5 Tips Before Visiting Ocam Ocam
To say Ocam Ocam is off-the-beaten path would be a lie.
The path into this far-flung town on the northwestern tip of Busuanga Island is definitely beaten. But it’s beaten by the elements, not by tourists. Indeed, Ocam Ocam is so un-touristed that the town itself is misspelled and mis-located on Google maps.
It’s worth it though. While Ocam Ocam is no idyllic beach getaway, it is most certainly an escape from the stresses of modern life. But before you go, read these 5 tips:
Ocam Ocam Tip #1
Prepare to disconnect.
There is no cell reception in Ocam Ocam, the only food in town is either caught by the fisherman, rice, or comes from a can, electricity is more of a rumour than reality, and you may well be the only tourist in town like we were.
So bring a good book, a flashlight, batteries for your phone, and some cash. And if you want to have any veggies with your meal, bring them with you from town. Then disconnect.
Ocam Ocam Tip #2
Only go if you’re comfortable riding your motorbike.
The is especially true around the rainy season. On a few occasions, Kim had to get off and walk while I carefully maneuvered our bike up and down steep and heavily rutted dirt and rock roads. And it wasn’t just us; We passed by some locals having just as much difficulty. If locals are having a hard time with the road, you know it’s rough.
Ocam Ocam Tip #3
If you want beer, bring it.
There’s no beer at Ocam Ocam. Apparently some missionaries came to town and succeeded in banishing alcohol and tobacco.
Well, almost all of it.
Call us alcoholics if you must, but we managed to find a local alternative: coconut wine, or as the Filipinos call it, tuba (too-BA). Ask anyone in Ocam Ocam and they’ll point you to the family that makes it. That’s right, it’s a family business – kids and all. The stuff is made right in their crowded house off the beach.
We bought the coconut wine off a 10 year old kid. I asked him how much. He said, “100”. I thought, “100 pesos [$2]. Not bad”, then asked how big it was. His reply made me laugh out loud. Even compared to the other super-cheap prices in the Philippines, this was ridiculous. For 100 pesos he said I’d get 1 gallon of coconut wine. We settled on 1.5 litres for 50 pesos.
Kim wasn’t super fond of it, but I liked it. Sure it would’ve been nicer if it were cold and it was a bit vinegary. It was still the best homemade coconut wine I’d ever had.
Ocam Ocam Tip #4
Go with Saldi for your Black Island tour.
Black Island is Ocam Ocam’s one-and-only tourist activity. It looks like a mini version of Coron Island, but with a big soft sand beach and caves that have swimming holes in them. A half hour boat ride away, it’s worth checking out.
Go with Saldi. He doesn’t talk much, but he’s got a good, big boat, offered the best price in town (believe us, we asked literally everyone, which is not saying much given the size of Ocam Ocam), and his wife Grace prepared us an excellent lunch with a freshly caught fish (by Saldi) the evening before.
You can find Saldi at the big green-roofed house at the south end of the beach.
Ocam Ocam Tip 5:
Try the dough balls.
On the way in to Ocam Ocam we missed the turn-off from the highway not once but twice. So finally we stopped at a little shop to ask for directions.
The shop sold the same packaged crap as everywhere else in the Philippines, with one exception. A couple containers had round sesame-covered mounds of dough the size of baseballs we hadn’t seen before. Neither the person running the store nor her three customers/friends knew what they were called. Since we never saw them anywhere else either (despite searching), they must have been some homemade recipe.
Well these no-named home-made dough balls were delicious. They were hard and crunchy on the outside, soft and dense on the inside, and not too sweet. Five pesos well spent.
So make sure to get the dough balls — and directions to the turnoff — yourself. The store is on the right side of the highway heading towards Ocam Ocam a couple hundred meters past the high school.
Check It Out Yourself!
Our experience in Ocam Ocam was most certainly one-of-a-kind. It ended up being one of my top 5 experiences in Coron (read the others here). Hopefully these tips will encourage you to go and help you enjoy it just as much.