In recent years, the third largest island in the group of the Calamian Islands in the Sulu Sea – Coron Island, has become increasingly popular, a mandatory destination for visiting Palawan divers, snorkelers, and lovers of beach holidays and picturesque landscapes. The city of Coron is of little interest to tourists. It is located on an island – Busuanga Island – and is the base that most travelers use to visit the stunning lagoons, lakes, and beaches surrounded by the imposing limestone walls of the neighboring Coron Island, as well as other nearby paradise islands such as Malcapuya Island or Banana Island. Most of these small islands are uninhabited. The neighboring island of Busuanga receives all tourists since the Tagbanwa tribe living on Coron Island (and owning the island) keeps most of the island closed to visitors. Thus, you will have to get to Busuanga Island, live on this island all the time you visit, and here, in the port of Coron Town, rent a boat for a private tour to Coron and the surrounding islands or buy a package tour. Busuanga and Coron are a single tourist area, so we will talk about exciting places on both islands.

How to get to Coron

You can get to Busuanga/Coron from other places in the Philippines by plane or ferry.
The city has Busuanga Airport (Francisco B. Reus Airport, USA), which accepts flights from Manila, Clark, Cebu, El Nido. Mountains surround the airport, so keep in mind that cancellations and delays of flights to Coron are not uncommon. Although if you book in advance, flights to Coron are not expensive.

Ferries departing from Manila are a more economical option. Here you can choose ferries. But keep in mind that the road will take you about 12 hours, and ferries don’t run every day. Also you can get to Coron from the neighboring Mindoro island.

A high-speed ferry is one of the most common ways to move from El Nido to Coron. Two companies provide daily sailing on such a ferry.
Here are the links by which you can buy tickets for the ferry from El Nido to Coron (it will take about 4 hours) or for the ferry from Manila to Coron (it will take about 12 hours).

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how you can spend your time here

Boat tours

Boat tours to the island of Coron and the surrounding islands (Island hopping) are very diverse. You can visit lakes and lagoons, sunbathe on snow-white beaches, go snorkeling, and get acquainted with the local flora and fauna. Don’t miss the opportunity to snorkel. Read more about snorkeling in the Coron area in the related post. Visit places such as Kayangan Lake and Barracuda Lake; Twin Lagoons, Green or Blue Lagoon; Atwayan Beach, Smith Beach, and Banul Beach. Tourism has been established for a long time, so you will be offered many tours to the surrounding islands. Choose according to your preferences. There are enough tours for a couple of weeks. In addition, there is no shortage of boat captains advertising individual tours. It is most convenient and cheaper to book individual tours in hotels, agencies, or diving centers and not at the marina. A fee is charged for visiting each facility. Your captain will calculate the expenses in advance, then you pay him, and he will go and pay at the office near your departure point.

Diving

  • Dive into the azure waters of Japanese gunboats sunk during World War II, which were used to chase enemy submarines on the surface. The Lusong Gunboat, located near the island of Lusong, is one of many Japanese boats sunk during the bombing of the United States in 1944. The sunken vessel was practically not damaged and is located 11 meters underwater. At low tide, the stern of the boat approaches the surface of the water, which makes it possible even to snorkel near a sunken vessel. After 70 years of being underwater, whole life has formed around the boat’s wreckage. Here you will see an abundance of soft corals, sponges, and schools of fish such as damselfish, whitefish, and parrots. There are also lionfish, scorpions, and nudibranchs. The wreck’s depth and clear visibility make this place ideal for scuba diving if you are an experienced diver.
  • Another Sangat Gunboat is located near the island of the same name. The boat sits on the stern, and its nose is directed to the surface. The bow is about 4 meters from the surface of the water. The hull of the boat is exceptionally well preserved.
  • Not far from Malajon Island or Black Island is the sunken Japanese ship Wreck Nansin Maru, also called Black Island Wreck, a popular diving destination and is loved by underwater photographers. But since the wreck is located at a depth of 21-32 meters, it is unsuitable for snorkelers.
  • Visit Lake Barracuda with its famous impressive thermocline. This lake is separated from the ocean by a karst wall and has three layers of water. The lower layer is seawater, the middle layer is geothermal, with hot water, and the upper layer is fresh water. Interestingly, the water layers do not mix. If you want to experience this extraordinary effect, you should go down to a depth of up to 18 meters since that is where the strongest thermocline is.
  • Do not miss the opportunity to swim next to the dugongs, whose name translates from Malay as “sea maiden,” or mermaid. Dugongs are herbivorous mammals, measuring 2-4 meters. They are very calm and peaceful. Swimming with dugongs is a unique experience that few places can get.

