I am a self confessed mermaid. I am happier when I am in the water. With that, I am lucky to have been born and to live in a country that is comprised of more than 7,000 islands. With so many islands to go to, you may ask, why Coron?

Foreigners flock to Coron, Palawan to experience the bewitching beauty of the Island. You don’t go there to party or eat at a fancy restaurant, rather you go there to hear stories of modest tricycle drivers or tanned boatmen who had given up their dreams of living in the city because they feel safer to live there and that everyone is very kind. You go to Coron to see lagoons, lakes, and secret islands. You go there to dive in and find sunken warships turned into a playground of colorful fish that aren’t even aware they’re living in 70-year old wrecks.

In my previous blogs, I always use a lot of words to describe a place. It is how I make up for my lack of photography skills or a nice camera to begin with. I fear that the photos I am posting will not give justice to the beauty of the place, but Coron doesn’t need your special photography skills or a magic camera to capture it’s beauty. It made me believe that some places are made of magic.

20160722_152106-01
Boats for Island Hopping

From Manila, I flew in to Busuanga (also known as Francisco B. Reyes Airport) via Cebu Pacific Air. Travel time takes 1 hour and 10 minutes. The trip was unplanned, so the first thing I did at the airport was get flyers of different tour agencies so that I could compare rates of different tour packages. There were people handing out flyers as well.

Then, I took a 45 minute van ride from the airport to my hostel located in Coron town. I didn’t have an advance booking for the van, it was available right outside the airport. However, most hostels in Coron offer shuttle service to pick you up and take you to the airport.

I didn’t expect my hostel to be nice, clean, and comfy because I got it for only Php 500/night. Although WiFi was only available in the lobby, it was more than what i hoped for. The crew are extra friendly and accommodating. I did my booking via agoda.com. Coron Vista Lodge is located just 5-10 minute walk away from different shops and restaurants. The place was more quiet compared to other hostels in the town because the road in front of it was less busy.

Ultimate Tour

After comparing the tour packages offered by different tour agencies, reading other blogs, and from what I heard from friends who have been there, I decided that I wanted to visit Kayangan Lake and Twin Lagoon. So I booked the Coron Ultimate Tour Package that included the two places I wanted to go to and four other destinations. Also included in the package is a buffet lunch, use of snorkel gear, and life vest. After booking, I went down to eat dinner.

It was a beautiful day. While I wished that I had a friend traveling with me, I was lucky enough to share the boat with bubbly and chatty people. It was a small group, with only 4 travelers – including me, the 2 boatmen, and a tour guide.

20160722_100113-01

Siete Pecados, is composed of 7 islets, hence the name, about 20 minutes boat ride away from Coron port. This area is good for swimming and snorkeling. If you don’t know how to swim very well, I suggest you stay with your group because the water current in this area is very strong. You should always wear your life jacket. One of the boatmen was nice enough to pull a lifebuoy while swimming around and let us hold on to it.

20160722_091106-01
Siete Pecados

Kayangan Lake was one of my favorite destinations. The water in the lake is a combination of fresh and salt water. The place is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. I could see small fish swimming on the surface of the clear water.

20160722_105606-01
Kayangan Lake

Twin Lagoon was simply breathtaking. It was surrounded by beautiful limestone. To get to the other lagoon, you have to climb the makeshift ladder or swim under the limestone. Of course the mermaid in me prevailed, so I swam under the limestone.

20160722_112552-01
Twin Lagoon

We had our lunch at the Atwayan Beach. The beach was covered with white powdery sand. It was just a small beach, but the water was incredibly clear, and there were small huts built for people to have lunch in.

