A Non-Swimmer’s Guide to Exploring Coron Palawan- 5 Days in Paradise

Coron is a diver’s haven. There are many places to dive and lots of different things to see too, from beautiful coral gardens to sunken Japanese war ships. However, being someone who lacks all natural buoyancy, I opted for activities that would not give me aquatic heebie jeebies. I do hope to get my PADI one day but in the mean time, I’d like to share with you what I did during my 5 days in Coron. 

Coron town

Mount Tapyas
Wherever you are in Coron you can see the large Hollwood-esque ‘CORON’ sign up on Mount Tapyas. We actually went a couple of times during our stay, although the first time was in the pitch black and I would strongly recommend that you wait for daylight to go up instead. To get there, you follow the signs in the town until you get to a hill where you’ll find the stairs that will lead you to the top. There are just over 700 steps to climb up and you’ll see some not-so-state-of-the-art markers on your way so you’ll know how close (or how far!) you are. It only takes about 20 minutes to get to the top if you’re fairly fit and it’s a great place to watch sunset because you can see across the water to the surrounding islands.

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Macquinit Hot Springs
The hot springs are a 30 minute ride away from the main town and open from 8am until 8pm. Entrance fee is 200PHP. If you opt to go in the evening, it will probably be a little busy because there are lots of tricycle drivers who wait at the bottom of Mt Tapyas after sunrise to take people to the hot springs. We went during the afternoon and the place was nearly empty. The water is about 40 degrees and very relaxing. They search your bag for outside food and drink but there is a small refreshment kiosk when you get inside.

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Pool day
During one of our days in Coron we decided to have a pool day and given the wealth of resorts, we figured it wouldn’t be too hard to find somewhere. Our hotel recommended a place called Jungle View which was a 30 minute tricycle ride out of town but unfortunately it was closed so our driver took us somewhere called Fernvale Resort. The resort was in its soft opening phase so we had the place to ourselves. There was a huge pool and several smaller pools as well as lots of nice shaded areas to eat.

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Coron Island

Boat tour
One of the best ways to see Coron island is to join a boar tour. There are many different places offering various different tours in Coron town so just choose one depending on where you want to go. HOWEVER, stay clear of Dream Travel Tours Company close to the market square in Coron town, they are considerably more expensive than other places for tours as well as rental services (For example, a kayak from there is 1000PHP whereas it’s 450PHP everywhere else). We went on the Ultimate Tour with JY Tours Travel Company which was 1500PHP per person which includes a BBQ lunch and entrance fees to all attractions. The tour lasted from 9-5 and our boat took us to seven major destinations.

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Twin Lagoons
The Twin Lagoons was the first stop on our tour and set the bar pretty high for the rest of our day. You have to swim through a small 3m tunnel to get to the lagoons but even if you’re slightly claustrophobic, just think of rainbows and fairies and go for it. It’s worth it I promise! As a lagoon virgin, I was in absolute awe of the beauty and serenity of my surroundings. The lagoons also came with free entertainment; we saw a tour guide pull in a line of Asian tourists like a human train through the lagoon using a giant float.

Skeleton Wreck
You can see parts of the ship wreck just by putting your head under the water but it’s also possible to free dive if you want to explore more. There are also a lot of small fishes to see here, the swarm in large masses underneath the boat hoping to scrounge some food. I took some leftover breakfast food into the water and boy, did the fishes go crazy for stale bread. Unfortunately, I was so taken aback by the fish that I didn’t take any photos of the wreck woops.

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Coral Garden
Amazing, amazing, amazing. I’d say that this was the best snorkelling spot that we went to. There is tons to see here but also tons of sea urchins to watch out for. I thought they were kinda cute because they looked like the little soot things from Spirited Away but I sure wouldn’t want to stand on one. If you’re tall, think about getting safety shoes because parts of the coral garden are too shallow to tread water but you definitely don’t want to stand on anything nasty.

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Kaganyan Lake
My decision to go to Coron was 60% based on images of Kaganyan Lake that I saw on Google a while back. I hyped the place up so much in my head that I was almost nervous as we approached the viewpoint but luckily, it did not disappoint. This place is STUNNING. You have to climb some rocky steps up to the viewpoint and down to the lake itself (about 150 in total) but they shouldn’t be too difficult if you’re relatively fit or if you’re not carrying an immense amount of GoPro equipment.

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Beaches: CYC/ Sunset/ Atwayan
All beautiful but CYC was my favourite. You can’t top powdery white sands and clear as clear water. There are little huts for you to take shelter and have your lunch at Sunset and Atwayan beach though. Atwayan beach was quieter because it is not visited by as many tour groups.

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Sunset Beach, how is there no filter on this photo?

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Atwayan Beach

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Love Boat at CYC Beach

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Making furry friends on CYC magic white sand

 

Barracuda Lake
Another big contender, Barracuda Lake is a slightly more eerie version of Kaganyan Lake. Apparently, there is a huge barracuda that lives in the lake but don’t worry, our tour guide assured us that it’s a friendly one. The lake is a mixture of fresh and salty water and because of this, the temperature of the water fluctuates depending on where or how deep you are.

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Approaching Barracuda Lake

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Dramatic limestone cliffs

 

Private boat tour
We ummed and ahhed about getting a kayak to paddle around Coron island but given that my poor sense of direction is probably life-threatening, we went for a private boat tour instead. The experience was not as expensive as we had anticipated and we had the best day. We hired a boat from Calamianes Expeditions & Ecotours and for 2000PHP we got a boat for the whole day, a tour guide and captain. We stopped at the wet market to get some fish, chicken and fruit for lunch which the boatmen prepared for us. It was so delicious! I would definitely recommend getting a private boat if you are in Coron for a slightly longer time; you’ll have total control of your itinerary and it’s also totally worth the money.

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Food and drink
I am not huge on Filipino food but Coron had a wide selection of restaurants serving western and Asian dishes. You can find out more about the best places to eat and drink in this post.

If you’re not a natural born water baby like me, I hope this post gives you some confidence or inspiration about what to do in Coron! 

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