Coron is a part of Palawan which is bagged as the Best Island in the World. Coron has always been one of my travel bucket list right after I heard from a fellow traveller that I was with when I visited El Nido a few years back and told me about how beautiful Coron is and because of the wildlife safari I heard about here and there.
From Wildlife sanctuary, Ivory white sand beaches, turquoise green lagoon, historical shipwrecks and islands and not to mention wide marine biodiversity.
The reason why I haven’t been to Coron until now is that there were no direct flights from Cebu to Busuanga (Coron) back then.
When I knew earlier this year that Philippine Airlines now catered a direct flight, I did not hesitate to book one right away.
There are 2 reasons why I really wanted to visit Coron: The Calauit Safari (which has always been my dream to visit ever since I first knew about it way back 2010) and their scenic spots.
HOW TO GET TO CORON:
Manila/ Cebu -Coron:
The most convenient way to reach Coron is by booking a flight. There are many cheap flights in the Philippines, you just have to wait for a seat sale that actually happens almost every month. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air are the 2 most popular airline of choice. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, if you’re coming from Cebu and Skyjet and Cebu Pacific if you’re coming from Manila. Follow their social media accounts to be fully informed about their current promo and seat sale. I booked mine via Philippine Airlines and costs 2,780php. It was their introductory price but wasn’t on sale.Well, I just thought the price was already a good deal for me. I just don’t want opportunity like this come to pass.
Puerto Princesa – Coron:
El Nido – Coron:
Trips from El Nido to Coron is possible via big Motorized boat (Bangka) but it will take you 6-8 hours of rough ride to Coron. Cost is about 1400 pesos. It holds 70 to 80 passengers and is made up of two boat companies: ‘Bunso’ and ‘MBCA Jessabel 2’.
However, Montenegro Shipping Lines is currently doing trips at a half of a time (3 hours). Cost about 1760 pesos and holds 110 passengers.
You need to book your ticket in advance. You can get tickets from your hotel, booking agencies in town or there are always tickets at the port itself.
Tours in Coron and Getting the Right Tour Operators
Coron Town Tour
Some tour operators offer a Coron Town tour, priced at around P550-650/head, which usually includes a visit in Mt. Tapyas, Maquinit Hot Spring, Cashew Nuts Factory, Church, Lualhati Park and souvenir shops. AVOID THIS! Everything included in the Coron Town tour are all accessible by foot if you’re staying at the Coron Town area.
Maquinit “Salt Water” Hot spring:
Maquinit Hot Spring, however, is the only spot which is a bit far from all the other attractions. It is located around 30 mins trike ride away from the town. Just rent a trike, they usually offer this for P300 pesos only/round trip (up to 4 pax) so you can just split the cost. The trike driver will wait for you for an hour or so while you dip and give yourself a very relaxing plunge at the hotspring.
As for the souvenir shops, going around the town is easy, trike fares are only P10/person within Coron Town and P20/person outside town. Asking locals about the trike rates (from where to where) will be the best solution before hopping on to avoid getting ripped off.
The best way to check out Coron’s astounding natural attractions is to join tour operators. Joiner tours – where you’ll be joined with other tourists – this could be the cheapest way possible especially if you’re travelling solo or in small group. Unlike El Nido, Coron do not have standardized tour packages. Most tour operators have offices scattered around town. You may check their prices and book the best one that suits your interest and budget!
Depending on your preference: from diving, close encounter with african wildlife, beach bumming or even to educate yourself with some historical event of some island/s. You will be able to select your preferred choice.
Coron tours are categorized by Tour A, B, C, D and so forth with different inclusions in it. You can always compare the prices and inclusions of Tour Operator A with Operator B.
Personally, if you only have a limited time in Coron, I would suggest you get the Coron Ultimate Island Tour (Island Hopping) and another one of your interest (Example: I am interested in experiencing a glimpse of African Wildlife, so I chose the Calauit Safari tour).
Important: Get flyers at the airport – Once you step outside the airport, there are booths by different tour operators. They have flyers with priced tour packages. This is probably the easiest way to find what suits your itinerary and budget best.
Take note: If you are planning to visit the Calauit Safari, it is recommended to book this tour in advance as there are only a few tourist that will book this tour due to its price and it is possible that the tour will be unavailable to your preferred date if there aren’t enough tourists that will be going there (given if you’re travelling solo or in small group). However some travel operator will push through with the tour if the group will shoulder the remaining vacant slot or if the group will be 6 pax and above, chances are the tour will be pushed through.
