When I was planning my Philippines itinerary, one of the most difficult parts was deciding where to go for the island hopping and the beaches. As I am more into nature, beaches not so much, I seriously considered going to Puerto Princessa in Palawan. It has been voted the 'Best Island in the World'. But then again, going from Puerto Princessa to El Nido would involve many hours of traveling overland. After consulting the locals on Facebook, I decided in favor of Coron because there is a direct flight from Manila. I highly recommend island hopping in Coron because of incredible views and great value for money.
Coron, home to numerous resorts that attract thousands of tourists year round, is a quiet town located southeast of the island of Busuanga. Busuanga Island is the largest island in the Calamian Group, in the province of Palawan. To the south, two other major islands of the Calamian Group are located: Culion Island and Coron Island.
Aside from fishing, the main industry here is tourism, with World War II Japanese shipwrecks being a popular destination for diving. The aquatic views of Coron Island from the sunken Japanese warships are listed in Forbes Traveler Magazine’s top 10 best scuba sites in the world. The water is usually calm, with almost no current. Wreck Diving Sites in Coron Bay include 10 shipwrecks. The wrecks are found at a depth as shallow as 3-10 metres (10-32 feet) and as far down as 37-43 metres (120-140 feet). Most are in the range of about 20-24 metres (60-80 feet), perfect for sports divers. The area around the wrecks has pleasant rock formations which provide for excellent snorkeling opportunities, with underwater visibility extending up to 25 metres (80 feet).
Two kilometers southeast of Coron Town is Coron Island. It covers an area of approximately 75 km, being about 20 km long. It is the ancestral land of the Tagbanua tribe, one of the oldest ethnic groups in the Philippines, that generally subsists on fishing and edible birds nest gathering. Coron Island’s landscape is highlighted by dramatic limestone cliffs that rise from the water edge and valley floors to sheer vertical heights to 625 meters above sea level. It has seven lakes, the most famous of which is the nationally-acclaimed cleanest lake in the Philippines, the Kayangan Lake.
Island hopping tours.
Booking a tour
All tours start in the morning and most of them last the whole day. So the best option is arriving in Coron the afternoon before and booking the tour for the next morning. I did it during my local look-around walk to the market and boat station area.
As it started to rain heavily, I sought shelter in the market building and used this time to book my tour for the following day. It seems the tour operators were cooperating with each other because the name of the company I bought a tour from and the actual tour provider were different. It’s good to remember you need aqua shoes for protecting your feet and a waterproof bag for your belongings. I was also offered snorkeling equipment as part of the package. The pick up from the hotel in the morning was also included, not the drop off after the tour though. As my hotel was at a walking distance from the departure point, it was not a big deal for me anyway. The tours were also offered by the hotel, but I took my own chance instead.
The following morning at 8.30 I was picked up from the hotel and brought to the tour boat. The boat was Pilipino style as you can see in the picture. The important detail is that it has no barrier on any side, meaning it’s easy for your belongings to slip into the water, but it did not happen to anyone from our boat.
The first stop of the tour was the Twin Lagoon: it's two lagoons separated by karst walls. The first lagoon is where the boats dock, while the second lagoon is hidden and only accessible via a small crevice under the rock. The smaller lagoon has deep and quiet emerald waters. Even with their depth, the waters are clear enough for you to occasionally see fish and other marine life. The Twin Lagoon is one of the highlights of Coron Island's hopping experience. There is a combination of sea water in the first lagoon and fresh water in the second one.
After this, we had an opportunity to snorkel to the shallow placed ship wreck. Then we had more snorkeling opportunities to see fish and corals.
We had a great lunch on a small sandy beach with beautiful views. I am not a huge lover of fish or seafood. Nevertheless, I loved this fish and seafood lunch on our tour. So delicious.
After lunch we headed to Kayangan lake.
It is located on Coron Island, the Philippines, is one of the most visited sites in Coron. It is one of the 2 lakes on the island open to the public. Home to the Tagbanwas, one of the oldest ethnic groups in the country, Coron Island’s mystery adds to its charm. Swimming in Kayangan Lake is a one of a kind experience you should not miss. You’ll be swimming in clear blue waters surrounded by towering lime stone rock formations. The boats dock along the Kayangan bay and you need to hike 150 steps to reach the viewpoint where most tourists take photos of the bay. After that, you need to hike down another flight of stairs to reach the lake itself.
The last stop of the tour was snorkeling around the nature reserve island, looking for more corals and fish again. Then we headed back to the Coron boat station.
I highly recommend this tour because of incredible views and great value for money. I paid 1500 pesos (less than 30 euros) for a full day tour, lunch, snorkelling equipment, and the pick up from a hotel.
Getting to Coron by plane
The airport is called Francisco B Reyes airport or simply Busuanga, so if you go to Coron, it's the airport to look for. I had two options for flights: Cebu Pacific Airlines or SkyJet airlines. SkyJet was cheaper, it’s why I booked with them.
From airport to town: Van transfers P150/person, P1500 for the whole van.
Some hotels include the transfer in their booking costs. When flying back to Manila, you will be asked to pay 100 Pesos airport/departure fee.
What to bring for the island hopping tour:
Dry bag, underwater camera (I didn’t have one), aqua shoes for your feet protection, snorkelling equipment, sunscreen, hat, light beach dress, drinking water.
Want to visit more in the area?
Take also Coron town tour when in Coron.
Author: Anita Sāne
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