Coron is indisputably one of the most beautiful island destinations not just in the country, but in the whole world.
This heavenly locale is blessed with plenty of natural wonders: glorious limestone cliffs, soft white-sand beaches, hidden lagoons and lakes, sparkling turquoise waters, and abundant marine life that includes the most beautiful coral tables and creatures you rarely see in other islands, like sea cows (dugong), sea turtles (pawikan), barracuda, giant clams, and a lot more.
As the gateway to Calamianes, a trip here involves visiting various parts of the Calamian Islands in North Palawan, made up of Busuanga Island (where Coron Town is), Coron Island, Culion, Calauit, and other islets. With so many exciting adventures to try at the Wreck Diving Capital of the Philippines, we ranked the top 10 from “Chill” to “Extreme” to help you find what you’ll be game for.
1. CHILL: Lounging by the Beach
The most popular activity in Coron and all of Palawan is lazing around its many sun-kissed, powdery white sand beaches. Nice if you can do this at your resort, like Two Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel in Coron Town, Club Paradise on Dimakya Island, or the ultra-exclusive Huma Island Resort & Spa at Dicilingan Island in Busuanga. But even if you’re billeted at budget stays in the town proper, there are plenty of islands you can visit just to lounge. The more popular island-hopping spots for this are Banol Beach, Malcapuya Island, Banana Island, CYC Beach (Coron Youth Club), and Isla Bulungan.
Malcapuya is hailed as the most beautiful island paradise this side of Palawan, with its serene and unspoiled long shoreline with sugar-fine white sand and coconut trees surrounded by cerulean waters blessed with giant clams. Meanwhile, Isla Bulungan’s beach, defined by three rock formations in front, is perfect for picnics or just lying on the dazzling white sand, as well as romantic pre-nup shoots. Banol Beach is an awesome place to have a seaside feast, where your boatmen can cook your fresh seafood lunch and serve it in one of the huts on the shore. Plus, the surrounding dark limestone formations offer Instagram-worthy backdrops for your bikini shots.
2. STEADY: Taking a Dip at Maquinit Hot Springs
As you go up one notch on the adventure-meter, raise your body temperature in the most soothing way by taking a relaxing dip in three man-made pools of naturally warm saltwater. Caused by its proximity to an inactive underwater volcano, the geothermal heated water (think: 40 degrees Celcius) that flows into the pools takes some getting used to. Once you’ve acclimatized, enjoy blissfully wading in this natural bath and jumping from one steaming pool to the next. Just be wary of the moss that makes the bottom of the springs and surrounding areas slippery.
A great bonus? One of very few natural saltwater hot springs in the world, it’s reportedly good for the skin, among other therapeutic benefits. It will bring comfort to your tired and aching body after a whole day of land or water activities if this is the last stop on your itinerary. You can get there by land from Coron Town or by boat as one of the stops on your island-hopping journey. We’d daresay the latter is more fun, as you pass through a makeshift wooden bridge that leads from the sea to the pools amidst lush mangroves, creating more photo opportunities. Well, even if you go by land, still explore the walkways and enjoy the view of the sea. The sunset is amazing from this popular tourist spot.
3. INTERACTIVE: Feeding Animals at Calauit Safari
This outdoor adventure with exotic wildlife is unlike any you’ll have at other island getaways. Located on Calauit Island off the tip of Busuanga, this safari boasts of diverse African animals that roam its lush landscape, like antelopes, giraffes, monkeys, and zebras. The game reserve and sanctuary also houses indigenous endangered species like the Calamian deer, Palawan bearcat, Palawan peacock-pheasant, anteater, crocodile, porcupine, eagle, and python. Hop on a 4x4 jeep or truck to explore this sprawling park.
The best activity here that children will likely enjoy the most is the chance to feed and interact with animals like towering giraffes and deer that will grab the leaves right from your hands. The zebras also freely graze nearby, but be careful about getting too close to avoid aggravating them.
4. FASCINATING: Snorkeling at Siete Picados
If admiring sea creatures is more your kind of adventure, Coron is the place to be, as it’s known for its thriving marine population that you can experience by snorkeling above its many otherworldly reefs. The best spot to do so is Siete Picados Marine Park. While it comes from the Spanish for “seven deadly sins,” this site was so named because of the seven limestone islands that surround this sanctuary, a favorite island-hopping stop.
Marvel at abundant beautiful corals and a wide variety of beautiful fish in every color and varying sizes—clown fish, angelfish, and butterfly fish among them—almost within arms’ reach through shallow aquamarine waters. Some even reported seeing a rare pawikan here. Just don’t touch the fish and corals, and be careful not to step on sea urchins—you wouldn’t want to get stung by those long, black pointy spines that are dangerously close during low tide.
5. BREATHTAKING: Exploring Kayangan Lake
This favored island-hopping stop will literally and figuratively leave you breathless, as it requires a steep 150-step climb amidst trees to a point from which you’ll be rewarded with Coron’s undoubtedly most famous vista: limestone peaks jutting out of bright azure waters fringed with verdant forests. Yes, you’ll recognize it as the iconic view in many photos taken of Coron.
