Coron: The Pinnacle of Palawan
If Palawan is The Most Beautiful Island in the World, then Coron is surely the cherry on this gorgeous piece of paradise. However, it’s not the endless beauty and thrilling wreck diving that made Coron so special for us. It was the laid back and slow-paced feel of the town and its surrounding islands. For us, Coron had all the beauty of El Nido, without the hordes of tourists and high prices. Although there isn’t much to do in the town itself, the surrounding islands and what lies beneath them mean you won’t be in the town for long anyway. Here are a few of our highlights from the time we spent in Coron.
Hire a private boat when you go Island Hopping
On our second day in Coron we went on an Coron Highlight Island Hopping Tour with Nice in Paradise Tours that cost 1800 pesos each ($36). The company were so great! The staff were friendly and professional, the food was delicious and the boat not too crowded. In fact, we loved it so much that we decided to book a private boat for the following day.
Naturally, we thought a private boat would end up being pretty pricey but were surprised when we only ended up paying about 200 pesos (~$4) more, each. You also have the option to make this even cheaper by bringing your own lunch (instead of paying the 400 pesos to have the staff on the boat buy your food and cook for you), and choosing spots to visit that are either free or less expensive (some of the more popular spots have entrance fees up to 400 pesos per person). Being able to decide when to leave, where to go and how long to spend in each spot meant we could avoid the crowds and we got to take our time and fully enjoy each spot (it also meant we had a private photographer as our tour guide loved being behind a camera). Hands down the best 200 pesos we ever spent.
Swim in Kayangan and Barracuda Lake
These two fresh water lakes should definitely be included in your Island hopping tour. They are two, of seven, fresh water lakes found on Coron Island and the only ones open to the public.
Kayangan Lake is probably the most popular spot in all of Coron and is home to those infamous Instagram shots you will find all over the internet. This is the one spot you really want to have to yourself and this is where hiring a private boat will be the most valuable. We chose Kayangan Lake as our first stop and because we got there early we missed all the crowds and had the whole place pretty much to ourselves. A quick hike up 350 stairs brings you to a spectacular view of the bay and swimming in the crystal clear water is nothing short of amazing.
Barracuda Lake is a heliocline and thermocline lake which means it has layers of both fresh and salt water, as well as various water temperatures (some spots get as hot as 38° C). While the top layer of the lake feels normal, diving down a few metres you can really feel the increase in temperature. Despite the temperature differences the water is surprisingly clear and we could have spent the whole day exploring the magnificent underwater mountains and sheer cliffs. You can even explore the lake with a scuba tank. We bet this would be one unique diving experience you wouldn’t want to miss.
Discover the hidden lagoon at Twin Lagoon
Twin lagoon is made up of two lagoons separated by a limestone wall. At low tide you can swim through an archway in the limestone wall to get to the interior hidden lagoon. The cascading limestone cliffs culminate in the lagoon where fresh and salt water meet creating varying water temperatures.
Swimming here creates a weird sensation of mixing oil with vinegar and the waves of warm and then cold water make it a thrilling experience. Despite the strange appearance of the water, it is surprisingly clear and the coral life found along edges of the lagoon is pretty impressive.
Dive in some of the best spots in the Philippines
It’s no secret that Coron is home to some famous wreck dives. In fact, many people who visit Coron are there solely to explore the numerous Japanese Wrecks sunk during WWII.
The large number of wrecks mean there is something for every diver’s level to enjoy. Also, most wrecks provide some form of penetration making it a thrilling experience, even for very experienced divers.
Unwind in the Hot Maquinit Springs
After a long day island hopping, or diving, there is nothing better than soaking in some hot springs while the sun sets over the ocean. The springs are formed when naturally hot water, from an underground volcano, flows into two pools built amongst a mangrove forest on the edge of the sea.
For a 200 peso ($4) entrance fee, lounging in these pools watching the sunset is the perfect way to end a great day in Coron. The springs are about a 30 minute tricycle ride from the main town and for 300 pesos ($6) the driver will wait for you and take you back once you are feeling refreshed and ready for some food.
Eat at Levines Restaurant
We don’t usually write about places to eat but we went here at least three times so it definitely deserves some love. Levines is a hidden gem with great food, cheap beers and a spectacular rooftop view (probably one of the best in town). The restaurant is on the main drag in town, past the Freediving Coron shop, walk for another 30 metres or so and it is on your left with a sign of a big clay pot.
Don’t be discouraged by its outward appearance and soldier on up to the top floor, it’s worth it I promise. It is still a small place so don’t expect five star service but the food is delicious for such a great price and there are loads of vegetarian options (always a winner for me :) ).
Have you been to Coron? Comment below and tell us what you thought.