Coron, Palawan: Majesty In Myriad Forms
Without an inch of doubt, the world has heard of Palawan and its northern frontier – Coron and the Calamian Group of Islands. Words and images of its stunning sunsets, sunrises, and seascapes have vastly spread kilometers across the Philippine archipelago and thousands of miles across oceans and continents and the overwhelming visitor influx is simply an unclouded evidence of Coron’s risen and still rising popularity.
I was blessed with an unexpected opportunity to visit and explore this world-renowned town. With me was my camera and an intangible itinerary made up of vague maps and blurred photographs that cluttered my mind. If you’re as clueless as I am, this article might help get your Coron vacation more organized than mine.
Coron, The Town.
In terms of area, Coron Town Proper is small wherein chances of bumping into the same person you bumped into the plane or ship are as high as Mount Tapyas. Small, but with the flourishing tourism industry, its bustling like a big city. Coron, the economic epicenter of the Calamianes, is packed with commercial establishments. Here you’ll find a wide range of hotels, restaurants, and a diverse variety of shops including travel agencies and tour operators in every corner, motorcycle rentals, a thrift shop, souvenir stores, dive centers, public markets, groceries. And there’s always the same friendly local selling hats, sunglasses and dry pouches. He’s go-to guy for island hopping essentials slash fixer. With tourist coming in everyday, it’s always business as usual in Coron from day ’til night.
There are three things every visitor should know about Coron: first, Coron Town Proper is not in Coron Island but in Busuanga Island – so don’t be confused. Second, Coron, the town, serves as the main hub of transportation getting in Coron and around the Calamianes Group of Islands. Thus, your ultimate Calamian adventure begins here. Third, adventures in Coron last an entire day. You will need a place to crash and recuperate – and it’s right here at the heart of town.
Casa Coron Hotel
Coron has an infinite directory of hotels and lodges and finding one could be a struggle. On peak seasons, just getting a cozy bed is a melee between you and the hundreds of tourist coming in each day. Making reservations definitely gives you a head start.
Now, if you’re looking for a well-balanced trifecta between location, comfort, and affordability, Casa Coron Hotel is worth checking out. Finding the hotel is easy. With the three-storey structure’s contemporary minimalist design, Casa Coron Hotel emerges unique among its neighbors along Calle Real. It’s also conveniently located at the heart of town which provides an easy access to most, if not all, commercial establishments. Thus, every traveler’s needs are all within walking proximity.
Each of Casa Coron‘s adequately-sized bedrooms furnished with one queen bed and one single bed can accommodate solo travelers, couples, even a group or a family of three or four. All rooms are equipped with an air-conditioning unit, a private toilet and bath, hot and cold shower, cable TV, and my personal favorite, a cabinet (oh, there are hangers too). It’s also comforting to know that you get WIFI access, breakfast of your choice, and unlimited coffee without stretching your bill. Yes, it’s free. For a cushy room decently priced at Php 1,898 per night, Casa Coron Hotel offers a fairly reasonable rate for a B&B in a thriving and well-known vacation destination such as Palawan.
Coron, The Island
Coron Island juts out from the sea like a formidable bulwark of massive limestone cliffs that guards the sacred land and lakes dominated by the seafaring Tagbanua tribe. Within the craggy rock walls lie what Asia considers the cleanest inland body of water, the iconic Kayangan Lake. The Tagbanuas reveres Coron Island’s lakes sacred, thus, only two – Kayangan and Barracuda Lakes – of the many within the tribe’s domain are open to tourist visits, as of this writing.
The waters surrounding Coron Island’s stony earth also possesses its own marvels – not above, but beneath. Scattered under the turquoise sea rests a fleet of sunken Japanese vessels that were once instruments to destruction but now a means to preserve life – marine, that is. Skeleton Wreck and the other Japanese ships in Coron Bay are now home to rich marine environments which makes Coron one of the best wreck dive (and snorkeling) sites in the world. Therefore, bringing a snorkeling gear should be on top of your essentials.
Kayangan and Barracuda Lakes, Skeleton Wreck, together with Siete Pecados, Twin Lagoon, and Banol Beach, are the exciting destinations included in the day-long Coron Highlights Tour.
Island Hopping Tour
We imagine an idyllic beach destination having waters as clear as the conglomerate of vibrant shades of blue that dominate the panorama. Its entire shore sprawls with sand as white as alabaster and feels as soft as silk to your bare feet. Sandbars. Coconuts. Hammocks. It’s a refreshingly enticing spectacle that looks perfectly surreal and sounds nothing but a dream.
But daydream no more for such paradise actually exist. Calamian locals call it Malcapuya Island, Banana Island, and Bulog Island and its only a 2-hour boat ride from Coron.
SUP Board Tour
Glide smoothly through the placid waters of Coron Bay on a stand-up paddle (SUP) board and witness Coron’s exquisite beauty from a different light. Breeze into a backdrop brimming with bizarre landscapes and spectacular seascapes and fiery sunsets, and breathe in the amazing artistry of this quaint town in every stroke of the paddle. SUP boarding is one of the countless unique ways to amplify your very own Coron adventure.
No board? No problem and definitely no need to turn the whole town upside down looking for a SUP board, thanks to Casa Coron Hotel.
