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As a part of our epic 30 day backpacking trip around the Philippines, Palawan is the area we were most excited to visit.
And what was the first stop on our tour of Palawan?
You guessed it … Coron!
We were fortunate enough to spend 5 nights exploring and discovering the breathtaking natural beauty of Coron and the waters around Coron Island.
I would say that Coron is still very much up and coming, and is far less developed than El Nido.
In my opinion, it is also more beautiful and natural, and is being a bit better preserved.
But to help make the most of your time here and to experience it to the max, you need a few top tips.
Most notably, how to avoid the busy crowds of tourists at the most popular sports in and around Coron and Coron Island!
Well this epic guide will help you with everything you need to know, including:
So, without further ado, let’s get stuck in …
Before we visited Coron, I was quickly very confused about what constituted Coron, Coron Island and Busuanga.
It’s a bit confusing trying to plan what to do in Coron when you don’t know which parts you can visit and where tourists typically stay.
So here’s a few brief facts that should help clear that up for you.
1. Palawan is a province in the Philippines, made up of many of the Philippines most beautiful islands. Palawan Island is the biggest island in Palawan.
2. Busuanga Island is the second largest island in Palawan.
3. Coron is a municipality in Palawan that is made up of half of Busuanga and Coron Island (plus a number of other small islands, but don’t worry about those).
4. Typically, most tourists will stay in Coron Town Proper and then do day trips and tours around Coron and and the bay.
5 Most of the best spots around Coron are located between Coron and Coron Island.
6. If you wish, it is also possible to visit Coron Island, and I go into greater depth on that below.
There are 3 main ways of getting around Coron (besides walking).
There are companies all around Coron Town renting out mopeds.
You can hire them for just a couple hours, half a day or even a full day.
We paid 350 for 4 hours, but it is possible to get it a bit cheaper if you shop around.
For reference, here are the prices offered by the company we chose.
All throughout Coron Town you will find tricycles for hire.
You will find these all over the Philippines, and they tend to be very cheap everywhere you go.
If you want to do a full tour of all the things to do in Coron mentioned above, then just speak to a driver and negotiate a price.
I can’t advise you as we never did this, but I doubt it costs very much, especially when split between 2 or 3 people.
They may also be able to show you a few other hidden spots along the way.
Finally, you can go on a quad bike tour from town, which does a big hour-or-so loop past all of these sites.
To find out more about this, it’s a good idea to speak to a few companies in town.
However, be aware that you aren’t allowed to drive off on your own.
It is a guided tour with a guide at the front and you all follow behind on your quad bikes.
Even still, riding a quad bike is always a lot of fun, and a pretty unique way to get around Coron!
I recommend spending a full day in Coron Town, discovering what there is to see on land before heading out onto the water.As susch, the first 5 things to do revolve around this.
The last 25 are all of the best things to see when on a Coron Tour Package.
The Maquinit Hot Springs are located roughly 20 minutes from the centre of town.
They are made of salt water trapped in from the ocean, and are a lovely place to visit, especially in the afternoon when it’s a little cooler.
Many people choose to visit around sunset time, as apparently it’s quite nice then.
We visited in May and, as you might imagine it was already very hot.
As such, so getting in the hot springs was a challenge at first!
As a heads up, there are no showers there, so don’t expect to be able to cool off or have a rinse afterwards.
Instead, to cool off, it’s time to head on round to ...
Just a few minutes drive down the road form the hot springs you come across Bali Beach.
We’ve been to, and loved, a number of beaches in Bali, so was happy to give this one a try!
It’s a small enclosed beach area with plenty of palm trees and seating area.
It seems to be privately owned, as there is a small entrance fee once you park up.
You can also buy some drinks and snacks there, so it is a pleasant spot to cool off and relax.
From the beach, you have wonderful views out over the islands in the bay.
Cabo Beach is just slightly further up the road from Bali Beach and seems to be a bit busier.
But despite that, it is so nice!
