In the northern waters of Palawan lies several pristine islands commonly known as the Islands Of Calamianes which are sacred to the northern native tribe of this exquisite paradise, the Tagbanuas. For centuries, these islands have kept to themselves and were concealed from the prying eyes of the outside world where its people have relished the serenity within this breathtaking haven they call home until most recently. The Philippines have made its mark on the world’s tourist map, sensationalized by the more exploited Boracay Island.
With thousands of foreign visitors coming to the country to get a dose of a promising tropical holiday yearly, some have opted to avoid the crowd and began to seek alternatives somewhere else which eventually led them to discover the unsung beauty of Palawan. Dubbed as the country’s last frontier, it started to make headlines in the international scene in the late 90s, drawing the tourist population at first to the natural wonders of Puerto Princesa, slowly spreading it to the off beaten roads of Port Barton down to the quaint little town of El Nido then finally, to the unspoken treasures of Coron.
Coron is a first class and the largest municipality located in the island of Busuanga, the biggest among the islands of Calamianes. This town is progressing quite rapidly with the surge of both local and international tourists being one of the factors boosting its economy. However, Coron isn’t what most people think. There is no seas and sands within town. No jaw dropping beaches. Instead, the town is bustling with local tour operators, restaurants and backpacker hostels. The bay waters are not made for swimming but for docks, mangroves and houses in stilts. So what exactly is in Coron which is worth calling a paradise? Allow me then to tell you about the Tagbanuas and Coron Island.
The Calamian Tagbanuas are sea loving people who have lived and thrived in the northern coast of Palawan since time immemorial where they call Coron Island their home resorting to fishing and farming as means to live. They are believed to have originated from the Tabon people, one of the original inhabitants of Asia. Coron Island, a formidable fortress of limestone is situated southeast of Busuanga Island which is believed to be keeping nature’s finest creations, an assumption believed to be true given how privy the Tagbanuas have been of any detail pertaining to the island. They had fought hard battles to retain the rights over their ancestral territory, even drawing boundaries over their waters. In their conquest to protect their land, they had limited the access to visiting tourists to just 2 pristine lakes Kayangan and Barracuda, Twin Lagoon, Siete Picados and few note worthy dive sites within their territorial waters, simply giving the outside world just glimpses of the priceless jewels they have at their disposal. These together with the other secluded islands of Calamianes, is what made Coron stunningly irresistible.
SO WHAT ARE THESE PRECIOUS JEWELS WHICH CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN CORON?
Note: I haven’t written a post yet for each images above but links will be provided as soon as I do.
NEARBY ISLANDS TO EXPLORE
Linapacan is an island municipality in the province of Palawan, Philippines, with a fifth-class income classification and has a population of 14,180 people. In 2013, Linacapan topped Daily News Dig’s list of “35 Clearest Waters in The World to Swim in Before You Die.” …Read more at Trip The Islands
Black Island is one of the many islands that belong to the Calamian Islands group in Palawan, Philippines. It is part of the municipality of Busuanga in the Province of Palawan. To get to the island, one has to ride a boat from any point in the main island of Busuanga. Read more at The Poor Traveler
During the American Commonwealth era, a leprosarium was built on the island as the only known solution to eradicating leprosy at the time: that is, those afflicted with the disease were isolated by bringing them to Culion Island where they could be cared for and treated. Read more at Interaksyon
Calauit Island is an african game preserve and wildlife park which features an array of splendid Giraffes, Zebras, Gazelles, Wild Boars, Eagles, Monkeys, Calamian Mouse Deer, Python and other african wildlife all of which are free to roam the Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary. You can either go here by boat or by a 4 hour land travel (Van). Read more at Madayaw Wow Dagway
ANYTHING FUN TO DO?
- ♦ Island hopping – The best way to unravel the secret treasures of Coron.
- ♦ Food Trip – Food culture in Coron has greatly evolved with the emergence of various foreign restaurants that’s set to give a rewarding culinary experience fit for every budget.
