Buy Fresh Seafood before going to Island Hopping
The Coron market near the pier is the first stop before Island Hopping. You will be advised by the boatman to buy your desired seafoods and they'll cook it for you while cruising.
Don't worry about cooking paraphernalia because the boatman have a simple cooking area at the back portion of the boat.
Meet the boatman an hour before actual Island Hopping departure time so he will go with you in the market. He'll tell what you need to buy and what he needs in cooking. Communicate with the boatman as to what you want to eat and he will tell you if he can cook it. Or vice versa, the boatman will suggest what he can prepare and you decide if its all good to you. (Of course do not expect for something fancy. Most common is grilled fish, grilled pork, grilled veggies, green salad or other easy to prepare food). Buy a lot of fresh fruits like ripe mango, banana and green mango for appetizer.
Everything is fresh and a wide variety of seafoods are available.
Include the boatman in your headcount for food allocation. They will cook it for you so as courtesy, asked your boatman to have lunch with you together.
Sunset at the peak of Mt. Tapias
Sunset is one of the most beautiful daily sights. We always look forward for a sun to set especially on a Sunday afternoon at the beach with a family or someone you love. Although they occur every day, the quality and majesty of a given sunset depends largely on the amount of clouds, the amount of particulate matter in the air, the angle of the sun, and the location. Every so often, all the variables come together just right, and a beautiful sunset is born.
And Coron just provided me a magical sunset experience.
The photos look stunning! I love its color, the ray of sun coming from the edge of one mountain which gave a beautiful view from a top Mt. Tapias.
I recommend you to experience this if you're in Coron. Start the 700 steps to reach the peak of the mountain at 4pm and wait until sunset.
Exciting! Found a big starfish
We were all enjoying while swimming in the beach and to my surprise, i saw a huge starfish exactly where I was about to step. My initial reaction? I freaked out because I was really afraid hahahah! Then when I swum a little bit to stay away from the starfish and again looked down..... and shockingly saw not just two, three and four but plenty of starfish scattered in the sea floor.
We were able to pick one and put the starfish back to the sea after taking her a photo.
Yes.... make friends while you travel.
The photos above are our new found friends in Coron. They are Let, Krishna and the newly married couple Aileen and Ron. The first time we met was in Maquinit Hot spring on our day 1. Let approached us and asked a favor to take them a group photo. So we had a little chat and bid goodbyes afterwards.
The next day, we again met accidentally in Banul beach and this this time the chat was a little bit longer. Until we finally decide to have our Day 3 Island hopping together. So we rent 1 boat and definitely the sharing was a lot cheaper.
We had exciting get to know conversation in the beach, we laugh and did fun jumping photos. Then we ate together and shared our foods.
I will always treasure them and will always remember the good memories with them
We even planned to have a getaway together but for some reasons, we do not have communications now :(
One of the Best Snorkeling site in the Philippines
I experienced snorkeling in Boracay, Panglao Island in Bohol, Bantayan Island in Cebu and Puerto galera in Mindoro but the best snorkeling ever was here in Coron.
Too bad I do not have underwater camera.
You will see stunning underwater creatures. Colorful corals and beautiful fishes! At first I was afraid to see those creatures moving because it was totally strange to me for I haven't seen any in my past snorkeling activities.
I saw a very huge round like plate which has opening hole and with a colorful moving object on top. It was shocking! I dunno what it is called but It is always registered in my mind. Plus all the colorful small fishes around me. I really enjoyed a lot feeding them with bread.
I always want to get to the edge of the boat
As seen in some of my photos in Coron page, I got plenty of photos of myslelf in the edge of this small boat. It really fun! I love doing it over and over, flying position, standing on the edge or just simply seating on it. Just be careful as some part of the hopping has strong waves.
I just love to see this thick green mangroves along the lagoon we passed by during Island Hopping. This is really not extraordinary since the boat will just go through this shallow area. But it was fun to see the boatman driving and his companion manage to get through a road-like lagoon that can only fit single boat entry.
Own the Island for a day.
