( When you hear about Palawan, the first thing that comes to mind is the luxury of El Nido. There is, however, another equally breathtaking destination: Coron, part of the Calamian Islands, found at the northernmost tip of the Palawan province and adjacent to Mindoro.

A Short History of Coron, Palawan

When tourists talk about Coron, they actually mean three spots. There is the eastern half of Busuanga Island, which contains Coron Town; and then there is Coron Island and 50 other islets. Although this paradise-like getaway is now known for its diving spots, marvelous rock formations, and crystal-clear waters, it also has a rich history. The indigenous inhabitants of the island are the Tagbanuas, who are categorized as seafaring people, surviving on fishing and subsistence agriculture. From 1939 to the beginning of World War II, the dominant industry shifted from fishing to mining as Coron had a mining boom. Around this time, 10 to 12 Japanese ships were sunk in Coron waters as the American warplanes defeated them and caused them to retreat from Manila Bay. These shipwreck areas are considered today as one of the best dive sites in the world.

In terms of the island’s composition, the limestone in Coron dates back as early as some 180 million years ago and was formed due to the activity of smaller sea creatures such as shellfish, corals, and clams. The island was astonishingly but painstakingly built over millions of years, created from the dead marine life that absorbed calcium carbonate from the sea. They were then carved by other elements 40 million years ago. The years and natural phenomena it took to build its attractions make you fully appreciate the beauty of Coron.

Here's a list of places to see in Siargao if you only have a full weekend:

Day 1: Coron Town and Calauit Island

For half of the first day, let’s first take a tour of Coron Town, a rustic fishing town with a population of around forty thousand. Then we’ll explore the nearby island, Calauit, where you’ll see a local safari.

Maquinit Hot Springs

Maquinit Hot Springs is about half an hour from the town proper by car. The ride is down a rough and bumpy road, and you will be greeted by a mangrove forest beside the sea. The tranquil hot springs are the only saltwater springs in the Philippines, fueled by an active, underwater volcano. The temperature in the therapeutic pools is similar to that of a hot tub at approximately 39 degrees Celsius. The main swimming area comprises three pools, one big pool that can accommodate a hundred people and two smaller pools. So soak all your tired muscles in its warm waters for the ultimate calming and healing experience! For those not in for dipping, you can enjoy the scenery by going on the wooden bridges and walkways.

Town Plaza, Lualhati Park, and St. Augustine Church

At the center of Coron, you will get acquainted with the Coron people’s way of life by observing the places with many locals in action. St. Augustine Church, located adjacent to the Town Plaza, is the only Catholic Church in Coron. The church was founded in 1901 and has undergone alterations through the years - modifications of the altar and the vestry done in 1993 and the establishment of the bell tower commissioned in 2008. Lualhati Park, on the other hand, is Coron’s baywalk. This reclaimed space is used as a dock for boats and ships and was constructed as a tribute to the town mayor’s mother.

Mount Tapyas

If you wish to see the whole of Coron, you must visit this place in town. Mount Tapyas, towering at 210 meters, is the second tallest mountain on the island and has the optimal view overlooking the village and Coron Bay. To reach the summit, you need to climb 700+ steps, which will take around 20 to 30 minutes of walking up the staircase. The view deck, the highest point in the area, is where you can take the best landscape shots for the gram. The best time to hike is late afternoon, just in time to witness the incredible sunset.

Calauit Game Refuge and Wildlife Sanctuary

Another interesting attraction on the island that does not involve water is by going on a tour at the Calauit safari tour. The game reserve is found on a small island at the tip of Busuanga, more or less 70 kilometers away from the center. The safari park is a 3,700-hectare area home to wildlife as part of the supposed translocation habitat trial by then-Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta and President Ferdinand Marcos. Since the 1980s, the transported African giraffes, gazelles, zebras, elands, impalas bushbucks, waterbucks, and brown deers co-existed with the native species of Calamian wolves, pheasant peacocks, Balabac mouse-deer and bearcats.

The adventure will include learning about the exotic, endemic, and endangered species here, with only two African species and six endangered species remaining. Expect to see the Horn of Africa-born Somali giraffe, Grévy’s zebra, Calamian deer, Palawan bearded pig, the Philippine porcupine, Binturong, and freshwater Philippine crocodile. If you visit in the morning, you can assist the park rangers in feeding the giraffes and have a picture close to these animals.

Day 2: Coron Island

For the main stars of this Coron escapade, we will take a look and experience its fresh seawater lakes and lagoons that will leave you in awe.