You might also want to read: El Nido: Of adventures, love, and surprises

20160722_152412-01
CYC Beach

CYC Beach is just the perfect beach for swimming. The color of the water was light turquoise. We swam for a bit and just stayed on the anchored boat eating “buko flavored ice candy”. Yes, someone on a small boat was selling ice candy, fruit salad, and macaroni salad in the middle of the ocean. They were sailing from island to island to sell their delicious ice candy.

received_10154582714137859-01
Coral Garden

Coral Garden is just gorgeous. It has a crystal clear water where you can see the diverse marine life from down under. Even at a shallow dept, there is a treasure of colorful marine life that you can see just by snorkeling.

received_10154582724952859-01
Fish at Skeleton Wreck

Not included in our itinerary for the day was the skeleton wreck. We asked our tour guide if we could visit the site and they agreed. We were asked to pay additional 75 pesos each for “entrance fee”. We then fed the fish, and swam atop the wreck.

Island Escapade Tour

When I got back to my hostel, I booked the Coron Island Escapade Tour. Most tour agencies offered this package for Php 1700. I found one for only Php 1200 at JY Travel and Tours. At 6 am the next day, I received a sms that they couldn’t accommodate me because it was fully booked. It was raining so I thought that it was better to just do a Town Tour in the afternoon if the rain stopped. At 7 am, I received another sms telling me that they were able to fit me in one of their groups and that they will pick me up at 8 – 8:30 am at my hostel. The sun was shining as I got ready for my Island Escapade tour.

The 8:30 am pick up didn’t happen. I was waiting in my hostel lobby until around 9:30. The receptionist was kind enough to call the tour agency, and they confirmed that they were on their way to fetch me. Instead of a van, a tricycle came to fetch me. A very apologetic tricycle driver told me that there were too many guest and that he wasn’t even the one assigned to pick me up.

When I finally arrived the boatmen and 8 other guests were waiting. After 1 hour and 30 minute boat ride, we reached Bulog Dos Island. I was in awe at the blue crystal clear water of this Island. It is a very small island with white powdery sand beach.

20160606_002016-01
Bulog Dos Island

Our next stop was Banana Island. It was bigger than Bulog Dos Island, and this is where we ate our lunch.

20160606_013416-01
Our Lunch

There were nice hammocks tied to coconut trees by the beach which was really cool. The water was clear, the beach was covered with powdery white sand, and there were different small sea creatures. That famous clownfish nemo was everywhere. I went snorkeling and had fun watching the colorful fish, some of them camouflaged with the water and looked kind of transparent.

20160606_013030-01
Hammocks and Cottages

There were small cottages for rent. Two of the guests from my group stayed for the night. I didn’t ask for the price but you could have an earlier arrangement with the tour agency. So with two of the guests left in Banana Island, we went to our last destination, Malcapuya Island.

20160723_034435-01
Malcapuya Island

Malcapuya is a long stretch of white powdery sand beach. The water was so clear and so blue. I spent most of my time swimming and I literally didn’t want to go out of the water. It was perfect! I felt like I was in paradise. All three islands are some of the best beaches I have ever been to.

20160723_032942-01
Malcapuya Island

Going back to Coron port, the boatmen cooked nilagang saging na saba (boiled banana) for our merienda (snack). They took out big bottles of coke for everyone to share and handed plastic cups. I found the boatmen very kind and friendly especially the guy who introduced himself as the tour guide.

Food and Nightlife

I wouldn’t say there was zero nightlife, but it’s nothing like Boracay. I mostly walked around looking for souvenir items. I noticed some bar along the road. There were nice cafés and coffee shops too.

20160723_191118
No Name Bar

I found myself checking the menu of Brujita Bar and Restaurant. I ordered Spaghetti with Mushroom Sauce and a bottle of San Miguel Pale Pilsen. The pasta was good. It was my last night in Coron and I could only wish I can stay longer.

20160723_193258
Brujita Bar and Restaurant

Mt. Tapyas

My flight back to Manila was scheduled at 4:00 pm. So I decided to climb Mt. Tapyas before I checked out. I rode on a tricycle from my hostel going there. The location was very accessible. The best time to climb it is early in the morning before the sunrise. It has more than 700 steps. The local goverment made the steps concrete for convenience, so there is no need for excellent mountain climbing skills.