Yes! You will own an Island for a certain a day. I experienced this in Pass Island about 1 hour a half travel by boat from main Island in Coron. We were the only traveler for the entire day. We walked along the shoreline, feel the fresh air, hear nothing but the force of the air and the soft waves. It was indeed relaxing too far from the Urban life.
Philippines is gifted with its 7,100 Island and Islets scattered throughout the archipelago. And some of these Islets are considered to be paradise for it hasn't been exploited yet.
(This island you see in the photo is still preserved with its natural beauty. But they built some cottages to make more convenient for travelers)
Notice that the Island is well kept. It has 5 open cottages and there are colorful flags stood in the white sand beach.
You can't stay here overnight since there is no accommodation/rooms for rent. No electricity and no potable water.
This is truly a Paradise
This is just one of the must see Island in Coron. This islet can be reached by hiring a boat for 3,500 pesos for entire day round trip. The boat carries up to maximum of 10 so the many the better so you can share the cost.
Yes you will own the Island! Notice that you won't see any people around in my photos. We were the only 2 guest at that time (me and Jess) and of course the 2 boatman we hired. There is 1 Island keeper whom you will pay the entrance fee of 200 pesos per person.
* Must hire a boat/boatman a day prior to your trip so you can set the time of departure. (Avoid going to the port area and make a same day negotiation with boatman and chances are you get to start the course very late)
* Must start your trip very early at around 6am for the travel time is more or less 1 hour and a half to reach Pass Island.
* Must bring packed lunch or buy fresh seafoods and veggies of your choice and boatman will cook for your lunch while cruising)
* Very important: Bring water for entire day consumption since there are no potable water in the Island
* Very Important: You must leave the Island on or before 2:00 PM otherwise you'll get to experience the extreme breathtaking roller coaster thru big waves. The water gets very wild at 3pm onwards. Boatman will advise you on
360 D view of Coron at the peak of Mt. Tapyas
Reaching the peak of Mt. Tapyas is a must-to-do during your first stay. It's best to hike before the sunset for a 360 degrees view of the entire Coron Island.
You need to take 700 steps before reaching the peak. Its all cemented and easy way going up. There are grab bars and handles in both sides of the stairs for people who needs it (not a wheelchair access)
You can spend more or less 2 hours at the peak for you don't have anything to do except for sight seeing. Relax and have some chat with your friends and take plenty of photos of these wonderful God's creation.
There are locals selling bottled water, juices and sodas in can but not no convenient stores are allowed at the peak.
Best time to hike is at 4:00 PM and wait until the sunset at around 5:20PM.
Maquinit Hot Spring
Your trip to Coron won't be complete without visiting the Maquinit Hot Spring. This is one of the most visited site for its famous natural hot spring.
It is best to visit at night after tiring activities such as reaching the peak of Mt. Tapias for a 360 degrees view of the Island or from a whole day island hopping.
Hire a "Tricycle" (public transportation that carries up to 6 people) to bring you to the site. All drivers know where Maquinit Hot Springs is and they speak good English.
Its only 15 minutes from the city centre. Rate starts from 300-400 pesos depending on negotiation. I heard that the normal rate per person is only 8 pesos for local resident. However, its their own way of doing business so some drivers will offer you a round trip transfers to and from the hotel - a good deal indeed. Drivers will be waiting outside until you finish.
Maquinit is a local term which means "MAINIT" or "HOT" which is literally very hot at around 37 to 40 degrees Celsius. Soak your entire body for approximately 2 hours for a perfect relaxation to a good night sleep. I had a chance to meet some locals who are very friendly and advised me not too stay too long in the water if I have high blood.
Prepare plenty of 100 bill for Excessive Fees
I hope this segment will serve as "alarm call" to the local government of Coron. To those who plans to visit Coron and do Island Hopping, make sure you are aware that you have to pay EXCESSIVE Entrance fees in each of the site destinations ranges from 100 to 200 pesos per stop. Meaning, if your itinerary includes 6 or 7 destinations in a day then prepare about 900.00 pesos per head. That's too much for an entrance fee in just approximately 1 hour stay. I felt that locals are taking advantage of us travelers.