Coron may be all about sea, nevertheless, Busuanga Island’s hilly jagged earth makes dry land adventures equally thrill-inducing. First, Coron has Mount Tapyas, an easily accessible hill that rises 200 MASL in less than a kilometer – it’s short and steep and challenging. And, even though there’s a flight of concrete stairs that connects hikers from jump-off to summit, climbing Tapyas is still no walk in the park – unless you’re a seasoned hiker. If you are, the 2-3 hour climb in Mount Darala would probably get those adrenalin pumping. At 600 MASL, Darala is, without contest, the highest point of elevation in Coron and the rest of Calamian Group of Islands.
Rest & Relax
Did you know that a warm saltwater bath is an effective way to ease tensed muscles, soothe stressed joints, even treat edema, a swelling caused by injuries, insect bites, or skin infections? This and many other health benefits makes the 40-degrees Celsius bath at Maquinit Hot Spring beyond merely being part of the tour itinerary. After an entire day of island hopping, swimming, snorkeling, hiking, SUP boarding or any strenuous activity while in Coron, that worn-out body deserves a much needed R&R like a glorious dip at Maquinit Hot Spring. Now that’s a healthy way to cap your day.
Majesty In Many Forms
Coron is endowed with a plethora of exceptional attractions from its paradisaical islands to world-class dive sites and it’s nothing short of grandeur in all aspects. Each destination distinctly amazing from the other. The bewildering charm of the Calamianes Islands speaks visually using its bizarrely beautiful scenery and to describe each of them using just words would be an understatement.
Somewhere else we may have seen better beaches than Malcapuya, or dived richer marine environments than the wrecks. Somewhere else we may have swam in unbelievably cleaner lakes than Kayangan, or climb higher mountains than Darala. But, as far as I’ve traveled around the Philippines, there’s no place else so blessed to have all these in one as Coron, Palawan.
And guess what, this tedious post barely scratched the surface.
1. As mentioned earlier, Coron is main hub of transportation in Calamian Islands and there are many ways to get to Coron:
Get in via air through Busuanga Airport. Airlines such as PAL, Airasia, Skyjet and Cebu Pacific has direct flights from Manila to Busuanga. Approximate travel time is 1 hour. Cebu Pacific also has direct flights from Cebu to Busuanga. Approximate travel time is 1.5 hours. From the airport, there are vans that could take you directly to Coron or your hotel.
Get in via sea through Coron Sea Port. 2GO Travel has one trip every week that goes to Coron (then Puerto Princesa). Approximate travel time is 14 hours. There are also ferries coming from San Jose, Occidental Mindoro (5-6 hours) and El Nido, Palawan (8 hours). From the pier, take a tricycle to Coron or to your hotel.
Tricycle is the primary mode of transportation in Coron. However, it’s a small town and everything is within walking distance. If 5 kilometers is also walking distance for you, then Maquinit Hot Spring is also walking distance.
2. Casa Coron Hotel is located at Calle Real, Poblacion 2, Coron, Palawan. The local firestation is your best landmark. Click this link to view the map.
As described previously, all rooms in Casa Coron Hotel are the same including the amenities. Payment also includes breakfast, unlimited coffee, and unlimited WIFI. A room in Casa Coron Hotel costs from as low as P1,898/night and would depend on how many of you are sharing.(Now, if I understood and calculated it right…)
Room costs P1,898 including a breakfast for two persons. That’s P949 per person. If you’re three in a group, the room will cost P2,398 including breakfast for three persons. That’s P799 per person. Room is good for 3, but has maximum capacity of 4 with an additional of only P800 each per night. (additional mattress and breakfast included)
4. Coron Highlights Tour includes destinations such as Siete Pecados, Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoon, Banol Beach, Barracuda Lake, Skeleton Wreck. Rate begins from as low as P650 per person including lunch and snacks, boat ride, and all entrance fees. Prices vary from one operator to the other. You could simply arrange your trip a day before since most tour operators have daily trips. included. Trip starts around 9AM and ends around 5PM.
Snorkeling gear is not included in the fee. You would want to have a snorkeling gear in this tour. Rental costs only P150 for the mask and snorkel.
6. Island Hopping Tour includes destinations such as Bulog Island, Banana Island, and Malcapuya Island. Rate begins from as low as P1,200 per person including lunch and snacks, boat ride, and all entrance fees. Prices vary from one operator to the other. You could simply arrange your trip a day before since most tour operators have daily trips. included. Trip starts around 9AM and ends around 5PM.
7. Or you could save yourself all the hassle and let Casa Coron Hotel book everything for you with their Casa Coron Tour Packages. They can also arrange your Sunset SUP Board Tour as well.
8. No need to join a tour or get a tour guide for a climb in Mount Tapyas since its easily accessible and within walking proximity. An average climb will take around 30-45 minutes. No entrance fee.
9. Like Mount Tapyas, there’s also no need to join a tour or get a tour guide going to Maquinit Hot Springs. However, the tricycle ride going there is P400.00 back and forth. If you’re traveling solo, you might want to reconsider or stretch those legs instead. It’s a good 5-km hike anyway and it only takes about an hour, maybe less if you’re a fast hiker.
10. Entrance fee in Maquinit Hot Springs is P200.00 per person. Yup. P200.00 – local or foreigner.
11. I would like to thank Casa Coron Hotel and their wonderful staff. Please know that I really had a great time while in Coron. Thank you very much.
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16. Always be safe and happy travels.