Last July 2008, while I was browsing the Asian Spirit’s (now known as Zest Airways) website and was searching for flights bound to Batanes, I stumbled upon some great photos of a new, unknown-to-me destination in the Philippines, Busuanga.
I tried to Google it and was truly fascinated with what I found – loads of stunning snapshots of Busuanga and Coron in Palawan. I told myself, this really is a must-see place so I immediately added it on my list of dream destinations in the Philippines.
When boyfie told me that he will be having a one month vacation in the Philippines, I hurriedly looked up on Cebu Pacific’s website and booked flights (scheduled November 2008) for 2 pax bound to Busuanga (the nearest airport to Coron Island) from Manila and vice versa which costs P1,983.21 each.
Coron is a beautiful town located in the province of Palawan that has a population of 32,243 people in 6,264 households based on the 2000 census. Coron is a part of the Calamian Group of Islands in the northern Palawan which has also been listed in Forbes Traveler Magazine’s top 10 best scuba diving sites in the world for the aquatic views of the sunken Japanese shipwrecks from World War II that can be found within the island.
We scheduled our Coron Island hopping activities on the second day of our stay on the island. We were able to hire a boat for P1,300.00 good for 2 pax. Here are the islands that we were able to visit and see around Coron:
Coron Youth Club (CYC) Beach
CYC Beach is the only public beach that is free within the Coron Island Loop. It has pure white sands, clear and shallow water which is very much ideal for swimming. There are also some old picnic huts within the island where tourists may stay and eat. Natural mangroves are also abundant within the area – another nice subject for photo enthusiast.
This is a tiny little wreck located on the northwest corner of Coron Island which is ideal for diving and snorkeling. You can see here a sunken ship that sits on a pretty reef. The wreck got its name from the fact that the keel, ribs and stringers of the boat are the only thing that’s left, giving a skeletal appearance. The water around it is so clear that you can actually see the beautiful corals and reef at the bottom. Beware: There are lots of sea urchins within the area so it is recommended to wear aqua shoes while snorkeling. Like CYC Beach, this also makes a good spot to have lunch.
Twin Lagoon is called as such since these lagoons are separated by limestone cliffs that have an opening where tourists can pass to get to the other lagoon. This narrow opening has jagged edges of the limestone cliffs and is visible only during low tide. During high tide, one should take a deep swim underneath in order to get into the other lagoon as this passageway is covered with water. These lagoons are surrounded by towering rocks with crystal clear and emerald green water.
Dubbed as “the craziest dive site in the Philippines,” Barracuda Lake is located at the north end of Coron Island. It has been named Barracuda Lake because a skeleton of a big barracuda was found in this lake. Before reaching the lake, one must do a 10 to 15-minute climb up and down the sharp lime stone cliffs. The scenery around this lake is also spectacular.
Kayangan Lake is said to be the clearest and cleanest lake in the Philippines. Before approaching the lake itself, one must climb up and down a mountain trail. Halfway up the mountain trail, there is a cave and just in front of it is this certain spot where you can see the most photographed scene in Coron. The turquoise water in this lake is a bit cold and the view here is simply stunning and amazing.
Siete Pecados has been named after the seven (7) islets surrounding this abundant coral reef and is located to the east beyond the lighthouse in Coron town. This has been considered to be one of the greatest snorkeling spots in Coron. Here you can see amazing coral reefs and great variety of colourful fishes underneath. This area has been protected from fishermen and there is a caretaker around the area.
Maquinit Hot Springs
Our last and final stop for the day was the Maquinit Hot Springs. This is the only known hot spring in the Philippines that produces a 40-degree Celsius salt water instead of fresh water. The therapeutic water in these hot springs will surely relax and soothe your tired body after a long, strenuous day.
I can still recall how my friends and colleagues had been so skeptical before about my plans of going to Coron and Busuanga. I’ve heard different comments, unlikely remarks and a whole lot more. So, who’s to blame now?
By Air, the following airlines fly to Busuanga from Manila and vice versa:
Cebu Pacific (CEB)
Tel. No: (+63 2) 702-0888 (Manila Office) / (+63 32) 230-8888 (Cebu Office)
Philippine Airlines (PAL)
Tel. No: (+63 2) 855-8888
Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR)
Tel. No: (+63 2) 849-0100
Zest Airways (formerly Asian Spirit)
Tel. No: (+63 2) 888-2003
From Busuanga Airport, there are 12-seater A/C vans available that transport tourists to Coron town proper at P150.00 per person or P1,500.00 per van. It is best to confirm and arrange these airport transfers with your hotel accommodation.
By Sea, SuperFerry sails once a week from Manila to Puerto Princesa via Coron and vice versa. The ferry leaves Manila around 4.15 p.m. every Friday and arrives in Coron early Saturday morning around 5.30 a.m. For the return trip to Manila, the ferry usually leaves on Sunday night around 10.00 p.m. and arrives in Manila Monday morning around 10.00 a.m.
Tel. No: (+63 2) 528-7000
June, July and August are considered to be the wettest months in Coron where you can expect rains because of the habagat (southwest monsoon.) September and October are transition months wherein the amounts of rain are gradually decreasing. The best weather in Coron may start as early as October and may continue until March. December, January and February may be considered to be the coolest months due to the amihan (northeast monsoon) while the months of March, April and May can be hotter than the other months.
Tricycles are available around Coron town at P8.00 per person per ride. There are also motorcycles around the island available that you may hire which costs P500.00 plus gas to fill the tank.
For tours around Coron and Busuanga, you may contact Ted of Coron Castaway at firstname.lastname@example.org.