July 16, 2018
When you land in Busuanga, you’ll need to take a 30 minute shuttle to the small town of Coron. You can have this pre-arranged by the hotel at a cost of P300 per person (roundtrip) or you can just wing it and hire (or share) a van at the airport. Three airlines fly to Coron everyday. Prices are more or less the same at P6,500 for a non-promo roundtrip ticket.
Lodging: Gateway Hotel
This place opened around 2010. I’ve stayed there several times with friends and five fit comfortably in one room. The rooms come with two queen size beds (we asked for an extra bed for the 5th friend) and the bathroom is massive. It comes with a jacuzzi good for two. For any exhibitionists, the bathroom also has sliding frosted doors that open to the bedroom.
Food in the hotel isn’t good (sorry, Gateway) so we just availed of the free breakfast and ate elsewhere for lunch and dinner. When booking a room, make sure you request for a room that does not face the wet market. The hotel is located right by the port area (reclaimed land) where you have all the boats and so it’s also beside the fish market.
Sometimes, they start singing karaoke at 6am so as much as possible, pay the extra cost for a room with a bay view. Each room comes with a balcony but the side facing the wet market will obviously stink up the room.
Other lodging options:
- Two Seasons– High-end resort located on a remote island. If budget permits, go for it! Might not be too advisable during rainy weather though.
- Balinsasayaw– Another island resort but for those who want a rustic experience.
- Corto del Mar– A real hotel with facilities and amenities.
- Darayonan Lodge– A resort for more budget travelers. Decent rooms, clean bathrooms and close to the pier.
- Sea Dive Resort– For those that just want to dive, this is ground zero for all divers and for the foreigners.
- The Funny Lion– Same owner as Amorita in Bohol. Nice and modern and still close to the town.
- Club Paradise– For those that don’t want to move, this is the best choice. It’s an island that has everything; beach, diving, hiking trail and a hill with a panoramic view. However, don’t expect to do all the activities mentioned in the rest of the article. This is as isolated as can be.
Coron is a small town so there aren’t many options for food. There are 2 good restaurants there you can go to. One is called La Sirenetta. It’s situated over the water so it’s got a nice ambience. The owner is some foreign chick that joined Survivor: Bulgaria – or something like that.
(PICTURE ABOVE: LA SIRENETTA)
The restaurant is Bistro Coron. It’s owned by a pony-tailed French fellow. Try the Blue Cheese Steak. It’s delicious, and at P450 you can’t really go wrong.
For something more exciting, you can also buy fresh seafood at the wet market and have your hotel cook it any way you like.
Since Coron itself has no beach, you’d need to hire a banka for the day. They have fixed rates at around P3,600 for the entire day for a boat that fits 8-10 people.
For an additional P200-P300 per person, you can have the boat owner buy any type of seafood you want in the market, then cook it for you in one of the many islands you will be visiting. Most boats have their own little portable charcoal grill so they can also begin cooking while on the boat. They normally do most of the cooking on the islands since almost all islands have huts and cooking areas.
Your choices for food will be mostly grilled stuff, but you can also request for simple recipes like garlic-butter (for crabs, shrimp, lobster), kilawin (unless you’re sure on the freshness, do this at your own risk), or sweet and sour shrimp (normally stir fried with banana ketchup). They might also offer you giant clam kilawin style. This is illegal so as much as you’d love yourself some, please resist the temptation and just say ‘nope.’ – stick to the small ones, please.
To rent a banka, I have a contact there named Normits Portugues (09214920348). She’s the go-to person of a family friend who has business there so she’s used to touring people from Manila and abroad. She knows all the good islands to visit plus how to group them together into different days so no need to plan much. Just have a list of the islands you want to see. Also, have her buy all your drinks beforehand. She’ll fill up an ice chest with everything you need including chips (local brands only).
To preserve the different islands, almost all of them have environmental fees that need to be paid. The environmental office is located in town and you can pay for all the fees there. Back in 2005, I made a list of the fees so they might be outdated by now but it should more or less give you an idea of how much they cost. The fees are based per person and can be paid for in Coron town itself. Ask your hotel or boat guide to do it for you.
Entrance Fees (per head):
1) Atauyan/Banol Beach – P100
2) Barracuda Lake – P75
3) Twin Lagoon – P100
4) Kayangan Lake – P200
5) Skeleton Wreck – P75
6) Siete Pecados – P100
7) Calumbayan Island (private) – P100
8) Pass Island – P150
Other things to see/do:
Malcapuya Island — Snorkel and see giant clams (the Regency group of Boracay bought this island). You do need to bring your own food. However, you can buy fresh coconuts for P50 each. I personally like adding some rum into it.
Calauit Island —- You can find giraffes, zebras and other African animals here. Weird, right? The dictator, Ferdinand Marcos imported the animals from Africa back in the 70’s and put them here.
Maquinit Hot Springs — A natural thermal pool (perfect for sunset)
Japanese gun boat — For those that don’t dive, there is a small Japanese gun boat that you can see while snorkeling. The tip even jutts out during low tide.
WW2 Japanese Shipwrecks– For those that do dive, check out the link for the full list of wrecks to visit. There are 9, I think.
Mt. Tapyas — For a morning run, you can climb the stairs to the top of this mountain where you can see a panoramic view of coron bay. It’s an easy climb of around 700 steps so even not so healthy people can go. Just bring water and a camera.
Sea Dive Resort — This is a bare-necessities place to stay in, but it’s nice to have a drink here at night. The bar area has a billiard table and is surrounded by WW2 artifacts found in Coron bay. The bar is called Helldiver because its star attraction is a propeller from a Helldiver warplane.
Gunthers Cathedral — This is an underground cave accessible by land and underwater. I’ve never been but I heard it’s nice.
Banol Beach — A 15-minute boat ride from Coron town, this is my favorite spot. You have a small beach surrounded by limestone cliffs. Huts here cost about P300 each. During peak season, it can get crowded so what I do is rent all 6 huts (total of P1,800) so that I have my own private beach. I also buy all the beer so the caretaker can’t complain and any would-be island crashers have nothing to drink.