The importance of authenticity when traveling has been recognised for years.
That’s why backpacking became such a craze. People want a bit of adventure but they also want to see and experience destinations through a local’s eyes.
But now that some of those previous hard-to-reach destinations have become more accessible, finding the real deal in terms of an authentic travel experience is becoming more and more difficult.
The beauty of South East Asia is that you don’t need to hire expensive travel agents in order to eat with locals in a Tuscan farmhouse or go cattle herding on a Texas ranch to find it.
Sometimes, you just need to step foot in a new place and you get that feeling. That, for us, was the main difference between our experience of Coron and El Nido.
Ironically, out of entire Philippines adventure, we probably had the least expectations of Coron.
Coron is most famous for its unbelievable dive sites and, in particular, its sunken Japanese shipwrecks that have been lying at the bottom of the seabed since the second world war. So when we weren’t able to complete our PADI’s in El Nido before we arrived, we were a bit worried there wouldn’t be enough to do for the four days we were staying there.
We literally couldn’t have been more wrong. Coron not only exceeded all our expectations but ended up being by far our favourite of the whole adventure.
Our top 3 sights around Coron
As in all other Philippines’ destinations, the government strictly controls the tours that are on offer in Coron so all you need to do is choose what you want to see.
For a tour of Coron Island, we’d recommend you hire a small boat and do a private tour of the main sights (see below!). Although we loved the trips we did, I can just imagine how special it would have been seeing those places when we were the only two people there…
1. Barracuda Lake
This was the final stop of the Coron island tour. We were pretty exhausted having already been to see the twin lagoons and the skeleton shipwreck (both also amazing) so by that time we were looking forward to getting back and having a cocktail. But then we arrived at Barracuda Lake – 40 metres deep and sitting on top of a former volcano – with steep limestone cliffs surrounding it. We kind of expected there to be some super James Bond super villain to be living underneath – but unfortunately there’s just a legendary barracuda swimming around down there.
2. Malcapuya Beach
Malcapuya beach was again the last stop of the beaches and islands tour where you get to explore the beaches of Bulog and Banana islands before arriving at Malcapuya. Watch the video excerpt above to find out why we loved it so much or watch the full video diary on YouTube, which includes the rest of our beaches and island hopping tour.
3. Mount Tapyas and Maquinit Hot Springs
You don’t have to pay for an expensive tour guide to do this tour – just flag down any trike you see in town. The driver will take you first to the foot of Mount Tapyas, where you have to walk up the 700 steps before being rewarded with stunning views of the sun setting over Coron bay. When you get back down, the trike will be waiting for you to take you to the hot springs which will help to relax those leg muscles that you’ve just tired out from the hike.
Where to stay
We booked the La Natura Resort for all four nights we stayed in Coron. It’s a bit far out of town and the road to get there is pretty bumpy along a dirt track.
But once you get there, it is the perfect haven to relax after all those excursions. We ended up taking a day off from the island hopping to just relax by the pool and enjoy the tranquility of it all.
Eating & Drinking
La Sirenetta Seafood Restaurant & Bar , Real Street, Coron Town – we ended up finding this place on our first night in Coron and then made it a nightly stop-off on the way home from our various excursions.
They serve great Strawberry Margharitas, which pleased Dan a lot and the food is great too, all with a perfect view of the Coron sunset.
KT’s Sinugba Sa Balay, San Agustin Street, Coron Town – this is the most unassuming place and as far from fine dining as you will get. But the grilled chicken and seafood caught that day is amazing, done on a large fiery grill. All washed down with some chilled San Miguels.
La Natura Resort, Barangay 6, Kapayas – it may be a cheat to include the restaurant of the resort we stayed at but the food here is incredible an you can choose to eat here even if you’re not staying there. Home cooked food at is best.
Getting to Coron
Like most of the other Philippines islands, the easiest way to get to Coron is a direct flight from Manila. It only takes an hour and the airport is about 20 minutes from Coron Town.
As we were traveling from El Nido, though, we decided to go by boat. We opted for the fast Montenegro Lines ferry service which leaves El Nido at 6am, arriving into Coron at 9.30am. You can book tickets at El Nido itself but as there is only one fast service per day, tickets can sell out quickly so try and book online in advance (we used Tourismo Filipino).
Whatever you do, don’t opt for the longer boat crossing unless you have either (a) a very big sense of adventure or (b) plenty seasickness tablets. The boats are the normal wooden fishing-boat structures you see in El Nido Harbour and the journey across open seas takes around 8 hours. We met people who traveled this way, who told us that the sea had been so choppy that the waves crashing into the boat had caused part of it to break.
The final say…
When doing our research on Palawan, we had read loads of reviews arguing about whether to visit El Nido or Coron. Our favourite, without a doubt, was Coron. Make this an essential stop of your tour round the Philippines.
We’ love to go back, especially once we’ve finally done our PADIs, so we can fully enjoy the shipwrecks but we also want to explore other parts of the Philippines that wasn’t on our itinerary this trip – in particular Cebu, Siargo and Bohol.
What do you think? Give us a like if you enjoyed our recommendations while we’d love to hear your other suggestions for Coron or anywhere else in Philippines.