- ♦ Explore the outskirts – Bathe in Maquinit hotspring. Explore the local villages. Hike to see some stunning waterfalls.
- ♦ Hike up Mt. Tapyas for a promise of a beautiful sunset.
- ♦ Hike Mt Dalara – Challenge yourself and hike 600masl to Busuanga’s highest peak
- ♦ Sunset viewing – Cap off the day gazing at the breathtaking sunset. Anywhere you fancy is just as perfect.
- ♦ Beer pong – Beer drinking with a twist in Kawayanan Grill.
- ♦ Party and just chill at the bar – There are several bars lined along Coron-Busuanga Rd and you can just choose which among them appeal most to your liking.
GETTING READY FOR CORON? Here are the best ways to get there.
- ♦ From Manila – Fly via PAL, Cebu Pacific or Skyjet to Busuanga. Make sure to watch out for yearly seat sale to get discounted seats for as low as P200+ per way. Quick weekend fix in Coron without spending a hefty amount for plane tickets? You can board a 2Go ferryboat to Coron which may take 12 hours of travel.
- ♦ From El Nido – Board a ferryboat. Daily trips available and travel time takes about 5-8 hours. Ticket prices starts at P1200 which includes a 1x Lunch meal.
- ♦ From Puerto Princesa – Ride a 2Go Ferry to Coron. Travel time takes about 8 hours. Check out their website for schedule.
- ♦ From Cebu – You can fly to Puerto Princesa via Cebu Pacific then ride a 2Go Ferry to Coron.
- ♦ From Boracay – Some suggest to take a boat to Ilo-Ilo then ride a boat to Puerto Princesa then a 2Go ferry to Coron. Such a pain right? So why not fly back to Manila then fly to Busuanga. Less travel time. Saves you a few hundred bucks. Check out Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, PAL and Skyjet for discounted seats.
WONDERING WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET?
CORON BACKPACKER GUESTHOUSE – a newly opened authentic native Philippine bamboo style guesthouse located along Coron-Busuanga Road with room rates ranging from P500 -P750. Phone: 0916 400 4871
KRYSTAL LODGE – a family-owned budget hostel on stilts made from native wooden materials with humble beginnings which started in 1994 located just a few walks from Coron Backpacker’s Hostel with rooms ranging from P400 to P1000. Ring them at +639151398939.
MARLEY’S GUESTHOUSE – a unique backpacker style guesthouse with Jamaican touch. Located along Coron-Busuanga road, this place is pretty busy with their rooms priced at P500. Mobile no. 09297725559
PATRICK & TEZZ GUESTHOUSE – a Swedish owned/managed guesthouse but offering the friendliest, international hospitality with rooms rates starting from P550. Phone them through 09279531407.
CENTRO CORON B&B – located in the middle of downtown Coron, this down-to-earth B&B is 17 minutes’ walk from the views atop Mt. Tapyas. Contact them through 09277454625.
APARTELLE DE GABRIELLE – a 1-star hotel located along the national highway in Coron with room rates starting at P900. Phone them thru 09399213119 or 09158819786.
- ♦ BRUJITA BAR AND RESTAURANT – Best place for vegetarians and not too bad for meat lovers either.
- ♦ KAWAYANAN GRILL STATION – Fun place. Serves sumptuous Filipino dishes in big servings at just the right price.
- ♦ LA SIRENETTA RESTAURANT – One of the best spots to view the sunset. Food is okay but quite pricey for my standard.
- ♦ SINUGBA SA BALAY – Good food. Satisfying dishes priced reasonably.
- ♦ SANTINO’S GRILL – Laid back ambiance. Serves the tastiest baby back ribs in town.
- ♦ NONAME BAR AND RESTAURANT – Great place to chill. Unique ambiance. Haven’t tried the food (since I had one too many of their rum coke and margaritas) but saw the menu and they are quite cheap.
HOW MUCH DOES EACH TOUR COST?
|Coron Island Tour A||P750|
|Coron Island Tour B||P650|
|Coron Island Ultimate Tour||P1500|
|Island Escapade Tour||P1200|
|Reefs and Wrecks||P1200|
|Calauit Safari Island Tour||P2400|
|Culion Island Tour||P1800|
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR TOUR?