Coron Town is the main jump-off point to most famous tourist spots. While there are tons of hotels, resorts and budget/backpackers inn that are scattered across Coron, I would recommend that you choose an accommodation that is located in the Coron Town Center or near the Coron Highway to avoid additional (commuting) expenses. There are hostels offering dorm rooms ranging from P250 – P500 per head, some even includes breakfast. If you prefer air-conditioned rooms, there are also hotels and inns around town which have rates of P800 for two people up to P1500 – P2000+ for groups.
I booked mine at Luis Bay Traveller Lodge. I find their location very strategic — close to eateries, town’s attraction, public markets and even the port. At first night I booked a fan room but later on transferred to their airconditioned room. I just thought I can survive without air conditioner but I guess not. Hahaha. Fan room was rated 600php/night good for 2 and the air conditioned room was 1,200php/night good for 2. Both excludes breakfast.
However, you can always try to look for other accommodation via Booking.com or Agoda. Just make sure it is located in the town center.
Where to Eat
There are tons of restaurants, eatery and small pubs in Coron Town so you don’t have to worry. You can scout first before dining. Personally, eating in Coron is not as cheap as I thought. For Small Eatery (turo-turo) expect to spend 50php/dish for a very small serving to posh restaurants that costs 250php and up per dish. Recommended place to eat are: Santino’s Grill for their Signature Ribs. Tita Esh Eatery for a affordable comfort filipino Food. Altrove Restaurant for their pizza. Lolo Nonoy’s for ready made (Turo-turo style) dishes. And if you’re craving to eat fresh seafoods, just buy a fresh catch at the local wet Market and have it cooked in Luis Bay Paluto for just 150php cooking charge per 1 kilo for any meat. You can choose how to cook it.
ITINERARY RECOMMENDATION 4 DAYS / 3 NIGHTS
DAY 1: Flight to Coron. Coron Town Tour: Mt. Tapyas, Lualhati Park, Church, Maquinit Hot Spring.
This is what I did: After I arrived and checked in at Coron Town, I roamed around town (ate late lunch, visited the church, Lualhati Park) and waited around 4:30pm before I hiked my way to Mt. Tapyas –> took a ride to Maquinit Hot Spring –> Dropped off at Santino’s Grill for dinner –> ride a trike back to the lodge at 10php
DAY 2: Coron Island Ultimate Tour (Kayangan Lake, Green Lagoon, Twin Lagoon, Banol Beach, Siete Pecados, CYC Beach)
Update: Kayangan Lake is now open to public again but everyone needs to wear a life jacket even if they know how to swim.
DAY 3: Calauit Safari with Island Hopping (Pass Island, Lusong Gunboat, Lusong Coral Garden)
DAY 4: Souvenirs, Flight Back to Cebu/ Manila
Note: If you will be spending more days in Coron, the better. You will be able to visit more island tours. =)
- Again, Get as many flyers at the airport – Once you step outside the airport, there are booths by different tour operators. They have flyers with priced tour packages. This is probably the easiest way to find what suits your itinerary and budget best.
- Coron Town is a 30 minute drive from Busuanga Airport. Vhire (van for hire) are waiting outside the arrival hall of the airport. Standard fare is 150php/person. If you already booked your accommodation. You may ask for an airport pick up. Once you arrived at the van area, just tell your hotel’s name and you will be directly escorted to the van that will take you directly to your hotel at the same fare.
- Mt. Tapyas is best hiked around 4:30pm when it is not too hot and wait for the sunset. I’m sure you’ll thank me after. Lol.
- Advise to walk around town first to get accustomed with the people and the location/place.
- Use Google Map. If you’re going to a certain place like a restaurant, do not instantly ride a tricycle. Coron Town is a very small town and most of the time, you can just walk to the place. Tricycle fares cost P10/person within town proper and P20/ person outside town.
- Maquinit Hot Spring Entrance fee is 200php/person
- Bring your own snorkeling gear and aqua shoes – Most tours exclude snorkeling gears like a mask and aqua shoes. If you have one, don’t forget to bring it. Mask with breather cost P150/day and aqua shoes costs P100/day. That’s P250/day savings already.
- Bring your own towel. If you are going to an island hopping, it means that you will need a towel after swimming. Towels are excluded in the tours, however, you can rent one for 150php. So better bring your hotel towel to save you money.
- Bring your own bottle or buy one bottle of water and have it refilled in your hotel to save you some money. Most accommodations have free water refill, just ask the reception about the location of their water refill area. Store in Coron sells 1 liter of water for 40php!
- If you’re travelling with a big group, hire a private boat – Joiner tours are best for couples and solo travellers. If you’re a group of 8 and above it’s best to hire a private boat instead. Ask your tour operator how much their boat rental is then compare it to a joiner’s package. You’ll probably save more even though you have to shoulder the entrance fees and buy your own food. The tour operator will also advise you where you can buy your food and the boat personnel will be the one who will prepare the food, depending on the agreement.