Coron is one of the most beautiful and popular places to visit in the Philippines. With jaw-dropping limestone cliffs, pristine beaches, fresh water lakes with underwater rock formations and an abundance of epic diving spots, it isn’t surprising that many travelers want to visit these stunning islands. This comprehensive guide includes all the best things to do in Coron, Palawan during a 2 day visit.
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Where is Coron, Palawan in the Philippines
Coron is located on the southern end of Busuanga Island in the Palawan Province.
Coron town is most likely where you will stay during your time on Busuanga Island. During island hopping day trips you will visit Coron Island which is about 30 minutes by boat from Coron town. This is where you will visit some of the best spots such as Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoon, Banul Beach and more!
The Best Time to Visit Coron
Palawan in the Philippines experiences tropical weather year round with plenty of sunshine filled days and warm temperatures. However, there are two distinct seasons. Dry season is from December until March when the province of Palawan experiences the least amount of rain. Meanwhile from May to November it is rainy season with rainstorms arriving more frequently. While we were there in October we only experienced rain for around 45 minutes on one day during our time in the Palawan province.
Day 1-Take an Island Hopping Tour Around Coron
One of the best things to do in Coron, Philippines is to take an island hopping tour. Hire a local guide and a traditional boat to experience all the beauty of the surrounding islands.
During your island hopping tour of Coron you will visit stunning lagoons, sweet water lakes and small private beaches with warm, turquoise water.
Just like an El Nido island hopping tour you can either take a pre-arranged group tour or schedule a private tour. I recommend a private tour even though it will be a little more expensive. A private tour gives you more flexibility with your departure time and lets you choose the destinations you want to visit.
The easiest way to book a private tour is to head down to the harbor in Coron Town the evening before your island hopping tour. You will find many local captains who will offer you a special rate to book their boat. Our tour cost 2,100 PHP ($41 USD) for the private boat, captain and guide.
You will have to pay extra for your food, snorkel & mask rental and the entrance fees to the different stops. We arranged to leave at 7:30 AM which is well before any of the group tours depart for the day, an added bonus of a private tour. Prior to our departure we stopped by the local market and selected some fresh veggies to be prepared on the boat for lunch.
Total Cost of a Private Coron Island Hopping Tour
- 2,100 PHP ($41 USD) for the private boat with captain and guide
- 1,150 PHP ($25 USD) per person for all entry fees
- 150 PHP ($4 USD) for snorkel & mask rental
- 200 PHP ($3 USD) for fruits & vegetables from the local market
Total for the day for 2 people: 4,900 PHP ( $98 USD)
The Best Stops on an Island Hopping Tour in Coron, Palawan
There are many different places that you can visit on an island hopping tour in Coron. To guarantee you’ll see everything that is on your list it is best to take a private tour. Many of the group tours will only take you to certain spots and not all the popular destinations are included in the same tour. Below are my recommendations for the top things to do in Coron on your island hopping tour.
1. Kayangan Lake
Visiting Kayangan Lake is one of the top things to do in Coron. To reach the crystal clear waters of Kayangan Lake, you will need to climb up and down some 300 steps. Once you’ve reached the top there will be an area with an incredible viewpoint of the limestone karsts and multi-colored turquoise hues.
The lake is comprised of a mixture of fresh water and salt water and is one of the cleanest in Coron. You can take a swim in the refreshing water to see the underwater rock formations or just relax along the boardwalk.
If you are on a private tour, your first stop of the day should be to Kayangan Lake. As one of Coron’s most popular spots, the aquamarine lake will become very crowded once the group tours begin their day. We arrived just before 8AM and there was no one else there yet.
The entrance fee to Kayangan Lake is 300 PHP ($5.86 USD) per person and is not included in the cost of your private tour. You will pay your boat captain and he will give you a ticket to use to enter the lake.
Tip: Apply insect repellent prior to arriving at Kayangan Lake. The thick vegetation surrounding the lake and the stairs are filled with mosquitos.
2. Twin Lagoon
The second stop on our private tour around Coron was to Twin Lagoon. Upon entering the lagoon you will see that it gets its name from the large limestone wall that separates the two lagoons.
From the boat parking area you can reach the other side of the lagoon by either climbing up and over a set of wooden stairs or swimming underneath the wall. The opening under the limestone wall is only assessible during low tide.
