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Coron

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Palawan : Busuanga Island : Coron
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Coron is in the province of Palawan, Philippines on Busuanga Island. It is the largest town on the island and has the largest share of accommodations.


Background

Coron is both the name of the largest town on the island of Busuanga, and the name of a different, smaller island just offshore. The area is famous for its World War II wreck diving, and the site has been named in many lists of top dive spots in the world. In September 1944, a fleet of Japanese ships hiding in the harbor were sunk in a daring raid by the US navy. The result is around ten well preserved underwater shipwrecks surrounded with coral reef.

There are also attractions on Coron Island itself. There are many beautiful bleach white sand beaches, mostly tiny and surrounded by large limestone cliffs and wildlife. Barracuda and Kayangan lakes are both stunning locations, and good for snorkeling, and the island is the ancestral domain of an indigenous tribe who are managing the island in a sustainable way and keeping outsiders at a distance and offshore at night.

History

The first inhabitants of Coron were the Tagbanuas who belong to the second wave of Indonesians who migrated to this area some 5,000 years ago. They were a nomadic, seafaring people, living mainly by fishing and subsistence agriculture. Although they are now sedentary (with the young using cell phones, etc.), they maintain many of their old customs, traditions and beliefs. Today, the Tagbanuas remain the dominant if not entire population of Coron.

In 1902 that Coron was registered as a town and the name of the town was officially changed from Penon de Coron to Coron.

From 1939 to the outbreak of World War II, the municipality experienced the mining boom. Labor shifted from farming to mining. In July 1942, the Japanese occupied the mining camps and resumed operation of the manganese mines. On September 24, 1944, a group of Japanese ships were sunk by American warplanes in Coron waters as the ships retreated from Manila Bay. To this day, about 10 or 12 of these World War II Japanese shipwrecks comprise what is considered one of the best dive sites in the world.

In 1947, large scale deep sea fishing was introduced to Coron, and the town experienced another boom, a fishing boom. The population increased, as many people from Luzon and the Visayas came to work either as fishermen or miners.

On June 17, 1950, Busuanga was officially created as a separate municipality from Coron and in 1954, Coron was further reduced by the official creation of the Municipality of Linapacan. On September 12, 1992, Coron was finally reduced by the official creation of the Municipality of Culion.

In the past, Coron was virtually unknown outside of Palawan. It remains a small, quaint fishing town with laid back charm but with increasing media exposure it is growing, slowly but steadily, Coron has taken an important position in the tourism industry. In the past decade, there has been a rapid influx of scuba divers and other tourists coming in, making tourism the major industry player in Coron today.

Additional tourist information

Get in

By plane

  • Fly into Busuanga from Manila with Airphil Express [1], Cebu Pacific [2] or Zest Air [3].
  • Airport to town: Van transfers P150/person, P1500 for the whole van

By boat

  • SuperFerry [4] stops in Coron on their way to Puerto Princesa. Leave Manila on Friday afternoon (4:15pm)and arrives in Coron early Saturday morning (5:30 am). Heads back to Manila on Sunday night (10:45 pm). Wait until a couple of days before it departs to get cheaper tickets. Don't wait too long, though.
  • Boats run from Coron to El Nido . As of Feb 2012, there were 3 different boats leaving thrice a week for El Nido. The trip takes half a day and bookings can be made at various tourist offices near the public market

Get around

  • Tricycles are everywhere downtown. P10 for rides around town (per person)
  • Motorcycles are available for rent.
  • There are no taxis in Coron
  • There is only one van that goes from the town to airport at 2 pm.
  • Buses and Jeepneys depart from the Jeepney Terminal near the Tourist Center.