JY Travel & Tours – Friendly staffs. Reasonable prices. One of the pioneer tour agencies in Coron.
Recommended tour guide: Nader and Chris
Mobile: 09205532361 & 09054065704
SO HOW DID I MANAGE TO SPEND LESS THAN P8000 IN CORON FOR 5 DAYS?
DAY 1: THE SPECTACULAR SUNSET IN MT. TAPYAS, A SATISFYING DINNER AT BRUJITA BAR AND A RELAXING NIGHT AT MAQUINIT HOTSPRING
I arrived in Coron at 3PM Saturday. I was supposed to arrive Friday but CebuPacific cancelled my 3PM flight and moved it to 1PM the next day. This trip to Coron was part of my 8-Day Palawan Adventure wherein 3 days will be spent in Coron, a day in El Nido, 2 days in Port Barton and a day in Sabang to hike up Mt. Bloomfield. However the unexpected delay caused a major damage to my planned itinerary forcing me to make some last minute adjustments which ended pretty disastrous. I didn’t book for accommodation in advance. When I arrived in Coron, Marley’s, my chosen accommodation was already fully booked as well as Coron Backpacker Hostel, my 2nd choice. Good thing Krystal Lodge still had plenty of rooms to spare. I stayed with them and managed to get the rate down to P300/day. I hate wasting the hours away so after I settled my stuff, at 4.30PM off I went to hike up Mt. Tapyas to watch the sunset then I had an early dinner at Brujita Bar and Restaurant before going to Maquinit Hotspring.
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES (DAY 1)|
|TOTAL (DAY 1)||P600|
|Fare van Airport to Coron||P150|
DAY 2: THE SPECTACULAR CORON ISLAND AND MEETING AWESOME FRIENDS
The following morning I went to JY Travel and Tours to arrange my tour activities. The lodge owner already called them the night before but I still want to personally discusse the prices with them in hopes of getting more discounts. I planned to stick to my itinerary cutting my stay in Coron a day short but it really seemed not enough for me to make the most out of the time I’m there. So instead of leaving Tuesday morning to travel to El Nido, I decided to stay for another day. I opted to go for the Coron Ultimate Tour for this day and I was just glad I did cause I wouldn’t have met these wonderful people in Mang, Drix, Ton, April, Elai, Len, TanTan and Nader (Our tour guide and boat crew) and that day wouldn’t have become one of the best in all my travels. Later at night, I met with my new found friends and had a blast in Kawayanan Grill Station.
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES (DAY 2)|
|TOTAL (DAY 2)||P1700|
|Coron Island Ultimate Tour||P1300|
|Night Out (Kawayanan Grill)||P400|
DAY 3: BREATHTAKING ISLAND ESCAPADE TOUR
On the third day, I went on Island Escapade Tour with the same group of fun loving people where we explored 3 islands namely Malcapuya, Banana and Bulog Dos all of which were just stunning. Nader was not our tour guide but Charlie tried to fill the gap in his absence. At night we went on a drinking spree in Krystal Lodge. I was their only guest so they allowed me to have visitors. Drix and Mang were heading back to Manila so we wanted to spend some quality time with them and make sure they have some great memories to remember us by. Prior to that, we met with Nader, went to the local market and bought fresh fish for that night’s feasting. We probably went on drinking until 3AM with me losing track of time amidst our boisterous laugh and spontaneous conversation.
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES (DAY 3)|
|TOTAL (DAY 3)||P1200|
|Island Escapade Tour||P1000|
|Dinner & Drinks (Shared)||P200|
DAY 4: THE UNFORGETTABLE REEFS AND WRECKS TOUR
I went on Reefs and Wrecks tour with April where we met Joe and Jack, 2 goofy Scottish brothers with penchant for good laughs. On this day we explored an underwater paradise oozing with colorful corals, various species of fish and other sea creatures and amazing shipwrecks. At night, I had dinner with Nader, April and Elai and went for a drink after. April and Elai were heading back to Manila the following morning but I on the other hand still had no plans of leaving.
|SUMMAY OF EXPENSES (DAY 4)|
|TOTAL (DAY 4)||P1500|
|Reefs and Wrecks Tour||P1200|
|Dinner and Beers||P300|
DAY 5: MY WORST DAY IN PARADISE
This day, I was supposedly heading out to travel to El Nido but I changed my mind. I got curious about Mt. Dalara that I asked Nader to be my company as I hike to the rooftop of Busuanga. However, it didn’t go smoothly as planned. I woke up at 3AM that day to a sick stomach which sent me to several trips to the toilet. It drained me of my energy that I missed my 6AM call time. I woke up to a weak and trembling knees at 10AM, finding the simplest tasks to be much of an effort. I reached for my phone to call Nader but he was not picking up. I fell asleep while Nader’s number was on auto redial. At 6PM my eyes opened to complete darkness and the sound of birds coming to rest at a nearby tree. I still felt weak but I forced myself to get up to take care of my stuff as I was to head out the next morning. Before ending the night, I met with Nader and chilled at the bar until the wee hours talking about how much this particular day sucked.
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES (DAY 5)|
|TOTAL (DAY 5)||P1300|
|If the plan went smoothly and we were able to hike in Mt. Dalara:|
P500 motorcyle rental (6hrs max)
P200 Registration & others expenses
|Snacks and Cocktails||P300|
OVERALL EXPENSES WITHOUT AIRFARE OR TRANSPORT COST GETTING OUT OF CORON
|DAY 1-5 Considering DAY 5 was a success||P6300|
|Accommodation P300 (1st 3 nights) & P250 (additionial 2 nights)||P1400|
|5-Day Breakfast over Pandesal and Coffee with a daily budget of P20||P100|
WAYS OF GETTING OUT
- ♦ Fly – Cebu Pacific, PAL and Skyjet have daily flights back to Manila from Coron.
- ♦ By Ferryboat – There are trips from Coron to El Nido daily and fare can be haggled to as low as P1100 inclusive of Lunch. Trip to Mindoro and Puerto Princesa are also available via Montenegro Shipping Lines and 2Go Ferry. 2Go also ply Manila-Coron route. Kindly check 2Go Website for travel schedules.
SOME HELPFUL TRAVEL TIPS
- ♦ If you are flying to Coron, don’t book a 3PM or a 5PM flight schedule. Chances are these flights are just going to be canceled since Coron Airport runway has no lights and they rely on sunlight for their operations.
- ♦ Coron town proper is still one hour scenic drive from the airport. If you have not arranged a transfer with your hotel, van transfers are readily available outside the airport and fare is P150/person.
- ♦ Before your sunnies and stylish one piece suit, a first aid kit should be part of your travel essentials to Coron. Getting sick is really hard, even harder when the nearest hospital is several miles away.
- ♦ Be careful with what you eat. Always have a bottle of purified water in tow.
- ♦ Tour agencies in Coron are not too generous with giving discounts unlike those in El Nido and Puerto Princesa.
- ♦ Tricycle drivers offering inland tour is very common for a price of P300. I suggest you don’t take them. Coron is just a small town. The entry point to Mt. Tapyas is accessible along Coron-Busuanga Road and you can take 2 separate tricycles to go to Maquinit Hotspring and the souvenir shops which you can get for P30 per way.
- ♦ This trip could cost a lot lesser if you would scrimp a little on food. Just a little. 🙂
There you go lovely people. Coron is such a beautiful place. There are a million of words to describe this paradise but none of them can truly give justice to the beauty and wonder this once unsung eden possess. I could go on for days telling you how breathtaking this side of Palawan is but that’s nothing compared to experiencing it first hand. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and discover a place like no other you’ve seen before. For inquiries, drop them on the comments box below or send it directly to my inbox. Until next time Ciao. 🙂