"Bangka", local term for small motor boat has a fixed price of 900 for a maximum of 6 people. However, each person will have to spend 1,500 to complete the 6 or 7 destinations in a day. VERY DISGUSTING! (If a family of 6 members, total expenses would be around 5,400 for just one day)
I asked one of the locals on how they did the policy for these entrance fees and accordingly, the collected fees serves as salaries of the island keepers. One boatman interrupted and says that these Islands are owned by private sectors/families which they charge their own fees. I' am not against charging entrance fees but hopefully the local government will issue a Mandatory and aligned policy to lessen the said fees because it literally too much. Approximately, there were about 100 person in each of the destinations which means each island earns 10,000 pesos a day.
Here are the updated entrance fees as of April 2011.
Siete Pecados - 100.00 per head
Banol Beach - 100.00 per head
Barracuda Lake - 100.00 per head
Twin Lagoon - 100.00 per head
Skeleton Ship Wreck - 100.00 per head
Kayangan Lake - 200.00 per head
Coron Island Tour: I would highly recommend that you visit Coron during the first quarter of the year as September is known to be the "habagat" or rainy season where algae is booming around the area.
This is the itinerary I would recommend for day 1 as everything is near each other. Make sure to bring lots of food. It was our problem when we went off to the Islands as there are no places to buy food / water aside from Coron town.
*Barracuda lake - (entrance fee php 100) - It's a famous dive site for its rock formations. A fresh water lake with a depth of 30 meters or 100 feet. Before reaching the lake itself, one would have to clamber over the rocks to get down to the peaceful and picturesque crater itself, I was scared to death as I'm afraid of heights, no stairs or anything, you literally climb the limestone's. You don't need to use a wetsuit for this dive as after the first 12 to 13m you reach an intense thermo- & halocline where the water temperature rapidly rises from about 27°C to 38°C. It is uncomfortably hot on the way down and then on the way back up the top layer feels freezing! There's not a lot to see at the bottom of the crater and the silt kicks up really quickly. On the way back out keep your eyes open for shrimps.
*Skeleton wreck - (entrance fee - 100 php) - I was a bit disappointed with this as it's only a sunken fisherman's boat, nothing really amazing.
*Twin Lagoon (entrance fee - 100 php) - Twin Lagoon in my opinion is Coron's pride - according to reviews. So I had to see it for myself. I was a bit disappointed as the reviews were overrated. There are 2 ways to enter the twin lagoon, one is you swim beneath the twin rock formation (which is only allowed during low tide) and next is you climb over the rocks. It was high tide when we went so we weren't able to experience swimming beneath the rocks. (sayang). Water temp was extremely cold reason why I didn't enjoy it here.
*Siete Picados - (entrance fee 100) a lot of fishes and you'd be surprised to see very large and colorful fishes. Don't forget to bring bread during this trip. During low tide, be careful of the sea urchins. On my September trip, I learned that the Corals here are being planted. The old man has a small house floating in the middle of the ocean near Siete Picados and cited that he plants Corals at night as most of them die easily.
*Kayangan Lake (entrance fee - 200 php) - Unlike barracuda lake, the climb to Kayangan Lake is much easier. it’s a brackish water that many foreign & locals likes to go outings sometimes called the Blue Lagoon. This beautiful picture-perfect scenery can be seen after a walk up a mountain trail. About 15 to 20 minutes and exploring with its limestone cliffs formations and crystal clear waters are awesome and that almost took my breath away. Swimming in the cleanest lake in the Philippines fresh water lake (with a bit of salt water) in the Philippines is an experience that every Filipino should have. The entire area is perfect for taking portrait shots with limestone cliffs in the background and clean lake in the middle ground. It is the scenic landscape, crystal clear waters, that attracts and fascinates most foreign & local’s travelers.
