Have you been planning on visiting the Philippines for a while now and have finally come around to researching your trip? Then you will know the internet is saturated with information on this topic.
That’s why my husband Phil and I have created this up to date Blog Post Extravaganza to help make planning your trip to the Philippines super easy. This comprehensive guide will breakdown the Must See’s in Coron but also link to our other Must See’s in the Philippines. These include Siquijor, Moalboal, Bohol, Nacpan and Port Barton (notice El Nido is not on that list – click hereto find out why). The posts are packed to the brim with everything we learnt on our month long trip and include some super helpful time and money saving tips.
Are you looking for clean turquiose water and cheap boat tours to some of the most spectacular sites? Or awe inspiring sunsets and some of the best views that the Philippines has to offer? Then you will want to make sure Coron is on your bucket list. The Lakes on Coron Island have become world renowned, and for good reason. Coron quickly became one of our favourite places in the Philippines. It is definitely worth the journey to get here and can easily be done on a budget.
Coron VS El Nido
El Nido has become popular pretty fast and is now one of the most instagrammed places on the web. With that comes tourism that is overwhelming the area. Not to mention increases in prices for the much sought after Island Hopping Tours. Prices in El Nido are far higher than in other parts of the Philippines and we believe it has become some what of a tourist trap. That isn’t to say there are not ways that you can enjoy El Nido but when making the decision between visiting El Nido or Coron we would ultimately suggest Coron.
If you want to learn more on why we don’t suggest El Nido – click here. If you do want to visit El Nido, we suggest staying in Nacpan – read our Blog Post on Nacpan here. An alternative location that offers absolutely incredible island hopping for a much cheaper price with fewer crowds is Port Barton, we absolutely loved it here – read all about it here.
What to do in Coron?
Private Coron Island Boat Tour
Although you will base yourself in Coron Town, the boat trips to Coron island and its sites are a must see. They are the main thing people visiting will be looking to book.
That does mean boat trips are busy but luckily we found a great way to avoid the crowds and larger numbers on the usual tourist boats.
Private Boat Trips
We decided on a private boat trip. These private trips can take anywhere from 1 person to 8 people rather than some of the standard tour companies which will have up to 16. Yes they are more expensive but it actually works out cheaper if there are 4 of you to split the cost.
There were only the 2 of us on our boat as we wanted a private experience and to beat the crowds to the islands sights. The price for our boat, guide and captain for the day was 2500PHP. Compare this to El Nido where 8,000php will get you a private tour). Various popular tour companies will quote 3000-4500php for this, however our guesthouse arranged it for us for what is considered the normal price. Some people have mentioned you can go to the town pier and go directly to the boat drivers for a similar price (always negotiate!)
What to bring?
On the private tour you can take your own food and drink purchased in the local market on the dock beforehand. Your guide and captain will prepare these for you while you are exploring the lakes and reefs. We took left over pizza for our lunch and a watermelon for a refreshing snack. When we came out from snorkelling we found the watermelon cut up delicately for us. If you purchase fish they will cook this for you and prepare the delicious meal.
If you choose a private tour you want to push for the earliest departure you can get. Usually all boats can only depart after 8am when they have the coastguards go ahead. We wanted to be on the water before the other boats leave at 9am so we could enjoy no crowds at the first few spots. It takes some negotiating to encourage the boatman to leave early so be prepared to hustle. Everyone is on island time so a little persuading can go a long way.
Group Boat Trips
Group tours will cost between 900-1400php per person. So if you can get a whole private boat for between 2500-3500php between a couple of you and beat the crowds then it’s smiles all round.
The Best Coron Adventure in the Philippines Video
Our first stop was the famous Kayangan Lake. We wanted to arrive here ahead of all the crowds partly for photos but also to enjoy its crystal clear waters in the peace and stillness of the morning. If you arrive early enough you can swim in the lake without your life jacket as the lifeguard will not have arrived. If they are there you cannot swim in the lake without your lifejacket. This lake is one of the clearest we have ever seen and its turquoise waters didn’t disappoint. Take a dive in from the wooden walk way around the edge and swim to your hearts content. It does get busy so if you want photos without a 100 or so swimmers make this your first spot, this is by far the most popular spot for most tours.
Next we sailed onto the deep vibrant blue and equally as crystal clear Barracuda Lake surrounded by towering limestone cliffs. As we were one of the first boats out of the harbour we arrived here before the groups also. Dive into these insanely blue waters from the small wooden dock and watch the scuba divers below you. Bring your snorkel and mask, camera and GoPro for this one! This is the most blue lake in the area and was our favourite.
