Coron, Palawan (August 2009)

This year I decided to do something special for my birthday.  A quarter-life celebration.  Something special to look back to, and to share with special friends.

I have been introduced to Coron only when my friends and I passed by it on the way to Puerto Princesa/El Nido in 2006. Being part of the Palawan group of islands, I expected its natural wonders and sights to be the same as that of El Nido. And having enjoyed that trip so much, Ate Jaki and I vowed to explore Coron as well in the near future. As early as April, I have booked our flights for my birthday weekend and started counting the days before we went to Coron.


Coron is part of the Calamianes group of islands in Northern Palawan. To get there, we opted to take the faster route – a propeller-plane ride from Manila to Busuanga airport, and a 45-min ride in a van from Busuanga airport to Coron town.  As excited and obsessive-compulsive as I was, I have booked this ride (PhP 150/person), along with our bangkero, way ahead of time. Other airlines offer the same ride for the same price, but I didn’t want to rely on chance.

We stayed at the Coron Reef Pension House, which is right by the sea. The place itself is very simple, quaint and very cheap (PhP 800/night for an AC room good for 3-4 ppl).  The crew, though, was not very friendly nor attentive. We didn’t care so much, though, as we were on a budget and its accessibility to the market/establishments and the sea outranked the problem.

views of and in town

views of and in town

Since we only had 2 days, we decided to start the island hopping as soon as we arrived. Our very helpful, courteous, generous and fun bangkeros – Kuya Marlon, Kuya Edmond and Russell – were already waiting for us when we arrived at the Pension House. So we just freshened up a bit, ate a simple lunch at the market, and headed on with our Coron loop tour.

CORON LOOP TOUR

The town of Coron actually serves as a jump-off point to the amazing islands of Calamianes. There are many islands, lakes, dive and snorkelling sites to explore near the town itself. If you have not booked a banca ahead of time, you can go to the market and look for their Association to book for one. They have fixed prices, and they have strict rules to follow regarding the number of people in one banca to ensure the safety and satisfaction of their guests. (The bangkeros do refer to and treat every tourist as their guest. They assist you in every way they can and make sure that your Coron experience is whole, comfortable and remarkable.) A Coron loop tour ranges from PhP 1300 – 2000 depending on the number of people and islands that you would like to visit.

Since we only had half a day, I carefully picked the sites to go to, and we opted to visit:

1. Banol beach – This small pocket of white, powdery shore is surrounded by limestone formations, characteristic of Palawan islands. The water is very shallow and very clear – ideal for beach bums who just like to lounge around and wade in the water. Sea grass, though, abound near the shore. Good thing that they are not the itchy type that sticks in between your toes (just like in Boracay), so their presence is not really a problem. In fact they attract a lot of small fishes which feed on them. The place is maintained  by Tagbanuas. Conservation fee is PhP 100/person.

Banol Beach

Banol Beach

Banol Beach

Banol Beach

2. Twin lagoons – Each of these back-to-back lagoons is actually quite easy to get to with a boat. The main adventure here is to swim through a small opening in the limestone formations to get to the other side. The opening, though, is not visible when the tide is high, so timing is crucial. As you swim in the calm, clear waters towards the opening, groups of silver fishes line up to greet you, creating a natural cordon, seemingly marking the entrance. It’s fascinating. (We heard other bangkeros talk about an entrance fee to this place. We didn’t pay any, though. :) )

Entrance to the other lagoon

Entrance to the other lagoon

at the bigger lagoon

at the bigger lagoon

3. Kayangan Lake – the cleanest lake in the Philippines. Surrounded by limestone cliffs, which are home to some birds at night, the lake is so clear and so calm that you can practically see some parts in the bottom. The water is so inviting and refreshing that you wish you could just float there and relax for the rest of the day. To get there, you need to climb up and then down 70+ steps of make-shift rock stairs. These can get very slippery; but to ensure people’s safety, handle bars line the steps. As a bonus to the lake itself, a beautiful view awaits you at the top of the steps – the most captured view in the area. Conservation fee is PhP 100.

