Last October 2015, I’ve had the privilege of traveling to Coron, Palawan with a couple of my friends. Long story, short, I was pretty blown away. Everything they told me about the island was true: it has clear pristine blue green waters, unbelievably fine white sand, and an underwater ecosystem that’s truly booming with life. Below are excerpts and tips from my trip that might help you jumpstart your Coron adventure.
Stay in a hotel that is near the town proper.
When I went to Coron, we stayed at this resort called Sunz En Coron Resort (see: http://www.sunzencoron.ph/). It is a small resort with its own pool and restaurant. It is not a beach-side resort but it is just a few minutes away from the town where you can book tours around the island. For me, this is a better choice to a beach-side resort, especially if you are on a budget trip (the beach-side resorts that I’ve looked into before were all very pricey so I really do recommend resorts like these). Their rooms are clean and well-managed and their staff is very friendly and accommodating. They also offer a ride to and from the airport for only P150 per person (one-way), you just have to inform them beforehand. They also give free tricycle rides to the town proper and going back to the resort will only cost you a minimum amount of P12. For 4 days and 3 nights, I think I only spent P5,000 on my accommodation. This also included free breakfast for the 3 full-days that we were there.
Note: I had my accommodation split with my friends. We got a 2-bed room good for 5 people. I think it would really be cheaper this way.
Make sure to start your day early!
Island tours start as early as 7am in Coron. This is so that you can explore a lot of places in one day. It is better to start immediately since some islands take at least an hour to get to (like the Malcapuya-Banana Island-Bulog Dos tour). Note also that the boats have to get back to the shore by 5pm. I heard it was because Busuanga has no other source of light but the sun, so once the sun has set, it would be difficult for the boats to return to shore. So if you really want to maximize your day, make sure to start as early as possible.
Aqua shoes will be your best friend.
The time we went to Coron was when there was news of someone who had died due to stepping on a very poisonous fish. Because of that, my friends and I made sure to bring aqua shoes with us to prevent such a thing from happening. Though not very common, it still helps to be cautious. This is because some of the places you will end up exploring have very sharp rocks and it would be inevitable for you to hit them. It would really be helpful if you brought a pair of reliable aqua shoes, especially if you plan to stay in the water to snorkel. There will be times when the corals will be so close to your body that it would be easy to be in contact with them. Having aqua shoes will protect your feet from injuries that you can sustain from accidentally stepping on the corals (please do be careful when snorkeling. As much as possible, stay away from the corals to avoid stepping on them or kicking them. These things damage them and might end up killing them).
You definitely have to try their Lamayo.
Aside from cashew nuts, the lamayo is one of dishes and pasalubong that Coron is known for. Marinated in vinegar, garlic, salt, and some pepper, the lamayo is a small fish that can be described to be a non-dried/fresh version of the infamous daing. It is best fried until golden brown and paired with egg and garlic fried rice. Yum!
You can even bring some home to your family. The market wraps them up when they are still frozen very cleanly in newspaper and tape so it doesn’t smell and rot as easily. They also deliver to your resort so you don’t have to carry them around while touring. Just tell them your contact information and the resort that you are staying in and they will have you covered for all your lamayo needs.
If you’re hungry for some seafood, make sure to specify that to the locals when asking.
One thing that surprised me during my stay in Coron was that when asked for good restaurants, the locals almost always points you to a restaurant with good ribs or steak. It turns out that they were so used to seafood that their definition of “specialty restaurants” involved having good pork/beef. This shouldn’t stop you from exploring their cuisine though. Do try out Coron’s crocodile sisig and tuna sisig! Both tasted so good. I especially enjoyed the tuna one.
You can try out the crocodile sisig in the Kawayanan Grill Station.
Going to Kayangan Lake is a must!
Going to Kayangan lake is part of almost all the major tour packages available in Coron, and for good reason too. The view of the lake is exquisite, so much so that it is the subject of most pictures of tourists who go to Coron. Don’t expect though that the view would be easy to witness. After all, everything beautiful comes with a price. Before you can behold the lake’s magnificence, you must first climb up and go down a series of steep slippery steps, much like a minor trek. Not very friendly to an unfit tourist like me, I admit, but the hassle was worth it. I’d definitely do it again just to go back to that place.
The Kayangan Lake boasts of clear green waters and intricate rock formations. Here you can swim and see the rock formations underwater or just chill on top of the balsa (bamboo raft) while basking in the glorious surroundings.
Prepare to be mesmerized by the Bulog Dos Island.
Bulog Dos Island is one of the greatest beaches I have ever been to. It is part of the Malcapuya leg tour and it will take you about an hour to an hour and a half to get there. This quiet little island boasts of fine white sand and a view that is simply breath-taking. If you’re lucky, you can even get the island all to yourself.
Don’t leave Coron without snorkeling.
I know it goes without saying but some people I know have went to Coron and still did not try snorkeling there. Do not make the same mistake. The underwater life in Coron is one you won’t come across that often. The abundance of fish, corals, and other marine life is enough to make your experience in Coron worthwhile. The water is so clean and clear, you wouldn’t have a hard time seeing life underwater. And if you have a camera you can bring underwater, I suggest you take videos instead of photos so you can relive the moment you have in Coron’s waters.
The best experience I had in snorkeling in Coron was when I was in Banana Island. Our tour guide brought as around this snorkeling spot where I got to witness a lot of types of fish and other sea creatures. Siete Picados is also a good spot for snorkeling. It was unfortunate that we only got to stay there for a while because the sun was almost setting. But even so, it is where I got to witness a sea turtle swimming up close.
Just try snorkeling in Coron. Even if you do not know how to swim, it is still a great experience since your tour guides will be there to assist you. You also do not need to bring your own gear as you can rent them in the agency where you book your tours.