On the other side of the lagoon you will be rewarded with crystal clear, turquoise water surrounded by towering limestone cliffs.
The entrance fee to Twin Lagoon cost 200 PHP ($4 USD) per person. There was a local man paddling around in a kayak collecting the tickets.
At the Twin Lagoon you will be required to use a life jacket, which we didn’t prefer since we are very good swimmers. In fact, I find it harder to swim with a life jacket on. However, once we were inside the lagoon we took them off and just used them to float around on which was actually quite nice!
3. Skeleton Wreck Snorkeling Spot
After spending some time swimming in the secret spot at Twin Lagoon we came to the Skeleton Wreck snorkeling and free diving spot. There are quite a few WWII Japanese shipwrecks located around the islands of Coron where scuba divers can explore their underwater remains.
While not all of them are visible to snorkelers, the bow of the ship is shallow enough at the Skeleton Wreck snorkeling spot that you can see it from the surface. If you are an experienced free diver you can easily reach the bow, some 5 meters down, with just a snorkel and mask.
The cost to snorkel at the skeleton wreck is 150 PHP ($3 USD) per person.
4. Banul Beach for lunch
The soft white sand and bright blue water of Banul Beach offers an idyllic backdrop for eating your lunch. Before departing on your trip you will visit the local market to pick up food to be prepared on the boat for lunch.
Along the beach will be a few huts with picnic tables and benches where you can enjoy your prepared picnic lunch. We chose to eat on the boat and then explore the small beach afterwards.
Spend some time here swimming in the warm waters and relaxing on the beach before heading to your next spot.
The entrance fee at Banul Beach is 150 PHP ($3 USD) per person.
5. Barracuda Lake (Luluyuan Lake)
Leaving Banul Beach we headed straight for Barracuda Lake. Surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, Barracuda Lake is a unique spot for snorkelers, free divers and scuba divers. To reach the enclosed lake you will climb up and over a set of wooden stairs and enter the lake on the side opposite boat parking.
The transparent water is a combination of fresh and salt water with distinct thermocline properties. As you dive deeper the water becomes noticeably warmer almost like bath water. Due to the combination of fresh and salt water it is slightly more difficult to rise back to the surface.
What is also special about Barracuda Lake is that the massive limestone cliffs continue below the surface looking like underwater mountains.
We came to Barracuda lake later in the day and it was not that crowded. The cost to enter is 200 PHP ($4 USD) per person. Barracuda lake is open from 6:30AM to 4:30PM and life jackets are required to enter.
6. Vivian Beach
A hidden slice of paradise and one of the top things to do in Coron is visit Vivian Beach for sunset on your day of island hopping. This small, secluded soft sand beach was the perfect way to end an amazing day of visiting some of Coron’s most beautiful spots.
Vivian beach was completely deserted for sunset, expect for the two locals there collecting entrance tickets. We stayed here for over an hour, swimming in the warm waters, resting on the beach and watching the sun begin to set.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to stay for the entire sunset as we needed to be back in the harbor before dark. However, our guide allowed us to stay as long as possible before heading back and we were still able to see the sunset while on the open water.
The entrance fee is 150 PHP ($3 USD) per person.
Day 2- Explore Coron Town
For your second full day in Coron you can head out on a motorbike or rent a rickshaw to explore some of the sights near Coron town. An alternative option is spending the day on Black Island (Malajon Island). Black Island is located off the coast of Busuanga Island in the north-west corner and is reachable by boat. If we had 3 days in Coron we would have gone to Black Island or done another day of island hopping.
1. Cabo Beach
There are a few beaches located along the south part of Busuanga Island nearby Coron town. Unfortunately these beaches are a little underwhelming compared to the incredible places you’ll visit on an island hopping tour. Nevertheless, if you have the extra time in Coron I would recommend visiting Cabo Beach.
The small stretch of yellow sand is the perfect place to relax and soak up some sun. The water is warm and refreshing with stunning views of lush mountains and limestone cliffs.
There is a small entrance fee but the day we arrived they didn’t have receipt slips so we entered for free.
2. Maquinit Hot Springs
Located on Busuanga Island the Maquinit Hot Springs is one of the few salt water hot springs in the world. Surrounded by a mangrove forest and set within a beautiful cove, the hot springs is a wonderful place to soak and relax in the late afternoon. Most people recommend coming here after hiking Mount Tapyas for sunset.