view from the top of the rock steps

view from the top of the rock steps

wooden boards line the edge of the lake

wooden boards line the edge of the lake

to Kayangan

to Kayangan

4. Siete Pecados  Marine Park – being a reserve, fishes abound here. Boats are not allowed to anchor here; to dock, they attach their boats onto a floating buoy with a rope. I am quite disappointed with the quality of the corals here. The corals are bleached and most of them are dead already. :(  Oh, and be careful with sea urchins. There are also plenty of them in the area. Conservation fee is usually at PhP 100/person. But they do have a “promo”. We just paid an extra PhP 200 for the three of us in Kayangan, before heading off here. It saved us PhP 100.  :)

Siete Pecados Marine Park

Siete Pecados Marine Park

5. Maquinit Hot Springs – to top off our tour, a dip in a natural pool of hot water from a natural mountain spring. The water is hot, mind you, and not warm. You might hesitate at first, but once your body has acclimatized to the water’s temperature, a long relaxing dip will take your worries away. Entrance fee is PhP 100.

Maquinit hot spring pools

Maquinit hot spring pools

views from Maquinit

views from Maquinit

White sand beaches

I have had my share of beautiful beaches, but these islands are truly the most amazing beaches that I have ever been to. They have the finest sands, the calmest and bluest waters, and the most amazing views! Kinikilig ako just thinking about them. :)  These islands are a little farther from Coron – a 2-hour boat ride, to be exact, and are quite expensive to go to – PhP 200/person/island for a day trip – but everything is all worth it.

1. Waling-waling island – My friends and I literally fell in love with this place. The best, the best, the best!!! We didn’t plan to go here, actually, but Kuya Edmond and Kuya Marlon kept insisting that we do. Finally, we agreed, but we said, “Sige po, pero di na po kami bababa, magpicture lang kami habang nasa bangka kasi mahal na.” To that, Kuya Marlon said, “Sigurado kayo?,” while starting to unload the anchor. Sa isip-isip ko, “ang kulit nila ha!” But just when I was about to say NO once again, a sea turtle suddenly came into view, swimming right beside our boat! Taking that as a good indication, we acquiesced. When we went down and took a look at the sea from the shore, we were stunned. The sea is soooo clear and sooooo shallow that we can practically see and walk to the next island! In addition, the sand is soooo fine and white that in a sunny day just like that day, it appears so bright and glaring, it actually hurts to look at it for a long time. As a bonus, we were the only people in the island!  The island is private, and has only been opened to the public in May.  We were so happy and amazed that we couldn’t stop saying, “Ang ganda…ang ganda…” over and over. Swimming in the water, we could see pockets of beautiful corals teeming with colourful fishes. The other side of the island, though, is a little rocky, but still gorgeous, nonetheless. After lunch, we were led to the view deck above the hill which has the most amazing sight of the beach. We didn’t want to leave… We promised the caretaker, Kuya Gerry, that we will definitely come back, and this time, stay in that island for the whole trip. :) (Overnight rate: PhP 1500/person; PhP 2500 – with food; There is only one Cabana, so the whole island can be yours the whole time. :) )

From this angle, it doesn't seem much, but as you dock...

From this angle, it doesn't seem much, but as you dock...

...you get to enjoy this view plus so much more!

...you get to enjoy this view plus so much more!

you can even cross to the other island. Just don't forget to say "hi!" to the baby sharks on the way.

you can even cross to the other island. Just don't forget to say "hi!" to the baby sharks on the way.

Waling-waling island

Waling-waling island

Waling-waling

Waling-waling

Waling-waling accommodations

Waling-waling accommodations

2. Banana island – this island right beside Waling-waling is a little bit more commercialized and a little bigger. The water is not really for beach bums though as it suddenly deepens just a few feet away from the shore. The marine life, though, is very much alive in this area. Perfect for snorkelling. :) Walking on the other side of the island, we noticed a small rocks-and-sand bar right in the middle of Banana and another island. We decided to cross and go there, where a little shelter has been created. :)

Banana island

Banana island

I love the colors in this one!

I love the colors in this one!

at Banana island

at Banana island

Banana island2

at the little sandbar

at the little sandbar

3. Malcapuya island – another stretch of beautiful sand. Similar to Waling-waling, the water is shallow and clear, but some parts have sea grass.

Malcapuya island

Malcapuya island

Malcapuya island

Malcapuya island

malcapuya island

malcapuya island

Mt. Tapyas

On the morning of our departure, we decided to brave the 700+ steps to Mt. Tapyas to get a glimpse of the sunrise and the town. The steps are actually concrete and are easy on the legs and feet. But being a couch-potato and being the most un-physical person that I know, I had to take a breather a lot of times during the climb.