See

  • There is a cross on the mountain above town, Mt.Tapyas. You can look at it from below or climb up the path. The climb up is worth to see the view of the small islands surrounded by glass-like water.
  • CORON sign Noticeable from the water is a Hollywood style sign up on a hill overlooking the town.
  • Mangroves, natural mangroves are abundant, with magnificent kayak paddling trails. (Local mangrove kayaking tours available through Kingfisher Park)
  • Kayangan Lake P200 entrance fee. Before approaching the lake, go over the cave and glimpse at the great view on top of the mountain. This view is the most photographed area in Palawan. It is also judged as the cleanest lake in the country.
  • Twin Lagoon. The water and towering rocks are great photos. On low tide, experience kayaking under the hole of the rock. At high tide, one can swim through the hole of the rock or a walkway can be used to get to the other side of the lagoon. P100 entrance fee.
  • Barracuda Lake is amazing. Entrance is P100. Bring goggles or snorkles to observe underwater rock formations.
  • Twin Lagoon. The water and towering rocks are great photos for poster. On low tide, experience kayaking under the hole of the rock.
  • CYC Island is nice but gets very busy. It's the only free beach in the area. Entrance fees for the other beaches aren't too steep (P100).
  • Banol is very picturesque with its flower trees set against the rocky island. It has sugary fine white sand in its beachline.
  • Beach 69 is not as good as Banol. Free if you come from Kayangan lake (as of May 2008) however seems unmaintained. Beware of jellyfish (me and my companion had individual encounters).

Do

Island hopping

Head down to the Market Pier and rent an authentic Filipino bangka and captain (standardized rental costs vary by destination) Boats generally handle around 6 passengers. It costs 1500 pesos to rent a bangka - irrespective of whether you rent it for half a day or full day. Click here for the current official boat rates. Grab a lunch before you head out, as food is rarely available on any of the outlying islands. You can also buy meat, fish, veggies from the wet market and request the boat captain to barbecue or cook them for you or your group.

  • Coron Island - is a black limestone island with breathtaking cliffs cascading down to thirteen magnificent lakes (only two open to public) and powder white sand coral beaches. It is the home to local attractions Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake, Banol Beach, Twin Lagoon, and numerous snorkeling areas. Bring mask, fins, and snorkel to observe underwater rock formations. There is a pronounced thermocline, as the island's geothermal energy heats up the water as you decend into the lakes and water around the island. Ancestral home of the local Tagbanua people group.
  • Siete Pecadoes - among the best sites to snorkel in Coron. It was popularized by the shoot of a local television show of a mermaid love story. Experience swimming in an aquarium, beautiful corals and a great variety of fishes. There is a caretaker who will collect P100 from tourists. Anytime from 9 am to 4 pm is good for snorkelling. Current can sometimes be strong in the morning and i can get chilly - take an extra t-shirt to wear when snorkeling. Myth suggests that seven kids swam from the main island to escape it and follow their parents. They all drowned and the place where they drowned is where the islands are now present.
  • Culion Island - the former leper colony. Offers a medical museum and presentation of the old leper colony highlighting the cure of leprosy. The public boat leaves Coron town at 12 noon daily and returns at 7:30 am the next day. Fare is P175.
  • CYC Island - is nice but gets very busy. It's the only free beach in the area. Entrance fees for the other beaches aren't too steep (P100).
  • (Smiths island - is a small island with white sand beach, a care taker family who stays there during the day, eatables (snacks and drinks) and stunnign views of white sands and blue seas. The fee to spend some time here is 100 pesos per head. One can reach it while island hopping on a bangka. It takes 20 minutes sailing from Kayangan lake to reach here.
  • Sangat Island - black limestone island with white sand beaches near most of the major WW2 wrecks in the area.
  • Malcapuya Island - Beautiful Island with very fine white sand beach just like Boracay (or better) but without construction. Entrance is P150-200 and is included in tour prices.
  • Banana Island - A longer boat trip from town is beautiful Banana Island, with it's white sand beaches and numerous Pacific Giant Clams (local accommodations recommended as it is far from Coron, but it is available as a tour along with Malcapuya)
  • Bulog Beach is visited as part of a tour along with Banana Island and Malcapuya Beach. It's a very small but stunning beach and you'll likely have it all to yourself.
  • Black Island - another limestone island with white sand beaches located far from town. Nearby are tourist attractions North Kay and Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary (local accommodations recommended as it is far from Coron)

Diving

Lots of wreck diving and some decent coral as well. Discovery Divers (on the beautiful 'Discovery Island') and Sea Dive are the big ones, and Coron Divers the cheapest one in the island. There are 6 big wrecks and 2 smaller gunboats, all bombed on 24 September 1944 by the Allied Forces, and they are well worth diving on!

