Most people have gathered by now that the Philippines is paradise, though there does seem to be some out there that still need a little convincing of this. Sure it’s not Thailand or The Seychelles, but that’s a good thing! Here on the small and unassuming island of Coron off the northern end of the island of Palawan tourism is still in its infancy. Here local culture still thrives, prices are cheap and tourists are fewer in numbers than in some of the more well known beach resorts around the world. But here the quality and quantity of beautiful limestone lagoons, tranquil turquoise seas and breathtaking white sand beaches are world class! Much like El Nido, there are several boat trips you can take to make the most of this stunning island. Here’s our things to do in Coron guide.
Selecting a Boat Trip
Over on the island of Coron the boat trips are organised in very much the same way as on El Nido. They separate them up into tours A & B and other tours of the many islands and beaches, each one offering up a different route. They intentionally do this so you have to take more than one boat trip to see the main sights which is a little annoying when you are on a budget but you can see why they do it. One option is to go for the combination tour which brings together many of the highlights in one, though you do get limited time at each stop. Either way, doing a boat trip is one of the essential things to do in Coron!
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The big benefit to this is that all the tour operators and companies around town offer the same prices and packages. You can usually negotiate a small discount with each one too, usually to the same amount at each place and more if you book multiple trips with them which we recommend to do on our things to do in Coron list!
General Prices Are as Follows (2019) :
Snorkelling gear: 150 PHP each
Tour A and Tour B: 1,500 PHP each
Ultimate Coron tour: 1,800 PHP each
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Highlights of Tour A and B on Our Things to do in Coron List.
Kayangan Lake is the undoubted star of Coron and Busuanga island and top of the things to do in Coron guide. This magical lagoon is a mixture of both fresh and salt water trapped inside a huge limestone peak. Known as the cleanest lake in Asia peering down into the crystal clear jade coloured water you can see why. A unique feature of the lake is the stunning harbour you pull into, rounding huge pillars of jagged limestone karst as you sail slowly through the turquoise waters below. Here along the rustic wooden walkways many of the Tagbanwa people live and work, the indigenous tribe who have ancestral domain over the lake and much of the island.
Climbing up a set of winding steps through the thick jungle you reach the midway point and the stunning view of the harbour everyone wants to take in! Staring out over this incredible landscape its clear to see why this place is becoming increasingly popular with visitors. Next is the steep and humid trek down the other side of the peak and finally to the lake itself. Nestled into the mountain walls it feels like something out of a James Bond movie, too perfectly beautiful to be real, and yet here you are, ready to leap off the wooden jetty and into this liquid emerald!
Another absolutely stunning lagoon that just has to be seen to be believed. Named rather aptly for the fact that the lagoon is split into two by a narrow opening. However the opening, a low passageway below the limestone that splits the lagoon into two is only accessible when the tides recede back to reveal the cave! Here as you pull into the first lagoon you really get to appreciate the sheer beauty of Coron and the Philippines. Twin lakes might not be one everyone’s things to do in Coron list as it is a little less well know, but for us it was a highlight.
Rounding narrow openings between the limestone formations you see the coral shelves that cling just a few feet below the surface to the edges. The colours and shades of blue, green and turquoise here as you sail over the layers of ancient formations is awe inspiring. The water too in the lake is interesting, sitting on top of a volcanic ring it means that the deeper you go the warmer it is a phenomenon called thermocline.
After all that time in the water it was time to stop off at one of the famous white sand beaches of Coron. Banol beach is a small and isolated area of the bay complete with tiny wooden shacks perfect for your freshly cooked lunch. What better place to lay down and relax, the aquamarine water lapping gently up against the pure white grains of this stunning beach. If ever there was a place to define the word paradise then this surely was it! Heading to a stunning white sand beach like Banol had to make it on the things to do in Coron list!
The CYC or Coron Youth Club beach is a small mangrove covered pure white sand beach that seems to almost appear out of nowhere. CYC reminded us of those little islands that seem to just float in the sea, nothing but sand and palm trees! Surrounding the beach in the warm shallow waters was our first real taste of the amazing snorkelling available in this region. The beach is a perfect habitat for amazing marine life and made a wonderful practice run for the wonders that we would come to see later on whilst snorkelling. It’s not top of our things to do in Coron guide but it does make a nice little stop off point on the trip.
Siete Pecados Marine Park
For us the Siete Pecados Marine Park was one of the most unexpected highlights of the tours we went on. We had been SCUBA diving over in Borneo a few weeks earlier an seen some of the most amazing corals and marine life we had ever imagined in our lives and expected not much would live up to that ever again. We donned our trusty snorkels and leapt into the multicoloured sea of life that awaited us just below the surface. Here in this protected Marine Park the coral shelves provide the perfect breeding ground for the most amazing creatures we’ve ever laid eyes on. For us this is one of the must see places on our things to do in Coron guide, a real gem.
