Coron Island Hopping Experience in Palawan

If the traditional beach getaway is no longer inspiring any thrill or excitement, here’s your chance to venture into one of the last known frontiers. Imagine splashing daily life away amidst beautiful corals and schools of fish in the 7,107 heavenly islands of the Philippine archipelago. A return to the rustic and rugged roots of this tropical paradise might just be the cure needed to reignite your passion for adventure!


Island Hopping Philippines
Island Hopping awaits in the Calamanian Archipelago of Northern Palawan
Known for its tropical islands and turquoise waters, the Philippines offers an eclectic mix of landscapes and destinations. Considered one of the last great frontiers, it is a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered. But it won’t be hidden for long as the country ascends rapidly to the global stage. The prestigious Condé Nast Traveller magazine placed the Philippines on their ‘2013 Destinations to Watch’ list comparing the country to the likes of the Maldives and Halong Bay in Vietnam. The Philippines is also home to Boracay Island, Travel + Leisure magazine’s ‘2012 World’s Best Island Getaway.’ 

The recent accolades can likely be attributed to the launch of the highly successful “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign by the country’s Department of Tourism which quickly became a viral hit on the internet. But perhaps what makes the Philippine experience so unique and memorable is not what is found on its scenic shores but rather what resides within the Filipinos as a people. Filipinos are known around the world for their innate ability to make one feel at home. They are known for their smiles as one of the world’s happiest people. One of the best aspects of Philippine hospitality is the ability to speak English. As the country’s second national language, it is widely spoken throughout the entire nation with ease.

Coron Town Palawan Philippines
Coron is the largest town on the island of Busuanga
For any couple, the Philippines is just the place to get relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated. White sand beaches, limestone cliffs, and wildlife are just some of the attributes that come to mind when describing the rustic and rugged islands of Busuanga and Coron in Northern Palawan. The islands enjoy a rich history with Coron serving as the ancestral grounds of the Tagbanuas indigenous tribe who have inhabited the area for the last 5,000 years. Living primarily from fishing and subsistence agriculture, the Tagbanuas maintain many of their traditional ways and act as stewards of the cluster of islands in which they inhabit protecting the natural environment’s beauty and resources. To ensure the sustainable development of tourism, they encourage visitors to live by a simple mantra, “Take nothing but pictures, Leave nothing but footprints, Kill nothing but time, and Keep nothing but memories.”

Coron Town Busuanga Island
Coron has the largest selection of accommodation in the Calamanian Archipelago
Coron Island is the main focal point of most island hopping trips. It is located just a 10 minute boat ride from Busuanga Island. Do note that the name Coron also refers to the largest town on Busuanga Island. The area of Coron was made famous by Forbes Traveler magazine who proclaimed the area as one of the ‘Top 10 Best Dive Sites in the World.’ On September 24, 1944, the island witnessed the US Navy’s bombardment of a Japanese fleet entering the country during WW2. What remain are the burial grounds to more than 10 well preserved Japanese ship wrecks. These wrecks are home to a myriad of marine creatures and are surrounded by beautiful coral reefs. Now a steady flow of dive enthusiasts has trickled into the area consistently over the last several years but Coron offers much more than diving. For couples on a romantic getaway, it is the ideal island hopping paradise full of activities.


Coron Palawan Busuanga Philippines
The view from the peak enroute to Kayangan Lake is reminiscent of Halong Bay in Vietnam
Most tourists can easily spend an entire day island hopping. Most island hopping excursions will start at the city pier in the heart of Coron. This is where you can organize the charter of your own boat for the entire day for an incredibly affordable 1,500-2,000 pesos. If you decide to bring the family along, the boat can typically carry up to six people. The charter will come complete with a boat captain to navigate the turquoise waters and bring you to all of the favourite spots in Coron.

It will be important to pack a lunch prior to embarking on your excursion as there are very few places to get a proper meal in the islands. If you wish, a popular choice is to pick up some fresh meat, fish, and local fruits from the nearby market which your captain will take responsibility of grilling on the boat for lunch. Do note that organizing an island hopping tour through your hotel or a tour agent will be more convenient but also more expensive.


Kayangan Lake Coron Busuanga Philippines
Kayangan Lake is said to be the cleanest lake in the Philippines
Departing Coron town on the island of Busuanga, the first stop on your island hopping adventure will bring you to the island of Coron. This nearby black limestone island features breathtaking cliffs cascading down to magnificent lakes and powdery white beaches. It is home to the popular swimming and snorkelling destination of Kayangan Lake. It is said to be the cleanest lake in the Philippines. There is a steep 10 minute climb up a set of stairs before you descend to the lake.

