuanga Experience (2008):

El Nido Palawan Adventure (2006):

Live an Awesome Life,

anton  signature
Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com 
 

Disclosure: I paid for my Tao Philippines Expedition and I'm not connected in any way with Tao Philippines. I wrote this article with my own biases, opinions, and insights. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.  

P.S. Thank you to Dallas and Miranda from Wisconsin, Adrian and Raqui from New York, Rich from the UK, and Alex from Germany for the awesome Tao Expedition experience! :)

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