Coron is one of the best diving spots in the Philippines!

Snorkeling in the vicinity of Coron/Busuanga

There are almost no beaches or places for snorkeling near the city of Coron, so the primary option for snorkeling is one—day boat trips to nearby islands. We advise you to visit the island group of Cite Pecados, the coral gardens of Luzon Island, and the Dicalatan Islands. You should devote a day to a trip to the Black Island, and you will not regret it if you visit the islands of Dimalanta, Banana, and Dimakya. You can see the map where all these snorkeling spots are described on Snorkeling near the Coron Island post. There you will also read about the peculiarities of each island.

Here you can see a map showing the places recommended to visit first.

Climbing the small Mount Tapyas

You can climb Mount Tapyas by a staircase consisting of 710 steps. There are no fees to pay for the way to the observation deck – this is one of the few free entertainments on the Coron. It offers stunning views of the sea and islands. Here you can meet sunsets of incredible beauty.

Maquinit Hot Springs

A few kilometers from the port of the city of Coron, in the middle of mangroves, there are the Maquinit hot springs. Several swimming pools with running salt water with a temperature of about 40°C overlooks the sea. There is nothing better than to end a day of adventure in this beautiful place. The cost of visiting the springs is 200 pesos.

Calauit Island National Park

Calauit Safari Park is a nature reserve located on the northwestern tip of Busuanga Island. In the park, you will meet giraffes (which you can feed), zebras, antelopes, deer, crocodiles, and many other animals. The cost of the tour, which includes a visit to the Safari Park and resort North Cay Nagtenga Pagtenga Island, is 3000 pesos per person.

Kayangan Lake and Barracuda

Kayangan and Barracuda are close to each other: 30 minutes by boat from Busuanga and ten minutes from one to the other.

Kayangan Lake is considered the cleanest lake in the Philippines! This is an aquamarine lake with crystal clear, almost fresh, and relatively warm water (visibility is up to twenty meters down), surrounded by ancient, dark rocks. The way to the lake lies through the mountain by ladders (and in some places by cut steps), so you will first need to climb up a hundred degrees, then go down (for an adult – it’s not hard, with a small child – there may be problems). But at the top, there is a classic observation deck from which you can admire the surroundings and take unforgettable pictures. Along the lake’s shoreline are wooden decking and benches where you can undress. Swimming in the lake is allowed only in specially delineated buoy zones and only in life jackets (an innovation after a couple of Europeans drowned). Try to sail away from the shore and enjoy the feeling that you are hanging over a bottomless blue abyss below, the sense of unreality of what is happening.

Plan to get here either early in the morning, before the participants of the package tours appear, or by noon, when they reach for lunch, so as not to feel like a frog in a crowd of other tourists and not stand in line for half an hour to take a photo. Wear something more reliable than slates to make it easier to climb the mountain. A fee of 300 pesos is charged for visiting the lake.

Barracuda Lake got its name because of its elongated shape (they also say that there is a legend of a local tribe about a giant barracuda sailing from the sea through underground passages and guarding the lake). A bottomless and transparent lake among black volcanic rocks is excellent for diving and popular with divers (but it will not be so interesting for snorkelers here). The lake is separated from the ocean by a karst wall and has three layers of water: fresh (upper layer), sea (lower), and hot water in the middle layer. These layers do not mix: a sharp temperature jump is formed between the layers – the so-called thermocline. And the “walls” of the lake, rising to a hundred meters high and going deep into the clear water, resemble the walls of Gothic cathedrals. The fee for visiting is 250 pesos.

Coron Island Lagoons

Photo by John Hernandez on Unsplash.com

Twin Lagoons, located 5-10 minutes from Lake Barracuda, are two small bays with turquoise water and picturesque rocks covered with tropical vegetation. These bays are connected by a passage that opens after lunch at low tide. And to get into the hidden bay at high tide, you can use the stairs laid on top. The thermocline in this place is observed at a depth of two meters, so you can safely dive without diving equipment. There are not many living creatures in the lagoon, but at the bottom, you can see corals that are pretty unusual for these places. You have to pay 200 pesos to visit the lagoon.

