A Complete Guide to Exploring Coron, Palawan
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A Complete Guide to Exploring Coron, Palawan

In the western part of the Philippines lies a tropical paradise—Coron, Palawan. Known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, limestone cliffs, and vibrant coral reefs, Coron offers a breathtaking island escape for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip to Coron, from travel options and must-visit spots to exciting tours and essential tips.

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Couple at the end of a boat, ultimate guide to exploring, coron, Palawan, Philippines

a. Choosing the Best Time to Visit

Coron enjoys a tropical climate with two distinct seasons—dry and wet. The dry season, from November to May, is ideal for visiting when the skies are clear, and the waters are calm. However, the wet season, from June to October, brings occasional rain and is prone to typhoons, so it's advisable to plan your trip during the dry months for a more enjoyable experience.

White sand beach of Pass Island, guide to exploring Coron, Palawan, Philippines.

b. Getting There:

1. By Air:

Coron is accessible by air through Francisco B. Reyes Airport, also known as Busuanga Airport. Airlines such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and SkyJet Airways operate regular flights from Manila and Cebu to Busuanga.

2. By Sea:

For a more scenic journey, consider taking a ferry from Manila or El Nido. The ferry ride offers breathtaking views of the archipelago and is a great option for those with more time to spare.

Note: Have some cash ready upon arrival at the port/airport as there is a Tourism Environmental Fee of ₱200 per person.

Ferry at El Nido port, guide to exploring Coron, Palawan, Philippines.

c. Accommodation

Coron offers a range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury resorts. Research and book your stay in advance, considering factors such as location, amenities and guest reviews. if you are looking at where to stay in Coron, here are our recommendations:

  • Two Seasons Coron Island Resort & Spa: A luxury resort offering stunning views and top-notch amenities. This 5-star hotel is the most famous resort on the island, for good reason. It’s located on the tip of a small island in the bay, near some of the most stunning spots in Coron.
  • Coron Westown Resort: A comfortable mid-range option with a pool and easy access to attractions.
  • Hop Hostel: Ideal for budget travellers, providing a social atmosphere and essential amenities.
  • Balinsasayaw Resort: An incredible beachfront location and is swimming distance from a very impressive coral reef, where we saw clown fish, sea turtles, and thousands of tropical fish.

d. Must-Visit Spots:

Unlike El Nido, we find that the tour options here are more flexible. Most tours visit these top spots (more tour options later).

1. Kayangan Lake

drone shot of Kayangan Lake, guide to exploring, coron, Palawan, Philippines

Often referred to as the cleanest lake in the Philippines, Kayangan Lake is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs. There is a hike to reach the lake, 366 steps in total, half of which is uphill. The 10-minute hike is very worthwhile for the iconic view, making it a must-visit spot. Included in Tour A and the Super Ultimate Tour - your tour guide will happily act as your professional photographer at the postcard viewpoint.

2. Twin Lagoon

drone shot of Twin Lagoon , guide to exploring, coron, Palawan, Philippines

Experience the magic of two lagoons separated by a small crevice. During low tide, you can swim between them, and during high tide, a small boat can take you through the enchanting passageway. Perhaps the most sought-after destination in Coron due to its beauty. Included in Tour A and the Super Ultimate Tour.

3. Maquinit Hot Springs

Take a break from island hopping and relax in the Maquinit Hot Springs, a natural saltwater hot spring surrounded by lush mangroves.

4. Barracuda Lake

Known for its thermocline, Barracuda Lake features layers of cold and warm water. Snorkelling or diving in this unique lake is an otherworldly experience. Included in the Super Ultimate Tour.

5. Beach 91 and Smith Point Beach

A popular spot for island tours to dock and have lunch. There are huts with tables and chairs by the beautiful white sand beach. This spot is perfect for relaxing and truly gives you a tropical vibe while enjoying your meal. You can swim or take your kayak further and explore the nearby Smith Point Beach. Included in the Super Ultimate Tour.

Drone shot of Smith Point Beach, close to Beach 91, guide to exploring, coron, Palawan, Philippines

6. Smith Coral Garden

 One of the best spots for snorkeling as it’s home to countless species of vibrant, tropical fish. And as per tour guide, whatever the time of day or condition of the water, Smith Coral Garden always has an impressive amount of fish to see.

7. Lusong Gunboat and Lusong Coral Garden

One of the 12 sunken ships, Lusong Gunboat is a 30m long ship sunk from an American bomb during World War II. Viewing the ship alone is incredible, but the wreck is now home to plenty of coral and tropical fish. Just on the other side of the island is the Lusong Coral Garden where we saw the most impressive coral reefs we’ve ever seen, with thousands of colourful fish and sea turtles swimming around. Included in the Reefs and Wrecks Tour.

Lusong Coral Reef is one of the best spots for scuba diving and snorkeling, guide to exploring, coron, Palawan, Philippines

8. Pass Island

A stunning white sand beach, this is one of the spots visited from the Island Escapade Tour. Easily spend a day relaxing and swimming in the crystal clear waters.