IMG_8133

Mt. Tapyas

view of the hill

view of the hill

Mt. Tapyas

Mt. Tapyas

Mt. Tapyas

Mt. Tapyas

sunrise at Mt. Tapyas

sunrise at Mt. Tapyas

As we boarded the plane, I honestly felt this extreme sadness that I was leaving the place. I am not really sure if the emotional attachment is simply due to my birthday, but I do know that Coron will always be special for me. I did have my special birthday celebration – one that I will always remember with a tug in my heart and a big smile in my face.

***

I highly recommend these bangkeros:

Kuya Marlon Saclet – 09059570551

Kuya Edmond Decena – 09109547450; edmonddecena@yahoo.com

Waling-waling island caretaker: Kuya Gerry – 09128956393


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About celinecats

Food lover. Traveler. Photography enthusiast. Physicist.
This entry was posted in New places, New sights, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Coron, Palawan (August 2009)

  1. Mia Sereno says:

    Wow — these photos are gorgeous. ♥

  2. Bestfriend George says:

    Sabi nga ni Marian Rivera, “Beautiful!”

  3. Jaki says:

    cats, i have plenty of comments regarding this post..but they can all be summed up into one word, AMAZING! thank you for sharing this. now, i definitely know what i missed.

  4. Jaki says:

    oh…have i mentioned that i will spend the night in waling-waling when i visit coron? :D

  5. france says:

    amazing CORON!!!! love it! love it! love it! balik tayo dun ate jaki!

  6. Julie says:

    This is it! My 2010 summer destination! :) Thanks Ma’am Cats! ^_^

  7. Floe says:

    hi i found your website while googling for places to stay and how to get to palawan and/or camiguin from manila and if we can go to palawan then camiguin. you seem to have such a pleasant stay in coron and the pics are awesome, we wanted to go to puerto princesa in the beginning but after seeing your pictures, we now we want to go to coron too .. or to all the places you have been for that matter heheheh …

    having been there can you please give us some “tips” or some do’s and donts’ so we will have a pleasant stay like you did :-)
    – i’d like to ask about the airlines u took and the budgeting

    looking forward to hearing from you, hopefully soon coz we’ll go there on november :-)

    thank you very much

    Floe

    • celinecats says:

      Hi Floe!

      Going to Coron is a great idea, and I think you’ll really enjoy it there just like we did. :) I think it’s really important to decide first how long you’re going to stay there so that you can easily plan your itinerary and budget. :) If you have a lot of time (and money, hehe), you can actually visit Puerto Prinsesa, Coron, and even El Nido in one trip. That’s going to be one amazing experience! :D

      By plane, Seair, ZestAir/Asian Spirit, PAL express and Cebu Pacific all have flights to Coron. We took Cebu Pac during a promo – PhP 1600 per person for a round-trip fare. The other airlines, I believe, are a little more expensive. By sea, Superferry leaves Manila for Puerto Prinsesa on a Friday night, with a stopover to Coron port. Manila – Coron trip takes about 12 hours, and Coron-Puerto another 12 hours.

      I can give you some accommodation contacts in Coron if you’re interested. :) I also highly recommend that you hire our bangkero, Kuya Marlon, because he/they really made us feel very comfortable and satisfied with the trip. :) I might also be able to give you some details on Puerto/El Nido, if you want but I’m not sure if the contact numbers that I have are still up to date. You can personally contact me through celinecats@gmail.com. :D

    • celinecats says:

      Hi Floe!

      Going to Coron is a great idea, and I think you’ll really enjoy it there just like we did. I think it’s really important to decide first how long you’re going to stay there so that you can easily plan your itinerary and budget. If you have a lot of time (and money, hehe), you can actually visit Puerto Prinsesa, Coron, and even El Nido in one trip. That’s going to be one amazing experience!

      By plane, Seair, ZestAir/Asian Spirit, PAL express and Cebu Pacific all have flights to Coron. We took Cebu Pac during a promo – PhP 1600 per person for a round-trip fare. The other airlines, I believe, are a little more expensive. By sea, Superferry leaves Manila for Puerto Prinsesa on a Friday night, with a stopover to Coron port. Manila – Coron trip takes about 12 hours, and Coron-Puerto another 12 hours.

