A five-letter paradise in the Calamianes Group of Islands, northeast of Palawan, Coron is a beautiful island cluster at the eastern half of Busuanga. Its breathtaking landscape and seascape is included in the natural category tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Coron is now heavily dependent on tourism and fishing. The archipelago is blessed with amazing islands, white sand beaches and dive sites. It has several established tour companies for visitors, providing ease in choosing which tour package to get. They offer almost the same tour package but the prices are not uniform. Coron can also be explored by DIY-style.
Coron Island off the town of the same name, is the gem of the Calamianes. This island is home of the Tagbanuas, an indigenous tribe that is one of the oldest tribes in the country. In 1998, they were given authority to manage, protect and preserve Coron Island under an ancestral domain claim certificate. Visitors can get to see the Tagbanuas when you get to walk, climb and descend the steps to Kayangan Lake.
There are several ways to get to Coron. It is served by Francisco B. Reyes Airport (Busuanga Airport) which is about 22km northeast of Coron town. Flights from Manila to Coron are available thru Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Air Juan and Air Swift. There are also Cebu-Busuanga flights offered by Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines.
There are also ferry trips to Coron. One can get a boat ride from Manila, El Nido and Puerto Princesa.
One huge question that you might probably be asking is if Coron is worth the visit. I would say that I would not miss it for the world. Coron is just extremely beautiful.
My version of Coron escapade started with a brief flight from Cebu to Busuanga. Philippine Airlines had recently resumed its Cebu-Busuanga flight last June. As a pre-Independence Day trip, Coron is that one trip that is liberating and redeeming at the same time.
Here is a rundown of Coron Trip:
Day 1: The Coron Town Tour
Morning flight, Cebu to Busuanga via Philippines Airlines.
It is a 1.5hrs flight, arriving at 10am at Busuanga Airport.
We head to our accommodation by van. This is included in the tour package we availed.
The town tour will start at 3pm. Lunch is at Kawayanan Grill.
Our accomm is about a few minutes from the town proper. Kawayanan Grill is one tuktuk ride away (Php 10 pax). Most of the restaurants are located near the town market and along the Coron-Busuanga Road.
The Coron town tour is a half-day tour which included the following:
The Souvenir Shop
The first stop of the town tour. This is one of only a few shops that sells souvenirs that are relatively of good quality. They also sell cashews and local delics and refreshments.
Coron Town Proper: Luwalhati Park / Harbour Park
This is Luwalhati Park at Coron town proper. It offers a great view of Coron Island and the bay. On the other side, Mt. Tapyas can be seen. On its peak are the huge letters C O R O N which are lighted up after dusk. Luwalhati Park is also adjacent to the port which serve as jump-off point for the island tours.
It is not for the faint of knees. To reach the summit of Mt. Tapyas, it takes more than 700 steps and a bucket-full of sweat. There are several landings though every after 50 steps so you can rest a bit and get a glimpse of the bay.
Many steps to reach Mt. Tapyas summit
Breath-taking view of Coron Bay from Mt. Tapyas
We made a quick stop to a factory that processes cashew nuts. Since we spent a lot of time climbing Mt. Tapyas and back, it was already dark when we arrived at the factory. You may opt to visit the factory on your own. Visit L. Escarda’s Coron Harvest at Coron-Busuanga Road in Barangay Tagumpay.
San Agustin Church
This church cannot be missed when you get into the town proper. You may want to visit it at your own time. For lack of time, we skipped the church in our Coron Town Tour. We made a visit to the iglesia on another day.
Maquinit Hot Spring
To end the Coron Town Tour is the visit to Maquinit Hot Spring. Believe me, after spending time climbing up Mt. Tapyas, a dip in this hot spring would help ease out the stiffness of your legs and calves. It is a saltwater hot spring located in Brgy. Tagumpay and is heavily protected by mangroves.
The huge pool of Maquinit
Entrance to the hot spring is Php 200 and is incorporated in the tour package. We arrived at night, Maquinit Hot Spring is open until 10pm daily. Water temperature could reach 40degrees.
Day 2: Coron Island Tour A
For our second day in Coron, we did the Coron Island Tour Package A which included a visit to Green Lagoon, CYC Beach, Coral Garden, Lunch at Sunset Beach and the Kayangan Lake. The seas were a bit rough, the tour guides were advised that some islands must have to be skipped.
The tour boats are stationed at Harbour Park which is near Luwalhati Park. Tour operation in Coron is relatively organized and systematic. You can opt to rent some swim gears for snorkeling which are available at the harbour prior to hopping in to the tour banca.
Most of the spots included in the Island Tour A are in Coron Island.
Kayangan Lake is the highlight of this package. It is located in Coron Island and is accessible through the Kayangan Lagoon. To get to the lake, which is reputedly the cleanest lake in the country, you need to take steps toward the viewpoint then go down a few steps to the lake itself.
Start of the trail up the viewpoint
The iconic view of Kayangan Lagoon
Jewel of Coron Island
Coron Island is an ancestral domain of the Tagbanua tribe. Visitors to Kayangan Lake get to see them near the trail up to the view deck and also at the Kayangan Lagoon. The Tagbanuas are one of the oldest ethnic groups in the Philippines and they are mostly found in northern Palawan. Tagbanuas in Coron Island are the Calamian type.
The Tagbanuas may collect some fees from visitors to Kayangan Lake. The fees are already incorporated in the package tour. As a respect to this tribe, visitors are advised not to make unnecessary noise.
Kayangan Lake is very beautiful. The crystal clear water, the amazing jagged rock cliffs surrounding it, the greenery in contrast to the grayish rocks, the shades of blue and green waters against the hues of the sky. The dead-silent atmosphere interrupted only by the sound of the little ripples and the strange howling of the wind. Kayangan Lake is a perfect setting to just be engulfed by nature’s beauty and to while the time away.
Day 3: Coron Island Tour B
Island Tour B is all at Coron Island. This day is mostly spent in the banca and in the waters. The jump-off point is still at Harbour Park. Snorkeling gears can be rented. I recommend that you rent goggles or bring one since you need to swim at the Skeleton Wreck and see the sunken ships below.
The waters were rougher compared to the previous day. We managed to visit the following:
Karst Formation that separates the Twin Lagoon
Swim swim away, Twin Lagoon
Site of the Skeleton Wreck
Russian Pair in the Reef Garden
Lunch at Smith Beach
Entrance to Luluyuan Lake a.k.a. Barracuda Lake
Oppie excited to visit Barracuda Lake
Oppie totally awed at Coron Island
For this island tour, Barracuda Lake is the highlight.
Luluyuan Lake is also called Barracuda Lake because some stories say that a barracuda was once spotted on the lake. Although it may be similar to Kayangan because of the Karst Formation surrounding it, Luluyuan’s water is a mix of hot and cold. Access to the lake are sets of wooden stairs, shorter and easier compared to Kayangan.
Swimming in the middle of the lake gives you relaxing feel borderline eerie as the wind seems to whistle in your ear. The tranquility and the natural beauty of Luluyuan is enough to get visitors overwhelmed by Coron Island.
As a whole, a visit to Coron, Palawan is something that should not be skipped. Coron reflects a paradise unspoiled, teeming with natural beauty and breath-taking sites.