First Time, Coron

On to our third year together, we decided to finally try this seemingly inviting but elusive treasure that’s Coron. Thanks to PAL Express. It’s not our first time to step on Palawan but Coron and its surrounding environs and islands are entirely a unique creation of their own.  Many suggest that this destination is overrated but who can resist it anyway.

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Situated on the northernmost tip of the country’s last frontier, Coron lies on the greater Busuanga Island off the coast of Sulu Sea. The relatively small and cosmopolitan town is home to the Tagbanwa tribe, famous for their climbing skills off karst cliffs and walls in search of the nests of the endemic balinsasayaw bird for the pricy nido soup. The Tagbanwas are known to be the original inhabitants of Busuanga and nearby islands. However, rapid modernization and development have left them secluded within Coron Island, a declared ancestral domain. At present, the residents of the main town have settled in from nearby provinces.

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Spending only a whole two days and two nights would be perfect option for first timers like us. With its booming tourism business, there are too many to be done and experienced in two days. Hence, it is impossible to actually try them all in such a short time. Nevertheless, Coron makes sure that your first impression would last until your next visit or perhaps a lifetime. For this trip, we decided to avail of a scheduled tour since we are pressed for time.

Where to Stay

Looking at some reviews led us to book our trip at Coron Eco-Lodge, a well-designed, modern hotel strategically located at the heart of the town, adjacent to the Coron Town Hall. At a reasonable rate, we already availed a 3-days / 2-nights package inclusive of the following: Two Nights Stay, Two Daily Breakfast, Guided Coron Town and Island Tours with snacks and Airport transfers. The hotel is very accessible and just a walking distance to almost everything — wet market, church, ATMs, major souvenir shops, bars, etc. Food is fair, at least for breakfast (Coron danggit) and midnight sinigang. But what is worth noting about this hotel is the politeness and hospitality of the staff.

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Must See & Taste

Having arrived before lunch, we went straight to Mang Nonoy’s Grill right after checking in and feast on some very affordable Pinoy dishes, mostly seafoods. By mid-afternoon, we were on our feet again to take on the city tour.

Coron Town Tour

Our first stop is just a few steps from the hotel, the Coron Town Hall. Nothing really is special about this place except that as part of our travel signature, we need to have a photo at every town/city or provincial halls or capitols in every destination we go to. We then proceeded to Luwalhati Park, a bayside pocket park named after the matriarch of Coron’s foremost political clan, the Reyes family. The highlight of this tour is a brief ascent to Mt. Tapyas, a 200 masl and 725 steps hill and one of the most popular inland sites in Coron known for its splendid sunrise and sunsets. And what a nice way to cap a tiring day than plunge in the relaxing and therapeutic warmth of Maquinit Hotspring, a unique body of water situate right beside the sea, hence, the brackish spring water. On the side, we stopped over a local kasuy (cashew) factory, the town’s main pasalubong (souvenir) item and avail of freshly prepared varieties of cashew products.

Though we are exhausted and hungry, we ended up resting and just availing of in house dishes to fill our tummies and retired the night for a more physical activity the next day.

Coron Island Tour

Our second day is the Coron Island tour, composed of hopping in select island-beaches and inland lakes, and snorkelling/swimming, with free lunch and snacks. Good thing we opted the exclusive use of boat since we can dictate the tour at our own time and we got some cool and honest company and guide, Kuya Raul.

Unlike the previous day, the weather has become cloudy and shortly after we reach our first stop, it rained hard briefly and occasionally drizzled. This didn’t stop us from exploring Kayangan Lake, the most famous of Coron’s 15 lakes and setting of the island’s most popular view (see photo below). A brief trek uphill, then down, we reached the serene and green waters of Kayangan, a truly majestic and breaktaking sight. Kuya Raul, a master swimmer/diver himself aided us to stride in some side caverns and into the middle of lake said to be 100 plus feet deep, of course with our vest and gears on. Good thing Kuya Raul managed to take a picture of us before the sudden strong downpour.

We then set out for our first snorkelling activity. In general, we are of the same assumption that the condition of the corals at least on that part of the bay is not in good state, although there remain a relative number of species below. Also, the hazy sky limited our visual pleasure. And right on time, we took a longer break in Banol Beach, a small patch of fine white-sand beach on Coron Island where we splurge on appetizing Pinoy and seafood dishes. Soon after, we stopped over CYC Beach, a public white sand beach and host to mangrove vegetation. However, previous illegal sand extractions have significantly eroded parts of the coast. Finally, a superb end to our Coron tour is a dip at Twin Lakes. Interestingly, the inner lake (the outer lake being pure seawater) aside from being brackish, also features a dual temperature (the water temp. on top and below being warm and cold, respectively). The lake is also famous for its underground opening, but is only accessible (as suggested by the guides) during low tide. Unfortunately, we can’t wait for the water to subside and instead we just took the usual entry through its narrow opening into the limestone walls.

Finishing early, we went straight back to the hotel then back on our feet walking around town for some snacks and pasalubong. We ended up in Bistro Coron, a small resto/bar famous for its Italian cuisine and popular among foreign tourists. And true enough, their bestseller pizza called Bistro Coron Pizza is indeed worth tasting. We then peeked in the local wet market and availed of cheap danggit before spending some sunset moments by the park. Anniv celeb over bottle of pale at Sea Dive Resort Bar and Grille just completed our night and the three exciting years together.

Must Try

Calauit Safari Tour | Hiking | Wreck Diving | Snorkelling

Transportation. Multiple flights daily from Manila and Cebu are served by PAL Express, Cebu Pacific, Zest Air and SkyJet. Various passenger ship/boat such as 2Go (formerly SuperFerry) also ply the Manila-Coron route. Around town, tricycles and vans are available for rent.

NOTE: Coron is our third destination for our Project 80 + 1.

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