I found the water to be a little more inviting than Bali Beach, and there are little huts you can rest in if you don’t fancy swimming.
Many other people there were just sunbathing on the beach, and a couple of others had snorkels and were out exploring the waters.
Once again, there is a small entrance fee for visiting Cabo Beach, but it’s not very expensive and well worth it.
To get to these 3 spots in Coron, you have a few choices with regard to transport.
If you don’t want to drive yourself, then you can grab a tricycle from town and pay for a driver to drop you at the different spots.
However, these are very uncomfortable as the road out to the hot spring and the beaches are rocky, muddy and very bumpy.
So instead, you might as well make fun off it and either go on a quad bike tour or rent your own moped.
A number of companies in Coron Town offer quad bike tours that do a big loop down this rocky road, allowing you to stop off at a few spots along the way.
Alternatively, you can do what we did and just rent your own moped.
Either way, it’s a lot of fun driving around this track and is, in my opinion, easily one of the best things to do in Coron.
The 5th and final thing I recommend you do in Coron is to climb up to Mount Tapyas.
The walk takes around 15 to 20 minutes and there is a staircase that takes you all the way to the top.
All along the way, there are shaded rest stops, which are a lifesaver if you climb up in the middle of the day; which we stupidly did!
But after speaking to other travellers to Coron, we found that it’s best to make the ascent at sunset time.
At this point it is much cooler and you also get to enjoy a wonderful sunset once you reach the top!
Not sure what time the sunset is in Coron? Well, try this site.
By far the number one reason travellers have for visiting Coron is to go on a tour of Coron Island and the surrounding waters. Inside of the bay itself, you will find tonnes of untouched snorkelling spots, filled with all kinds of exotic fish and other marine life. As well as vibrant coral and crystal blue waters. On top of this, there are dozens of beaches with white sandy beaches and huts to relax in. Connected to Coron Island there are numerous lagoons and lakes to visit, and if you are a fan of diving then you will find plenty of wrecks and reefs to dive at all around Coron Island and surrounding islands.
Kayangan Lake is always one of the most popular, if not THE most popular spot to visit out on a Coron Island Tour. And it’s no surprise as it is considered one of the purest lakes anywhere in the world. The water is still saline, but it is very clear. To get here, you have to walk up and over some rocks, but don’t worry there are steps. At the top of the steps, you can take some great shots in both directions, both of the lake itself and the bay in the other direction. Unless you get there first thing in the morning or last in the evening, then there’s a good chance it will be packed.
Green Lagoon is a popular spot to relax and swim in, whilst enjoying the incredible views of the rock formations all around.
Located just out from the entrance of Kayangan Lake, Twin Reef was my favourite snorkelling spot anywhere in and around Coron. It’s very shallow, so the reef is literally just 20 or 30 cm from you at times. It is also very well preserved as boats are strictly forbidden to drop an anchor here. I also found 3 ClownFish homes, which is always nice!
CYC Beach (or Coron Youth Club Beach) has grown massively in popularity both amongst tourists and local Philippino families. Here, you will find white sandy beaches and clear blue waters. As well as mangrove trees and nice rock formations. It’s a good spot to relax and enjoy lunch halfway through your Coron Island tour.
Once again, Smith Coral Garden is a very shallow coral reef that is perfect for snorkelling. You don’t need any diving gear to enjoy the wonderful array of corals and fish living just a meter or two below the surface of the water.
Wonderful beaches and crystal blue water has made Balinsasayaw Beach another favourite amongst cruise operators. There is also a resort located right on the beach, so you can choose to stay here for a few nights if you wish.
Barracuda Lake is another very popular spot, located just around the corner from Kayangan Lake. In my opinion, it is just as nice and you can take your snorkelling gear to explore the rocks around the edge and any fish who make the lack their home.
