MAGANDA ANG PILIPINAS!
That’s what I always remind and tell myself whenever I would want to travel with friends in tow or have a vacation simply by myself. True enough, I have been to several travel destinations in the Philippines and nothing is comparable to the natural beauty that the Philippine islands can offer. Not only that, you also get the hospitality and warmth of the people around the place in addition to the glorious scenes.
In relation to the kagandahan ng Pilipinas and Biyahe Na wants, I have found Coron, Busuanga Island, Palawan and been planning my trip for quite some months now. I came across this travel destination when we had our trip to Puerto Princesa City, Palawan last year. It’s only then that I realized I had to visit the place because of the promises of wonderful marine sanctuaries, exotic wildlife and glorious beaches surrounding the island.
How Do I Plan My Trip To Coron?
There has been several blogs, hear-says pictures and reviews posted and published about Coron. Honestly those blogs, reviews and threads have helped me big time in planning my upcoming trip to Coron. Armed with all these information at hand, I invited several friends of mine to accompany me on my trip, on their own expense of course. A few heeded to the calling and they are as follows: Aboy (although still unsure), Allan, Ramil, Mona and her hubby with one other fellow I’m not sure who it will be. Probably, this post will be revised once I get a hold of the person’s name. We have settled on the date as October 21-24, 2009. It was a good timing because those dates also cover the Pantalan area fiesta and that made our trip more promising as ever. The date was just an accident. Originally it should have been October 10-14 but then the other members of the survivor Coron edition told me that they would have a hard time in securing their vacation leaves as one of the dates fall on a Friday. So we adjusted the dates and settled on October 21-24 instead. What a blessing I told myself. At the back of my mind, probably I truly deserve this trip or para sa akin talaga ang trip na ito. But the truth behind the chosen date is because 2 members of the Coron Survivor edition will celebrate their birthdays in October. So yun na, alam na!
How Do I Get To Coron, Busuanga Island, Palawan?
The next thing that I started to bug myself about was how I would travel to Coron. There are 2 modes of transportation going to Coron. Of course, the most popular would be by air. You would have to drop off at Busuanga domestic airport and then take a van that would take you to Coron town proper. I was told that the air travel is about an hour and the travel from Busuanga to Coron town is about 45 minutes. The van has a fixed rate of Php 150 per person and will take you to your preferred accommodation. They have a policy that whichever van drove you to your accommodation, shall also be the van who would fetch you and bring you to the airport on your return trip back to Manila. I find that practice very convenient for travellers. For me it also implies that they have a fair and just business practice going on in the area. But then, there were several others who claimed that the Php150/person fare from the airport to Coron town proper is a rip off and unreasonable in the sense that it only takes about 30-45 minutes ride to reach the destination. I read this comment as an opinion for the Coron, Busuanga thread. Judging from the person’s point of view, he actually was right about it. When we travelled to Boracay in June 2009, the van fare from Kalibo International airport has a prevailing rate of Php150/person and the travel time is around 1.5 – 2 hours depending on the skills of the driver and traffic flow in the area. Considering the distance travelled and comparing them both, I may conclude that the charge in Coron is really a rip off. I’m just hoping that the local government in the area can take a step forward and come up with a fair and reasonable resolution as far as van rates going to Coron town is concerned.
Since Coron Town is becoming a popular destination and travel spot, there has been several revisions as far as travelling to this town is concerned. There are now several ways to travel to Busuanga at rates that the common Pinoy can afford. Among them are as follows:
a. By Air – these are the list of airlines that can fly you to Busuanga Island. Just be aware of promo offerings and you’ll surely get the least amount for your air travel.
- Philippine Airlines. They have a promo right now, Seat All You Can, which is also featured in one of my pages. Kaya naman talagang nasabi ko na para sa akin ang Coron dahil naglabasan ang mga promo ng airlines when I was planning to purchase my tickets for the trip. I am loyal to PAL, that’s why for the one-way going to Busuanga, I have decided to take PAL for Php788 including the taxes and surcharges. I should not have taken Zest Air’s promo, nor should have trusted them to begin with.
- Cebu Pacific Air. They also had their 50% off promo to all destinations at the time that we were searching an airline that would take us to Busuanga. They had a promo in celebration of their 3rd year anniversary at Terminal 3 of NAIA. The promo ran for 2 days only. And Mona’s party was able to avail of this promo.
- Zest Air. I purchased my tickets through Zest Air for only Php 976 two-way fare going to Busuanga. Very cheap indeed, cheaper even when PAL or Cebu Pacific had their promo offerings. However due to flight reductions, I was forced to refund the one-way going to Busuanga amounting Php488.
