Coron, Palawan, though quite unfamiliar to many, is now slowly taking the limelight among local and foreign tourists. It is a second-class town to be found in the northern edge of Palawan, endowed with a great deal of scenic and remarkable landscapes, crystal clear lagoons, limestone cliffs, a rich marine life and an out-of-the-ordinary wildlife safari. Labelled as the last cutting edge of well-preserved ecosystem sanctuaries and several Japanese shipwrecks from World War II, Coron made it to the top ten best scuba diving locations in the world. With that said alone, Coron deserves to have the prestige as the next must-see jewel to be included in your next travel itinerary.
Famous Tourist Spots In Coron
Kayangan Lake is the most-cleansed lake all throughout the country thus hailed as one of the top tourist attractions in the Philippines. The lake in fact is a freshwater lagoon that is surrounded by steep sandstone cliffs which are widespread in the area. A short steep trail towards the small hill should be done first before you can witness the captivating view of the lake. Once you are greeted by the lake’s marvelous crystal-blue waters, be sure to wear your life jacket and snorkeling gears so you can immediately feel the soothing blend of salt and freshwater as you take a dip to this deep lake.
If you want to fully savour the beauty that Malcapuya Island has to offer then you have to spare another day for an island tour to enjoy and appreciate it more. A whole day tour usually costs around P2,000- P3,000 boat rental/day. Prices of tours with meals may vary depending on your chosen menu and the number of people joining the group tour so I suggest you plan and discuss the total fees with the agency or the boat driver for more convenience or you may opt to buy your own meals to save more. Malcapuya Island is about an hour and a half boat ride from Coron town proper. Some may say that it is just one of the usual long stretches of white sand bar; however, it has more to showcase its tourists than just its fine, white sand. On the right most portion of Malcapuya, you can witness the rocky coastlines covering the clear blue waters behind it. The island is really isolated with no residents except for its caretaker so you can really have a peaceful day to unwind and rest in this fascinating island of Coron. You have to pay an entrance fee of P200/person, P500-P750/cottage and a camping fee of P300/person if you wish to go overnight..
Not far away from Malcapuya Island, you can already have a clear view of Banana Island. It takes about 20 minutes travel time to visit the island and also features an extensive stretch of fine, white-sand beaches with a lot of Pacific Giant Clams, colourful hues of corals and diverse species of marine life that are perfect for snorkelling. Fishes in Banana Island are believed to be bigger compared to that of Malcapuya Island. Furthermore, facilities offered in this island are very plain yet the surroundings are always kept tidy and clean. Hammocks are also tied down to sturdy coconut trees, thus making the ambiance more ideal to get your most-wanted beach tan-lines and soothing siesta. Its Island fee costs P200/person while snorkelling gears are also available for rent at a rate of P150/day. Indeed, Banana Island is one of the best places to experience in Coron.
Maquinit Hot Springs
After losing all your strength from the island-hopping tour, dropping by the Maquinit Hot Springs will be a perfect stress-reliever not just for an exhausted body but also as a cure for your strained muscles as well. Positioned along the southern coastline of Busuanga Island, Maquinit Hot Springs is a 30-45-minute tricycle ride from the heart of Coron town. Roundtrip tricycle fare costs P250-P300 while entrance fee to the resort costs P150/person.
If you don’t fear the heights and you take pleasure in seeing the picturesque view of your horizons then Mt. Tapyas is a must-climb for you. It is one of the known mountains to climb in Busuanga which is about 210 meters beyond the sea level. It is the ultimate spot to head to if you want to have a perfect sight of Coron’s secluded town and its most sought-after islands. For first-time trekkers, you don’t have to be anxious since the mountain has been already developed into a suitable tourist destination, wherein around 700 stairs were created to assist leisure climbers to reach the summit. There is no entrance fee in this tourist destination so you don’t have to shell out any money from your pocket.
Calauit Island National Park
Photo by Carol Bautista Milag
A visit to Calauit Island National Park will ultimately complete your amazing journey in Coron if you have another day to spend with extra pocket money. Calauit Island is a stunning 3700-hectare vast playing field for diverse African and Philippine wildlife such as zebras, giraffes, calamian deers, bear cats, Palawan peacocks and more. A travel guide usually facilitates the tour within the park with a uniquely-styled Jeepney which can offer you a first-hand experience with the endangered wildlife species. Since it’s quite far from Coron with a travel time of about 4 to 5 hours, it would be necessary to rent or hire a jeep or a van towards the island with a rough estimate of P2,000-P4,000/day. You may also have the option to book with Coron’s Tourism Office since trips to the safari park are by appointment. Complete all-in tour packages are offered at P2,500/person inclusive of entrance fees, round trip van transfers, boat transfers and breakfast for a minimum of 5 persons. If you simply rented a car, you will be charged with an entrance fee of P250 for locals and P350 for foreigners. Also, don’t forget to pack your own breakfast and lunch so you won’t starve while touring. Remember not to level up your expectations too much since the animals wander freely, you might not be able to see a bunch of them loitering and clustering around the park. Lastly, do take note that the best time to visit the park is at 8 am to get the chance to feed and bond with the giraffes.
Island-Hopping In Coron
Coron is unquestionably a tourist haven jam-packed with a long list of beautiful seascapes. So if you would like to break free from the stressors of the busy life of the city then, an island-hopping pleasure trip is the perfect way to simply relax and enjoy the natural gift of nature at its best.
Lucky you, if you were not able to book to an agency beforehand since there are a lot of travel agencies to be found in the heart of the town which can arrange your travel itinerary as affordable as 650/person with a minimum of 8-10 pax. You can just walk and inquire from one agency to another to compare prices. If you prefer a more private tour you may also have the option of hiring a private boat at the Calamian Tourist Boat Association at Lualhati Park or at the port itself with prices ranging from P1,500-P5,000 depending on the boat’s passenger capacity.
During our time, we woke up a bit late for our tour so we had to hire a boat just near the port to facilitate a private trip for us. We were fortunate that the driver gave us a friendly price of P1,500 for a whole day rental since we were only composed of 4 people. Also, since we weren’t able to bring our snorkelling gears with us we had to rent gears from the nearest diving shop along the port at P250/gear set. Don’t forget to keep in mind that for every tourist destination there are native caretakers who are tasked to collect entrance fees from tourists ranging from P100-P150/person which are not yet included with the boat rental. To avoid overshooting your budget, be sure to clarify and negotiate well with the agency or boat drivers with regards to the transparent breakdown of your total tour expenses and the overall inclusion of your chosen travel package. Among the famous and beyond doubt must-visit tourist spots which are more often than not included in Coron tour packages are the Kayangan Lake, Siete Picados, Twin Peaks and Hidden Lagoon, Barracuda Lake, Skeleton Wreck and Banol Beach.
Taking the plane either thru Cebu Pacific or Pal Express by far is the best, fastest and most convenient mode of transportation to get to Coron. It is strongly suggested that you book your tickets ahead of time so you can get great discounts from promo fares since regular fares to Coron are a bit pricey. Regular fares when based in Manila run for about P5000-P7000 roundtrip while those with connecting flights from other cities run for about 10000-13000 pesos round-trip. The primary entrance to the region is thru Francisco B. Reyes airport which is positioned in Busuanga. Upon arriving at the airport, there are already several vans stationed outside that can drive you to Coron proper. They charge a regular rate of P150/person from the airport to Coron Town and travel time usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour.
There are a lot of accommodation alternatives in Coron to choose from. You don’t have to be troubled with the distance since lodges and inns are scattered everywhere. All you have to do is stroll around the town by foot if you really want to familiarize yourself with the whereabouts of its establishments or perhaps you can just ride on a tricycle and pay the regular fare of P10/person per destination. Our group during that time had no other choice but to stay in Coron Eco Lodge situated in Real Street because cheaper inns were already fully-booked. Coron Eco Lodge charges the rate of P1,898 for its air-conditioned twin rooms which already includes free breakfast for 2. If you are the budget-conscious type of traveller then you have to book earlier for cheaper places to stay. Sea Dive Resort for example offers fan rooms for as low as P450/room that are already good for 2 people, while P1,300/room for their air-conditioned rooms. KokosNuss Garden Resort (P600/night) and Darayonan Lodge (P1,400/night) are both affordable too and they are just to be found along the National Highway.
Places to Eat
Though Coron is not as commercialized yet compared to Puerto Princesa and El Nido, its restaurants serve pretty expensive meals. La Sirenetta for instance has a nice sea front ambience, offering diverse menus of intercontinental cuisines with meal prices ranging from P200-500/person. Bistro Coron on the other hand, showcases more on the French side of culinary but offers a variety of seafood choices too. Prices range for about P155-270/meal. There are also cost-efficient ‘carenderias’ to choose from with meal prices varying from 50-150 pesos, you can just ask the tricycle drivers nicely and they will be more than willing to lead you the way.
You create your own destiny, so how you make the most of your time in Coron will determine how you will truly enjoy your journey in one of the most unspoilt, beautiful places in the Philippines. Wake up early, always wear a smile, spend wisely, have fun, savour every moment, meet new friends, conquer your fears and don’t forget to document every step of your wonderful escapade. ?