  • Coron Divers, [5]. Is the only Dive Center owned by a Filipino. Arni is the big boss. Everything makes you feel in a Filipino family (even more if you stay at Chinette's Coron Reef Pension , just 10m away in front of Coron Divers). It's the only dive outfit in town run by Filipinos and also the cheapest.
  • Discovery Divers, [6]. Tucked away on 'Discovery Island' a 10 minute boat ride from the pier. Talk to Vivian in Coron town located at the Discovery Bar or get to the pier around 8am to catch the boat out. Gunter is a great guy with a lot of experience in the area (18 years?).
  • Dive Calamianes, Located between the Discovery Bar and downtown, [7]. DiveCal is the only dive shop in Coron offering a live aboard trip to the Apo reef.
  • Neptune Dive Center, +63-921-760-7492 (), [9]. 8:00-19:00. Neptune Dive Center is one of the newer dive shops in Coron, but is owned and operated by a team that has been living and diving there for years. Emphasis is on small groups and personal service. Neptune Dive Center is the only purpose built dive shop in Coron. Prices are mid-range compared to the other dive shops in the area. (11.59.56.03 N,120.12.14.9E)
  • SeaDive, 09209458714, [10]. They have the only recompression chamber in all of Palawan onsite. The biggest dive shop in town, with divemasters who claim to have over 10,000 dives on the Coron wrecks. Priced higher than the other dive shops. Known for crowded boats and high divemaster to diver ratios.
  • Divingworld, (), [11]. exclusive located in mangrovedschungel on island Popototan some 30 minutes boat ride out of town and offers ADP/CMAS and PADI in the middle of a private bay (only accessible by boat). The staff can help you arrange things to do around the island, own house reef and house wreck (35 m). It is diving base of divingwelt-group (international scuba school with German, English, Russian, Ukraine, Polish and Czech advising)

Other activities

  • Kingfisher Park, [12] offering guided mangrove kayak tours (P500), trekking Mt Lunes Santo + bamboo cooked lunch (P500), and Starry Starry Night mangrove firefly/plankton cruises (P200). visit the website for tour booking details.
  • Maquinit Hot Spring. Offering large pools warmed by the geothermal water spring in the area. The hottest pools cascade into a large pool that empties into the ocean. Beautiful place to hang out in the evening after a long day of activities. (entrance P150, Aug 2011) Accessible by boat or by tricycle from town. Tricycle is normaly 300-400p,(4pax) including bringing you back to town after 1-3 hours.(2011)
  • Banol Beach Gorgeous white sand beach. Accessible by boat from Coron, about 20mns away, features limestone cliffs going down to this beautiful white sand beach adorned with numerous large Kalachuchi flower trees and tamarind trees. Nipa huts for lunch are located in the shade of the Kalachuchi trees.(entrance P100)
  • Skeleton Wreck is a snorkeling destination near Banol Beach off the coast of Coron Island where there is an old fishing boat wreck. Around it are beautiful corals. Beware of sea urchins. (entrance P100)
  • Atwayan Beach located on the backside of the Skeleton Wreck island near Banol Beach, Atwayan Beach features Nipa huts to have lunch, and a beach volleyball court. (entrance P100)
  • Beach 91 is not as good as Banol. Free if you come from Kayangan Lake however seems unmaintained. Beware of jellyfishes.
  • Mt. Tapyas hike - If you are staying in the Coron main town, you can walk to the foot of Mt. Tapyas or grab a tricycle for P8 (2011). The hike reportedly is a 700+-step stairs to the top, the entrance is found at the side of community basketball court. Experience a breathtaking view of the sunset, recommended to start setting out at 4pm.
  • Horseback riding
  • Mountain bike tours
  • Jungle Treks
  • Calauit Wildlife An island inhabited by imported African wildlife living in harmony with Palawan wildlife. Safari tours available. (local accommodation is required as it is about a 4 hour boat trip from Coron)
  • Kawayanan Resort* Relaxing and quiet place to have peace on the sand. Tree house is way better to experience facing the Coron Reef. 6km away from Coron town.. 200 metres away from Hotsprings

Buy

The Market Pier is home to shops, stalls, slaughter houses, diners, and karaoke. Great for hearing early morning karaoke and picking up supplies. The smell can get pretty bad close to the slaughter houses.