As it says on the tin, Twin Lagoon is made up of two large lagoons, separated by a thin strip of rock. You can arrive at either lagoon, and then swim through to the other one. To get from one to the other, you have two options. First is to use a small set of stairs that go up and over the divide. The second option is to swim through an underwater passage! It’s actually pretty cool, and only a few metres long. So to get through you only need to hold your breath for up to 10 seconds. If you’re a bit nervous, let others go first and show you the way! You Will need goggles.
Though these are listed as two seperate spots on many itineraries, they are indeed very close to each other so almost class as one stop on your boat hopping tour. Skeleton Wreck is one of the more famous and most popular wrecks as it is only roughly 5 metres deep at the most shallow point, so you can swim down to it with just a mask and check it out. Alternatively, it is possible to go diving here at the 25 metre long wreck.
There are a whole bunch of “reef gardens” in and around Coron and Coron Island, so this could be referring to any number of spots. Ask your guide for clarity over which one you’re set to visit.
This is another very popular snorkeling spot, located just 15 minutes from Coron Town Proper. In Spanish, siete means 7 and apparently, the reason it is called siete pecados (7 sins) is because of an old story that 7 children once went out to attend some sort of celebration. They never returned and, that same day 7 new rock formations were seen in the water. People believe these are the missing children (seems legit, right?). These rock formations are what form much of this wonderfully colourful and diverse snorkeling spot. For all of the other things below, you will need to travel a little further on your tours. Here is a zoomed out view of where they all are in respect to Coron Island.
There are a number of “coral beaches” located around Coron and Coron Island. This could be referring to a few different spots. But rest assured, whichever one you stop at it will no doubt be very vibrant and fun to explore.
Calauit Island is connected to the north-western part of Busuanga Island. What makes it unique is the safari park there, complete with a wide array of African animals! The game reserve was created back in the 1970s and now hosts herds of giraffe, antelope and zebras to name just a few animals.
Known locally as Malajon Island, Black Island is a secluded island spot, covered in palm trees, hidden beaches and numerous caves. You can't venture far into the island, as it is very tall and formed of jagged black rocks.
You can probably work this one out ...
Thought he Philippines is known for offering dozens of incredible and magnificent waterfalls, there aren’t many located in Coron. Well, Concepcion Falls is a rare exception. You could choose to visit these falls either a sa part of a torus, or on a trip from Coron Town Proper via moped. It is located roughly 1 hour from the main part of town.
From above, Ditaytayan Island is one of the most paradisiacal islands anywhere in the Philippines. As well as a largeish island complete with palm trees and white beaches, it also has a large sandbar stretching out into the crystal blue water. This sand bar is what makes it more unique and draws in hundreds of tourists every day.
Not far from Banana Island you have Waling-Waling Island (previously known as Bulog Island). It is similar in that it also has a sandbar, though it’s not as long. However, the water and sand is just as magnificent making it the perfect spot to swim and snorkel. You can actually stay at the incredible Two Seasons Hotel located just over the water on neighbouring Bulalacao Island. Seriously, check it out here!
Once again, not far from here you have another gorgeous, awe inspiring island. Malcapuya Island is similar to the others with white sandy beaches and blue waters. A day trip to all of these gorgeous spots is the ultimate relaxing day trip from Coron.
This is a small island paradise you visit as a part of the wreck-exploring day trip.
Believed to be either an anti-submarine craft or a tugboat, the wreck here was sunk during the war back in 1944. It is 40 metres long and offers great visibility for beginner diving or snorkelling because it is relatively shallow.
Lusong Gunboat slopes off deeper and deeper into the water, so one part is just 2 or 3 feet below the water, while the rest is 25 feet down. Making it a great spot for beginner divers and snorkelers alike.
Located just next to the wreck, Lusong Coral Garden is a very popular and attractive snorkelling spot.
Finally, if you are looking for an adventure altogether unique and different, then you can choose to visit the indigenous tribes on Coron Island. Being able to do so is apparently a wonderful experience and one that we wish we had the time to have experienced. The people living here are the only 100% filipinos left as their inhabitants have never bred with anyone other than those on the island. Not a lot of tourists get the chance to visit, and there is only one way I know it to be possible. It is through paolyn Houseboats, which I discuss in greater depth in a few sections below.
