Unspoiled Paradise: Coron, Palawan
After a 3-day stint in Manila, James and I couldn’t wait to leave the craziness behind and enjoy a much needed relaxation in Coron. Thankfully, it’s only an hour plane ride from the metropolis. Known for deep sea fishing and shipwreck dive spots, Coron is a beautiful town on the northern side of Palawan.
If you haven’t heard of Palawan then you’re definitely missing out! Deemed as the Philippines’ last ecological frontier, the island of Palawan has been making its rounds among publications, lately in Conde Nast Traveler as the most beautiful island in the world. Boasting a plethora of pristine beaches, crystal clear waters and impressive marine life, Palawan was suddenly on everyone’s radar, including ours.
Initially I wanted to go to El Nido. Unfortunately, getting there was a bit complicated and given our tight schedule, we ended up in Coron instead. Since we took the earliest flight out of Manila, we decided it was best to get some shut eye before our hike later in the afternoon.
View from our room
After our nap, we grabbed a bite and headed for the town proper for our sunset hike. It was about a 20 minute tricycle ride before we finally reached the foot of Mt. Tapyas, the second highest mountain in Coron. I stared at what seemed to be a never ending flight of stairs (700+ steps), trying to comprehend how in the world will I reach the top. After 35 minutes of gasping for air and with sweat trickling down every inch of my body, we finally made it to the mountain summit!
Worth the climb, right?
The sun dipping behind the horizon
- There’s no entrance fee. Yay!
- Contrary to the norm, you don’t need a tour guide to hike Mt. Tapyas. You can just hail a tricycle and let the driver know where you’re headed.
- After the hike, some people choose to go to Maquinit hot springs, while others (us) pig out instead.
- Notable restaurants to try: Winnie’s restaurant, Kawayanan Grill Station & Sinugba sa Balay.
The next day, we went on an island hopping tour to 6 destinations:
- Siete Pecados
- Kayangan Lake
- CYC Beach
- Sunset Beach
- Skeleton Shipwreck
- Twin Lagoon
Siete Pecados (Seven Deadly Sins in Spanish) is the nearest snorkeling spot from the town of Coron and is the first stop of the tour. The marine life here is quite abundant so there’s no shortage of multicolor corals and beautiful sea creatures to see. The corals are shallow here so we had to be extra careful not to swim too close to avoid harming them.
The world famous Kayangan Lake was our next destination. Dubbed as the cleanest lake in Asia, this popular tourist attraction is accessible by a steep 15 minute climb up and down a flight of stairs. Yes, again! I don’t know how I was able to push through after our hike the previous day. My legs felt like jelly while I was ascending towards the viewpoint but overall, it was worth it because look at this view! Although this is the most well known photograph of Kayangan lake, the lake itself is on the other side.
Limestone rocks taken from viewpoint
The real Kayangan Lake
The lake is nestled between limestone rock formations that tower over the crystal clear waters. My first instinct was to take a photo but I immediately got drawn in and took a dip instead. The water was refreshing and had the perfect temperature for a leisurely swim.
Before we had our lunch, we made a quick stop to CYC Beach. Although there was nothing spectacular to see here, the clear and shallow water was definitely inviting. James and I waddled in the water for a few minutes before heading back to our boat with the rest of our group.
Finally, it was lunch time! We had lunch at Sunset beach and had yummy Filipino food prepared by our tour guides. We had an amazing time with our group, sharing stories about our trip in the Philippines.
With our bellies full, we hopped on our boat to our next destination. Skeleton Shipwreck is a popular snorkeling spot and is the site for one of the sunken Japanese ships in Coron Bay. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a shot of the ship because a.) I can’t swim that deep b.) I can’t hold my breath long enough to take a photo of it. Basically, I’m not a very good swimmer no matter how much I pretend to be lol. But I did get this amazing shot with the fishies!
The final stop on our tour is Twin Lagoon. As our boat approached the entrance to the lagoon, I couldn’t help but marvel at the jagged limestone rock formations towering over us. Right after we docked our boat, one by one, we jumped into the calm waters and swam towards the fissure that separates both lagoons. There are two ways to get to the neighboring and more secluded lagoon 1.) through an underwater “tunnel” or 2.) through a man made wooden ladder. I was conflicted between being adventurous and avoiding hyperventilation due to a sudden onset of claustrophobia. I chose the former cause you only live once right? 😀
Upon entering the second lagoon, I was surprised at how open and extensive it was. The water was perfectly still, playful and strange – changing from warm to cool. Although Kayangan Lake is favored by many, Twin Lagoon was by far my favorite out of all the places we visited. I’m really glad they saved the best for last.
- Tours vary depending on the company but the tour we went on was Tour A/Coron Island tour for P1,500/$32 per person by JY travel and tours. Our package included lunch and entrance fees for the 6 destinations we visited.
- The tour lasted the whole day from 8 am-5 pm.
- They rent out snorkeling gear but I highly advise you to bring your own, just for hygiene purposes.
- If you’re not confident in your swimming skills, make sure you rent a life vest. We rented ours for P50/$1 per person.
- Don’t forget to wear water shoes. There’s a lot of poisonous sea creatures that you want to avoid stepping on.
Thanks to my good friend Yin (@yinjs0305) for lending some of her photos for this post.
Have you been to the Philippines? What’s your favorite island?
Let me know in the comment section below.
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it to your friends!