Everything you need to know about traveling to Coron Island, Philippines
We just got off from our amazing trip in the off-the-beaten path South of Palawan, Port Barton, San Vicente Long Beach, and the very popular El Nido, Palawan. We were so excited to see what Coron Island has to offer and, man, we were totally blown-away by the beautiful island, perhaps beating El Nido on our list. My drone videos of Coron Island have also become some of my best and my aerial photos the most popular in my portfolio.
Coron is an island located in the north of Palawan gifted with dramatic landscapes. Especially Coron Island shouldn’t be missed when traveling to the Philippines! The stunning limestone cliffs that form the island hide charming lagoons and picturesque lakes that boast very clear waters. On other parts of the island, there are small fine, white sand beaches whose backgrounds are the towering limestone formations. The coral reefs are healthy and teeming with aquatic life. Don’t forget the World War II shipwrecks that are scattered at the bottom of the sea surrounding the island, which make Coron one of the best places in the world for wreck diving.
Top things to do in Coron
This travel guide to Coron will show you things that you can do. The best things to do in Coron are definitely out in the sea. Island hopping and diving are the main activities.
Coron Island Tours
There are plenty of agencies in the main town that offer tours (p900-1500 pp) to 5-6 of the 14 spots on Coron Island. They usually offer Tour A and B. Some agencies offer highlights/ultimate tours, which take you to the best spots in Coron. Groups are between 6 to 15 people. The payment includes lunch on one of the beaches. It may or may not include entrance fees which could cost up to 600 pesos each for all the sites, Kayangan being the most expensive.
Coron Island Private Tour
For our trip we decided to get a private tour. We hired a boat operator at the pier for 2200 pesos for the boat plus 500 pesos for the guide (no tour boats are allowed to go without a guide). The entrance fees totaled to 800 pesos for the both of us. We also had to buy our own food, which we bought cheap at the market and the crew prepared real nicely. By doing the math, I’d say we spent 2000 pesos each, a little over than what you will pay in tour agencies. (If you have a few more people, it’s actually even cheaper!)
Is it worth it? Definitely! With just the two of us on the boat plus the 2 boatmen and the guide, we were able to decide what we wanted to visit, and for how long we wanted to stay. The guide knew what times were quiet and what times were busy, so we avoided the big crowds. Coron as a popular tourist destination can be very, very crowded. Many tour boats follow the same route, so figure.. Needless to say, we were able to enjoy the lagoons, the lakes, the wreck, and the beaches for ourselves for a long time before it got crammed with other sightseers.
Here’s what’s we did and places we visited in our Coron Private island tour:
- Twin Lagoons –The main entrance on another part of the lagoon where you have to climb through narrow pass lined with limestone rock formations along with quite a number of tourists. Our guide Myer was kind enough to lead us to another entrance to the lagoon. Snorkel your way into the other side of the twin lagoons. Not only was it not busy at all, it’s a great way to observe the aquatic life with so much disturbance from visitors.
- Snorkeling on shipwrecks – There’s only a few wrecks that you can see while snorkeling. The ship, which used to carry passengers during its era, is now 4 meters below the sea, swarmed with colorful fishes and corals.
- Lunch in Banuang Daan Beach – Imagine a well-prepared meal while enjoying the view of the most crystal clear water you’ll ever see and the almost blinding white sand beach with backdrop of towering limestone formation. Again, our kind guide led us there barely anybody else was around. We were able to enjoy the beach by ourselves. It’s a small beach; by the time the other tourists came, the perfect paradise we had for ourselves was already packed – another reason to go on a private island tour
- Barracuda Lake – one of the 7 lakes in Coron, Barracuda Lake is hidden away from the sea by stunning limestone formations. You get into the lake through a very narrow pathway through the limestone cliffs. Again, we were lucky to enjoy it for ourselves. The lake is very clear that you can see through a couple of meters below the sea. The bottom of the lake has vents that give off warm water. We visited the lagoon again during our diving trip, there were hundreds of people and the pathway was completely blocked with them.
