Travel & Eat
At the very moment that I’m writing this review, I am still in awe sadness about leaving Coron too soon. And even if my skin has turned darker than it already is, and it’s excruciatingly difficult to stand up and walk due to extreme leg pain (from swimming), I would be willing to take a flight at this hour to go back and breathe more of Coron, Palawan.
When people say “Palawan”, the first thing that pops into their mind is the Underground River which has been recently listed as one of the new Seven (7) Wonders of the World. However, as contrary to the wrong belief, Coron and Puerto Princesa are situated far apart from one another and it actually takes a ten-hour boat ride to get to Coron from Puerto Princesa. While Puerto Princesa houses the Underground River, Coron boasts its rich and beautiful marine life, clean and serene lakes, and caves. Read more below to know more of Coron. :)
Promo Fare via Air Phil Express
On January, out of the desire to travel (also to keep my mind off the fact that I missed Korea), we booked a flight to Coron (Busuanga) via Air Phil Express’ promo. Roundtrip airfare total was only PHP 2024 inclusive of tax. Travel date was March 10 to 12, two months from booking date.
I was a bit worried about our flights being delayed/cancelled because Air Phil used to do that a lot. But then again, luck was on our side and we experienced no delay/cancellation/hassle. The only thing I didn’t like about it is the “un-recline-able” seats. Thank you, Air Phil!
E-Philippines Travel Agency
I am not sure if this agency is expensive, cheap, or just right. But for your reference, since most of my friends are also asking me about the expense in Coron, I am sharing with you the package we got (for 7 pax):
– 3D 2N stay at Sunz en Coron (triple/quad sharing)
– Daily breakfast for 7 persons starting on Day 2 to Day 3
– BBQ picnic lunch during days of island hopping (1 day)
– Private boat rental for island tour
– Hotel transfers to seaport (via tricycle)
– Private tour guide
– Roundtrip Busuanga airport transfers
– Tours (Day 1: Coron Countryside Tour – 3 stops / Day 2: Coron Island Loop Adventure – 7 stops) > Entrance fee of PHP 1,000 per person not yet included. Snorkelling gear rental is PHP 150.
– We paid: PHP 4,300 per person for this package.
Sunz en Coron Resort
Through a travel agency, we stayed for two (2) nights at Sunz en Coron Resort, the first Korean-owned hotel in Busuanga. Although I was expecting the owner to be stiff and unfriendly, I was surprised by how nice he had been to us. :)
On first glance, I almost died at the sight of the hotel. BEAUTIFUL. The place must have heard of the term “relaxation” before it has been invented.
The receiving area/restaurant was spacious and the chefs working in the kitchen were well-dressed. The kubos were clean, decorated nicely, and comfortable. The pool was amazing, its lights change colors every 5 seconds or so. And the villas were so cute — I really knew I was in a vacation.
Good thing about this resort is there are only 18 rooms….it’s a good hotel to come home to after a tiring day. :)
The only thing I didn’t like is the pool is only until 10PM and the breakfast is not so good. On first day I had Continental breakfast which included toasted bread, egg, two small pieces of apple and banana, and butter & jam. On second day I had Filipino breakfast which included rice, danggit, egg, and banana.
Day 1 Lunch: Macario’s Grill
Since we got in Coron starving and hotel food is expensive, we went to Macario’s Grill for late lunch. The food was cheap, but not so good. I had Pork BBQ meal for myself, the others ordered Chicken Inasal meal / Grilled Fish meal. The only person who seemed to have enjoyed the food is the one who ordered Buttered Shrimp.
First Glance of Coron : Sea Port
The lovely sea port amazed us. And with the beautiful mountains surrounding the sea, we weren’t able to resist taking jump shots. :)
Day 1: Coron Countryside Tour
It’s quite weird to stop to buy souvenirs when you still haven’t seen Coron. The Coron Souvenir Shop offers variant souvenirs (key chains, magnets, accessories, etc.) and beach attires. It also sells Cashew Nuts (Kasoy) being one of the Island’s specialties.
For our first exploration, we went to Mount Tapyas which boasts a panoramic top-view of Coron Countryside. It was exhausting to climb 733 concrete steps to get to the top, but when you finally get there, the view of Coron against the sunset is breathtaking and totally worth the leg cramps.