20160724_091628-01
More than 700 steps to Mt. Tapyas

The view from the top was very rewarding. From the top, you can have a good view of the islands not far away and some part of the town.

20160724_091432-01
View from Mt. Tapyas

It was one hell of an adventure. I think I enjoy traveling alone as much as I enjoy traveling with friends. I just know that Coron will always be the best travel destination for me. It was dreamlike.


ITINERARY
Day 1
Arrival at Francisco B. Reyes Airport 3:20PM
Took a van to Coron Vista Lodge 3:30PM
Arrival at Coron Vista Lodge 4:15PM
Walkabout/ Dinner/ Planning for next day tour/Free time 6:00PM
Day 2
Breakfast/ Coffee 7:00AM
Start of Ultimate Tour 8:30AM
Siete Pecados 9:30AM
Kayangan Lake 10:15AM
Twin Lagoon 11:30AM
Lunch at Atwayan Beach 12:30PM
Coral Garden 2:00PM
Skeleton Wreck 3:00PM
CYC Beach 4:00PM
Back to Coron Port 5:00PM
Back to Hostel 5:20PM
Dinner/Free time 7:00PM
Day 3
Breakfast/ Coffee 7:30AM
Start of Island Escapade Tour 9:30AM
Bulog Dos Island 11:00AM
Lunch at Banana Island 12:30PM
Malcapuya Island 2:45PM
Back to Coron Port 5:00PM
Back to Hostel 5:20PM
Dinner/Free Time 7:00PM
Day 4
Breakfast/ Coffee 8:00AM
Tricycle to Mt. Tapyas 9:00AM
Going up to Mt. Tapyas 9:10AM
Arrival at Summit 9:40AM
Going down from Mt. Tapyas 10:00AM
Check out from Hostel 11:00AM
Lunch 12:00NOON
Souvenir Shopping/Freetime 12:30
Back to Hostel for Airport Van Trasfer 2:00PM
Arrival at Francisco B. Reyes Airport 2:40PM

Expenses

Airfare via Cebu Pacific Air (RT) (Booked on a Piso Fare Promo) 868.12
AC Van from+to Airport 300
Hostel Accommodation 3 nights (Discounted on Agoda.com) 1500
Dinner 1 (Eatery near the hostel) 50
Coffee*2 (3n1 Coffee) 20
Cupcakes/Chips 40
Ultimate Tour (Lunch Buffet Included) 1500
Dinner 2 (Eatery near the hostel) 50
Breakfast 1 50
Island Escapade Tour (Lunch Buffet Included) 1200
Dinner 3 (Brujita Bar and Restaurant) 245
Breakfast 2 90
Tricycle to Mt. Tapyas 10
Lunch 70
TOTAL Php 5,993.12

Tips/ Recommendation

Bring your own aqua-shoes. Corals and other marine animals are spiky. It is safer if you are wearing a proper footwear.
I bought coffee sachet in the sari-sari store near my hostel and asked the receptionist for hot water every morning to lessen my spending. Coffee can be very expensive.
Schedule your flights a few months ahead to get better deals. That way, you don’t have to pay everything all at once. I booked my tickets 5 month before my flight.
Research and compare prices offered from different tour agencies. The difference in price is usually based on added services; e.g., additional destination, free use of kayak, snorkel, etc.
If you are going on the same tour I did on Day 3, JY Travel and Tours is the cheapest I found. They are Php500 cheaper. I have my own snorkel so I wasn’t worrying about paying additional for it.
There are a lot of eatery and restaurants to choose from. So for budget conscious, fret not!
Coron has a gorgeous coral reefs and wrecks, you might want to check diving tour packages. I promise, they aren’t as expensive as you think.
Zebras, Giraffes… in Coron? Yes! I didn’t have enough time to visit Calauit Safari, but maybe you have.