  • Water - aquapure can hook you up with large containers of water and you can buy bottles basically anywhere in 500mL, 1L and 4L sizes.
  • Drugstores - plentiful. Contrary to what you may hear you can buy sunscreen, Off (bug repellant), shampoo and all that other good drugstore stuff.
  • Cashew Nuts - Hand roasted "kasoy" as this delicacy is called in the local language. A must try when you are in Coron. Better then what you can buy in your local supermarket!

Eat

There is food available for purchase at Coron Market and numerous bake shops around town. It's also recommended to buy fruits from the town market and have them prepared at the lodge you stay at free of charge (feel generous to provide a tip). Recommended to try local fruits such as mango, watermelon, starapple, jackfruit, coconut, starfruit and cashew fruit but they are all seasonal. The fruits in Coron is quiet expensive compare to other parts in the Philippines. The reason is that almost all fruits have to be "imported" from Manila since the soil in Coron is not good for growing, its the same with vegetables.

  • La Sirenetta Beautiful waterfront restaurant on stilts offering international food with entrees ranging from P200-400. Recognizable on the water as sculpted mermaids adorn the posts supporting the roof of the open air dining area. (accessible through alleyway beside Coron Divers and Coron Reef Pension House and also by boat)Their service varies so be patient, its a bit pricey but the breeze and view is great.
  • Bistro Coron Owned by Bruno (who can be seen in the kitchen wearing nothing but a towel and a scowl in the mornings) it is home to French food (and international)at prices well above the local average. Entrees go from P155-270 for the most part, mains are more but crab and lobster meals are available for even more. Get the onion soup, the apple pie, the coq au vin, the basquaise, the salade nicoise, the cordon bleu. San Miguel will set you back about P50. The good pizza would be excellent if the cheese was better. Clearly coasting due to their Lonely Planet mention, service is slow, staff are rude and the place is full of only foreigners.

This is an addition to the above review: May 26, 2012-Bruno's bistro is excellent and the staff are super friendly and work hard as the restaurant is so popular because of the wide selection of amazing food and cool vibe. Breakfasts, fresh baked baguettes, homemade jam, awesome fish and meat dishes with superb French sauces, great pizzas and salads, cannot rave enough about this gem in a one horse town. It is worth the steeper prices. Also, Bruno is a fun and hard working guy himself and is the extra spice to his restaurant.

  • Trining Bacsa Locally owned and operated restaurant located around the corner from Coron Market. Offers authentic Filipino cuisine.
  • KokosNuss Resort has a good kitchen. They have a Palawan style all you can eat BBQ deal. 6 or more people required at P475 each. They also have a Christmas feast on Dec 24 which is the BBQ and definitely worth going to if you are around (tell them in advance if you are going) San Miguel is P32. Breakfasts are good as well.

Their wienerschnitzel is highly recomended!

  • Seadive ResortOverpriced continental variety of food. Slow service. Situated Over the water, seafront view.
  • WG Restaurant - the owner William gives free tourist advice with your meal, and is extremely helpful and friendly. You'll get local prices if he is helping you. He also has accommodation (LM & Pe Lodge 2 of 5 star rating).
  • Lolo Nonnoy's, Coron (Main road near coron's center). Coco Lonnoy's is a local restaurant serving filippino food and variations. It is operated by a crew of local women who make some of the best cost-quality food in Coron. You can choose from the menu or from the dishes of the days (cheap). Also, their Leche Flan is amazing. 60-300.