- Sea Air. Previously, this was the only airline who offered chartered trips to Busuanga. When I checked their rates, they have one of the highest airfares going to Busuanga. No promo available at this moment for Busuanga flights.
b. By Sea – this is the shipping line that can carry you to Busuanga Island. They also offer promo rates from time to time, but you’d have to very vigilant in watching out for those.
- Super Ferry. You can also travel by sea through Super Ferry by Aboitiz Lines. They have rates as low as Php750 per person one way, which would take you directly to Coron town pier. But as for this mode, I believe they only travel to Coron on Fridays at 6PM and by 6AM of Saturday, you’ll wake up to Coron sunrise already. The rates are reasonable, it could go up depending on your lifestyle.
Where Do I Stay In Coron, Busuanga Island, Palawan?
Now that we have settled on the dates and the plane tickets, the search is on for the most affordable but decent accommodations in Coron. Of course again, there is a criteria that I have set in order for me to choose the accommodation.
- Offers a spectacular view of the area. Whether it’s situated on a mountain top or on a beachfront.
- The rooms should be air-conditioned. Although I was told that you don’t actually need to have an air-condition when staying in Coron.
- Rooms should be spacious and ensuite CR. The beds should be comfortable.
- Seafront rooms if possible. But Coron town does not really have a decent beachfront. All the hotels who claim that they are beachfront are on stilts actually. And I was told that they are seafront accommodations, not beachfront accommodations.
- With freebies. Some of the hotels offer free breakfasts or free airport transfers once you avail of their services.
- With facilities such as use of kitchenette with or without charge if possible, swimming pool, lounging area, mini-bar and videoke area for night gatherings. The people that I’m travelling with have flair for cooking food and for singing their hearts out.
- Offers affordable packages such as accommodations with food and trips around Coron Islands and nearby islets. I guess all the lodgings in Coron town have offers like these.
- The lodging should have a back-up generator. I heard that electricity and water ration in Coron town is rationed. Probably due to the fact that it’s an island not yet fully developed as far as technology is concerned.
- Unique in its own way.
And so the hunt is on for our accommodations. There are several lodging houses in Coron that I have inquired about but only a few have websites. Most of them only have contact numbers. So it’s very hard for me to picture the rooms and the place itself. The twin sharing room rates can go as low as Php500 per night on a fan room and Php950 per night on an air-conditioned room. There are some lodging houses that caught my fancy and at this point these are my choices:
- Shirl Baywalk Pension House. This budget inn is located along the Coron Bay and it’s one of the new lodging houses around Coron town. The cheapest rate is Php1200 for double accommodation. What I don’t like about their cheapest accommodation is that it doesn’t have a private CR.
- Villa Hermosa Guest House. According to most reviews, everything in this guest house is pretty much at standard level in consideration to the room rates. Once has a choice of either air-conditioned or fan rooms to suit your budget. Located in Coron town where it’s near everything. Check out their site for inquiries.
- Mommita’s Lodge. Mommita is a very accommodating person. She responded right away via email, talk about a techie lady here. Her budget inn is located along the National Highway and it’s not a seafront inn. Most of the rooms offered will have common CR and I think only one of the rooms have private CR. What I like about this inn is that it’s very affordable. You can stay at her place with a budget as low as Php250 per person on a daily basis. However, the rooms are kinda cramped and hot without the air-conditioning unit working.
- Coron Reef Pension House. They have claimed that they are the cheapest accommodation in Coron Php 900 per night on twin sharing but doesn’t include any freebies. The rooms are plain and simple, made of native materials and offers a beachfront accommodation.
- Apartelle de Gabrielle. One of the newest accommodations in Coron town that offers both air-conditioned and fan rooms with free WIFI access. Located along the National Highway, it’s a one place which is very accessible to everything. The rates are pretty decent considering the balcony offers a fantastic view of the seas.
- Centro Coron Bed and Breakfast. Centro Coron Bed and Breakfast is part of a thriving haven for local and foreign tourists in Coron, Palawan. The place is located in the heart of downtown Coron with just a few minutes from the local domestic airport and more or less 45 minutes travel by plane from Manila. Both local and arranged transportation facilities will be made available by the administrative center with utmost complaisant services to common and walk in clients. The spacious rooms are guaranteed to satisfy guests with an atmosphere of comfort spiced by a relaxing sound of a best chosen array of classical and soft music and a glimpse of a captivating scenic view of a distinct Coron, Palawan.
- GMG Hotel. One of the newer bed and breakfast located in Coron town. The rates are kinda hefty for the following inclusions: air-conditioned rooms, breakfast, TV, free WIFI access and use of swimming pool.
- Islands View Inn. It does not have its own website at the moment so I used one review as reference. As per the review, it’s very near Kawayanan Grill which is around Coron town. The air-conditioned room rates are quite expensive but the rates include breakfast.
