Palawan or “The Last Frontier” is the biggest province in the Philippines and will always have a special place in my heart. To read about my first experience in Palawan when I was a youngin’, click here.
Coron is one of the islands in northern Palawan and is very popular among scuba divers all over the world because of the amount of World War II Japanese shipwrecks in its waters. An hour flight from Manila to Coron (Busuanga Airport) through airline companies like Cebu Pacific or Zest Air can get you to this paradise.
Getting around is very easy and extremely cheap. It is possible to get airport transfers for 150 PHP (around $3.50 USD- yup!) per person. Once in Coron, you can hail a tricycle the way you would hail a yellow cab in NYC (cause they’re everywhere) that will take you anywhere in town for 9 PHP (0.20 USD) per person. Yup, 20 U.S. CENTS!!!!! Coron is very rustic, quaint, remote and not for those who are high maintenance. There are no big-name hotels, but a lot of very small, intimate, family-owned lodging. There are no fancy restaurants, but tiny ones that will serve you the freshest seafood and mouthwatering Filipino food to satisfy your tummy. A delicious meal of crab in spices served with Filipino garlic fried rice and ice-cold soda only cost 350 PHP ($8 USD). Other meals can go as cheap as 150 PHP ($3.50 USD).Unlike other beach/diving destinations, one could look for tours and book them online. This is not the case for Coron because majority of the tour companies don’t have a website. Don’t worry because once in town, there will be signs and booths everywhere offering tour packages, or you can just ask any local and they will gladly tell you where to go.
Packages usually start at 200 PHP ($4-$5 USD) for a full day of island hopping and visiting different attractions. That’s the price if you want to share your bangka (outrigger boat) with other people. But since I can pretend to be a rockstar in Coron, I decided to go with renting the bangka for a whole day for our very own private use.Renting a bangka for private use is 1500 PHP ($34 USD) and comes with two local men who will navigate the boat and go wherever you please. They will also take you to the local wet market in the morning before the tour starts so you can pick whatever seafood you want for them to grill for you throughout the whole day. I picked crabs, lobsters, and the delicious Philippine mango (the sweetest fruit in the world according to Guinness).Kayangan Lake and Barracuda Lake are just right next to each other, and both are considered the cleanest lakes in the Philippines. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lake with waters as clear as that! And of course, Barracuda Lake is called that way because… do I really need to say it?
Siete Pecados is a very popular snorkeling site because of the diversity of marine species and the very colorful reefs in the area. Unfortunately I was not able to take photos because the underwater camera wasn’t sealed and got filled with water the moment I jumped in.
Twin Lagoon is my favorite attraction in Coron. The limestone formations were so beautiful in contrast to the waveless, super clear water that the whole place looks fake! Yes, it was so gorgeous that I could not even comprehend that it’s real. I rented a kayak for 1000 PHP per day ($23 USD) which proved to be useful since I spotted a jellyfish at least 4 feet long chillin’ in the waters.
Malcapuya Island is 1.5 hours from Coron by bangka and is a white-sand island with really really really clear and warm (piss warm!!) waters. The trip is definitely worth it because of the water views getting there. I sat on the tip of the boat (in places like the Philippines, it’s possible to do it without someone telling you NO) just admiring everything in front of me. When we got to Malcapuya, there were no people there except for the island caretakers. It was so deserted that I got to go skinny dipping here for the first time in my life! Bucket list, check! After a long, lazy day on the beach and snorkeling, end the day by soothing your muscles with a trip to the very therapeutic Maquinit Hot Springs, a 15-minute tricycle ride just outside Coron Town. Because it is not in the town, it is best to rent a tricycle for 400 PHP ($9 USD). Note: This price is based on renting the whole tricycle (with the driver) that usually fits 5-6 people, and not per person. What makes this hot spring special is the fact that it is salt water instead of fresh water. I did not get to take a lot of photos because I went there in the evening so it was pretty hot and steamy (like all my favorite nights). Entrance fee is 150 PHP ($3.50 USD) per person. The people of Coron are very friendly, very accommodating and very hospitable- just like the rest of the country. I enjoyed my stay here, especially because of how underdeveloped the place is and the lack of obnoxious tourists. This is the reason why I can confidently say that Coron is one of the very few unspoiled natural wonders still left on Earth. Being there made me feel like I was somewhere millions of years ago when nature was still left untouched by the human soul. Will definitely be back, and this time I will be scuba diving the shipwrecks!
“One’s destination is never a place , but a new way of seeing things.”
What are you waiting for? Book your hotels now and see this beautiful gem for yourself!