As you reach the peak of the climb, you are treated to one of the most spectacular views of Coron and arguably the most photographed showcasing the turquoise waters admist the backdrop of limestone cliffs. It is very similar to Halong Bay in Vietnam. The lake itself features crystal clear waters at a very comfortable temperature. If you own your own snorkelling equipment, you may wish to bring it with you otherwise it is likely that your boat captain will have it available for rent for an additional fee. Many of the lakes of Coron are known for their thermocline which is geothermal energy that heats up the temperature of the water as you decend deeper into the lake.


limestone cliffs coron island palawan
The cascading limestone cliffs are a sight not to be missed on Coron Island
After enjoying the sights of Kayangan Lake, the boat continues onto the Twin Peaks Reef. Here you will be greeted by colourful corals and schools of fish. It is important not to venture too far from your boat as the current can get strong and difficult to resist. But that creates an opportunity to build a strong appetite for your lunch at Banol Beach. The beach itself is petite and perfect for picnics. It features nipa huts for lunch under the shade of kalachuchi and tamarind trees. It is picturesque with the steep limestone cliffs draping down to the sugary fine white sand beach.

As you approach the shoreline, it is even possible to see corals from above the water. Depending on what you selected at the market, your lunch could consist of anything from freshly grilled chicken, fish, or pork to fresh crabs and squid. The happiest ending always comes by enjoying the fresh pineapples and bananas for dessert. Many choose to frolic in the turquoise waters after lunch. The tropical fishes of Coron always seem to be extra friendly as they swim playfully around your body and into the palm of your hands.


finding nemo tropical fish coron busuanga
The tropical fishes of Coron are as friendly as Nemo!
After a playful lunch with the fishes at Banol Beach, it’s off to more adventure and exploration at Twin Lagoon. The second of the twin lagoons can only be reached by kayaking or swimming beneath rock formations during low tide. What makes Twin Lagoon unique is that it is a point at which cold fresh water meets warm salt water. The cold fresh water cascades down from the limestone cliffs mixing with the warm salt water of the lagoon below. As the two bodies of water meet, the fresh water forms a layer that rests on top of the warm water. It is a wonder of nature that must be experienced to be appreciated.


Siete Pecadoes Coron Busuanga
Siete Pecadoes is a marine sanctuary famous for snorkelling

The final stop of the day will bring you to Siete Pecadoes. It is a marine sanctuary composed of seven islets and its surrounding waters. It is a very good snorkeling area featuring massive corals surrounded by schools of fish. Local legend suggests that seven kids swam from the main island to escape it and to follow their parents. But they all drowned and the location of the seven islets represents where they died.

Coron Busuanga Philippines Dusk
Dusk is the ideal time to visit Maquinit Hot Springs
After an adventurous day hopping around Coron Island, there is no more relaxing way to finish off the evening than a visit to Maquinit Hot Springs. The facility features large pools warmed by geothermal water with the hottest pools emptying into the open ocean. It is a popular evening hangout for locals and foreigners which is only accessible by renting a tricycle for around 300-400 pesos. The tricycle can hold up to four people and all that is left to pay is your entrance fee of about 120 pesos each.


View from Mount Tapyas Coron Busuanga
The panoramic view from Mount Tapyas
Before departing Coron, be sure to make the 700-step climb up Mount Tapyas. The view at the top is home to breathtaking sunsets and panoramic views of the surrounding islands. It will take you about 30 minutes to reach the top and it is advised to climb in the early morning or late evening when the temperatures are more comfortable.

Hand Roasted Cashews Coron Busuanga Philippines
Roasted cashews are the delicacy of Coron
If you have a few extra days to spare, Coron-Busuanga also offers horseback riding, mountain biking, jungle treks, and world class diving. Another popular island of interest is Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary which is inhabited by imported African wildlife living and roaming freely. Lastly, be sure to get a taste of the hand roasted cashew nuts which are a native specialty of Coron.

After splashing your loved one in the turquoise waters of the Philippines, relaxing on the white sand beaches of Coron Island, and refreshing yourself with activities in nature, boredom will be nothing more than a distant memory and this year’s beach getaway might just be the beginning of what will become the ultimate beach marathon. One island down, 7,106 to go….

Know Before You Go

Many of the beaches, lakes and marine parks on your island hopping adventure charge an additional entrance fee ranging from 50 to 150 pesos per person. 

Traveler’s Notes:

If you plan to travel to Coron, Palawan, the island can be accessed by ferry or airplane.
  • SkyJet offers the fastest flight and only jet service to/from Manila.
  • PAL Express offers flights from/to Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa
  • Cebu Pacific offers flights from/to Cebu, Manila
Coron is a rustic destination and you will not find any major hotel brands in the area. However, this is slowly changing with several new modern hotels under construction making the destination more tourist friendly. Cheap accommodations in Coron are available in town, while many resorts are located just offshore on neighbouring islands. Some of the most popular Coron accommodations include:
busuanga bay lodge
Photo Source: Busuanga Bay Lodge

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