Kayangan Lake

There will be no regrets even if you need to take a steep 10-minute climb to access this beauty. Kayangan Lake, also known as The Blue Lagoon, is one of the cleanest lakes in the Philippines, with a 70-30 freshwater-saltwater ratio. Towering limestone formations enclose the body of water and its underwater gives you this perfect clearest turquoise hue. It is part of the ancestral domain of the indigenous Tagbanua people, and all entrance fee proceeds go to the Tagbanua Tribe of Coron Island Association Inc. (TICIA). The best way to experience this is to dip and explore some exciting rock formations underneath. Since this is an Instagram favorite, it’s best to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon. If you want to see the bigger picture of Coron Bay between Coron Island and Busuanga, you can get a bonus view at the Kayangan Lake Viewpoint.

Barracuda Lake

If you want a quieter scene but the same breathtaking sight of crystal clear waters, go to Barracuda Lake, which has layers of salt, fresh, and brackish waters. This place is of great interest to beginners and advanced divers alike because of its impressive underwater mountains and the limestone wall that you see above the water. With a depth of 40 meters, there exists a thermocline at 14 meters, and the temperature shifts from 28 degrees Celsius to 38. Divers also experience a halocline, in which the first few meters are fresh and then change to brackish at around four meters. Regarding creatures you will discover underneath, stumbling upon a barracuda is still an open debate today.

Skeleton Wreck

If you want to see some artifacts from the 1940s, visit the Skeleton Wreck near Coron Island. This is a good place to witness underwater history, even if you’re a non-diver. The shipwreck is a 25-meter-long Japanese supply ship that was hit by an airstrike by the US Air Force during World War II and rests at a depth ranging from 5 to 22 meters. You can see it through free diving or snorkeling. The wreck was encrusted with coral and barnacles while fish swam around it. The free divers who want to see the debris up close can enter and exit the ship.

For divers, there are more challenging world-class wreck diving sites located in the channels between Busuanga and Culion, and the islands are home to 12 well-preserved World War II war wrecks. These sites can be as shallow as 10-30 feet but as deep as 120-140 feet.

Twin Lagoon

You will not get enough of the Coron water because each is remarkable in its way. Twin Lagoon is another such attraction with its fantastic landscape and unspoiled beauty. This lagoon comprises two bodies of water separated by the limestone cliffs that hug its waters. The boats dock on one side while the other is accessed through a narrow limestone opening. You will go through a maze of limestone rocks before you enter the quiet and calm pools, with rocky cliffs as a barrier against powerful tides, making the place perfect for swimming. This is also where the warm water from the open sea meets the pure water from the river.

Where to Eat and Drink in Coron

The top restaurants are found in the town proper. If you fancy authentic Italian cuisine, you can head to Trattoria Altrov’é Coron to try their brick-oven pizzas and pasta. You can check out Hermanos Tapas and Wine Bar for some Spanish specialties. Another place is Poco Deli Coron, which serves local sausages and bacon slabs from Italy, Spain, Germany, and the USA. You can try Manggis Restaurant, Santino’s Grill, or Kawayanan Grill for Filipino food cravings. Epic Island Cafe Coron, meanwhile, is the place to be for all-day breakfast meals and coffee.

Where to Stay

The easiest base to stay in is Coron Town because of its proximity to restaurants, some bars, and tour companies. Almost all mid-tier resorts are located here, including Two Seasons Bayside Hotel, The Funny Lion, Bacau Bay Resort, and Coron Westown Resort. The main draw to Coron, though, is the small luxurious islands around Busuanga. If you want a unique experience, staying at Two Seasons Coron Island Resort and Spa, Sunlight Ecotourism Island Resort, and Club Paradise Palawan is best.

How to Get Around

Since the town is quite small, it’s easy to get around. Some options for transportation include scooters, tricycles, or private vans. The most common mode of transportation in the area is the tricycle. But if you know how to do it yourself, you can rent a scooter at local inns.

How to Get to Coron

If you’re from Manila or Cebu, it’s easy to reach Coron through direct flights, and you will be landing at the Busuanga Airport (formerly known as Francisco B. Reyes Airport). From there, it will take approximately 30 minutes to get to Coron Town proper.

Pasalubong from Coron

One of the treats that are worth buying from the island is cashew nuts because these nuts are abundant in Palawan. Because of its overflowing supply, some goodies you can also bring home are products processed from cashews, such as cashew tarts, cashew polvoron, and cashew butterscotch.

Also read:

The Best Things to See and Do in Bohol for Two Days

The Best Things to See and Do on Danjugan Island in One Day

2023-11-26T04:05:27Z dg43tfdfdgfd