After Barracuda Lake we motored onto Twin Lagoon. This place will likely be busy with swimmers in orange life jackets where as at the lakes mentioned above you can enjoy them to yourself if you leave early. Jump in off your boat watching out for the Urchins and float or swim through the warm waters. Once it looks like the lagoon is ending, swim under the natural bridge or up and over its staircase into the second half that gives twin lagoon its name. The lagoon is a mixing pot of fresh and salt water, if your snorkel mask seems blurry or the water is unclear it is usually because of the mixing of different water densities which create a strange film like effect. This does mean that it isn’t a great spot for snorkelling.
Once we had swam a few lengths of Twin Lagoon it was onto CYC Beach. This tiny island and its slice of white sand and turquoise crystal waters is a great spot for lunch. Lay out and feel like you are stranded on your own desert island. Luckily there is a friendly local boat man who will sell you ice cold beers and snacks too…..perfect! This spot is popular on the group tours and we arrived just as they were leaving so we had the island to ourselves. One of the perks of having a private tour- your own schedule.
Our final stop was for a spot of snorkelling on the protected Sieta Pecados Reef. This was one of the most amazing reef gardens we snorkelled on during our trip and on par with the equally amazing Tubod Reef on Siquijor.
TOP TIP – some of the main sites of Coron Island do have ‘entrance fees’ which go towards an eco fund to maintain the sites and environment. These are on top of your hire/tour prices. Sometimes on group tours these will be included so check before you go and always take some pesos with you. We found that even including all of the entrance fees it was a far better value experience and thousands of pesos cheaper than doing a tour in El Nido. Budget a couple of hundred pesos per person for each location you want to visit.
Sunset at Mt Tapyas
If you are looking for a work out and a stunning sunset view then make your way to Mt Tapyas. Climb the 721 steps to the top and you will be rewarded with breath taking views of Coron Island and the surrounding hinterlands. It’s free to visit and boasts it’s own version of the Hollywood sign. Take some water with you and something to sit on so you can settle down and enjoy the view. If you walk to the back of the view point you can see the lush green hills in the distance which are a stark contrast to the coastline around the corner. Make your way here around an hour before sunset to make the most out of it.
Where to eat in Coron
Trattoria Altrove – a Pizza restaurant that serve up very good pizza and offer takeaway.
Brujita – a Vegetarian restaurant and our favourite place to eat in Coron as the food was delicious and reasonably priced.
No Name Bar– a great happy hour and offers a wide selection of pub style food.
Where to stay in Coron
The Yellow House – this was one of our favourite stays in the Philippines. The super friendly hosts welcome you at their homestay style accommodation. You have use of the kitchen and lounge area and they are on hand to help arrange your Coron Island boat trips and transfers if needed. This makes the whole process a lot easier than chatting to competing companies and the prices are all the same any way.
We had a twin room with shared bathroom that was a short 10min walk through town to the port where the boats depart from.
Getting to Coron
By Ferry from El Nido to Coron
There are several ways that you can get to Coron with the most popular being by ferry from El Nido. Montenegro ferry lines offer a fast and slow ferry service and in peak season it can get very busy. We recommend pre booking online prior to travel, even if it’s a few days prior when you are in El Nido. The fast ferry tickets cost 1760PHP each plus fees when bought online at www.biyaheroes.com. (Totalled 2040PHP each)
Be prepared that the internet may not be the best or the website might not be working properly when you are in El Nido. All issues we experienced and upon researching for this blog post the website was not working properly either. There is a Montenegro Ferry Office in El Nido but you can only purchase tickets from there in person 24 hours before the boats departure.
The ferry departed at 6am which meant that you experienced sunrise over the ocean which is breathtaking. You can sit on the open deck and watch the islands pass by. The journey takes approximately 4 hours.
Flying to Coron
Philippine Airlines fly out from Coron Airport, for a reasonable price to other major destinations. We decided to fly from Coron to Cebu as the alternative route would have taken far too much time out of our schedule. The alternative being – 4 hours ferry back to El Nido, 7 hour minivan drive to Puerto Princesa airport and flight to Cebu with Air Asia. Although the latter would have been a little cheaper in our minds it isn’t worth the money. Also the view from the window leaving Coron was incredible!
How long to spend in Coron
We spent 4 nights in Coron but you could easily spend much longer here. Ensure you are aware of how you are planning to leave Coron as this could dictate how long you spend there based on ferry or flight schedules.
Looking to visit more places in the Philippines? Check out our other favourite destination blog posts here: