All travelers must have their own Travel Insurance.
We are an adventure company traveling in a very remote area of the Philippines so we do as much as we can to avoid accidents. Our crew are trained in response to emergency situation and look out for dangers but no matter how much we take care, it is still up to our travelers incentives to look after themselves and avoid mishaps.
When you first board the boat you will be given a 'Safety Orientation' by your expedition leader. This will include Water Safety as you will be spending a lot of time getting in and out of the water. Please notify the crew if you are not a strong swimmer and they will keep an extra eye on you.
You will be shown the location of life preserving equipment on-board [such as life-vests, buoyancy aids, life rafts and medical kit] that we must carry as part of the stringent Marina Requirements.
There are small critters in the tropical water that can sting you. A rash-guard top whilst swimming can protect you from some of these. The worst are things living on the reef so never stand, touch or pick up anything from the reef and you should be fine. Reef shoes are also a good idea.
Dehydration is a common cause of accidents and feeling unwell. You will be required to bring your own refillable water bottle and drink lots of water. There are large containers of purified drinking water on-board for you to keep your bottle topped up.
Avoid drinking too much alcohol. Of course you will want to enjoy a few beers and try some of the local rum around the first night, however don't make yourself a liability. Nobody wants to have to look after a drunk person. Tropical hangovers are a nightmare and you don't want to miss out on the day activities if you are trying to recover from the night before!
Your skin will burn easily in the tropics especially if you are coming from winter in Europe. Packed plenty of sunscreen [SPF 30 or higher] and apply liberally during the day. A sun hat and sunglasses are essential. If you are a keen snorkeler we recommend that you bring a Lycra wet-shirt or rash-guard. You will get burnt on your back if you do not wear a top when snorkeling. Our crew keep an eye out for guests being exposed to too much sun and may recommend for you to cover up if they think you are at risk.
Up to date and accurate information about all aspects of malaria, including risks and prevention, is readily available to you from travel health clinics, travel healthiness and via the web. Because it is a complex and rapidly changing issue, we do not want to recommend whether or not to take malaria medication.
Northern Palawan is generally a low risk area. Occasionally it comes in small outbreaks and consequentially the local health office will have a warning, we will be advised and pass on the warning to our travelers. It is not that very common for an outbreak during our season November to end of May. Be more cautious on Dengue fever which is more common and can be contracted anywhere in southeast Asia, especially in town and cities. There are no medicine to prevent catching Dengue so be always cautious. Dengue and Malaria normally appears mid monsoon season which is July-September.
It is advised to minimize the risk of Malaria and Dengue through bit avoidance. Bring lots of mosquito repellent and long sleeve clothing, it also advisable that when with children. in town it is better to get Air-conditioned rooms because mosquitoes are most active early in the morning/ late afternoon. Town and larger population have more disease carrying mosquitoes than those of small islands and villages.
Our sleeping in the islands are set up near the beach where we get a breeze thus reduce mosquitoes, we always have nets setup for sleeping. Traveling in South Palawan needs extra precaution any time of the year. Sand-flies are very common in the beaches- villages and Tao base camps in the islands. Some people react badly on sand-fly bites, long sleeves during sunset is advised for those special folks who attract mosquitoes and sand-flies.
The best ointment or repellent for mosquitoes and sand-flies in our expedition is Kwan Loong oil, a Singaporean mentholated oil. It is tried and tested by Tao for years. You have to re-apply every 30min but it is effective and much safer than any DEET products. If you can get it before coming to Palawan from Asian pharmacies or you can get it in our office in El Nido and Coron.
We often get questions regarding safety in the islands, kidnapping, trouble from militants, pirates and other concern that you might have researched before flying into a foreign third world country.
Some areas of the Philippines have a red mark for many Government Travel Foreign Offices advice because of the separatist problem of the extreme south. But Palawan, Luzon, Visayas and the rest of the northern islands are far away from the southern Mindanao region. Unfortunately the Philippines government, unlike other Asian tourist destinations, have no say or control over these red warnings.
The story of the islands with 'pirates' is as old as the Ming dynasty merchant sailing this part of the world. We work in partnership with the communities all along our route. They know what we do, who is travelling on board and they provide us with more security more than the Coastguard or Navy who are always present in the area (securing the Shell/Chevron gas/oil platform rigs).
We may ask 'How safe is your hometown/city?' which often puts into perspective the perceived risks of exploring less familiar parts of the world.
A boat trip with no set itinerary and route we try to break journey with island/beach stop as much as we can, depending on weather and sea condition the boat journey can be 1-2 hour to the next stop. We spend as much time exploring islands and the reef until the group is set to go. The only time we need to consider is the arrival at the base camp before dusk 5-6PM. In a rough sea condition there are some crossing that can take up to 4 hours. there are so many bays and islands where we shelter or explore depending on wind and water condition. We do not like traveling rough seas as much as you do so we time it and see where we can enjoy most of our time on the water.
Please respect that our chefs do not change their recipes or menu to accommodate any dietary requirements, our policy is eat what you want and leave the rest. There is always something good for everyone to eat.
Our menu is based on traditional filipino cooking using Fresh seafood, vegetables, fruit and rice. The seafood in Palawan is first class and we serve lots of it onboard Tao. We buy our fish direct from the fisherman as we travel through the islands. You can also fish from the boat to catch your own supper! We do not generally serve meat because we use ice boxes and we do not have refrigeration for storage on the boats. Sometimes we will buy livestock in the islands such as chickens or pigs.
We stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables before we leave port so Vegetarians and vegans will enjoy the numerous healthy dishes cooked up onboard, the chef always serves fruit or vegetable dishes so there is no need to inform us in advance if you are vegetarian or vegan. There are no peanuts used in our cooking, the menu is mostly gluten free.
Avoid drinking too much alcohol. Of course you will want to enjoy a few beers and sample some of the local rum around the fire at night, however don't make yourself a liability. Nobody want to have to look after the drunk guy. Tropical hangovers are a nightmare and you don't want to miss out on the day activities if you are trying to recover from the night before!
We are not a booze cruise and we re also not detox/rehab/yoga/meditation retreat boat!
On an open group expedition- most of the people that book with us are well traveled, well mannered and well informed.. It is a holiday break so they are allowed to party and socialize.. if you want to join- you can, if not then there is so much space to chill, explore or enjoy nature. We have several base camps where you can join a karaoke in the village and some camps that we have to respect our neighbors or the natural surrounding. As a free flowing trip, we want people to enjoy themselves but we are not shy to let you know about getting a little too excited with the drinks. There s always seems to be a good sociable atmosphere when travelers get together on a boat roaming paradise islands and we encourage people just to do what they want out of their trip as long as they respect other people who want to do other things too. We want our groups to be socially aware respecting each other, the crew and the local.