Philippine tourism

Your 2023 beach guide: How to spend your trip to Coron, Palawan

Joshua Berida

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Your 2023 beach guide: How to spend your trip to Coron, Palawan

Joshua Berida/Rappler

It’s famous for its bone-white sand beaches and cerulean-tinged lagoons and lakes, and is one of the best diving destinations in the country

Coron is an island that is part of the province of Palawan. It’s famous for its bone-white sand beaches and cerulean-tinged lagoons and lakes, and is one of the best diving destinations in the country. I’ve been to Coron a few times already and would always recommend it to others who ask me about places to visit in the Philippines. I simply can’t get enough of this destination and will plan another trip in the future.

Getting into Coron

It’s convenient to get into Coron.

By plane

Fortunately, flights are frequent throughout the day from Manila to Coron. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific are go-to airlines for trips to the island. Book during promotions to get the lowest possible price for your flight tickets.

By ship

Alternatively, you can travel overnight from Manila port to Coron by ship. 2GO Travel offers this route. Trips aren’t frequent so you need to plan accordingly. You can buy a ticket through their website here

There’s a P200 environmental fee you need to pay once you arrive.

Best time to visit

Kayangan Lake’s iconic view. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

It’s possible to visit Coron any time of the year. However, the ideal time is during the dry season from March to June. Peak season is from March to May; these months provide the best weather, with little to no rain and mostly sunny throughout the day. The rainy months from July to October are still viable times to visit but prepare for bad weather and cancellations.

Get into town

The simplest way to get to town from the airport is to board one of the vans just outside the airport. You can pre-arrange your transfer before arriving on the island or get one as soon as you arrive. The fare is around P150 one way. The trip takes around 30-40 minutes through Coron’s scenic countryside. If you’re with a large group, you can rent the entire van for around P1,500. 

Getting around Coron

Malcapuya Island’s clear waters and fine white sand beach. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

The town is small and easy to get around, especially if you’re staying somewhere in the center. There are plenty of tricycles that can take you around. The fare for a ride is around P10 one way. Most of Coron’s main attractions are only accessible by boat. There are many tour operators offering packages to the different beaches, lagoons, and lakes. Tours start at around P1,500-P1,700 depending on the places you’ll visit. It costs more to go to Calauit Safari, around P2,500+++. The advantages of booking a tour include no need to pay extra for a guide, and food and entrance fees are included in the price. However, you pay extra for fins, snorkels, and masks. 

You have the option to rent your own boat for a private tour. However, you pay extra for a guide, food, and entrance fees. Renting a boat is only worth it if you’re traveling with a huge group. Boat rental starts at around P2,700, the price rises based on your itinerary and the capacity of the boat. 

Itinerary

Most visitors stay in Coron for at least four days to maximize their visit and see most if not all of the attractions. You could stay longer or shorter depending on your budget.

Here’s a 5-day itinerary for your reference.

Day 1

View of the sea from Bulog Dos. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

*This assumes you arrive in Coron at least early in the afternoon.

After checking in and eating lunch (if you haven’t already), make your way to Mt. Tapyas. The latter stands 210m over the town just below it. It provides visitors and locals with overlooking views of the surrounding area. The climb up isn’t difficult because it’s mostly concrete steps and flat rest areas on the way up. It has around 700 steps before you reach the top. It’s also a good place to watch the sunset if you decide to go up Mt. Tapyas late in the afternoon.

Day 2

Kayangan Lake’s most famous rock formation. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

On your second day in Coron, go on an island hopping tour to see highlights such as Kayangan Lake and Twin Lagoon. Kayangan Lake has one of the clearest and cleanest waters in the Philippines. It has a unique combination of salt and freshwater. It’s also the location of Coron’s most iconic view, the giant limestone rock jutting out of the water. Try to go up to the viewpoint as soon as you arrive to avoid the long lines of visitors wanting to take the same photo. Twin Lagoon is also a noteworthy destination with clear waters and spectacular limestone formations. Some tour operators give tourists a choice over whether to include Barracuda Lake in the itinerary before departing. Those that want to go pay an extra P200. Barracuda Lake is a popular spot for free diving and snorkeling. Other stops that tour operators might include are Banul Beach, CYC Beach, Siete Pecados, Coral Garden, and Beach 91. 

Kayangan Lake. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

The price of this island hopping tour ranges from P1,500-P1,800 per person for joiners. The price you pay depends on the itinerary. 

Day 3

Bulog Dos. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

Go on another day island hopping to visit some of the best beaches in the Philippines. Malcapuya Island, Bulog Dos, and Banana Island or Ditaytayan Island all have fine, white sand beaches surrounded by clear turquoise waters. The trip to your first stop (most likely Malcapuya Island) takes an hour or so from town. My favorite stop among the three that our group visited was Malcapuya Island. The waters were ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Banana Island was our lunch stop where you’ll see most of the same. Bulog Dos provides overlooking views of the sea. This tour went at a relaxed pace because of the distance. You’ll mostly beach bum and swim during the excursion. This tour costs around P1,700 per person for joiners. 

Malcapuya Island. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

Day 4

Depending on the time of your flight, make time for last-minute pasalubong shopping (if you haven’t done so yet) before heading to the airport. 

If you have a few extra days in Coron, you can also go on a day trip to Calauit Safari and Black Island or Dibutunay Island. Coron is also a popular diving destination. You can go diving for around P2,400, P3,700 for two dives and P3,900+++ for three dives depending on the package offered by operators. Get a diving license for beginners for around P17,000-P20,000+++ depending on the operator. You might have to pay extra for equipment, ask the operator first. 

You can book a tour the day before your trip from any of the tour operators on the island, through your accommodation, or through third-party sites such as Klook.

How much will you spend?

Banana Island. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

A budget of roughly P7,500 for the mentioned itinerary covers two tours, the environmental fee, a bed in a dorm room, a round trip van ride from the airport, and basic meals like silogs in small restaurants. You can find a private room that costs up to P2,000 (more or less) for two people. If you’re traveling in a group, you can save money when you book a private room or when you rent a boat for day tours. Eating out in Coron is somewhat like eating out in Metro Manila. Some places already cater to foreigners with meals that cost up to P400-P500 but the servings are sometimes good enough for two people. You can still find smaller places that offer food for up to P150.

Coron or El Nido?
Twin Lagoon. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

You might be choosing between Coron and El Nido when planning your trip. Coron has a more laid-back vibe compared to El Nido. The latter has undergone massive developments since the first time I visited a decade ago. There are now more tourists compared to before, but this is both a good and bad thing. Most of Coron’s attractions are only accessible by boat. In terms of budget, both are comparable when it comes to prices of eating out and tours. You can visit El Nido’s best beaches by land whether you rent a motorcycle or rent a vehicle to get you there. It’s possible to alternate days just hanging out by the beach and island hopping when you’re in El Nido. Coron is a diver’s dream destination, even the snorkeling spots were terrific in my opinion. If you were looking for a chill destination, I’d recommend Coron. – Rappler.com

Joshua Berida is a writer that loves to travel. He blogs at www.thewanderingjuan.net.

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