Aerial view of Pass island with clear blue water, guide to exploring, coron, Palawan, Philippines

e. Best Tours in Coron, Palawan

One of the highlights of visiting Coron, Palawan, is the opportunity to embark on captivating island-hopping tours that showcase the region's natural beauty and diverse marine life. Here's a breakdown of some must-try tours.

Kayangan Lake is one of the highest rated attractions in Coron, full guide to exploring

1. Coron Island Ultimate Day Tour: Highlights: Twin Lagoon, Kayangan Lake and Barracuda Lake.

A perfect choice to see the best spots of Coron in one day. Twin Lagoon, where salt and freshwater mix, offers a surreal swimming experience. Kayangan Lake, surrounded by limestone cliffs, is known for its crystal-clear waters. Barracuda Lake's unique thermocline makes for an otherworldly dive.

2. Coron Island Escapade Tour: Highlights: Malcapuya Island, Banana Island, Bulog Dos Island.

Escape to the pristine white sand beaches of Malcapuya Island, where you can relax under the sun and snorkel in turquoise waters. Banana Island and Bulog Dos Island offer additional opportunities for sunbathing, snorkeling, and enjoying a beach-side picnic.

Aerial view of Pass Island with white sand beach, guide to exploring, coron, Palawan, Philippines

3. Calauit Safari and Beach Tour: Highlights: Calauit Safari Park, Black Island, Lusong Coral Garden.

Experience a safari adventure at Calauit Safari Park, home to exotic wildlife. Black Island, known for its dark limestone cliffs, offers picturesque landscapes. Snorkel at Lusong Coral Garden to witness vibrant coral formations and marine life.

4. Reef and Wreck Snorkeling Tour: Highlights: East Tangat Wreck, Coral Garden, Lusong Gunboat Wreck.

Explore Coron's rich underwater world by joining a Reef and Wreck Snorkeling Tour. Discover the history of World War II shipwrecks, healthy coral gardens, and a variety of marine life in these snorkeling spots.

Some of the best coral reefs in the world for scuba diving and snorkeling is in Coron Phillipines.

5. Wreck Diving Tour: Highlights: WWII shipwrecks, Olympia Maru & Ekkai Maru (Morazan), Expert Diving Team

Coron is a diver’s paradise. Glimpse into history with Japanese WWII shipwrecks, and discover underwater wonders of Coron’s incredible sea life in this tour. Led by expert dive team, make sure to add this activity to your list as it’s one of the highest rated activities in Coron.

6. Coron town half day tour: Highlights: Mt. Tapyas, Maquinit Hotsprings and Coron public market.

There is more to Coron than underwater marine land and limestone formations. Visit iconic landmarks in just half a day including convenient hotel transport. The best Coron destinations are listed below, many of which are included in this half-day tour.

Mount Tapyas overlooking Coron town proper,  guide to exploring, coron, Palawan, Philippines

f. Things to do in Coron town proper

While the island-hopping tours offer a glimpse of Coron's natural wonders, the town proper itself has its own charm, providing opportunities to immerse yourself in local culture and savour delicious cuisine. Here's a guide to things to do in Coron town proper:

Excellent seafood served, guide to exploring, coron, Palawan, Philippines

1. Maquinit Hot Springs: Experience the Healing Warmth. Just a short tricycle ride from Coron town, Maquinit Hot Springs is a natural saltwater hot spring surrounded by mangroves. Relax and rejuvenate in the therapeutic warm waters, especially enjoyable during cooler evenings.

2. Mt. Tapyas: Hike to the Summit for Panoramic Views. Challenge yourself with a hike up Mt. Tapyas, the second highest peak in Coron. Climb over 700 steps to reach the summit and be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of Coron town, the neighbouring islands and the sea. The sunset from this vantage point is particularly spectacular.

3. Coron Souvenir Shops: Bring Home a Piece of Paradise. Explore the local souvenir shops in Coron town to find unique handicrafts, traditional Filipino products and souvenirs to commemorate your visit. Look for intricately woven products, shell crafts and locally made accessories. The Island Souvenirs Flagship Store is a worthwhile stop.

4. Coron Baywalk: Stroll Along the Waterfront. Enjoy a leisurely walk along Coron Baywalk, a scenic promenade along the waterfront. This is an excellent spot to unwind, take in the sea breeze and enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding islands.

5. Coron Public Market: Sample Local Flavors. Delve into the heart of Coron's local life by visiting the public market. Here, you can interact with locals and sample Filipino street food. Don't miss trying the local delicacies and fresh produce.