The Green (or Blue) Lagoon is not as popular among tourists as the twin lagoons, although it has surprisingly clear, emerald, transparent water and is surrounded by majestic rocks. Moreover, there is a reef near the lagoon, which can please snorkeling enthusiasts.

Island hopping on the Coron – package tours

  • Ultimate Tour, organized, for example, by CTPH TOUR, will introduce you to places such as Twin Lagoon, Twin Peak, Skeleton Wreck/ Malwawey Reef, CYC Beach, and White Beach Sand for about 1800 pesos.
  • Super ultimate tour from Travel Palawan will reveal to you the beauty of Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoons, Barracuda Lake, Skeleton Wreck, Siete Pecados, Malwawey Reef Coral Garden, CYC Beach for about the same price as the previous tour.
  • Here, you can view prices for package tours and tour descriptions from Calamian Islands Travel & Tours.

As a rule, the cost of tours includes lunch during the tour and a fee for visiting attractions. The main drawback of a package tour is that you will always be surrounded by a crowd of other tourists eager to relax in a secluded corner of nature.

Individual tours

Photo by John Hernandez on Unsplash.com

It will be cheaper to rent a boat with a captain for a private tour of the islands not at the reception desk at the hotel and not via the Internet, but right on the pier, in the evening. But remember that, in addition to paying for such a tour, you will have to pay fees for visiting each point (for visiting almost all attractions in the Coron area, tourists are required to pay 100-300 pesos per person). Plus, you will most likely have to take a walk with the captain to the nearby market to buy food, from which lunch will be prepared for you the next day while you enjoy the beauties of the Coron. The advantage of this way of visiting attractions is that you can decide for yourself (within certain limits) which to see and what to visit.

For example, suppose you plan to spend the whole day on a private tour to the Coron. In that case, you can plan to visit Kayangan, Barracuda, and Twin Lagoon, take a dive at one of the points and start your journey from the point farthest from the city – Atwayan Beach to be there before the bulk of tourists.

If you have a couple of days at your disposal, experts advise you to plan the Busuanga route on the first day: Busuanga -> Kayangan Lake -> Barracuda Lake -> snorkeling at Smith Coral Garden -> Banul Beach (lunch) -> Twin Lagoon -> Busuanga.
On the second day, take the Busuanga route: -> Green и Blue Lagoon -> rest on one of the beaches -> snorkeling on Malwawey Coral Garden -> Busuanga.


Housing on Busuanga

Coron is a place suitable for any budget. Most travelers decide to stay in the city of Coron (Coron Town), from where package tours depart and where you can rent a boat for a particular time. Here you can find many restaurants, bars, and diving schools. However, if you need a different experience, hotels on the islands are also adjacent to the Coron. Even a houseboat in one of the lagoons of the island of Coron.
The hotel industry on the Coron is still not very developed, and often the most exciting rooms are sold in a few weeks. You must make a reservation on time (you can find recommendations on the Internet to make a reservation six months in advance), especially if you visit this area on dates such as Christmas, Easter, or Chinese New Year. Experts recommend choosing such accommodation options when the accommodation is not in the center or at the pier but within walking distance (10-15 minutes by walk from the dock). On the map, you can choose the most conveniently located hotel and book your accommodation in advance:

Coron visiting tips

  • Exchangers on Busuanga. There are several exchange offices on the island, but it is better to change money in advance and take cash in local currency.
  • When to go to Coron: the best time is from November to May, when the sea is usually calmer. Please note that cancellations and delays of planes and ships are likely during the rainy season.
  • How to get from Coron to El Nido and back: the most convenient option is a ferry. Try to book tickets in advance. On the Internet, it costs the same as at the box office, but you will not be left without tickets. Here is a link to booking ferry tickets from Coron to El Nido.
  • Internet in the Coron: the quality of Wi-Fi in hotels and restaurants is disgusting. Of course, 4G doesn’t shine, but it’s much better quality, so get a local SIM card with the Internet turned on.
  • Motorcycle rental in Coron: If you want to explore the surrounding area, you can rent a motorcycle or bike for about 500 pesos per day.
  • Food in the Coron: You will have no shortage of options. From a small village market with inexpensive dishes to Italian pizza at AlTrove or vegetarian delicacies at the Brujita Bar and Restaurant.
  • Divers. Even if the airline claims baggage when buying a ticket to Busuanga, it may be no more than 15 kilograms. Be careful!
  • If you have to go by ferry or boat, do not be too lazy to bring motion sickness pills with you, especially if you are going to the island with children.

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