The mention of ‘Coron’ to anyone who has been there sees their eyes light up with great memories. Any adventure traveler who has been to Coron or Filipino can confidently tell you that it’s the most beautiful place in the Philippines hence a must-visit.
Palawan, a province in the Philippines that houses Coron, was named the ‘World’s Best Island’ by Travel + Leisure. You can imagine how excited we were to visit this beautiful island. After visiting Coron and exploring its scenic landscape and landmarks, we’ve compiled the top 10 things to do when visiting this lovely town.
The Top 10 Must-Do Things in Coron, Palawan, for an Adventure Traveler
1.Hiking on Mount Tapyas
Coron is the hottest place on the face of the earth that I’ve visited. The province is home to a desert where we lived amidst the heat. Although Mt. Tapyas enjoys 95% humidity and temperatures as high as 970F, it’s still a must-visit place in Coron with many adventurous activities to engage in.
We trekked the Stromboli cone at 924 meters (3031 feet) high and even climbed up the Humphreys Peak at 3,851 meters (12633 feet) high. This means climbing the 210 meters high measly is easy. The 742 steps we made up the Mt. Tapyas saw us sweat a lot.
The breathtaking view of Coron Town lying down the mountain and stretched over to the Coron and Busuanga Islands was worth the sweat. Bring with you a towel and enough water on your trek. Since the sun is hottest at 3pm, don’t start your treks at this time because the humidity and heat are at their peaks.
2.Soaking in the Maquinit Springs
Visit the Maquinit Springs at sunset with your spouse and enjoy the romantic atmosphere rekindling your love. With all the heat (about 39 to 410C (1020F), and having just trekked Mt. Tapyas to the peak, soaking in the Maquinit Springs was the last thing we wanted. In fact, the whole idea sounded insane.
However, the world is home to few salt water hot springs, amongst them being the Maquinit Springs. They’re simply two pools in the heart of the mangrove forest with a nearby small beach. The pools are fed with natural underground volcano hot water with therapeutic benefits.
We loved soaking in the springs even after trekking the mountain. This was beyond our expectation. Located about 30 minutes from the town of Coron, the Maquinit Springs are accessible through tricycles for hire. Negotiate for a round trip tricycle ride and it should cost you about $8 or PHP 300 to 400. The riders will hang around, waiting as you enjoy deep therapeutic soaks in the springs.
An hour of soaking in the springs is enough to feel totally relaxed. It will cost you about $4 or PHP 200 to enter the springs and soak for an hour.
3.Swimming in the Hidden Twin Lagoon for Adventure Travelers
The Twin Lagoon is separated into two by a wall made of limestone hence its name. The hidden lagoon is one of the most attractive sites I have ever visited and experienced. In fact, I have been there twice. The limestone wall has an archway through which you can easily access the hidden lagoon at low tide.
Enjoy the thermocline, a point where salty and fresh water at different temperatures meet, creating a great sensation. This occurs at the point where the hidden lagoon embraces the limestone Calis Mountain towers.
The limestone walls are home to marine life and corals. Although your presence in the lagoon stirs up the waters to temporarily brackish like vinegar mixed with oil, you can see what’s in the water 50 feet down. Due to the amazing coral walls and beautiful environment, we enjoyed snorkeling in the twin lagoon.
4.Swimming in Lake Kayangan and Sight-Seeing
One of the most popular sites and most photographed in Coron is Lake Kayangan. As a result, it can become crowded with visitors. This is attributed to the short and easy climbs taken to view the surrounding scenic areas. Visit the site earlier in the day before it gets crowded.
Having toured the site in a private and small group tour with Two Season Resorts, I prefer the former option. The resort has a fleet of comfortable speed boats, and with a private tour you can easily reschedule your tour as deemed necessary.
The resort also provides water booties, essentials you need when touring Lake Kayangan as an adventure traveler. On my first group tour of the lake, I didn’t have proper footwear and it had rained. Therefore, I failed to climb up the lake. We got to choose our time of departure, which as mostly 8 am. This saw us be the first visitors to the lake for the day.
Lake Kayangan is a public fresh water lake (one of the town’s two public lakes and among its 7 fresh lakes). Special permission is needed to visit the other 5 lakes; this is taken from the indigenous tribe, Tagbanua, residing in the island.
Take a short trek up to view the attractive Coron Bay and descend the rocky trail to access the fresh water lake. A dip in the lake after the sweaty hike is refreshing enough to relax your tense nerves. Since there’s thick vegetation around the lake, the area is home to mosquitoes. Don’t let them ruin your trip by applying a good repellent to keep them off.
5. Diving in the Barracuda Lake to See the Underwater Mountains
Barracuda Lake is one of the seven fresh water lakes in Coron and the weirdest to go diving. With your diving gear packed on your backpack, hike up (takes a short time) slick granite rocks and wooden stairs with the sound of rickets all-over the place to access the lake.
Fresh and salty waters of different temperatures (up to 1000F or 380C) meet to form thermoclines and helioclines in the lake. Although both the lake water and temperatures in the environment are hot, you’ll love the view of underwater mountains, similar to those in the movie ‘Avatar’.
If you brought your underwater DSLR camera, take great video and photo shots to bring back home. Even if you’re not an adventure traveler into diving and prefer snorkeling, give the lake a try. However, you’ll only marvel at the beauty beneath the lake waters and enjoy the hot spring through diving.
6.Snorkeling on the Japanese Ship Wreck of World War 2
World War 2 shipwrecks are all over the lakes in Coron, with the Japanese Skeleton Wreck easily accessible. Explore the shallow wrecks to unearth the coral reef and marine life that has developed in them over the years.
The Skeleton Wreck is only 16 feet or 5 meters deep, meaning you can easily explore and appreciate the wreck. Take a dry snorkel for a free and easy dive 5 meters down for close examination and sight-seeing.
7.Diving in Philippine’s Top Diving Site
Coron has one of the top diving sites in Philippines. It is for this reason that we chose the town as our diving destination. It would allow us to fully exploit our new dive certifications. For starters, seasoned divers, those with more advanced skills than ours, dive in Coron.
As I said earlier, lakes in Coron are home to many ship wrecks from the 2nd World War. Highly skilled divers can easily maneuver their way through the ship wrecks, exploring them from one room to another.
Although Tim, our dive master went inside a few rooms, I didn’t because I get a little nervous before taking dives. Moreover, I am yet to develop the buoyancy and control I need to explore ship wrecks, without bumping on things.
Even if your diving skills can’t allow you to go for ship wreck exploration, marvel at the abundant marine life the Coron waters has in store for you. Although our visibility in the waters was mostly good, it’s best to visit Coron for diving in November all the way through February for improved visibility in water. We endured typhoons twice during a visit to Coron.
8.Visiting a Private Island
Other than the lakes and mountains, Coron is home to some of the most attractive private island resorts we’ve ever set our eyes on. We enjoyed our stay at the Two Seasons Coron Island and even stayed for three extra nights, totally foregoing our plan to visit EL Nido.
We loved the clear waters, so clear you’d think you’re in a pool. Together with the amazing beaches, the island was a small paradise at the heart of Coron. We also liked the fact that our snorkeling began right at the resort’s beach, meaning we explored everything the island had to offer and so its waters.
Taking a vacation with your spouse? Hole up for some romance or engage in any activity of your liking. The island booms with lots of fun activities to keep your vacation active from the moment you arrive till the time you have to say goodbye to Coron.
9.Local Filipino Dishes
A trip to Coron isn’t complete for an adventure traveler until you try out the local Filipino dishes. Trying out local dishes is part of the travel experience. Despite our differences in religion, race, culture and language, we all love good food. This is something we share as humans. Although I have tried out some great Filipino dishes, their cuisines aren’t my favorite.
At the edge of Coron town lies The Funny Lion, home to the Hunt Restaurant. Try out some dishes here while in town. The barbecue pork ribs are the tastiest I have ever tried. They were so soft that the meat easily came off the bones. Look out for this dish in the menu and don’t hesitate to give it a shot.
The Santino’s Grill Restaurant in town is also a great choice. Although they’re popular for their pork ribs, I loved the ones I had at the Hunt Restaurant more. What I like about this restaurant is the variety of seafood in their menu. For instance, go for chili salt squid, the calamari or even grilled prawns, among other great dishes.
The boodle fight is another way of trying out the local Filipino dishes. It’s a popular dish served during traditional festivals as communal meals. It features various foods served next to each other. The only reason I haven’t tried this local dish is the manner in which it is served; different foods are mixed or served next to each other.
An interesting element of the boodle fight is that the food is eaten using one’s hands. You simply scoop enough food and put in your mouth. If you don’t mind trying out different foods mixed up, giving it a shot and enjoy the unique experience that comes with eating Filipino dishes.
10.Hopping the Island
The Philippines is home to more than 7000 islands, with only 8 major ones and some islets located in Coron. With many things to see, activities to engage in and sites to explore, you need to take a hopping tour of an island. On some islands, you can snorkel, swim or even dive in some of the most attractive beaches in Coron.
A day spent on an island is one well-spent. Explore different islands because no two islands are the same. Each has unique experiences to offer.
These are just some of the top activities you can engage in during your trip to Coron in the Philippines. What’s more, the locals are friendly and warm as they love having visitors in their town. Plan your vacation properly to avoid nasty surprises. As an adventure traveler, you need the right gear to use during your trips.
Whether you plan to go trekking, swimming, diving, snorkeling or simply sight-seeing, you need to be in the right attire and all geared up to have fun. With a good plan, you’ll not just visit the Philippines, but also get to explore all the great Filipino destinations in your list of must-visit sites.