You can only do this with one company, Paolyn Houseboats (more on this below …)
When it comes to booking a tour of Coron Island, you have a LOT of flexibility and choice!
There are 7 main tours that you can choose from, and I will go into detail of them all below.
That’s why I have listed all of the different sites above, so that you can check them out and see which ones you most wish to see.
When reading the different Coron Tour options below, here are a few things to bear in mind:
The cheapest tour, covering many of the most touristy spots. You will spend the day surrounded by a lot of other tourists, so accept that. Unless you book this as a private tour in which case you may be able to leave at a different time or alter the order.
Similar to Tour A, except you head a bit further out of the bay in order to get to Skeleton Wreck.
A nice combination of tours A and B, as well as a couple of extra stops such as Siete Pecados.
Possibly the most popular tour as it allows you to see the largest amount of the most popular spots all in one day. This tour will be a lot of fun, albeit very busy.
If you want to get out of the bay and discover some less touristy islands, then the Calauit Safari tour is a nice day long tour which takes you far and gives you lots of time to relax in the back of the boat as you fly across crystal blue waters.
These are some of the most scenic small islands anywhere in the Philippines.
If you want to snorkel and dive down to some impressive wrecks then this tour is a great choice! Make sure you take your GoPro with you to capture some cool, Instagram-worthy underwater shots.
Now that you know which tours are available, it’s time to book one! There are 3 main ways to book a tour ...
If you are visiting Coron in peak tourist months, then it may be advisable to book online in order to secure a spot. Klook are arguably the best online tour operator all across Asia.
They have a massive array of tours, including those around Coron.
Based on my research, it seems booking online may work out a little more expensive (though it’s still cheap), and you can’t customise any tours.
Also, be aware that the exact itineraries may differ compared to the ones listed above, so check it carefully before booking!
However, you can check out the following available tours …
When you arrive in Coron, you can easily go ahead and book a tour in town.
There are loads of tour companies all across town, offering roughly the same prices.
However, these may vary slightly so it’s worth checking prices at a few before you book.
As a bartering technique, you might be able to get free snorkels and fins thrown in with your booking.
Also, make sure that they include food and how many people will be going.
It is possible to book a private tour for just 2 people or a group of you, however, you can expect to pay two or three times as much for this.
When you arrive at the airport, you will be given leaflets by a dozen or more locals.
Feel free to gather these up, as it’s a quick and easy way to compare the prices being offered by local firms.
From there, you can simply go ahead and call a few and book.
I’ve also attached images in this post from 2 such companies.
These are just two random leaflets I took pictures of, and have no experience of actually booking with them.
The thing about Coron is that it seems to have quickly exploded in homestays, hostels and guesthouses in an attempt to keep up with the drastic rise in tourists to the area.
What this means is that spaces book up fast, especially in the decent accommodation.
As a result, if you don’t book far enough in advance you get stuck with a poor choice of bad quality places all offering prices above what you would expect to pay in the Philippines.
Our friends booked somewhere just 2 nights before and the homestay was so bad they simply got up and left after having been there for only 20 minutes.
We ended up booking through Airbnb and, although it was perfectly nice, it was more than double what we would pay for a similar quality anywhere else in Asia.
As a reference, here is the place we first spent 2 nights at in Coron.
During our time in Coron, we were lucky enough to collaborate with arguably the best place to stay in Coron.
It’s called Paolyn Houseboats and what makes them so special and unique is that they are the closest way to stay to Coron Island.
Staying on Coron Island is actually illegal, seeing as the island and all surrounded water is owned by the indigenous tribes that live there.
It is a very strange setup and one that rarely exists today.
As such, it took a lot of work and creativity to get Paolyn Houseboats built.
