In autumn of 2012 while I was living in Cebu I took a long weekend break to Coron in the north of Palawan. Palawan is starting to get well known for El Nido; it’s limestone cliffs and emerald waters offer a more unspoilt alternative to Thailand’s Koh Phi Phi but there are far fewer tourists who make the trip to Coron Town and the neighbouring islands.
One of the best things about South East Asia is the cheap and relatively abundant low cost flights. The Philippines is slightly less well connected than it’s neighbours, but as a country of over 7,000 islands domestic carriers are booming, no more so than Cebu Pacific Air. I’m not particularly interested in fights or airlines as they act as merely a vessel to get somewhere; the more comfortable the better but it’s never the highlight of a trip – but I feel the need to mention Cebu Pacific Air based on how insanely low their fares get. They have 1 peso fares – that’s 1.4p. ONE POINT FOUR PENCE FOR A FLIGHT. Even with fees added that’s less then £10 to get to some of the most beautiful and undiscovered beaches in the region. A return flight Cebu-Busuanga ended up costing me only around 850 Pesos, or £12.
As I recall I think it was only the second day of operating the route that my flight was on, and while we were travelling on a smaller passenger plane there were still some seats empty. The airport in Busuanga is tiny, and you’ll need to grab a lft in a minivan into Coron Town
While in Coron Town, the best attraction is climbing Mt Tapyas. As the highest local point, it provides a great view across the bay and surrounding islands.Going here late afternoon enables you to catch the sunset over the horizon, basking the landscape in a golden glow. Watch out, the 700 odd steps are a killer and may take you longer than expected – it’s the equivalent of climbing over 50 storeys in a building. At the time of my visit there was a giant cross at the top of the Mountain, however from what I’ve read this was unfortunately destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan
The main draw of Coron and in fact the whole of Palawan is the ability to island hop. Day tours run from the town on several different routes, while longer trips lasting several days can be booked for those into serious diving of even to visit Calauit, probably the most isolated and unexpected ‘African’ Safari park in the world.
On the normal tours you will be taken to a selection of islands, beaches and snorkelling spots (such as Siete Pecados) with lunch usually included. If your time in Coron is limited, make sure you go on a tour including Kayangan Lake, offering crystal clear water and the iconic ‘Coron Postcard View’ below.
A lot of the budget accommodation and guesthouses in Coron won’t have online booking services, so either phoning up beforehand or walking through town may be the best way to get a bargain. However, if you don’t fancy the risk or are interested in some fancier digs, here’s some options: