If you were to ask Arjun or me, which is the most beautiful place we have seen, without blinking an eye we would say 'CORON'! 💚 This gorgeous island off the Palawan coast is like a piece of paradise on earth. The waters here are so blue you can see all the corals underneath it, surrounded by limestone cliffs shimmering under the tropical sun - it's all SO surreal!
Planning our trip to the Philippines initially seemed overwhelming because the country has over 7000 islands! 😵 Yes, you read it right. But after much research and online reading, we traveled to CORON and SIARGAO - both of which are named in the Top 5 Island Destinations in Asia by Condé Nast Traveler! 🏝️
This article is a complete guide on traveling within Coron. If you would like to read about our travels in Siargao, click here!
For now, let's start with some Q+A...
Where is Coron? How do I get there?
Coron is a tiny island off the Palawan coast in the Philippines.
VISAS - This link to the Republic of Philippines - Department of Foreign Affairs website gives all necessary information on tourist visas to the country based on your nationality.
FLIGHTS - You can fly into Busuanga Airport in Palawan from Manila or Cebu. We took Skyjet Airlines from Manila to Busuanga. From the airport, you need to take a 'jeepney' to reach Coron Town and the ride takes you about an hour. The fare costs about 150 PHP (approx 3 US$) per person.
When should I visit Coron?
We visited Coron in the month of November. The peak season is the dry season between November and May.
Where do I stay in Coron?
Coron has just started to get popular among tourists, so finding a decent accommodation especially during peak season can be very tricky, both in terms of availability and price. Coron has a few lodges, hotels and diving resorts. We were on a budget trip so we stayed at a hostel called 'Le Voyage'. We would not recommend this place and were disappointed with the rooms and hygiene. However, they had the BEST cafe/restaurant under the building which we highly recommend!
Can never say no to some good ol' American breakfast and granola bowl ❤️
How do I get around in Coron?
The BEST way to explore the island is on a scooter, and of course Google Maps. 🛵 You can always inquire at your hotel/hostel help desk and they will arrange a scooter for you. A word of caution though - Do NOT forget to ask for helmets and please wear them at ALL times on the road. You really want a safe holiday if not anything. 🙂
But to discover the nearby islands, you can either join a group island-hopping tour from a local agency or hire a private boat and driver. We would definitely recommend the latter. Trust us, it is worth every buck! 👍🏽In this way you can design your own island hopping tour and choose to spend as much time as you like on the island you fancy, while avoiding tourist crowds at peak times of the day.
Now...let's begin with our itinerary! 🙌🏽
Chase the sunset at Mount Tapyas, Unwind at the Maquinit Hot Springs
The sunset views at Mount Tapyas are just breathtaking! From here you can see the entire town of Coron and its surrounding islands against the stunning golden sky. We climbed over 700 concrete steps which seemed like would never end, but then the views made it all worth it. 🧡
Next, we climbed down, loaded ourselves with lots of coconut water, and took a tricycle to the Maquinit Hot Springs. This place is like a natural jacuzzi, just what you need after a hike like that! 💆♂️ Maquinit has these scattered pools that circulate hot spring water. Something so therapeutic about warm water and pebbles tickling your feet, all of this under the starry night sky……just the perfect way to unwind our first day in Coron. 🧡
COST: There is no entrance fees to Mount Tapyas. There is an entrance fee of 150 PHP (approx. 3 US$) for the Hot Springs.
Go Scuba Diving !
The Pacific waters of Philippines boasts some of the world’s most spectacular reefs, whale sharks, mantas and underwater UNESCO World Heritage sites. And the best part is that the cost of these activities is way cheaper there than what you would be paying in other parts of the world. So win-win all the way. 👌
Scuba diving in Coron is hands down, one of the most exhilarating, humbling experience we have ever had! 🙏🏽We did our Discovery Diving Course at the Reggae Diving Centre certified by PADI. Our instructor Dennis was so much fun and very patient with us throughout the experience. Arjun and I were completely mesmerized and lost in a whole different world out there. 💙
COST: The Discovery Diving Course cost 4500 PHP (approx 90 US$) per person.
Do a thorough research ensuring that the diving school and the instructor are both PADI-certified
Ask about the different diving sites covered in your session. We are glad we did, because in this way we avoided the regular hot-spots and got to experience the best parts of the coral reefs.
You need to register a day in advance at the diving center. This is also when they will help you arrange for a diving suit, flippers and other equipment.
The discovery diving course takes a whole day, so if you have this in your to-do list, ensure you dedicate an entire day in your itinerary just for scuba diving. Also, it is advised to not fly for at least 13 hours before AND after your dive. So you might want to consider that while planning your itinerary.
For those who have already completed their Discovery Diving course can go for the Open Water Licensing. However, this is more intensive and takes a minimum of two days for completion.
Island Hopping on a private boat – Kayanganyan Lake, Siete Pecados, Twin Lagoons, Banul Beach
Island hopping in Coron is literally one of the most jaw-dropping experiences of our life. We would go back and do it again without a second thought. Well, even photographs don’t do justice to the splendor of these islands. 💚
IMPORTANT TIP: There are many organised group tour packages for island hopping. However, we highly recommend booking a private boat with a driver. 👍🏽👍🏽 It costs a few extra bucks, but trust us, worth every penny to have a boat entirely to yourself and hop across these islands at your own pace. The boat crew is familiar with the schedules of the other tours, so they will know when exactly to avoid crowds at each spot.
So we covered the following sites on our boat tour:
Kayanganyan Lake Banul Beach Twin Lagoons Siete Pecados Skeleton Ship Wreck
This is the viewpoint at the Kayanganyan Lake, so incredibly stunning! Probably one of the most photographed location in Coron. ❤️
Banul Beach is THE BEST beach we have been to. 💚 Dazzling white sands, turquoise waters, and shining silver limestone cliffs! There were not more than eight people on the entire beach – kind of like straight out of the Robinson Crusoe novel. 😇 We stopped here for lunch at one of the shacks and just soaked in all the sun and beautiful air.
Day 4 - Malacapuya and Bulog Dos Islands OR
Concepcion Falls and Ocam-Ocam Beach
We were supposed to go island hopping to Malacapuya and Bulog Dos Islands on this day, but the tour was cancelled due to weather conditions. We were a teeny bit disappointed (mostly Senora was 😛) as some travelers on our trip had raved to us about Malacapuya. But the fun of traveling is the surprises that come your way, and the endless possibilities of places you can discover! 🙂
So we rented a scooter that morning, took a detour to the other end of the island and stumbled upon two little gems. Concepcion falls, a little waterfall in the middle of a forest and further ahead, Ocam Ocam beach where all we did was sipped on coconut water while rocking on a hammock under a palm tree. We also interacted with the local families in the area, which was such a heart warming experience.
We hope you guys don't have any glitches like we did, and then, maybe one day you can tell us more about Malacapuya and Bulog Dos. What say? 😊