DIY Palawan: A First-Timer’s Guide to Coron

We’ve mentioned it a lot of times in our posts before, Palawan is love. We’ve wrote about El Nido in the past, now it’s time to focus on another famous Palawan destination, Coron. Coron is situated in the island of Busuanga and is part of the Calamian group of islands in Northern Palawan. Like El Nido, it’s famous for its striking white sand beaches and turquoise waters. In addition, Coron also features beautiful lakes and world-class diving spots. Widely known for its Japanese World War II shipwrecks, it’s a popular place for diving enthusiasts. Although, we haven’t explored all there is to do in Coron, we’ll share with you our experience and hope it can help you plan your own little getaway to this paradise.

edit-1

Karst formations in Coron

GETTING THERE

Getting to Coron is easy-peasy compared to El Nido. A 55-minute flight from Manila to Busuanga and a 45-minute van ride to town and you’re there. All local airlines have flights to Busuanga from Manila. Check out Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and SkyJet. You can watch out for their seat sales to get the best deal. We got a return flight for Php2,000 for this trip. Once you land on the airport, there are numerous van services that can take you to your hotel or you can set up a pick-up with the hotel you’re staying at. The van ride to Coron Town will set you back Php150 per person for a one-way trip.

GETTING AROUND

Coron Town is small and you can pretty much walk from your hotel to the market, restaurants and the pier which is the jump-off point for your island hopping tours. There are also tricycles around town if you don’t feel like walking and they only cost Php10 each ride. For places that are further away like the hot springs, just negotiate a rate with the driver before boarding.

WHERE TO STAY

You will probably be staying in Coron Town if you’re not staying in one of the island resorts. Coron Town is a popular choice among travelers as a base for the island tours and other activities in the area. There are numerous resorts in town depending on your budget and travel style. Since we are budget backpackers and will be staying on the island for 5 nights, we chose Coron Backpacker Guesthouse. For Php500 a night, Kat and I got a fan room with a shared bathroom. It’s nothing fancy but we found it was sufficient enough for our needs. The humble guesthouse is made mostly of bamboo and is very clean. There’s a common area where you can use the kitchen if you prefer to cook your own meals and meet other travelers. There’s also free coffee and drinking water!

edit2

Coron Backpacker Guesthouse

WHAT TO DO

1. SWIM IN THE FAMOUS KAYANGAN LAKE.

You’ve seen numerous pictures online and it’s probably the most famous attraction in Coron. Kayangan Lake is 70% freshwater and 30% saltwater and has been called the cleanest lake in the Philippines and in Asia. You can visit the lake by going on an island tour or hiring a boat. To get to Kayangan Lake, there’s a 10-minute steep climb which rewards you with that postcard-worthy view. The lake is on the other side and is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs. You can spend hours in this place just swimming, snorkeling and enjoying the magnificent view.

edit3.jpg

Kayangan Lake

2. HOP ON A BOAT AND VISIT THE ISLANDS.

There are quite a few island hopping tours you can do in Coron. In our 5 days there, we did 3 island hopping tours and spent the other days exploring the town. The tour prices vary in Coron unlike in El Nido wherein they have standardized rates and set tours. In Coron, different resorts and travel agencies offer different types of tours, although most of them are similar, maybe just 1 or 2 stops are different. You can also rent a private boat if you want to plan your own itinerary or if you have a big group. I find that joining a tour group is the most convenient as most tours already include the entrance fees to the islands and a delicious lunch. It’s basically a whole day excursion. In here, we’re just gonna share with you the tours we joined on our trip. All tours were booked with JY Travel and Tours. The prices ranged from Php750-Php1,250 including entrance fees, lunch and snorkeling mask. You can rent fins for Php200 per day.

