Arriving to Coron was not at all what I expected, but definitely in the best of ways. I ended up climbing all 742 steps of Mt. Tapyas, scuba diving for the first time to see two shipwrecks and beautiful corals, enjoying an amazing hot spring with two newly found friends, and going island hopping and swimming in the gorgeous lagoon and lake of Coron. Parts of the island definitely reminded me of paradise on earth, but it’s important to note the disparity between what we see of mother nature and the standard of living amongst the locals. The airport was small, with only fans blowing, and it did not have a conveyor belt for luggage, but rather just placed all our suitcases in a gathered corner.
Fun Fact: The WWII Japanese shipwrecks of Coron are some of the best preserved dive sites in the world. There are over 10 over the island of Coron and Busuanga.
When to go: Go towards the end of the year to avoid the crowds of the Summer time. The weather remains warm and it is less crowded.
Where to Stay: I arranged my accommodations through AirBnb. I found a nice AirBnb situated in a rural area, up the mountain, past Mt. Tapyas, where no street lights were visible. The road was completely dark, and it was at least a 15 minute walk away from the main street, so if you are able to wave down a tricycle for a few Pesos, you are in luck, but it is unlikely since the motors of the tricycles are just a click away from giving out. Use this referral credit to get $40 off your booking. If you would rather book a hotel, it will be further away from the main street, but the amenities and being on a busier street might be more comforting, and just about the same cost of an AirBnB. Get $25 off your booking using the referral code: RIDING13.
Modes of Transportation:
Shared van from the airport, and tricycles on the main street.
How Many Days to Spend: 3 days
Safety: I felt safe, and everyone I met was quite friendly. There are no street lights, so some places get a little dark where I was.
What to Wear: I would recommend breathable clothing, as it gets really humid here. Maybe a light cardigan to block the sun.
Tip: Bring a light umbrella to protect you from the sun. It gets scorching hot walking around the mountain area.
Suggested 3-Day sightseeing Itinerary
-Settle in and explore the town. Sign up and try on gear for Scuba Diving for Day 2. I had no previous diving experience, and with $99, I was able to see a shipwreck and dive in 10+ meters / 33 feet after about 15 minutes of instruction. In hindsight, probably not the best idea since it is very likely for someone to get hurt without proper training and gear. Be mindful of the nitrogen levels that the body is able to take, being on an airplane, and diving underwater, so make sure to plan it well and keep it 18 hours apart. If you are here for a 3 day trip, plan to dive on Day 2.
-Climb the 742 steps of Mt. Tapyas, and admire the unreal colors of the sunset that resembles lava in the sky.
-Negotiate your fare with a tricycle driver at the bottom of Mt. Tapyas (~300 PHP), and make your way to Maquinit Hot Spring just roughly 20 minutes away. It is a rough ride, so hold on tight. Your tricycle waits to take you back, and give you about an hour. They do not get paid until they take you back, so do not worry. There are no changing rooms at the hot spring, so come with your bathing suit on. Entrance fee is 200 PHP. They do accept student ID for a discounted rate if you are Filipino, but not international IDs unfortunately.
-Spend some time on the main street by Mt. Tapyas, grab dinner at Fika Indulgence for delicious pasta, and listen to the live music at the tattoo bar across the street. The government has yet to realize the poor placement of having tattoo parlors and bars together, so there are several around the island.
-Get to the dock by 7:30 a.m., and board the boat that will take you to the first shipwreck and corals. Depending on your prior diving experience (I had none), the whole process feels extremely rushed, and in the span of a few minutes after reaching the shipwreck, we are in the water. The day is spent at the shipwreck, and then to see a natural spot of hot spring at the bottom of the ocean, surrounded by beautiful corals everywhere. Lunch is served prior to the second dive, and the cooked meal is absolutely delicious. I would recommend bringing some sort of ear protection for your dive. The day ends around 4 p.m.
-Sign up for an island hopping tour for Day 3 and have a Tocino or Fish meal on the way back. The tours are around 1,600 PHP/person.
-Meet at the pick up point for the Ultimate Coron Tour at 8:30 a.m. Itinerary for the day includes: Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoon, Siete Pecados, Skeleton Wreck, Cyc Beach, Coral Garden, and Banol Beach. Lunch is included and served on a secluded island, and is quite scrumptious. The day ends around 5 p.m. There are tours that offer a firefly dinner, but I heard that there is only a small spot where the fireflies are seen, so I decided to pass on it. I highly recommend this tour, as it encompasses all the island hopping activities at a reasonable price.
A view from my window seat
A sunset from the Land Before Time
If you have managed to climb all 742 steps of Mt. Tapyas, you will be rewarded with this incredible view of the Busuanga islands.
Discover history hidden underwater
The WWII Japanese shipwrecks of Coron are some of the best preserved dive sites in the world. There are over 10 over the island of Coron and Busuanga. This is my first scuba dive, and I even received my certificate of completion for the PADI Discover Scuba Diving program.
Island hopping & Fun at the Lake
Our Ultimate Coron Tour Itinerary took us to Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoon, Siete Pecados, Skeleton Wreck, Cyc Beach, Coral Garden, and Banol Beach. It was a pleasant experience and even had a visit from a monkey that seemed stranded on the island. It went around stealing food from tourists.