We came here earlier in the day and if was far too hot for us to enter the hot springs. The water is fed from an underground volcano and hovers at temperatures around 38-40 degrees celsius (~104°F).
To reach the Maquinit hot springs you will drive about 20 minutes from town along a dusty road. The entrance fee is 200 PHP ($4 USD) per person and opening hours are from 8AM to 8PM.
3. Mount Tapyas Hike
The 210 meter hill of Mount Tapyas is the most popular viewpoint on the island of Busuanga, located within Coron town. From the top you will be rewarded with panoramic views of Coron and the surrounding islands.
To reach the top you will have to climb 721 steeps with very little shade. If you’re planning to come for sunset you’ll want to start climbing around 1 hour before. Bring lots of water with you and be prepared to sweat. It is a tough climb and even more so with the blazing sun and thick humidity. But it is all worth it for the views at the top!
Due to its popularity, Mount Tapyas does get crowded for sunset. Luckily, the hill is large enough that you can easily find a spot all to your self to enjoy. There is no entrance fee to Mount Tapyas and you can park your motorbike at the bottom of the stairs.
How to Get to Coron, Philippines
There are a few convenient modes of transportation for arriving on Busuanga Island in the Philippines. There are ferries that will travel from Manila and Puerto Princesa but the journey will be very long so I cannot recommend those options. Below are the two best options for traveling to Coron.
1. Getting to Coron by Ferry from El Nido
Getting to Coron from El Nido is extremely easy by ferry and only takes about 4 hours. The cost is 1760 PHP ($35 USD) per person plus an additional 20 PHP for terminal fees. You can purchase your ferry ticket at any of the tourist shops in town who are selling island hopping or day tours in El Nido.
Arrive at the ferry terminal 15-30 minutes prior to the departure time to sign in. You will need to leave your bags outside for a moment while a police dog sniffs for any illegal drugs. On the ferry there are drinks and snacks for purchase and toilets if you need one.
The ferry terminal in Coron is only a few minutes by rickshaw to reach the center of town. Once you arrive in Coron there will be a lot of rickshaw drivers and tour operators at the exit trying to get your business. We found them to be quite aggressive and pushy with their approach. Therefore we walked down the street a bit further to find a rickshaw driver who didn’t harass us and he offered us a fair price.
2. Fly Directly into Coron Philippines Airport
There is a small airport located on Busuanga Island about 45 from Coron town. You can set up a van transfer with your hotel for your arrival or departure into the Francisco B. Reyes Airport. We flew from Coron to Siagao (via Clark near Manilla) and it cost 150 PHP ($3 USD) per person for the van transfer to the airport.
How to Get Around Coron, Palawan
1. Rent a Motorbike
In Coron town you can find quite a number of motorbike rental companies. If you feel comfortable and confident with driving a motorbike then this will be the best option. We rented a bike for 400 PHP ($7.80 USD) for the day including helmets.
We always prefer the freedom and flexibility that renting a motorbike offers and both of us felt comfortable driving around the Philippines. The roads are straightforward and aren’t very crowded. They also drive on the right side of the road.
2. Hire a Rickshaw
If you are not comfortable with renting a motorbike you will find many rickshaws in town that will be happy to take you where you need to go. Be sure to do a little bargaining about the price since they will always up charge expecting you to negotiate.
3. Walk Around Coron Town
During your time in Coron you will most likely be staying somewhere close to Coron Town. While there isn’t much to do in town you will find that it is easily walkable and not necessary to have a motorbike or hire a rickshaw to get around. You will need transportation to go to Mt. Tapyas, the beaches or the Maquinit Hot Springs.
Where to Eat in Coron Town
Coron town has plenty of dining options which cater to all types of budgets. Below is a few of our favorite places where we ate during our few days in Coron.
- Full Lotus
- Summer Cafe & Bar
- Trattoria Altrove Coron
- Lolo Nonoy’s
Where to Stay in Coron Town
Most visitors stay in Coron town which is where you can book your island hopping tours to the nearby islands. The town is small but there are a number of options for accommodation to suit all budgets. While the costs are slightly more expensive here, as well as in El Nido, you can find a decent place for under $20 USD a night. There are also plenty of mid-range and luxury options as well.
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