A Practical Travel Guide to Coron, Palawan
WHAT’S NEW IN CORON
May 14, 2016 – We’re excited! Now that we’re living in Palawan we just launched our Facebook page. It’ll be easier for us to share tips, adventures and up-to-date information. If you have any questions it’s also easier and faster for us to answer them through Facebook. Visit us here https://www.facebook.com/thefeists/
Coron is a small, undeveloped town on the island of Busuanga where most people stay when they visit the Calamianes Group of islands in northern Palawan. It’s not to be confused with Coron Island which is near the town and where most of the island hopping takes place. You can easily walk across the main area in about ten minutes. There’s not much to do in town itself so it’s basically a jumping point for all activities. It’s directly accessible by about an hour plane ride from Manila, Philippines. If you want to see where Coron is in Palawan take a look at the map on our page Palawan Travel Guide. It will show you where it is relation to El Nido and Puerto Princesa.
The Feist’s Quick Guide to Coron
How to Get to Coron From Manila and Other Places
- Cebu Pacific – Several daily flights from Manila.
- Philippine Airlines – Several daily flights from Manila.
- SkyJet Airlines – Boutique airlines with one flight from Manila every day.
- Air Juan Airline – Small 9 seat charter airline that flies between Coron to Boracay (Tuesday & Friday) and Puerto Princesa to Coron (Tuesday & Friday). If you want to know what to expect check this out.
Schedules subject to change.
When you fly out of Coron you’ll have to pay an airport departure tax of 200 pesos.
Boats and Ferries
There’s a large ferry operating to and from Manila or Puerto Princesa. A lot of people want to know how to get to El Nido from Coron.
- There are small daily ferries running between Coron and El Nido. There are also ferries to and from Mindoro. I’ve posted their schedules here.
- 2GO Ferry – This is the best shipping line. The ferry makes two trips a week from Manila and Puerto Princesa to Coron. For the complete schedule visit our page Coron FAQs. If you want to find out what it’s like to take the ferry from Manila to Coron the ‘Beach Traveler’ has a good account of her trip on her blog ‘Cruisin’ Coron Palawan via 2Go Travel.’
- Atienza Shipping Lines – If you are ‘adventurous’ (take a look at these photos and you’ll know what I mean) Atienza currently has a ferry from Manila to Coron every Saturday and Wednesday. They also have a cargo/passenger ferry to and from El Nido. For this you must be extra adventurous as the ‘Legal Nomads‘ will tell you.
Schedules for boats are notorious for changing due to weather and peak seasons so make sure you always check out the latest schedules.
- A shared van ride from Busuanga airport to town takes around 35 minutes and costs 150 pesos per person. Transfer to and from the airport is easily arranged ahead of time with whichever accommodation you are staying at.
- There are no taxis and transportation around town consists of walking or tricycle. You can flag them down anywhere and they cost 10 pesos per person within town and 20 pesos outside town. Make sure you have small bills.
- Motorcycle and scooter rental costs anywhere between 200 (up to 2 hours) to 600 (13 to 24 hours) pesos depending on the size of motorcycle and how long you rent them. You will need to fill the tank before you return it. Make sure you do a test drive before you rent one.
A Few Tips
- There are only a few ATM’s around town but beware of limits and power outages that make them useless. It’s best to bring cash as most places except for large hotels are cash based. Allied Bank, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Metrobank offer ATM service for international credit cards. We find BPI to be the best as the smaller banks like Metrobank can run out of cash.
- Daily power outages are the norm so don’t be surprised if you’re eating dinner in a darkened restaurant unless you’re at a larger establishment that has a backup generator.
- Coron is a laid back town so patience is a virtue. Learn to slow down and enjoy yourself!
Looking for information on El Nido or Puerto Princesa? Visit our page Palawan Travel Guide.
The Philippines has a tropical climate which is hot and humid. We were most comfortable in t-shirts, shorts, hat and flip-flops. Most people want to know when the best time is to go.
- Dry Season – Coolest months (December to February)
- Dry Season – Hottest months (March to May) – This is summer season.
- Rainy Season (June to November) – This is considered low season. July to October is also typhoon season.
- On average hovering in the 30 degree celsius range plus humidity.
We wanted to check out what it is like during rainy season so we scheduled a trip for August 2014. I think we were very fortunate because the 4 weeks we were there it rained maybe five times and even then it was short and light showers. We were told it rained heavily in July and then again in September after we left.
The nice thing about low season (wet) is there isn’t as many tourists around. This is also the time when Filipinos like to travel. We also went at the end of May 2015 (tail end of hot season) until mid June (start of the rains). It was really, really hot and sticky. If you go at this time you might want to consider an air-conditioned room. As we got into June the skies were often cloudy, then sunny and we got rain almost daily but only for short periods of time. That didn’t stop us from island hopping or renting a motorbike. Melody has a good account of her rainy June trip on her blog ‘Guiltless Getaways‘ and She has a good account of her stay in rainy August on her blog ‘it’s Sheee.’