- Mt. Tapyas Hotel. This is one of the newest hotels in the Coron town area, probably one of the reasons why I had this as my option. Their room rate is Php 1024 per night, including service charge. The airport transfer is free. Offers seaview and mountain views.
- Darayonan Lodge. There has been several reviews made for this lodging. They have 18 rooms and the lowest rate offered to me was Php 950 per night with daily breakfasts for two. The pictures of the place include a lush garden and native decorations. Unique, ikanga nila. Located along the main road, no views at all except their garden. For the review on my stay at Darayonan Lodge, kindly click this link.
- Coron Village Lodge. This lodge started as an old 5-room family house. The owners transferred to Manila when the children were in high school, in pursuit of better education for them. The house was left to a housekeeper and a gardener who took care of the house and the premises as though the owners were present. After a few years, a few travelers who came to Coron started asking if they could lodge in the house, there being no lodging house in town. Guests started coming in with just the housekeeper doing some cooking for them. Finally, it was decided that the house be turned into a real lodge. Additional rooms were built and now Coron Village Lodge has 25 rooms and a 5-door apartment building. A function room, a restaurant and a souvenir shop have been added. The lodge is a non-star lodge. But in a small town like Coron where there are no big and expensive hotels, Coron Village Lodge shines out like a real star.
- Seadive Resort. This is for divers only, as what I have heard. The rates will change starting October 1st. Standard aircon rooms are charged at Php900 per night. Doesn’t include freebies. The lodge is beachfront. Most reviews say that they offer great food but the rooms are plain and simple.
- Birang Guest House. Located in Barangay Tagumpay, this guest house offers a seafront view and is a fairly new lodge around the Coron town. The guest house features 6 lovely rooms and 3 shared comfort rooms. They also have a generator set that would kick in when the electricity turns off. I love the place! The owner is very kind. It’s just quite unfortunate that they’re fully booked on October 21-24. Sigh! I was successful though in booking this place on my return back to Coron on Feb 9-12, 2010. I also highly recommend this place for your stay in Coron, most especially when you’re traveling with your familiy. For more reviews about this guest house, you may visit this link.
- Palanca Guest House. It’s one of the relatively new inns within Coron town. I believe it’s an ancestral house turned bed and breakfast by the owners. All the rooms are provisioned with private bath and air-conditioning. You may use this link for inquiries.
- R2R Bayview Inn. This bed and breakfast is located at the city town proper of the Island of Coron, Palawan where one has a view of the sea on the part of the boulevard and the sleeping giants on the other. It is a 3-storey structure with 13 rooms, each has its own toilet and bath, TV, built-in closet and balcony. The room rates are very competitive as well. Check out their Facebook site for inquries.
- Ralph’s Pension House. The lodge is housed on the Second Floor of a 2-storey edifice. At the onset, the Second Floor serves as the residence of the owners, with the first floor being the TEREGBENGAN GENERAL MERCHANDISE, a hardware and construction supplies store, also owned by them. However,with the tourism boom, the Second Floor is now converted to a lodge.They likewise constructed additional rooms on the remaining available space of the property at the back of the main house to complete a charming 10-room all air-conditioned pension house.
- Coron Sunrise Inn. This is the place that passed most of the criteria that I have set in search for our accommodations in Coron. Their rates are negotiable. Tita Glo, the owner is very nice and straight-forward in answering all my questions. I didn’t had any problems at all as far as communications are concerned because she keeps an open line between us. As for the rooms, they were spacious and all are air-conditioned and has fans in every room. Most of all, the rooms have their own CR’s. They also have a place for night gathering, perfect for the group. The owner also offered me to have our own food cooked in their kitchen with extra charge of course. She mentioned that the gas for cooking costs Php854 in their place. Very expensive! No freebies for their room rates of Php1200 per night good for two persons. But she said that she could give us discounts as far as boat rental is concerned. I find the interiors of the place unique in a way that they have put together simple things and came up with an interior design that passes my taste. Tita Glo told me that at this time, they have 4 rooms available but their new rooms are under construction but it will be completed by the time that we get to Coron. They also have a back-up generator, so one can be assured that you’ll have a good time even when the electricity is out and of course a good night’s sleep. I strongly recommend and suggest you take Coron Sunrise Inn as your option when going to Coron.
What Are The Things To Do In Coron, Busuanga Island, Palawan?
Now that everything about plane tickets and lodgings have been settled, what are we to do in this majestic place? The only way that you could explore the Coron Islands is by renting a boat for one whole day that would take you to the islets, beaches and wrecks for exploration. It was a good thing that I found Owen Ferrer’s DIY Coron site. Owen Ferrer is an expert as far as Coron, Busuanga Island is concerned. He has been to the place several times now and is the protege of this DIY Coron thingy. He offers tours to travellers at a very affordable price. He says that he’s not the cheapest around the Coron town but you’ll get value for your money when you opt to go with his tour offerings. It sounded incredible! I scouted around the site and was able to come up with our travel itinerary. The site actually helped me plan everything from day 1 up to day 4 for our Coron survival. Our itinerary are as follows:
This is our arrival day in Coron. Since there is plenty of time to explore the town, I decided it would be the best time for us to do so, on the first day. There’s the Mt. Tapyas cross, which they say has 747 steps to reach the top. Then the souvenir shops in the area. And of course the renowned Maquinit Hot Springs which has an entrance fee of Php100 per head. Going to Maquinit costs around Php 50 per head one way via tricycle. However, I have read one review that Maquinit Hot Springs is not that enchanting anymore. The owners were careless enough not to take care of the place. According to the most recent review by one of the PEXers: the walkway is slippery due to the moss that covered the walk floor, there were no shower rooms so chances are you’re going back to your accommodations without even taking a shower, dogs roam freely around the resort. This review actually bothered me because I was planning to take a hot dip at night. I may or may not include this in our itinerary but I would have to consult the group first prior to removing this.
Tour Cost Php 1400/ pax
Spots To Visit: Siete Pecados, Kalachuchi, Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake, Twin Lagoon, Banol Beach, Skeleton Wreck, CYC Island
Inclusions: Boat, Lunch, Entrance Fee, Guide/Cook
Note: Boat rental rate may change without prior notice. Therefore, tour cost also may change without prior notice. At 1-4pax, the boatman is your guide/cook.
Tour Cost Php 1600/ pax
Spots To Visit: Culion Town, Malcapuya Island and Banana Island
Note: Boat rental rate may change without prior notice. Therefore, tour cost also may change without prior notice. At 1-4pax, the boatman is your guide/cook.
That’s our tentative itinerary for our trip. The 3rd day is optional though, depending sa preference ng group. But they’re already aware of the proposed itinerary, they’d just have to pick from the various activities that can be done in the island. It’s open to changes as there are so many places to explore in Busuanga.
Aside from Owen Ferrer’s DIY Coron Tours, there are other coordinators that offer the same packages with competitive rates. One of them is the Calamian Expeditions Travel and Tours. It is a local based agency promoting community tourism enterprise and committed to attain sustainable tourism in Calamianes, Palawan. Its activities and events highly involve community members such as local tour guides, mountain guides, resort and lodge operators, boat operators, transport operators, indigenous cultural groups and adventure enthusiasts. Corong Galeri Lokals (an accredited establishment of the Department of Tourism) also makes contributions to the local communities by its efforts wtih the tribal minorities and local skilled craftsmen for the promotion of Calamianes’ traditional products, arts and related handicrafts. I may have to take their tour offerings instead because of the reasonable price. Their rates include the following:
Coron Island Ultimate Tour @ P650/person
Destinations: Kayangan Lake , Twin Peaks Reef, Twin Lagoon, Atwayan Beach, CYC Island. Option to add tour to Siete Pecados, just add entrance fee of P100/pax
Sun, Sea and Sand Eco-Tourism Experience @ P950/person
Destination: Malcapuya Island. Option tour to Banana and Malaroyroy Islands just add entrance fee of P200/pax
Other Things That I Should Know About Coron?
Kuya Owen told me that the snorkel gears can be rented for Php150-200 for the entire day. So we’ll take that in mind and include the snorkel gear rental in our budget as it is not included in the tour costs. He also mentioned that food is very cheap in the area. So there’s actually no problem as far as food is concerned since our lodgings have their own food offerings aside from that we can also do our own marketing and cook the food ourselves. There are also a number of decent restaurants which serve quality and affordable dishes as per Kuya Owen. He also reminded me that bringing a kayak along is feasible but not recommended unless kayaking would be the itinerary or the adventure for the day. Judging from the trips being offered, I understood what he meant by that. Kuya Owen also suggested that I should drop by at the Cashew Factory. He says that he’s amazed at how the cashew nuts are processed and packed. I would probably try to squeeze that in one of our itineraries.
What Are The Things That I Should Bring Along For The Trip?
As far as money is concerned, there are a few money changers in the area as was told by most of the Coron vacationers. Probably because foreigners frequent the place than Filipinos. Only one bank has ATM so I’d rather withdraw here in Manila, kesa duon pa maabala. The other must-bring things for the Coron trip are as follows:
credit cards (if any) aside from enough moolah’s
OFF lotion – to protect yourself from mosquito bites
aqua shoes – for stoney lakes and sea urchins
snorkeling gears or goggles at least
water-proof or underwater camera of course!
I will also be updating this post from time to time or if there are any changes or additions to our plan trips. So do watch out for updates! As for me, I’m very excited na! Sana October na po!
And finally! After the long wait, here are the reviews for Coron, Palawan. Enjoy them all!