WEEKENDS IN PARADISE: CORON
Tourist Highlights: Kayangan Lake (Cleanest Lake in the Philippines), Twin Lagoons, Barracuda Lake, Snorkeling, Diving, Siete Pecados, Maquinit Hot Springs
Outdoor Highlights: Mt. Tapyas (153 MASL), Mt. Darala (606 MASL)
Time frame: Friday PM – Sunday PM (2.5 days / 2 nights)
By the request of some readers, I’m posting my recommended Coron itinerary here that will snugly fit a long weekend (or even a weekend plus halfday of a Friday). I should also do this to other places in the Philippines that are not strictly mountain or outdoor destinations. But are definitely beautiful places to go. With the advent of budget air travel, these places are now accessible to everyone. Examples include Coron, Puerto Princesa, Cagayan de Oro, Bohol, Sagada, Banaue Ilocos, Boracay, Batanes, POlillo Island, and Puerto Galera.
Coron is one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines. Nestled in the Calamianes group of islands in Northern Palawan, this place, home to the Tagbanua Tribe, is a coastal community surrounded with numerous islnds. Foreigners and Filipinos alike have discovered Coron to be a diving haven, and it has one of the cheapest diving rates in the world. Meanwhile, more and more travellers are discovering the unique beauty of Coron; its jagged rock formations, turquoise waters, and .
Some say that a weekend in Coron is not enough, calling to mind the untranslatable phrase “Bitin na bitin!”, but I think a weekend in Coron may not be enough to see everything, but a weekend is more than enough to see the best of Coron Island and get the same feeling of enchanment over paradise. For mountaineers, as an added bonus this itinerary includes two mountains (one is a more of a hill, actually): Mt. Tapyas hovering above the town proper and marked with a cross, as well as Mt. Darala, at over 600 MASL the highest mountain in Busuanga and the Calamianes group of islands. Atop these two peaks, you can see the vastness of the ocean and the serene, solitary beauty of each of the islands. Climbing up these peaks and snorkeling along the waters, basking in the sea and the sun: this trip to Coron is truly a weekend in paradise!
Day 1 (Friday)*
1340 Take PAL Express flight Manila-Busuanga
1500 ETA Busuanga; Take
1600 ETA Coron Town.
1700 Climb Mt. Tapyas
1745 Summit of Mt. Tapyas
Day 2 (Saturday)
0700-1600 Commence Coron Island Tour: Island hopping,
coastline beaches, CWC beach, ;
you can drop off at Maquinit Hot Springs
1800 Lunch at Kawayan Grill
Day 3 (Sunday)^
0400 Take tricyle to Brgy. Balisungan
0445 ETA Brgy. Balinsungan, Start trek
0800 ETA Summit of Mt. Darala
0830 Start descent
1030 Back at jumpoff; Head back to town
1115 Early lunch at Bistro Coron
1300 Take van to Busuanga Airport
1530 Take PAL Express flight Busuanga-Manila
*There are earlier flights on Fridays so if you’re free anyway, better take a morning flight and add another trip to your tour ^Climbing Mt. Darala is recommended only for mountain enthusiasts. Other options include another boat ride to Banana Island, among others.
CORON BUDGET: P5,350
2200 -airfare (PAL express) The earlier you book, the cheaper
220- airport taxes
300- lodging Seabreeze Lodge
1300- boat rental + tour + food package on day 2 The more people, the cheaper
250- maquinit springs plus entrance
300- roundtrip airport-coron is.
200- dinner day 1 I don’t want to save on food ‘coz its really great there!
200- dinner day 2
200- bfast/lunch day 3
150- coron shirt
WHAT TO DO
The activities are outlined in the itinerary. There’s hiking up two mountains (one is more of a hill, actually); there’s also plenty of snorkeling/skin diving opportunities during the tour. Swimming in the lagoons and the hot springs is also something to look forward too, as well as food tripping/bar hopping along Coron town proper where you can meet mostly foreigners. Jet skiing, island hopping, and scuba diving are some of the activities that you can do beyond the itinerary.
WHERE TO EAT
For me the number one place to eat is Bistro Coron, which serves delicious Filipino and European dishes at very reasonable prices. Try their Calamares sauteed in garlic and basil; their kilawin; as well as their pizzas. Kawayan Grill House is a nice place to have barbeque chicken and mango shakes at 40 a pop. The rest of the food places are fair to good but Bistro Coron really stands out.
WHERE TO STAY
An uber-cheap place is the Seabreeze Lodge right in the middle of town. Very crude facilities (a tiny room with electric fan; common CR for four rooms) but very cheap also at P300/room for two persons. Coron Village Lodge and adjacent Kawayanan Lodge but they are farther from town but they are very comfortable accommodations, reasonable at P900/room and with amenities such as Wi-fi access. Reservations are usually required during high season, but there are plenty of inns so you can also just walk in.
THE ‘BITIN’ FACTOR
There’s really so much to see and do in Coron and Calamianes! For instance, a visit to Calauit island with its African wildlife (zebras, giraffes in the wild) must be truly an amazing sight. Trips can be arranged from Coron town. A daytrip is possible but quite expensive if you’re only a few in a group. On the other hand, the southern island of Cullion, once a leper colony, is now a very beautiful island with relics of the old colony as well as natural sanctuaries. There’s also a mountain that has never been explored by mainstream hikers.
Then in Coron itself the diving rates are one of the cheapest in the world; it may be a good place to learn or pursue diving here, with introductory dives for as low as P2,000.
A very useful resource when travelling in Coron is Do It Yourself Coron, a website that pools people together to make tours cheaper. There’s also a list of accommodations and lodging, a map of Coron, and other useful info.