The water here is quite shallow in parts meaning you really don’t need to dive at all, snorkelling peacefully on the top of the water you are just a foot or so away from the beautiful rainbow of colours below, teeming with such beautiful life it really is a majestic sight. We could have spent all day here, taking in the weird and wonderful shapes of the coral formations that resemble something from an alien landscape alongside the stunning Angel and Clown fish that call this place home.
Coron is famous for its wreck diving, but unfortunately Paul has a heavy cold when we arrived so it ruled out any SCUBA for us!! Obviously we were pretty disappointed not to get to experience of this really adventurous (not that diving itself isn’t) and historical side of SCUBA. But a cool consolation was the amazing skeleton wreck that is shallow enough to Snorkel and also often used as a beginner SCUBA site. The Japanese shipwreck is quite a sight so close to the surface of the water, now as the name suggests merely a shell of the boat remains. But it provides not only a great opportunity for those who can’t SCUBA to dive at a wreck site but a home to thousands of fish as nutrient rich corals cling to the side of the once proud ship attracts them in huge numbers! An eerie but undeniably cool highlight of the Coron boat tours. If you can’t do some SCUBA then this is a must do from our things to do in Coron guide.
What else is there to do on Coron:
As suggested above one of the main draws of Coron is the world class wreck diving on offer here, mostly as a result of the second world war. So this adds an extra dimension of adventure, exploration and history to this already amazing sport that we love. We were lucky enough to complete our PADI course over on Borneo just a few weeks before heading to Coron and looking forward to more SCUBA adventures here.
However our plans were scuppered when Paul came down with a heavy head cold, a no no for diving as anyone who has done it will know! So at least this gives is a great excuse to come back here in the future!
One of the only things to do on Coron that doesn’t involve getting wet on our things to do in Coron guide!! The short hike up to the summit of Mt. Tapyas, complete with a huge cross at the peak, offers a stunning sweeping panoramic vista over the island. Though not actually the tallest mountain on the island it is the closest to the town and the harbour meaning the views out over the mountain lined ocean are magnificent. The view is particularly stunning at sunset as the last golden rays of light reflect off the endless water that surrounds the island. The 700 step climb to the 210 meters summit is easily achievable for anyone and is a nice gentle hike in the humid conditions of the island.
How to Get to Coron?
Coron might be quite an isolated island on the surface but it’s not too hard to get to if you put a little bit of effort it.
The most popular routes are flying (via propeller plane, hence by we didn’t go this way!) You can fly Manila to Coron or Cebu to Coron with Cebu Pacific or from El Nido and Puerto Princessa on some frankly dodgy airlines!
The other way, which we did, is to take a ferry from El Nido (Somewhere we highly recommend visiting). There are various options from the cheaper and more local slow ferry to the more expensive but still reasonable fast boat. For us travelling from El Nido to Coron is the best way as it means you can see both places and the boat journey is really lovely!
We wrote an extensive post on the options and the experiences we had travelling from Manila to Puerto Princesa then on to El Nido and then to Coron here:
The basic gist of it is to take an Air Asia flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa where you can spend a few days exploring the very authentic and local capital of Palawan. Then take a bus/ minivan from there over to El Nido, you can also stop at Port Barton on the way. Spend a while in El Nido doing yet more amazing boat tours before taking the ferry over to Coron. From there you can either reverse the journey and head back to Manila the same way you came or fly out of Coron to Cebu.
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Where to Stay on Coron
Coron can be relatively expensive compared to The Philippines as a whole given how small it is. There is still a lot of different options available for different budgets but do be aware that it will be more expensive than El Nido and a lot more expensive than places like Puerto Princesa.
The Best Backpacker Option: Hop Hostel
For backpackers willing to pay a little more for a hostel the best on the island has to be Hop Hostel. With great facilities, a clean and modern design with curtains on each bunk it’s the perfect place to base yourself. It even had private rooms and a rooftop bar and for us one of the most important things: good lockers and a kitchen!
Best Budget Hotel: Ricardo Valley Inn
If you don’t fancy a hostel then the Ricardo Valley Inn on the slopes of Mt. Tapyas is a great budget option with double, twin rooms and family rooms available in a nice quiet area of the island.
Fancy a Treat Whilst Staying on Coron: Bacau Bay Resort Coron
Ok, so for most of us we can’t afford to be staying at resorts, but hey, maybe you’re on holiday or just want to take the chance to splash out and stay somewhere incredible rather than in a hostel once in a while during your backpacking adventures. Either way we all want some comfort and luxury every now and then and Coron is an ideal place to do that and our recommendation would be Bacau Bay Resort. With a pool, gym, spa, wellness centre, restaurant and incredibly laid out and comfortable rooms it’s probably the best place to stay on the entire island if your budget allows!
Have you visited the paradise island of Coron, Philippines?
What would make your things to do in Coron list?
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