6. St. Augustine Parish Church: Explore Historical and Spiritual Landmarks. Visit St. Augustine Parish Church, the oldest stone church in Palawan. This historical landmark provides insight into the region's Spanish colonial past.

g. Tips for Choosing Tours:

Kayaking in twin lagoon, coron, guide to visiting palawan
  • Tour Packages. Many tour operators offer packaged tours, combining multiple attractions in one itinerary. Choose a package that aligns with your interests and time constraints. The tours are standardized including the prices, however we notice that prices online are typically cheaper, and of course accept credit cards rather than the cash-only shops you’ll find in Coron.
  • Snorkeling Gear. While most tours provide snorkeling equipment, it's advisable to bring your own for a more comfortable and hygienic experience.
  • Kayak. Though not mandatory, it is recommended to rent a kayak (through your tour operator) to make the most out of your visit, especially in Twin Lagoon. Note that coloured kayak in Coron is ₱1500, it’s heavier, more stable and easier to steer. The clear kayak is ₱1700, lighter and we found it harder to steer especially on a windy day, but are great for pictures.
  • Foot wear. The highlights Kayangan Lake and Barracuda Lake have some hiking involved, make sure to wear comfortable footwear and hydrate. Water shoes are useful on some beaches with rocks. 

h. Tips for a Memorable Trip:

Island hopping on a local boat, guide to exploring, coron, Palawan, Philippines
  • Snorkeling Gear. We advise you bring your own, though rentals are available for $2. Some tours may provide equipment, but having your own ensures a comfortable fit.
  • Flying a drone. It is generally allowed, however you need to plan accordingly when on a joiner’s tour. We are currently using the DJI Mini 4 and we love the the longer flight time, vertical shooting and the 360 degree obstacle sensing. The camera quality and stabilization is perfect for beginners
  • Underwater Gear. Coron boasts an underwater paradise. We highly recommend bringing an underwater camera or a phone case to document your travels.
  • Stay Hydrated. The tropical climate can be intense, so ensure you stay hydrated, especially during outdoor activities. Bring some water with you on all your tours and outings.
  • Protect the Environment. Respect the delicate ecosystem by practising responsible tourism. Avoid touching or damaging coral reefs and follow the "Leave No Trace" principles.
  • Cash is King. While some establishments accept credit cards, it's advisable to carry cash, especially during your tours to pay extra for kayaking and snacks.
  • Sun Protection. Pack sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses to shield yourself from the tropical sun.

i. Coron vs El Nido

By far the two most popular destinations on Palawan, Philippines is Coron or El Nido. Travellers on a limited schedule may have to choose between the two destinations. There's a few differences between the two spots which will attract different types of vacation seekers:

Aerial view of Pass Island with white sand beach, guide to exploring, coron, Palawan, Philippines
Pass Island, Coron, Palawan

Choose Coron, rather than El Nido, if:

  • You're looking for a traditional tropical island vacation, full of sandy beaches and palm trees
  • You plan to book a private resort on a small island
  • A greater variety of tour options, for those who want who want to personalize their trip
  • Snorkelling is your main attraction - while El Nido has impressive coral reefs and tropical fish, Coron has some of the best in the world

Choose El Nido, rather than Coron, if:

  • You're enchanted by the picturesque limestone cliffs that are scattered throughout the islands
  • Nightlife and trendy restaurants are how you want to end each day - El Nido town is more walkable, with several pedestrian-only streets at night.
  • Standardized tour options, for those who want to spend more time island-hopping vs researching.
  • Flights to El Nido and Coron are somewhat limited, and Puerto Princesa may be your only option as a port of entry. If so, getting a transfer to El Nido rather than Coron will require less travel time.
Aerial view of Hidden Beach, famous boat destination in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.
Hidden Beach, El Nido, Palawan

Coron to El Nido

Due to how close El Nido and Coron are, it's absolutely worthwhile to see both spots in a single trip. To get to Coron from El Nido and vice versa, there is a convenient ferry that'll take you straight to the main port. It takes up to 5 hours, but provides some great views of the islands along the way.

As an example itinerary, travellers may fly into Manila and then Puerto Princesa, the largest city on Palawan. A private shuttle will take you to El Nido. Book a 5-day stay on El Nido beach to enjoy a couple island hopping tours and nightlife. A ferry will then take you to Coron island, where you can enjoy another 5 days on a private island resort, with day trips to snorkel the coral reefs and sunken ships, along with some lagoons and island escapades. A flight can take you from Coron to Manila, and onward.

Be sure to check out our Complete guide to El Nido, if you want to compare all the best things to do and spots to see.

Summary

Coron, Palawan is a tropical paradise that captivates visitors with its natural wonders whether its underwater or island adventures. For avid divers, nature lovers and everyone seeking relaxation on beautiful beaches, Coron has something to offer. Plan your trip wisely, pack your sense of adventure, and get ready to create unforgettable memories in this slice of Philippine paradise.

Curious on what drone we have? We currently have the DJI Mini 4 Pro and we couldn't recommend it enough especially for beginners as it has good stabilization and obstacle avoidance (because you don't want to crash on a tree on day 1!)

Here are some of our favorite shots:

Heading to Thailand next? Make sure to visit Khao Sok National Park, truly a gem of Thailand.

monkey at sok river, khao sok national park, thailand

Happy travels!

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