Coron: Where to Stay , What to Do and What to Skip

Coron with all its breathtaking pics all over social media has been on my travel list for quite awhile now.  And Coron Island is truly a beauty worth visiting with its jade colored waters set against towering limestone formations.   Coron Town, however, where most tourists stay is where expectations have to be managed. But more on that later.  For now let me rave about the beauty of Coron Island.  

Hidden Lagoon

The Coron limestone formations reminds me of Pandora in the film Avatar.  These limestones were formed 260 million years ago as a coral reef along the length of Southeast Asia and was part of the China Continental Crust. It was later drafted to its present location north of Palawan by tectonic movements.

They were uplifted by tectonism some 30 million years ago and then extensively eroded by waves and monsoon rains to create its present unique “karst” topography. These limestone crops rise dramatically as cathedral-like formations more 400 meters above sea level. [Sourced by thejoysofjourneying from a UNOCAL company calendar]

Above is the immaculate Kayangan Lake, said to be the cleanest lake in the Philippines. We swam with our vests on this beautiful lake for a good 30 minutes and it was so peaceful and beautiful.  The Tagbanuas, the indigenous caretakers of Calamianes Islands, manages and preserves the land and marine resources in Coron Island and I give my hats off to them.  The whole of Coron Island is trash free, boat docking is well organized, boats can't anchor on certain areas to protect the corals.  They took care of it all.

Snorkelling in the waters of Coron is rewarding but don't expect colorful corals. There are a lot of angel fish and my husband even saw a sea turtle at Siete Pecados.  Don't forget to bring your snorkelling gear, fins and booties.  But just in case you don't have one they are renting it out at P150 each.

CYC is the only beach I went to.  It is a small island and there were quite a number of people so we just decided to swim in the waters instead of heading for the beach.

We got the Coron Island Ultimate Tour from Calamianes Expeditions for P950, it covered our boat trip to Kayangan Lake, snorkelling at Siete Pecados, Hidden Lagoon, Coral Eden and a family style lunch at Calachuchi beach and a side trip to CYC beach.  Our other companions in the trip said Ultimate Island tour is way better than the the tour that took them to Barracuda Lake, Twin Lagoons, Dimanglet Beach and Coral Triangle.

To book for Coron tours, you just have to get the leaflets from the airport.  Once you have decided which tour to take,  hail a tricycle to take you to their office in the town (everything is just a 10 minutes away) and pay the tour you like.  You should ideally do this a day before your tour.  The 2 most popular tour groups are Calamian Islands Travel & Tours and the Calamianes Expeditions.  Calamianes was ok except that we were asked to go to meeting area at 8am but the boat left at almost 10am already.  The guides don't really give you a running commentary for you to get to know the place better but they provided the basic details.

Family Style Food served during our day tour.  There was more than enough food for everyone, not in the picture was the grilled liempo and bananas for dessert.

As for Coron Town, where the accommodations are, there is not much to see.  It does not have a beach front, in case you are thinking it is like Boracay.  If you want a hotel on a beach, you would have to stay in island resorts like Club Paradise (15k-30k/night) or 2 Seasons Coron Island Resort and Spa (27-45k/night).  More on Club Paradise later in the post.  Other than that your accommodation choices are hostel type lodging or budget hotels.

Most accommodations would be lined along roads like these save for a few that are 5-10 minutes away that would have fewer houses in front.

For my husband and I, the accommodation forms a great part of our vacation so we try to find mid-ranged hotels that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg but would be comfortable enough.

Thankfully 2 Seasons Resorts opened a hotel in Coron Town called 2 Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel offering tourists 5-Star quality accommodations within Coron Town.  The outside vicinity of 2 Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel is similar to the photo above but you will be transported to a semblance of luxury once you step in.  Note: This is not a sponsored post.

The lobby of the hotel that spills over to the deck will give you a better feel of being in an island rather than a town.

You still won't have a beach front but the view of the waters and the mountains is beautiful.   They have 3 decks - one at the ground floor, 2nd floor and another at the 5/f where the gym and jacuzzi is.

The infinity pool is warm and inviting but hardly occupied maybe because everyone is out island hopping.  We just took a quick dip and the view in front is simply beautiful.  Left and right view though would be that of houses,  but the front view more than made up for it.

We brought some wine and cheese and chilled out at the deck.

The hotel is fully booked so we ended up in a standard room with the view of the road instead of the sea.  Sadness.  Book early (not 2 weeks ahead like I did) and definitely get a room with the bay view. The hotel is fully booked so we actually ended up staying in another hotel another night.

The room and the bathroom though is still very good despite its standard classification.

Our other hotel was pretty good but not as swanky as 2 Seasons Coron Bayside.  We stayed at the 4-Star Coron Soleil Garden Hotel for our other night.  Though it did not have a sea view,  it had the mountain as its backdrop.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the room but it was quite good.  Just check out booking.com for more pics.  Sheets were clean and doesn't have a mildewy smell or feel. The bathrooms were also well maintained and modern looking. What is good about Soleil Garden Hotel is their good service.  All the attendants were very nice and they offered free hotel transfers plus when I told them we were transferring to 2 Seasons Coron Bayside they were even willing to take us to 2 Seasons on their van had we told them earlier (van was out already).

As for the food in Coron,  you either eat in your hotel or check out in the grills in the town.  Hotel food is hotel food.  Priced at P500 per dish.  As for the grills, it is like eating in dampa.  There are a number of grill places, we ate at Lobster King and had these lobsters for P700.  You can also order grilled squid and other seafoods or chicken/pork if you prefer.

I think the best restaurant in Coron Town is the Baya Resto Lounge in 2 Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel with dishes priced at P500 single serving.  The food is good quality but the portions are small and are not meant for sharing.  Breakfast buffet at Baya Resto can be improved though.  There was not much to choose from so I just had an egg and some bacon.

Total cost of our 3 day stay in Coron for 2 persons is P 31,781.  P11,187 Skyjet Airfare from Manila for 2, P7,684 for one standard room at 2 Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel, P5,410 for Coron Soleil Garden Hotel, P 1,900 for Ultimate Island Tour for 2, P5,000 for food (2 dinners, 2 lunches) and P600 for transfers from 2 Seasons to Airport.

On our next visit we would head to Malcapuya Island, Banana Island and Bulog Dos Island.  And maybe do some reef and wreck tours.  For an additional P10,000 budget, staying in Club Paradise is also a good alternative.  I have good memories of Club Paradise's pristine beaches and rich wildlife when I visited it 20 years ago.  And it is also good news that it is now under Discovery Suites group. They have promo packages for 3 days 2 nights at P27,000 inclusive of transfers and all meals.  Tours however are at P3,800/person.

This trip is very relaxing one because my husband and I didn't jam pack the activities, actually just a day of activity to be exact. We got a good taste of Coron Island and got lots and lots of zzzz's.

Till the next trip!

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