Coron’s unspoiled paradise
Have you ever wondered how heaven would look like if it really did exist? Would it be high above the clouds where angels sing to you endlessly? Or would it have a Sound of Music-esque scenery where you could run freely across the meadows and up and down the hills? We may have different notions of what heaven could be, but for me if it were a place on earth it would be exactly like Coron.
Fortunately, this idyllic paradise is just an hour away from Manila and is part of the many islands that comprise Palawan. Coron boasts an array of picturesque, Instagram-worthy sceneries – from pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and vibrant marine habitats to stunning rock formations, exotic wildlife, and world-class diving spots. It is also home to one of the cleanest, if not the cleanest, lakes in Asia. Yet, despite all the raves Coron has been receiving for years, its beauty remains unspoiled, all thanks to the indigenous Tagbanwa people who manage the island and surrounding areas in a sustainable way.
Most travelers who flock to Coron book island-hopping tours that last for an entire day and range from P1,300 to P2,400, depending on the number of sites to be visited. These tours usually include stopovers in Kayangan Lake (if you google Coron, it is the first image that will come up), Twin Lagoon, Siete Pecados, and on one or two of the many islands that dot the area. If you decide to book one of these tours, I guarantee that you will be in for some underwater treat as you will spend most of the day snorkeling. Marvel at the diverse set of sea creatures that await you – from starfish, turtles, and clownfish to stingrays, clams, and sea urchins. Drown yourself too in different shades of blue that you never knew existed. Do not forget to bring a snorkeling gear and an underwater camera so that you can fully enjoy these eyegasmic views.
Some tours also offer kayak rental services where you can travel to nearby islands at your own pace. My friend and I decided to go off the beaten path for one day so we rented a kayak to explore mangrove farms and bask in the afternoon sun on a remote beach. We also had the opportunity to share lunch with locals who had prepared freshly-caught seafood cooked in vinegar and grilled chicken.
You may also take your vacation a little bit further and go on a scuba diving trip to one of the shipwrecks that litter the sea floor. Coron is home to some of the best wreck diving spots in the world. Twelve Japanese ships sunk by the United States during World War II are now home to corals and all sorts of marine life and can be explored.
If after all these activities you are not yet convinced that Coron is a piece of heaven on earth, then you can opt to stay in Coron town – a quaint, laidback fishing village that is slowly but steadily developing as a result of the influx of tourists. From there, you can climb Mount Tapyas – Coron town’s second highest mountain at 210 meters – and feast your eyes on a breathtaking view of the sunset, the pier, and nearby islands.
I am pretty sure that by this time your body will be exhausted from all the activities you have done. What better way to end a tiring day than to take a dip in a hot spring? To relax your muscles and wash away all the stress, you can go to Maquinit Hot Springs and soak your body in water warmed by a volcano. The hot spring is about 30 minutes away from town and can be accessed by boat or by tricycle.
At night, the town gets a bit sleepy as most establishments close at 6:00 p.m. but there are a few restaurants and souvenir shops that are open until late in the evening. If you are the type of traveler who looks for wild parties, you will not find them here in Coron. Still, there are several bars on the main street where you can enjoy drinks with locals and other travelers. At least three banks operate in Coron so getting money should not be a problem. It is advisable that you bring enough money before you travel to Coron as most transactions are settled through cash payments only.
The best time to visit Coron is during the summer months of April and May. However, to avoid large tourist crowds and get lower rates, you may consider visiting any time between September and February. Airlines fly daily to Coron from Manila while ferry trips are available every Tuesday and Friday.
When you finally decide to go, make sure to snap as many photos as you can and post them on social media to let everyone know that heaven does exist in this little corner of the world.