We also visited in January. Everyday was sunshine. Sometimes you will get a short shower. Despite what season you go bring plenty of sun block and mosquito repellent (especially during rainy season).
- You can check out the current weather but we can tell you it’s most often wrong. You know you’ll get lots of rain if there is a tropical depression in the area otherwise rain is usually isolated to different areas and blows over fast.
WHERE TO STAY
Coron Palawan Hotels
There are many places to stay in town from cheap backpacker’s hostels (Coron Backpackers Guesthouse, Patrik & Tezz Guesthouse) to 4 star hotels (Corto del Mar Hotel) with pools. It’s on the outlying islands where you’ll find the 5 star resorts with beaches and amenities you’d expect from a high price tag. I like using a multi-search website like HotelsCombined to book and compare prices. It saves you a lot of time and a little money. I usually also check with Tripadvisor for their reviews.
If you go during high season or the holidays (Christmas, Chinese New Year or Easter) make sure you book a place way ahead of time especially if you’re set on a specific accommodation that’s popular. For example, in town, Coron Ecolodge is probably the best value for the budget traveller and with only 22 rooms gets fully booked often. A few times I tried to book a hotel directly through their website but there were no rooms available. I then tried a third party website and I was able to book a room. I don’t know why that happens but it does. We stayed for almost a week in March 2016. Here’s my review as posted on TripAdvisor.
Good Value, Location & Friendly Staff
We booked online for a 3 night stay at the hotel. We took the 2GO ferry to Coron and realized we would arrive 4:30 in the morning which was way too early for the hotel’s normal check-in time. I had a bunch of questions about transportation from the pier and early arrival so I contacted the hotel. The hotel manager promptly emailed me a response and answered all my questions. There was no guarantee they would be able to accommodate us early but luckily for us they were able to when we arrived.
The hotel is very well managed with friendly, young staff. The hotel itself is a little worn down which seems to be the norm in Coron but very clean. Breakfast is included but could use some improvement. They also serve coffee, tea and water all day. The location is on one of the quieter streets in town and walking distance to most of the restaurants and amenities you would need.
Overall, I would say it is great value with some of the best staff in town. We ended up extending our stay to almost a week in March and it was almost always fully booked the time we were there.
You can book Coron Ecolodge through HotelsCombined.com
What if you don’t want to stay in town?
Although Coron town is small it’s actually quite noisy from hundreds of trikes, cars and other vehicles navigating through its narrow streets. If you prefer a quieter, less touristy and more secluded area you have options.
Just outside of town is quiet Governor’s Drive where you’ll find highly rated Sophia’s Garden Resort, The Funny Lion Inn and Asia Grand View Hotel. These are probably the best of the mid-priced hotels in Coron and they’re only a 5-10 minute, 20 peso tricycle ride into town. A little further is Coron Westown Resort along the National Highway. It’s also a good mid-range hotel and has three pools, a large poolside jacuzzi and business center.
Coron Busuanga Hotels
These places range from rustic beach houses to luxury resorts like Busuanga Bay Lodge. Keep in mind because of the secluded location of these accommodations your dining, activities and transportation will most likely be provided by your hotel so you will be limited by what they offer. Outside of town is where you can find a Coron beachfront hotel. Here’s a listing of Busuanga Hotels. If you seek a serene, relaxing atmosphere in the middle of nature then The Riverhouse might fit the bill. It has beautiful views overlooking a river. We often went there for lunch.
Coron Island Beach Resorts
The first time we visited Palawan was for our belated honeymoon. If money was no object staying at the luxurious Two Seasons Island Resort and Spa Coron Palawan might have been a possibility. Who wouldn’t dream of staying in a luxurious ocean facing villa on a tropical island paradise? And with their own chapel it’s becoming one of the most popular wedding places in Palawan. The resort has a beach and house reef for snorkelling. Check them out at www.twoseasonsresort.com. For the best deal compare it with HotelsCombined.com.
If you dream of a villa on stilts over the water like those in the Maldives then Huma Island Resort & Spa can be your hideaway. You can soak in your private open air jacuzzi and take in the beautiful seascape. To take it over the top you can use their private seaplane service. We passed the resort on our boat expedition to Busuanga and it looked pretty sweet. Check them out yourself at www.humaisland.com or book them on Hotelscombined.com.
Island Dive Resorts
We didn’t stay on Coron but on nearby Chindonan Island in January 2012. You can read my review ‘A Quiet Stressfree Paradise‘ on TripAdvisor. The small resort is ideal if you like a peaceful, quiet retreat. If you’re looking for scuba diving in Palawan then this place is ideal as it has t’s own in-house dive centre and is only 10-30 minutes from the best dive sites. We made sure to visit when we returned to Coron in August 2014 and June 2015. You can read about our visit on my post ‘Chindonan Island‘.
Directly across from them on Sangat Island is the Sangat Island Dive Resort. It’s also an excellent place to stay if you’re in Coron for wreck diving. Jojo (the big German), Luke and the rest of their team are great dive instructors. It’s also ranked #1 by reviewers on TripAdvisor. Here’s a recent article that gives a little insight into the Japanese wrecks – “Psst, Balikbayan: Shipwreck diving is best in Coron.”
Rustic, Adventurous and Budget Friendly
Our friend just recently opened a backpackers hostel just outside of town. You can get a bunk for only 250 pesos. Check out The Fat Monkey Hostel.
In August 2014 we rented a cottage a few kilometres from Coron town for seven days. You can read my review ‘Rustic Accommodations Set in Nature‘ on TripAdvisor. You can also read about our experience on my post ‘Amazing Grace‘.
Here are some good resources to check for places to stay:
WHERE TO EAT
Don’t expect gourmet food here. Coron is a relatively undeveloped island and most of its supplies are imported from other islands. Food and facilities is mostly simple and rustic, and there is not many choices in terms of variety. We budgeted around 1,000 pesos per person per day including drinks and snacks. Your budget will depend on if you eat local or western style dishes.
Don’t expect much of a nightlife here. Coron is still a sleepy little town when it comes to entertainment. We hung out at Helldivers Bar one night (they have a pool table and big screen TV) and when we left around 12:30am in the morning the streets were dead empty and there were no tricycles around. Good thing we could walk to our hotel.
I’ve expanded this section. You can find my short reviews here at ‘Where to Eat in Coron.”
Drinking instant coffee is pretty much the norm so if you’re craving a freshly brewed cup visit Coffee Kong. It’s a cute little place that serves a decent Americano, has air conditioning and decent wifi. You can read my review on TripAdvisor here.
I think newly opened Fika Indulgence Cafe will give Coffee Kong a run for their money. Not only is it directly across the street, it too has air con, wifi and a real espresso machine. The staff and manager are friendly and the menu is more extensive with items like Adobo Supreme and Kawali Express. They are open for breakfast and dinner and serve cake slices and coolers too.
Here’s what other people had to say about restaurants in Coron:
WHAT TO DO
Coron is all about the water. Diving, snorkelling and island hopping are the things to do here. Most activities take place in Coron Bay and around Coron Island. Here’s a video of what you can expect.
There are many places you can sign up for a tour or you can simply go down to the pier and hire a bangka (native boat) for a DIY trip. You can also do a multi-day island hopping/camping trip. We went on an expedition with Abandon Paradise. You can read about our adventure here. You can also hike, kayak, spear fish or freedive.
A private boat around Coron Bay should cost you 1,500-2,000 pesos (for the boat). You may need to haggle. Pick the places you’d like to see but be advised that there are entrance fees (100 to 200 pesos per person) to just about every attraction. You can also arrange with the boat to make you lunch. My top choices would be Kayangan Lake and Siete Pecados. We hired our own bangka to take us to Chindonan Island which is just in front of Sangat Island. This area is outside of the Coron Bay area cost us 3,000 pesos to hire our own bangka. Check out TripAdvisor’s list of things to do for ideas.
You can also rent a motorcycle and explore the island. Places to go include Conception and Busuanga. Be aware the highway is not paved all the way. There are many rough patches of gravel and dirt that need a bit more skill especially as you get to the western side of the island. It took us about an hour and a half to ride to Busuanga where we took a bangka to Black Island. I wrote about it in ‘The Other Side of Paradise.’
Here are some great resources on what to do in Coron:
- Top Things To Do In Coron According to TripAdvisor
- Tao Expedition from Coron to El Nido
- Abandon Paradise Expedition – 3 day island hopping trip from Coron to Busuanga and back
Do you have questions to ask other travellers? Check out these helpful forums.
Stories about Palawan on this Blog – The Feist’s Great Escape
- Recommended Travel Accessories for Palawan
- Be Prepared: Dangers in a Tropical Paradise
- The #1 Reason We Love Palawan
- ABANDON PARADISE: Camping in Palawan
- Living in a Pink House
- Amazing Grace
- Beautiful Busuanga
- The Other Side of Paradise
- Journey into the Unknown
- Coron in Pictures – Leaving our Worries Behind
- TAO EXPEDITIONS: Adventure of a Lifetime
Other Helpful Travel Information for Visiting Coron Palawan
I may know plenty about Coron but I don’t know it all. It will soon be our future home so to keep up to date I am constantly researching. Occasionally I come across a post that might be helpful to you in planning a trip. Here are some of those sites:
- November 3, 2015 – Psst, Balikbayan: Shipwreck diving is best in Coron
- September 21, 2015 – 7 Places in Coron you MUST Visit
- June 29, 2015 – Going Solo in Coron
- June 17, 2015 – Mt. Tapyas (Coron, Palawan)
- April 26, 2015 – How to Travel like a Local in Coron, Palawan
- April 1, 2015 – Calauit Safari (Coron, Palawan, Philippines)
- March 24, 2015 – Remembering that boat ride from hell in Palawan
- December 1, 2014 – Top 8 things to do in Coron
- October 21, 2014 – Coron, Philippines
- June 23, 2014 – Diving the World War II Wrecks in Coron, the Philippines
- May 6, 2914 – Shon, Coron: Day 1, Coron: Day 2, Coron: Day 3