Drink

  • Bistro - you can also drink and play billiards at this amazing eatery.
  • Ottos - Rock out to some AC/DC and enjoy spying on the hustle and bustle of Coron's main street.
  • Helldiver's Bar" (SeaDive Resort) - Their signature drinks are great for the adventurous drinker, all for reasonable prices. They have a billiard table and relaxing music beat. You can ask for free popcorn at the bar.
  • Kuweba - on the national highway, near Angel (motorbike rental) is hidden a bar run by some Rastafarian locals, they play their own music and sell hand made jewelry and carvings upstairs.

Sleep

You can camp on some of the (somewhat) deserted islands. There are a couple of islands to check out. Ask around. Gunter at Discovery seems to know of a couple good spots. There aren't that many budget options in Coron town itself, but there are a few available I've listed here for those on a budget. Warning: 'Brown outs' (periods of no electricity) occur on a daily basis in Coron. The only way to avoid them is paying the extra money to stay at a place with it's own generator, such as Sea Dive. Otherwise, just get used to waiting around for the lights to work. :)

(Info updated July 2012)

  • Coron Reef Pension, [13] is a few steps from Coron Divers. Aircon rooms for 2 pax with toilet and bath seaside Php900, other rooms Php600, Php 100 for an extra bed. You might get a single for 300 if they're not full. Mobile phone number 09198877151 and 09194501606
  • Coron Village Lodge, [14] twin room Php950, triple Php1200, deluxe room 1300, extra bed 200 (all rooms can accommodate one extra bed). They are all airconditioned, with hot and cold shower, TV, private toilet and bath.
  • GMG Hotel Coron, National Highway, Cor. Don Pedro St., [15]. checkin: 1:00pm; checkout: 11:00am. In the town proper. The hotel has a swimming pool and offers scuba diving and island hopping packages. Php2,550.00.
  • KokosNuss Resort, [16] is outside of town a 10 minute walk up the main road. The rooms all surround a beautiful garden great for lounging around on less adventurous days. Double is 600 peso. The staff can help you arrange things to do around the island but it may be cheaper to arrange elsewhere.
  • Krystal Lodge, Nini: 0915-1398939; Abegiel 0946-8381488, [17]. A humble lodge situated over the water in the mangrove area of Coron Town. It has 8 cottages in total and 10 rooms. Single rooms are from P400-P500. Other rooms are from P600-P1300 (2pax). Cottages starts from P1000-P1600 (2pax) depending on number of people, P250 additional person. They offer breakfast & drinks only. Email: pretty_kryz23@yahoo.com
  • Kubo Sa Dagat, translated "hut on the sea" is a 30 min boat ride out of town and offers cottages on stilts in the middle of the bay of Malbato. (only accessible by boat)
  • Patrik & Tezz Guesthouse, Coastalroad, bgy 5, +639279531407, [18]. Swedish managed guesthouse, 3 min walking distance from town proper, located on the water. 2 double bed rooms (queen size bed) - 550p/night, 2 twin bed rooms (2 single beds) - 450p/night. 2 shared cr´s with hot shower, living room w ref and TV, wifi, generator. Motorbike rental - 400p/24hrs, Island hopping with boat. 450-550p/night. (11.999156,120.201336)
  • R n R Hotel, 09287609453. Near the town proper. It's a basic clean hotel with shower/AC/without AC room. Free Karaoke/TV. Another option if other hotels are full. They will offer for travel package but you can still bargain. Just rent a boat for 1500 a day and you can go to different islands for a lower price instead of per head (1000). Php1,500.00.
  • Sea Dive Resort, [19] on the water overlooking bay. Fan rooms on the ground floor with shared bathroom are 400p. Rooms are basic but spacious, with a fan and double bed, and there is a generator at Sea Dive for brown outs. Air-con rooms cost either 1,100 or 1,400. Bookings can be made through website or phone. Be careful. Quite often Seadive will book a cheper room only to have the more expensive room when you arrive. They have 32 rooms, dive shop, restaurant and bar.