The adventure doesn’t stop there. Take another 150 steps down to the actual lake made up of 70% freshwater that’s ideal for swimming and cooling down after that hike. Framed by limestone hills, this enchanting lake is considered the cleanest inland body of water in the Philippines. If you’re a skilled swimmer, peek underwater at spectacular rock formations. Up the ante by hopping aboard a bamboo raft and asking your guide to take you to little crevices between the limestones. You’ll see stalagmites and maybe spy the sought-after Balinsasayaw nest made of the small bird’s solidified saliva, used in the renowned bird’s nest soup. Wear comfy shoes and a life vest, as some parts of the clear lake can get pretty deep.
6. DARING: Swimming at Twin Lagoons
For a more challenging swim, head over to Twin Lagoons, another must-visit destination in Coron. The adventure begins when your boat docks at the first of two lagoons surrounded by karst. From here, you’ll swim through a small opening underneath a limestone wall to get to the hidden second lagoon. It’s definitely not for those who panic when swimming in tight, enclosed spaces with jagged rocks above and unknown depths below. When the tide is high, however, visitors can scale rickety ladders on the cliff separating the lagoons to get from one to the other.
Once you emerge in the stunning inner lagoon embraced by limestone mountains, enjoy a relaxing swim in tranquil brackish waters that curiously vary in temperature: some pockets are cold while some are warm because of the mix of freshwater and saltwater. Admire the picturesque scenery as you drift on your back. Keep your life vest on because some parts are dauntingly deep.
7. EXHILARATING: Island-Hopping
What’s more exciting than the last three adventures we’ve listed? Experiencing all of them in one island-hopping escapade! Best book your trip through the resort where you’re staying. Various packages offer different destinations, so aside from Siete Picados, Kayangan Lake, and Twin Lagoons, you may want to go to Pamalican Island, Malcapuya Island, CYC Beach, and Black/Malajon Island’s majestic black limestone formations.
Better yet, rent a kayak and peacefully paddle your way through amazing sites of either Coron or Busuanga Islands. If you’re fit, nothing beats navigating on your own as you skirt secluded white sand shores, explore hidden lagoons, pass through mangrove channels, glimpse fish and corals through clear blue waters, and even stop to eat on a deserted beach. Bonus: You get a great workout and are completely in control of your time.
8. HEART-RACING: Hiking at Mt. Tapyas in Coron Town
Island-hopping adventures often start and end in Coron Town, but if you’re up for more activity, this municipality offers an unforgettable one: hike up the prominent Mt. Tapyas that defines the town’s landscape, with a peak marked by a giant white cross and the distinct CORON sign (you can’t miss it). It’s the perfect spot for catching the island’s beautiful sunset—and it’s free of charge!
Huff and puff through more than 700 steps to the view deck that provides a priceless panoramic vista of Coron Town and the surrounding islands at 210 meters above sea level. Although paved and accessible even to beginners, it’s no walk in the park and a definite test of endurance. Bring a bottle of water and face towel to wipe off sweat (trust us, you need it). There are markers every 100 steps where you can catch your breath, admire the riveting view, and give yourself a little pep talk to go on.
9. NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART: Scuba Diving at Barracuda Lake
If snorkeling above coral gardens and watching colorful fish dart about while you float close to the surface has become child’s play for you, then go underwater and get a closer look at more bizarre-looking limestone formations and the namesake resident of this lake.
Besides the chance to catch sight of colossal barracudas, what draws visitors to this scuba diving destination cloistered by karst are its underwater mountains, the magnitude of which you can only grasp when you dive, and the thermocline layers of freshwater and saltwater—the temperature rises the deeper you go, with some parts as warm as 40 degrees Celcius; you’re practically diving in a hot spring. You won’t find a dive more surreal than this.
10. EXTREME: Wreck Diving
And now we get to the most extreme adventure for which Coron is famous the world over: exploring shipwrecks from World War II. A massive US air strike in 1944 sunk the Japanese naval fleet on the coast of Busuanga Island and Coron Bay, where the warships are now entombed. Over time, these have turned into incredible artificial reefs that are now home to marvelous marine life, including scores of fish, vibrant shells, remarkable coral trees, and occasionally, barracudas and rays. These warships are at diveable depths from as shallow as 9–30 feet to as deep as 100–140 feet.
Skilled divers can swim in and around 10 eerie yet utterly fascinating sunken vessels, like the Teru Kaze Maru or Sangat Gun Boat, Olympia Maru or Sangat Wreck, Nanshin Maru or Black Island Wreck, refrigerated provision ship Irako, auxiliary supply ship Kogyo Maru, civilian cargo ship Morazan Maru, sea plane tender Akitsushima, 160-meter auxiliary oiler Okikawa Maru, and the 25-meter Lusong Gunboat, the shallowest one even non-divers can admire while snorkeling. Advanced divers can explore their various rooms, like the accessible hold of the 136-meter freighter Kyokuzan Maru that reportedly contains the remains of a vintage car and truck.
Find Coron travel inspiration when you check out our Travel Guide.
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