*Atwayan / Banol beach - basically they look alike. Stop by here for lunch. The beach has a short stretch,
*East Tangat Gunboat
*Mt Tapyas - is DEFINITELY tiring. Doing this on the first day would be difficult as the island trip for the first day itself is already tiring. Only advisable for younger tourists. I'm only 22 and I really really really got tired climbing Mt. Tapyas. (no entrance fee)
*Maquinit Hot Spring
All mentioned above aside from Mt. Tapyas and Maquinit Hot Spring are snorkeling sites. Get ready to get tired and again, bring lots of food and water. During the snorkeling tour, we had our lunch in the boat. ;)
*Malcapuya Island / Banana Island - Staying here the entire day would be advisable as it's a 2 hour boat ride from Coron Town. The beach is super nice, sand is super fine with super clear waters. Entrance fee is Php 150. There are also cabanas where you could rest in during the afternoon. ;) Also, make sure to leave early as the trip could be really wavy if you leave late morning.
***Also visit Caluit sanctuary. You can travel via boat or land whichever you prefer. Make sure to leave early - around 4AM. (you can do this on the 4th day) ;)
***WRECK DIVING - Coron is one of the most visited destinations for wreck diving in the Philippines. Wreck dive sites are found in a depth as shallow as 10-30 feet and as deep as 120-140 feet. Most are in the range of about 60-80 feet, perfect for sports divers. On September 24, 1944 this island was a witness to the US Navy’s aerial bombardment of the Japanese cargo and support vessels, seeking shelter in its turquoise waters. These have now become a sanctuary for a variety of marine creatures that call these wrecks their home.
Wreck Diving Sites in Coron Bay includes the Irako Wreck, Okikawa Maru Wreck, Akitsushima Wreck, Kogyo Maru Wreck, Olympia Maru Wreck, Kyokuzan Maru Wreck, East Tangat Gunboat Wreck, Nanshin Maru Wreck, Lusong Gunboat Wreck and Skeleton Wreck. Because the wrecks have been under water for about 60 years they have become coral reefs in their own right. Both simple and advanced penetration dives are possible. Thus they are suitable for experienced wreck divers and those just starting this type of diving. They are also a delight to dive externally, as reefs, to experience the abundance of life they have attracted.
Boat hire for Coron Island Tour is Php1,500. (Day 1 - small boat, fits up to 6)
For the dive sites / snorkeling sites it would be Php 2,500 since it's way farther. (Day 2 - medium boat, fits up to 8)
For Malcapuya Island / Banana Island price ranges from Php 3,500 - 4,500 (Day 3 - big boat, fits up to 12) since you'd be needing a bigger boat - and waaay farther than the sites mentioned above.
**take note of the rates (as of 2010) indicated as there are some boatman that would charge you more than this. In addition, some would offer you packages, before confirming, inquire about the size of the boats being rented if you will be booking online.
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Hiking and Walking
Touring on a budget
I've had the same confusion before I went. You see, coron is the name of a town in Busuanga and usually we refer to this when talking about touring coron. However, there is also a coron island.
I haven't been to majika but I heard it is really great. You get a view of the kayangan lake. but then, it is on a separate island. The thing here is that if you do not intend to book everything with them - accommodations, and tours - you'd have to go from majika all the way to coron town to get your supplies from the market and then go back to island hopping again. I suggest you read my blog at http://www.pinas-et-al.blogspot.com. I'm sure you'll get an idea of how the island tours are done.
10k might not be enough if you want to go island hopping for 2 days unless you go with a tour. But of you're joining a tour, I think you'd have to start from coron town where almost everyone, if not all, will be picked up by the boat. At most maybe is you'd go island hopping for a day and another day you'd spend at the resort where you're booked. I know of a person who owns a boat if you want to rent a big banca all to yourself.
Banol&CYC Beaches, Cayangan Lake, Twin Lagoons
The coron bay tour includes these destinations and if time permits, along with siete pecados. You can also ask the tour guide (the boatman actually) to take you to Barracuda Lake too. There are entrance fees for each destination, except CYC beach and Twin Lagoons.
Entrance fees per head are the following:
Cayangan = PHP 200
Barracuda = PHP 75
Banol = PHP 100
Siete Pecados = PHP 100
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