  • Sunnytimes Pension, on the main road opposite the Manneken Pis Cafe. Just walk in to get a room. Basically a very nice local woman has opened the upper floor of her house out to backpackers. A 'dorm' (2 bed) fan room is 250p and basic, but very clean and comfortable. Towels are provided. Showers are cold water only, bucket and ladle, and there is no generator.
  • Coron Ecolodge, [20] Located in a quiet area near the town center, near stores, banks, restaurants and bars. Offers 22 air-conditioned rooms with en suite hot and cold shower and cable-ready TV for around P1598, twin sharing. Wi-Fi Internet available at reception area and dining lounge. Also offers tour packages
  • Villa Hermosa Bed and Breakfast, San Agustin St. Brgy 2, [21]. checkin: 2:00pm; checkout: 12:00nn. In the heart of Coron. Continental or Filipino breakfasts are served. Php650.
  • Nici Island, [22]. Private island with a private beach including a sand bar, swimming pool, tennis court and cook a few minutes from historic WW2 shipwrecks diving sites.
  • Coron Hilltop View Resort, Brgy. Poblacion 6, Sitio Dipulao, [23]. checkin: 2:00pm. Coron Hilltop View Resort offers fully-air conditioned Deluxe Villas. Avail of the resort's tour packages for island hopping and scuba diving. Restaurant provides of Asian cuisine and authentic Filipino food. Php4,000.
  • First Oriental Lodging, Brgy. Don Pedro St., Poblacion 3 (in front of Coron Tourism Centre near Mt. Tapyas Point and Maquinit Springs.), [24]. Aircon and fan rooms for travellers on a budget. All rooms are equipped with basic hotel amenities. Php1,127.
  • Amphibi-Ko Resort, Brgy. 5, Bancuang, Coron, Palawan, [25]. checkin: 2:00pm; checkout: 12:00nn. Amphibi-Ko Resort Lodge offers budget accommodation and island tours in Coron. The lodge has clean rooms with cozy ambience and has an in-house restaurant that serves Japanese cuisines. Php1,350.00.
  • Coron Gateway Hotel & Suites, Barangay Poblacion 1, (+63 2) 887 7107, [26]. All rooms are equipped with private balcony, 32- inch LCD TV, reverse cycle air conditioning, Wifi connectivity, plush beds adorned with the softest feather-down quilts and pillows, hot and cold shower facilities. Some of its facilities and services are restaurant, coffee shop, safe deposit boxes, room service and airport transfer. Rates start at 3,465.00 PHP.
  • Princess of Coron Resort, Nueva Street, 6, Barangay 1, Coron Town, [27]. checkin: 2:00pm; checkout: 12:00nn. Princess of Coron Resort offers airconditioned guestrooms from Standard to Family hotel rooms furnished with complete amenities. The resort is located in Busuanga Island near El Nido, Sabang Beach and Estrella Falls. Php1,800.00.

Contact

  • Calamian Planet Online, BGY. POB. 3 (in the center), [28]. 8 am to 9pm. An Internet Cafe you may check your mail and print document, pictures & other. P 30.00.

Get out

Go to the incredibly beautiful El Nido! 'Tourist' banka boats (Jessabel, Overcomer)have scheduled trips that leave every day of the week at about 8:00am for 2,200 peso one way. The trip takes 8-9 hours depending on the weather and includes a local style meal (fried chicken, chicken adobo, rice, etc). If your a big eater bring ur own food and drinks. You can buy the tickets pretty much anywhere in town- you'll see signs up everywhere advertising them. Departure and arrival is the port in Coron, its located at the other end of the town towards Maquinit Hotsprings. From the port to Coron center (and vice versa) with a tricycle costs 10p/person, and 10p extra if you have big luggage. The sea can be rough in in the Linapacan strait. The luggage is stowed either in the hull of the boat or on the roof of the cabin if they run out of room. To be safe, package important items in plastic to keep them dry. During peakseson there is a new fastcraft (steel hulled boat) that sails everyday both directions, its a 4hr ride and very convenient. Last peakseson (2012) it was 1800p one way. The name of the company is Montenegro Shipping Lines.

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