The owner, Paolo, had to strike up a once in a lifetime arrangement with the indigenous tribes in which he actually rents a small sheltered cover in the bay, nestled right up against Coron Island and near to all of Coron Island’s best spots.
How close? See for yourself …
Simply put, Paolyn Houseboats is the number 1 place to stay in Coron. The perks include:
Going on an organised tour through Paolyn Houseboats is the only way I am aware of to make it onto Coron Island.
This is because Paolo, the owner, has a close relationship with the leaders of the indigenous peoples there and can put together tours that are otherwise entirely restricted.
As such, here’s what you’ll need to do:
As mentioned above, one of the best reasons to stay onboard Paolyn Houseboats is that you have access to a number of near-exclusive snorkelling spots.
Based on our experience here, I just wanted to highlight a few of my favourites.
All are within swimming, kayaking or paddle boarding distance.
Staying onboard Paolyn Houseboats may well be outside your budget, so below are a few more of the best value places to stay in Coron.
I advise you nail down your dates and book as far in advance as possible (ideally a month or 2 at least).
That way you won’t be left scraping the barrel.
To help with your search, you can use these comparison sites
With so many great spots to see and islands to visit, it’s a good idea to plan your Coron itinerary ahead of time so that you can fit in as much as possible.
Here are a few basic itineraries from which to design your own schedule.
This is what I honestly believe to be the best way to experience Coron and Coron Island.
In two nights, with absolutely no research whatsoever, we somehow ended up in 2 of Coron's highest rated restaurants on Tripadvisor!
Normally we find ourselves in some real hit-and-miss joint.
However, the two places below were absolutely great and I would recommend them to you if you’re spending a night or two in Coron Town Proper.
If after reading all this you still have more questions then you are one hell of an inquisitive person!
Here’s anything else you might hope to know ...
Hell yeah you can!
One of the things I love most about the Philippines is that they have hardly any drone laws.
And Coron is easily one of the most beautiful and drone worthy places we visited in the Philippines.
However, here is a word of warning …
A lot of other bloggers/vloggers/drone enthusiasts have lost their drones in Coron and El Nido.
After speaking to some local tour guides, the likely cause are the large rocky cliffs.
It seems that they interfere with the signal between the drone and the controller, causing them to go haywire and drop out of the sky.
I found the same problem, but managed to follow a few simple rules that meant we never had any problems.
Good questions! Here’s a few items i recommend you have with you
Yes but not very many.
Also, ATM’s in the Philippines have a tendency to all run out of money at the same time, especially in an area like Coron.
As such, whenever you draw money out, I recommend drawing out the maximum amount which is 10,000PHP.
Also, regardless of how much you draw out you’ll need to pay a fee of 250-500PHP, so it's best to take out more.
The only ATM I found in Coron with a 250PHP fee was the Metrobank located on Don Pedro Street.
Yes, there are a number of small supermarkets throughout town where you can pick up basic supplies.
Nothing too fancy though so don’t expect too much choice.
Compared to many other places in the Philippines, yes.
Unless you book up well in advance, it’s hard finding half-decent accommodation on the cheap.
Similarly, there are lots of places in town to eat, but found it’s worth paying a little more to eat somewhere that is half decent and doesn’t have a lingering smell in the air.
It’s even worse than in many other parts of the Philippines.
Probably the best WiFi we came across was that of Summer Cafe & Bar.
From what we saw, yes.
Probably the biggest danger are the cramped busy streets that are always filled with mopeds and tricycles.
If it’s late at night put a torch on your phone so that you can warn drivers coming towards you. Many of the vehicles have lights that don’t work and many of the tricycles have just one light so it looks like they’re just motorbikes.
One of the most natural places to head to after Coron is El Nido. It’s only a short few hour ferry ride away and is just as beautiful, albeit a lot more touristy.
Or, if you’ve already been, then here are all of the rest of the places we visited in the Philippines …
All of which I would recommend 1000%!
If you have any more questions or think I've missed anything then just drop me a comment below!