Coron is the basis to explore the northern part of Palawan which are called the Calamian Islands and Busuanga. Coron Town is located on the main island Busuanga and is the most developed island in the region. The area is heaven for wreck diving, kayaking, island hopping and motorbiking. You can find picture perfect white-sandy beaches, coral reefs but also jungle rainforest, waterfalls and mangroves here. Time to explore this northern part of Palawan!
I arrived per fast craft of the Montenegro Lines from El Nido to Coron; left at 6:00 and arrived at 10:00. The return boat leaves from Coron to El Nido at 12:00 for 1760 PP and will take ±4 hours too; all depends on the weather of course.
I departed Coron via the TAO Sailing Experience, see separate blog to get an impression of this amazing trip. You can book an alternative boat instead of this sailing boat version, this is more accessible and cheaper; perhaps a good alternative, but nothing can beat this sailing trip!
What to Do in Coron
For me Coron was the basis to get on the boat back to El Nido and had only two days here. Because I was going to explore the area by boat the coming 5 days, I decided to stick on land here, looking back maybe that was not the best decision (see below). See below some tips and inspirations you can do on Coron and Coron area.
1. Shop in Coron Town
The first day I walked around Coron Town and visited the market and shopped for the nice acacia wooden bowls and plates. I could not find these bowls anywhere else in the Philippines. They serve the bowls and plates everywhere in the Philippines, but when I asked where to buy them they didn’t know or is was in a bigger town on another island. But finally at the end of my trip found them here at the Coron Souvenirs and Gift Shop on the main Coron-Busuanga road.
2. Explore Busuanga
I rented a motorbike at Boyat for 300PP for full day. I got a paper map and headed north to explore the mainland of Busuanga. Pink helmet on and driving for 70km (one way!!) to Ocam-Ocam beach to see amazing, beaches scenery and landscapes. It was a long trip, but the road is good (till last part……) and you pass many great places. My first stop were the Conception Falls (after 40km), nice walk through the jungle to get at this refreshing fall in the shadow. Perfect to chill, drink some water and cool off in the water.
Tip: Brink drinking water and snacks with you, during this trip I haven’t seen that many place to have lunch.
Next stop was Palatpat Beach, this beach is located just before the town of Salvacion (55km from Coron). When I arrived there was nobody there, but it is an amazing place with several shadow corners, seats, small pool and a shower. I guess it’s privately owned. During the ride you will see great viewpoints, lakes, rice fields, small villages with friendly waving children along the road. I enjoyed it very much till the last part…
I saw a sign Ocam-Ocam Beach, it was a dirt road and steep downhill. Hmm, this was challenging I thought. I was driving slowly, but it was a long dirt gravel road with many steep ups and downs and many holes in the road. I think it lasted about 5 km to the beach, but it was way longer in my head. And then it happened, I slipped and fell with the motorbike in the edge of the road. Hmm I went too slow I thought, my head hit the wall and my sunglasses were pressed onto my nose. Red dirt everywhere and could not see the damage on myself and the bike. Managed to drive to the beach (entrance fee 20PP) and jumped right into the salty water to rise of the dirt; which was hurting a lot. I was more damaged than the bike, that was all ok. But me, bleeding nose, scratches all over my right leg and foot. Looking great, I was shivering and bought myself a coconut (50PP) to calm down. I needed to go back too, pffff.
The beach was great but I had no rest in my body, I needed to go back. I drove back for 1km, but felt far from comfortable. I asked a couple of local guys to help me dive back to the concrete road. And sitting in an open tricycle and somebody else driving my motorbike back I felt relieved. The drive back on the concrete road for another 70km went well, this road was perfect. Made some stops along the way to enjoy the scenery. In my hotel I cleaned my wounds and all was fine. I got myself a scooter tattoo; great memory of the Philippines!!
3. Explore part of the Calamian Islands
The same as El Nido, you can book several tours and routes around the Calamian Islands. I was going with the TAO Sailing Experience and decided not to book a separate boat tour. With the TAO we went snorkeling at the Lusong Gunboat Shipwreck. This is a 35 meter Japanese navy boat that had sunk in Sept 1944 by an U.S. aircraft in front of Lusong Island near Busuanga. The shipwreck dept is from 0 to 12 meters and is good for snorkeling and wreck diving. The wreck is covered with colorful sponges and soft corals. You can spot many marine life around here like; butterflyfish, angelfish, pufferfish and batfish.
Just around the corner from the shipwreck is a beautiful reef known as the Lusong Coral Garden. Here you can find crystal clear water with incredible visibility. There is a huge variety of coral that grows up and down the drop-off wall. My guides claim that Lusong Coral Garden is the best snorkeling site in Coron where the colorful Corals outnumber the fish, that is why it is a protected area. The current here is really strong and handy, we got off the boat swam relax with the current accompanied by the kayaks and we were picked up with the boat at the end of the garden. I was really surprised by just how good the snorkeling was at this site. And a well-deserved lunch afterwards, snorkeling made us hungry!
4. Chill at your Hotel
I booked a nice hotel with a pool, so decided to spent the afternoon upon arrival on Coron to read my book, chill a bit in the sun and cool off in the pool. I really need to take the rest to do nothing here. Always active on and in the water, on or off…. the motorbike, walking and shopping. Take some time off by doing nothing; that is holiday too!!
Tip: Take a massage to really chill even more. I found a nice spa called: Kalipay Spa on the main road; very clean, quiet, good massage ±600PP per hour.
5. Climb Mt. Tapyas
It is nice to climb to a higher point to get an overview of the Coron area. To climb the 700 steps up to Mt. Tapyas is a good option. Walk to the Coron letters like the Hollywood sign. I climbed to the rooftop of my hotel to get a similar view. It is indeed a charismatic sight with limestone mountains and ocean view. But unfortunately you see some poverty here as well, I walked a narrow street in the center to the water front and found these huts on piles. The smell was not nice and this is down the mountain with the Coron letters on top….
Where to Stay in Coron
I found it hard to find something nice and for a reasonable price here in Coron; all is very expensive on this side of the Philippines. I booked the Zenvea Hotel, a bit out of the city center of Coron. The hotel is brand new and very trendy and luxury. The vibe is good and the pool with comfortable chairs are very inviting. Staff is super friendly and helpful. I walked up the roof to get an amazing view over Coron. I would recommend you to stay here, but realize it is not a cheap option but worth the money (5100PP per night).
Where to Eat and Drink in Coron
Summer Café and Bar: I loved this café in the morning for my healthy fruity breakfast bowl (320PP) and great cappuccino(140PP)! They serve free water with lemon and cucumber; very refreshing. Great atmosphere but the service was a little slow, maybe because the tables are upstairs and kitchen downstairs.
Om’s Thai Restaurant: I was into a Pad Thai with chicken (330PP), but was disappointed by the result off the dish. The portion was small and the taste was very sweet. It was very busy in the restaurant and they played live music, you can sit both downstairs and upstairs. I went to have a crepe at Mats afterwards to satisfy the hunger.
Trattoria Altrove Coron: I noticed this is a franchise in the Palawan area, spotted a couple of pizzerias in El Nido and now here in Coron too. There is always a waiting line when I walked by. In Coron there is a separate only eat pizza part with high tables at the sides without the waiting line, so I went here. The pizza is good and sufficient on the other hand the atmosphere at this side is a bit disappointing, but service is very friendly!!
So excited to get on the TAO Sailing Experience to discover the rest of the Calamian Islands.