Mt. Tapyas can be recognized by the big metal cross on top. It is the second highest peak in the whole province of Palawan. Its summit measures up to 656 feet while the cross structure stands over 2,000 feet above the sea level (palawanhotels.org).
Tip: don’t forget to bring water, put on your sunblock, wear comfortable clothes, and tie your hair.
Maquinit Hot Spring
After a tiresome hike, the best place to resort to is Maquinit Hot Spring. Located at Brgy. Tagumpay facing the passage of Coron Bay, the natural flowing water of this Hot Spring is invigorating after an exhausting hike.
Dinner: Barbecue and Seafood
For dinner, we bought barbecues downtown. We also found a small restaurant offering seafood, and bought two seafood dishes which didn’t taste good. For one, there’s the Seafood Marinara which they weirdly cooked in Mustard Sauce. The other dish tasted like Adobong Pusit. So again, no good food this time.
After dinner, we went back to the hotel and took a swim until the lights went off. Two hours later, we decided to retire for the night, in preparation for the long day ahead.
Day 2: Coron Island Loop Adventure
After breakfast, a tricycle picked us up from the hotel and brought us to Coron Sea Port. We had our private jet via e-Philppines Travel Agency, and we were accompanied by our very nice tour guide, Kuya Enan.
For our first plunge in the sea, we went to Siete Pecados or Seven Sins in Spanish. Legend says that seven (7) sisters went to the Coron Sea, disobeying their mother. Unfortunately, no one made it back to shore and all of them drowned and died. Later, seven (7) islands sprouted in the middle of the sea and the biggest was believed to be the eldest of the seven sisters.
Siete Pecados has a rich underwater life where we saw fishes of different sizes and colors and beautiful corals that are well-protected (fishing is not allowed and boat anchors cannot be dropped underwater). With the green and clear some-30-feet-deep water, it is said to be one of the most stunning marine life in the world, The current is a bit strong, be also prepared for there are some itchy creatures underwater that got me allergies.
This lake, dubbed as the cleanest in the whole Philippines, is situated in a hidden spot not visible behind the plants, trees, and mountains. To get there, you have to climb 6-10 minutes of steep steps and be amazed by the picturesque view on top, beside a cave.
But the beauty does not end at the top because from there, you have to take the steep steps again and get to the bottom of the other side. And finally, the secluded lake will become visible to your eyes and you will find it hard to believe that such beauty existed. You will wonder how much more of these hidden lakes exist in Palawan.
Kayangan Lake was the first lake in Palawan that was allowed by Tagbanua tribe (the first inhabitants of Coron) to be developed for ecotourism. With the Tagbanua tribe’s effort to preserve the beauty of nature and culture, lakes other than Kayangan and Barracuda Lake are not allowed to be visited by tourists. Some may even be considered sacred to the locals so let us not be disrespectful of their culture. By the way, the Tagbanua tribe was the first indigenous community to be awarded an ancestral water claim in the Philippines. They own the title of the land and sea surrounding the island and they have control of it.
The 10-feet-deep fresh, turquoise blue, clear-watered lake is surrounded by huge limestone cliffs, and along with the perfect blue sky and the schools of fishes, Kayangan Lake is just the place to be.
We had difficulty saying goodbye to Kayangan Lake, but it was time for lunch and Kuya Enan took us to Smith Island. We got there and found out that the Mayor of Coron was there, too. Without a hint of political intentions, Mayor Mario Reyes, Jr. welcomed us to Coron and asked us if everything’s going well so far. He even gave us Lechon. There was also a Dirty Ice Cream Stand that he hired and we were free to get as much as we want.
The Ice Cream flavors were Mango and Pineapple Cheese — and they were the best I’ve ever tasted my whole life. The Ice Cream makers were coded number 2 and number 7 (just in case you wanted to find them) — and there must be a reason the Mayor always hires them.
Anyway, Kuya Enan himself prepared our lunch as part of the package we took. There were Grilled Chicken, Grilled Fish, Beef Steak, and Fresh Buko in Shell. He even prepared a dip (sawsawan) for each of us. We had a really satisfying lunch, and it must be the best we had in Coron. :)
After eating, we took a dip in the water of Smith Island. It is a small island with small cottages usually visited for lunch, perhaps. We explored the waters and found how clean it is, saw some schools of fishes like Angelfish and Crab. Kuya Enan educated us that these islands were actually given by the government to Tagbanua tribe so they can earn for themselves (through entrance fee from tourists). How good the governing body in Coron, is. The whole Philippines should adhere to this act.
Skeleton Wreck (Ship Wreck of Japanese Fleet in WWII)
After eating tons of ice cream, we went snorkeling again at the Sunken Wrecks of Coron.
During World War II, twelve Japanese ships containing military supplies were said to be anchored in Coron Bay, and when the US Navy launched an air attack, the ships sank went the way of Davy Jones’s locker. The ships were later discovered near the island, lying on the sea floor 32 feet to 141 feet deep. The areas where these ships were found now are famous diving expedition spots around the island (palawanhotels.org).
We went snorkeling over the Skeleton Wrecks of Coron where the sunken ship appears creepy. There were lovely corals around the place, schools of fishes of different types, and also huge sea urchins to stay away from.
The Twin Lagoon was exhilarating from the entrance towards the exit. During our entry, the water was a bit high so instead of going through the hole under the limestone cliff, we climbed the slippery, narrow wooden steps to get to the other side. It was a difficult climb but the beauty of the other side was worth the effort.
We swam, relaxed, and enjoyed the view of the lagoon. We swam too far that it got us really tired going back to the shore. By the time we reached the hole, the water was already low so we decided to go through the hole instead, and it was amazing.
The Barracuda Lake was named as such because of the legend of two giant barracudas found in the lake. Presently, it is named the Cleanest and Greenest Lake in the country, and there were no Barracudas that bit us. :)
Unlike the Kayangan Lake that was populated by tourists, the Barracuda Lake was serene and quiet. There were huge rock formations underwater and lots of sea creatures. To get there, you have to hike through a difficult 15-minute climb which is totally worth it once you get to the other side of fresh water lake.
There were veteran divers who dubbed Barracuda Lake as “the dive to hell” due to its changing temperature that goes higher as you go deeper. Overall, the crystal clear fresh water and the fishes that don’t venture too deep due to high temperature, not to mention, the serenity and beauty of the place –just made Barracuda Lake as one of my favorites.
Twin Peaks Reef
We were supposed to go back to Sea Port but Kuya Enan stopped over at the Twin Peaks Reef (supposedly not part of the package) where there were schools of Flying fishes amazing us. Our companions decided to snorkel, while some of us just stayed and relaxed in the boat, by the sunset. :)
Pica-Pica Dinner and Farewell, Coron
Again, we had barbecues and some pica-pica Calamares and Fried Chicken for dinner, which we all bought by the market. We also bought dried Danggit to bring home to Manila.
For our last night, we stayed by the pool, swam, and drank some good-tasting cocktail that Val, our companion, mixed. It was a difficult goodbye and my heart broke as we left the hotel the next morning.
Up until now, I am missing Coron. I suppose, I left my heart there. :(
List of Entrance Fees
For the reference of those who are planning to visit Coron, below is a list of the entrance fees:
Special Thanks to:
Kuya Enan – Our Tour Guide
For the company, for making us feel secured, for taking gazillion photos of us, for preparing a hearty lunch and squeezing Calamansi on our dip, for all the information, for guiding us, for the extra “Twin Peaks Reef”, for finding us a ride when the shuttle’s not in sight. When I come back, I will look for you so you can be our tour guide again. :)
Mayor of Coron: Hon. Mario Reyes, Jr.
For the Lechon, for the unlimited Ice Cream, for not getting a big & extravagant house, for caring for the locals. For the sincerity.
Sunz en Coron
For existing in our lives. Your colorful pool, your relaxing villas. Thank you.
E-Philippines Travel Agency
Because maybe, you gave it cheap.
Air Phil Express
For not cancelling/delaying our flights.
To My Companions
For the fun memories, the camaraderie, the laughter, and these 3 days we spent together! :)
For creating such a beautiful world. For making it possible for me to see all these unbelievable beauty. And for that feeling that you will make me come back to Coron someday. :)
Photo credits: Marizen Ramos, Lliane Chua, and Sheena Montiero