- Kayangan Bay and Kayangan Lake – Perhaps the only thing that we missed was going to the famed Kayangan lake, which was closed during the time of our visit because of the recent deaths of two tourists in the area. Nevertheless, this did not stop me from admiring the view. We stopped by the bay, the entrance to the lake and I flew my drone near the lake. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful and most popular drone photos I’ve ever taken. (Note: for some reason drones act really strange near the lake and many have gone lost, be careful if you plan on flying yours!)
- Snorkeling at the marine sanctuary – the Coron sea is gifted with healthy aquatic life. Here you’ll find numerous colorful fishes and corals.
Coron Wreck diving
Definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done. Dive in and out of the eerie but beautiful World War II shipwrecks, decorated with corals and surrounded. Sign up with Corto Divers (you’ll get to use their resort pool for free!) or with Neptune Diving Center. Rocksteady is very popular, but often full days ahead. Some wrecks are only available for those with Advance Open Water certification; they are the best ones though. Spend a few days in Coron if you want to see more of the wrecks. There are more than 10 wrecks in Coron; a day is definitely not enough as most of the times they only do 2-3 dives a day, depending on how far away you go.
Drive east to Cabo Beach
When you’re not out island hopping or wreck diving, Cabo Beach offers its golden sand beach and cool water, located 15 minutes east of Coron town. It’s the closest beach to swim in Coron town. Not a lot of tourists there since most are out on tours. At night, the Milky Way is clearly seen from the beach (April to September). Nearby is the Maguinit Hot Spring and the lighthouse.
Drive West and Explore Concepcion, Busuanga, and Calauit
In the northwest corner of the island is the Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can see zebras, giraffes etc. It’s about a 2,5 hour ride and requires a 10 minute boat ride. Along the way you’ll pass the gorgeous Busuanga Bay, see here below.
How to get to Coron
From El Nido by ferry
There are ferries going from El Nido to Coron daily. There are two options: The Slow boat takes you to Coron in 9+ hours for 1300 pesos; the Fast boat (Fastcraft) takes you there in 4+ hours for 1750 pesos. We opted for the fastcraft, which seems the safest option. However, the tickets sell very fast, especially in high season. So book ahead if you can. The boat leaves at 6 am daily.
From Manila by plane
There are direct flights going from Manila to Coron daily. However, these are very expensive, a one-way ticket could amount to 7000 pesos approximately.
From Manila by ferry
From Manila, 2GO Travel shipping company has ferries leaving for Coron twice weekly, every Tuesday, and Friday. Going from Coron to Manila, the schedule is twice a week as well, every Sunday and Thursday. The trip takes around 13 hours. The ticket price varies daily but could be around 2000 pesos for the cheapest accommodation on the ship.
Where to Stay in Coron
There are a plenty of hostels and high-end hotels. We took a room in Luis Bay Travelers Inn, which was only 600/pesos for a room for two.
If you opt for a high-end resort, I’d recommend The Funny Lion. The room could cost 6000 pesos a night. They have pools nestled amongst Mangroves. They also have two rooftop Jacuzzis, perfect while sunset viewing, see below. For a small fee you can use them even if you’re not staying here 😉
Where to Eat in Coron
Here are our recommendations:
No Name Bar – try the No Name Burger, their Nacho Snacks, and their cocktails
Café Kong – good coffee and breakfast
Blue Moon – Asian and Western dishes
A Very Important Reminder
Don’t forget to bring insect repellents as mosquitoes there could harbor malaria. There were only 2 ATMs that I noticed in Coron town, so withdraw money when you can.
Conclusion & Rating
Coron is definitely beautiful. It might beat El Nido on my list. There’s so much to see in its waters – limestone cliffs, lagoons, lakes, white sand beaches, shipwrecks! It’s totally worth the visit after your El Nido trip. For the island tour, I’d totally recommend that you have a private tour with a few people on the boat, so that you can thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the experience. And definitely, don’t miss the wreck diving.
Rating (out of 10):
OVERALL EXPERIENCE: 9
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK: 7
EASY TO TRAVEL: 8
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Text by Jen Yap, photos by Martien Janssen