      I can give you some accommodation contacts in Coron if you’re interested. I also highly recommend that you hire our bangkero, Kuya Marlon, because he/they really made us feel very comfortable and satisfied with the trip. I might also be able to give you some details on Puerto/El Nido, if you want but I’m not sure if the contact numbers that I have are still up to date. You can personally contact me through celinecats@gmail.com.

  8. carol lee says:

    hi! ive been trying the number of Kuya Gerry – 09218956393 it doesnt work. we are looking at the possibility of staying overnight there sana.. or maybe in malcapuya island. any contacts that you can recommend?

    we are flying there on sept 29

    thanks!

    • celinecats says:

      Hi Carol,

      You can try to contact Kuya Edmond instead. Friends sila ni Kuya Gerry. :) I have a contact number for Banana island. Mahal nga lang din dun, and I didn’t enjoy the island as much as Waling-waling. It’s just beside Waling-waling, though, so madali lang mag-day trip if you like, hehe.

      BANANA ISLAND – 0919 6667258

  9. carol lee says:

    thanks! thanks! got to talk na with Kuya Edmond. he’ll give me waling-waling’s contact. the caretaker raw has been changed na pala raw.

  10. carol lee says:

    btw its still Kuya Gerry you just got the numbers mixed up — its 0912-8956393. Thanks so much for the info… Kuya Edmond will be our bangkero and will stay in the island for 1 night :). am soo excited :)

  11. hiyee. we spent overnight in waling-waling (bulog 1). galing talaga. its sooo nice!! i highly recommend it.

  12. Pingback: Waling-waling, Coron « NATURE TRAVELER

  13. Pingback: Accommodations and other recommendations for a trip to Coron | travelling light

  14. rafael says:

    Hi, I live in Europe and it will be my first time in the Philippines. I’m going in the month July and August. I have already planned everything but now I’m wondering how likely it is to get bad weather in those months

    • celinecats says:

      Hi Rafael!

      Rainy season in the Philippines is usually from the last week of May until September. But for the past few years, the weather has been quite unpredictable, and typhoons have been coming in much later (starting around September). You can still expect some rain on those months, but I think you would still be able to enjoy. :) Also, some mountainous regions in the North like Sagada and the Mountain Province, which have beautiful rice terraces and cave formations, are not prone to typhoons so they’re also good places to go to. :)

      Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more help with your trip. :)

      • Rafael says:

        Celinecats, thank for your quick response. I just got an offer from Coron Reef Pension House. Its 18000 Pesos for all 4, including meals, snack, entrance fees, transfer airport to town and of course the accomodation. Do you have any idea how this Pension House looks like? They have’nt any pics on their site. And is it a resonable price?

        Greets

  15. Maricel says:

    Hi celinecats, taga Manila ako. ok ba mag stay sa private island bulog UNO? Gaanu sya ka private? Plan kasi namin pumunta ng Palawan this month w/ my hubby. Is it safe to stay over night there? Pwede makuha no.nga bangkero dun at caretaker ng island pls?. Thank u

    • celinecats says:

      Hi Maricel,

      Yes, it’s very safe to stay overnight in Waling-waling/Bulog Uno. I haven’t tried it, but I have friends who did. :)

      Unfortunately, the contact numbers that I have are outdated, but I will try to get the correct ones soon from friends. I will let you know as soon as I can. :)

      • Maricel says:

        Hi again, anu po daw mga activities nagawa nila nung nasa waling waling po daw sila? Kac first time po namin pumunta ng Palawan.

        Do u have the contact no.na po sa care taker dun?

      • celinecats says:

        Hi Maricel,

        Chill place lang talaga ang Waling-waling, hehe. So beach lang talaga sya na super serene, and also with a nice view. :) Banana island (the nearby island) is a bit bigger, and you can do snorkelling and kayaking there.

        Unfortunately, my friend did not have the caretaker’s number. The bangkero (Kuya Marlon) took care of their whole trip. You can contact him/his wife, instead at 09995325759.

        I have a contact number for the caretaker (Kuya Gerry), pero di ko kasi sure kung updated pa sya: 0912 8956393. For Banana island, 0919 6667258. Sana updated din sya.

        I hope this helps!

  16. For bookings at Bulog Uno a.k.a Waling-Waling islands you can contact (63) 0915-100-0000 or email reserve@waling.com Lovable Gerry awaits to take care of you!

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