Coron has vast tourist potentials. It can be transformed into a key player in the development of Philippine tourism. The municipality covers part of Busuanga Island and all of the nearby Coron Island. Both islands are part of the Calamian Group of Islands in northern Palawan. The main industries of Coron are fishing and tourism, being a popular diving location. The aquatic views from the sunken Japanese warships off Coron Island are listed in Forbes Traveler Magazine’s top 10 best scuba diving sites in the world.
I flew alone via PAL Express on a cloudy day of October 21, 2009 to Busuanga Island in Palawan. It was an hour’s travel. It was a blessing that my seatmate, who was a guy that I forgot to ask for his name, was friendly enough to catch some conversation with me during the flight. He was actually traveling with 2 other friends. I supposed they are also going to the same destination as I was. Landing in Busuanga, I was supposed to meet Mr. Tawini Poon from Darayonan Lodge, who would take me via van to Coron Town proper. However, since my flight was delayed for about an hour, I was met by another person from the same group. I waited for another hour for my friend Mona together with his husband Ian who is travelling via Cebu Pacific Air. They would be my companion in invading Coron town for 4 days and 3 nights. I also noticed that my Globe mobile does not have signal at that area. When I asked around, I was told that the signal for Globe mobile is available upon reaching Coron town proper. Too bad I don’t have an extra phone for Smart mobile.
The Cebu Pacific flight, thank goodness, actually arrived 30 minutes earlier from their ETA. And so, after a few minutes from its landing, we were ushered inside the van who would take us to Coron town.
From Busuanga going to Coron town proper is a one hecka ride with a charge of Php150 per person. Rough roads welcomed us during the ride and so I came to realize why the transfer was charged as such. After 45 minutes of travel, we reached Coron town proper. Gazing around Coron town, it is a stark contrast to the overpopulated Manila. Coron is a 2nd class municipality in the province of Palawan, Philippines. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 32,243 people in 6,264 households. Driving around town, and judging from the looks of it, I noticed that there are only a few business establishment. There were no factories or whatsoever. In other words, there’s not much of a choice for employment opportunities in the area except fishing and tourism. We were then brought to our accommodation for the entire duration of our stay in Coron, The Darayonan Lodge.
After unpacking our things and looked around the place, we decided to have our lunch at the lodge. Mona and I had seafood kebabs while Ian had grilled fish. After our lunch, Mona told me that she wanted to take a rest first prior to going somewhere else. Her wish was my command. We slept for about 2 hours afterwhich we decided to invade Escarda’s Cashew Factory and Maquinit Hot Springs. We were told by the Darayonan front desk lady that we will be able to pass by the cashew factory on our way to Maquinit. The three of us went outside and hailed a tricycle going to Maquinit. Turned out that the tricycle driver hailed from Rizal province. One thing I noticed about him is that he is wearing a colorful polo which resembles one of the polo of another tricycle driver. I asked him why he is wearing such and he told us that they are required to wear their uniforms during their shift. Amazing! We enlisted his services for Php300 (going to and from Maquinit for the 3 of us).
Maquinit Hot Springs is a nice refreshing stop although the way going there is rough road. The slightly salty, volcanically heated water comes out of the spring around 40C (105F). There are two hot pools adjacent to the spring, both cascade down into a larger pool which might be about 33C. On the far end of the large pool, between the mangrove forest, the water flows directly into the sea. You can jump down into this water too and get a therapeutic mix of hot and cold! The park is open until 10pm daily. It is highly recommended that you visit in the late afternoon, dusk, or evening. The combined heat of the day, the sun and the springs will overload you system if you visit any earlier. Entrance fee is Php100 for visitors, Php50 for residents.
It is however true that the pools are covered with moss and it’s slippery. Probably the owners are having a hard time trying to maintain the pools because of the influx of tourists and residents alike. I would suggest you go there by night so as not to be able to see the moss covered pools. But the catch here though is that you won’t be able to appreciate the place and its entirety. More photos around Maquinit Hotsprings here.
The tricycle driver forgot to drop us by Escarda’s Cashew Factory on our way to Maquinit and so he initiated the move on our way back to Darayonan lodge. We bought about Php1000 worth of toasted cashew nuts. The lady who entertained us was kind enough to give us free samples of their product. There were several varieties to choose from however the toasted ones are the most appealing for me. I could say that this cashew shopping escapade is a bit early don’t you think so??? But anyways, we were then brought back to Darayonan where we took a shower and changed costumes. Afterwhich we decided to have dinner at Kawayanan Grill. It was highly recommended by our tricycle driver, as well as reviews about Coron so we decided to give it a try.
At Kawayanan Grill, they serve mostly seafood dishes. So I tried their tapsilog. I didn’t liked it because sobrang kunat nung beef! Mona had grilled fish with lato while Ian had sizzling sisig. The two of them are having a great time with their orders while I was trying to muster all efforts in chewing my beef! The bill was no more than Php1000 for the three of us. I must say that the price range is quite pricey however the place is quite decent. After paying our bill, we headed back to Darayonan where we called it a day.
Find out how you can easily plan your trip to Coron, Palawan here.