Coron Loop Tour A – CYC Beach, Coral Garden, Sunset Beach, Hidden Lagoon, Kayagan Lake

edit4

CYC Beach

edit5

Approaching our lunch stop, Sunset Beach

Beach Bumming Tour – Malcapuya Island, Banana Island, Bulog Island

edit6

Malcapuya Island

img_8504-2

Banana Island

img_8539

Bulog Island

Coron Loop Tour B – Twin Lagoon, Skeleton Wreck, Smith Beach, Barracuda Lake, Reef Garden

img_8794-2

Twin Lagoon

DCIM105GOPRO

Skeleton Wreck

img_8755-2

Smith Beach

img_8848-2

Barracuda Lake

3. CLIMB THE 700+ STEPS TO THE TOP OF MOUNT TAPYAS.

Mount Tapyas is the second highest mountain in Coron standing at 210 meters. The view deck at the top offers magnificent views of the island best to see at sunrise and sunset. The climb isn’t rugged at all since the government has constructed concrete steps all the way to the top. It can be too hot to climb as there’s not much shade so we suggest you go during sunrise or sunset. We climbed the top before sunset when the sun wasn’t as harsh anymore and we were rewarded with a fantastic view.

img_8660

Mount Tapyas

4. RELAX AFTER A LONG DAY AT MAQUINIT HOT SPRINGS.

A full day of swimming, snorkeling and mountain climbing can take its toll. Visit the Maquinit Hot Springs and dip in the 40-degree Celsius salt water. We went in the evening after a mild rain shower which was perfect as it was a bit chilly. Okay, the water is really hot, so a word of advice is to dip your feet first and give your body time to acclimatize to the temperature. Once you’re in, you can feel the aches and pains go away. The rare salt water hot spring is surrounded by a mangrove forest and the beautiful view of the mountains and the sea. We took a tricycle to get to the hot springs as it is quite far from town and paid Php300 for a return trip. (The driver will wait for you outside the hot springs.) Entrance fee is Php200 per head. Well worth it!

5. VISIT CORON HARVEST AND STOCK UP ON YOUR CASHEW STASH.

Aside from its lakes and beaches, Coron is also famous for its cashew nuts. Cashew trees grow in the wild in Coron. We love cashews and we had a day without anything planned and didn’t feel like going on another tour so we took a short tricycle ride to Coron Harvest, a famous cashew factory in town which opened in the 70’s. It’s been featured numerous times on TV. There, we met Lita Escarda, the humble lady who started it all. She showed us how they prepare the nuts for consumption and wow! It’s no surprise that cashew nuts are more expensive than your average peanuts. The work it takes to prepare these little babies is arduous. From drying to cooking to peeling. It is a LOT of work. We bought a couple of variants to munch on and to take home to Manila.

img_8612

Freshly peeled cashew nuts at Coron Harvest

OTHER THINGS TO DO: We didn’t get to do these activities so we can’t tell you much about them but we plan to tick these off our list on our next visit.

  • Dive and discover the WWII Japanese ship wrecks
  • Black Island
  • Calauit Safari Park
  • Culion Island

TIP!!!

If you are looking for a beach in Coron Town you can go to and relax without taking a boat ride, there is a beach near Maquinit Hot Springs called, Cabo Beach. It doesn’t have powdery white sand like most beaches in the Coron Island area but it’s a brown and pebbly beach with a view of the mountains. So if you are spending a day in town and not wanting to get on a boat to get to a beach, this could be an option. 🙂

WHERE TO EAT

Trattoria Altrove – Our favorite in El Nido, also has a branch in Coron. Altrove is an italian restaurant famous for their pizza and pasta. Prices are reasonable and so far, food has been consistently delicious.

img_8586

Took a peek at the kitchen in Altrove

Barbecue place on the main street – So this is the place we had most of our dinners during our 5-night stay in Coron. It’s a small, rugged open-air barbecue place on the main street which you can’t miss. Food is super cheap and good. Try their sisig and their liempo. Fruit shakes go for as low as 15 pesos each!

img_8417

Grilled chicken and corn plus mango fruit shakes make a great meal!

Brujita – We had lunch here one day as it’s right outside the main street from our hostel. I ordered the baked beans in tomato sauce(Php150) and Kat had the beef goulash(Php190). Both dishes were okay but nothing special. They also have vegetarian offerings.

IMG_8596.JPG

Baked bean in tomato sauce from Brujita

Lunch on island tours – The best food we had on the trip was definitely the lunch included in the tours. With grilled fish, meat, seafood and fresh mangoes right on the beach, what more could you ask for?

IMG_8769 (2).JPG

Lunch on the beach

Have you visited Coron yet? Tell us about your favorite spot in the comments!

 

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “DIY Palawan: A First-Timer’s Guide to Coron

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s