Palawan: Exploring Coron Town – Day 1

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La Sirenetta Restaurant with Mt. Tapyas in the background.

 

Coron belongs to the Calamianes Group of Islands and is located in the northermost part of Palawan, on the Philippines’ southwestern border. It is halfway from both Manila and Puerto Princesa (the capital city of the province of Palawan). The municipality of Coron is composed of Coron Island, a portion of Busuanga Island and some 20 other outlying islands. It is blessed with pristine beaches, turquoise waters, limestone cliffs, and virtually unspoiled countryside all contributing to a breathtakingly beautiful landscape. Other features of interest include volcanic lakes, natural hotsprings, over 500 caves and a thriving marine population.(www.corongaleri.com.ph)

 

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View of Coron Town from Mt. Tapyas

 

It was one lazy afternoon at work when I saw the latest Cebu Pacific promo fares on the newspaper. My friend Vanessa needed little convincing to book the flight to Busuanga. The fare from Manila to Busuanga was only 488 pesos so we hurriedly escaped go to the computer shop adjacent to our workplace to book tickets without even knowing where Busuanga was (yay!). The return flight for Cebu Pacific however, was a bit expensive especially the weekend flight (around 2000 pesos),so we booked our return flight with PAL Express, which cost us around 1000 pesos.

 

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Our neighborhood at Sea Breeze Lodge.

 

The next step was to tell our friends about this trip since going around Coron would be much cheaper with a bigger group. We booked our tickets two months before our trip so finding willing travel mates hadn’t been a problem. Van’s friend Meg was still abroad when we came up with the plan and had been communicating with us online. After heaps of emails and IMs in between, the group decided to avail of the 4 days and 3 nights package tour from Coron Village Lodge. It cost 6900 pesos, which included accommodation and all the island hopping expenses.

This kind of trip was way too pricey for me but that was to be expected for a package tour. Unlike my Boracay or Cebu trip, I didn’t know much about accommodation and expenses in Coron except for what we had researched online.

 

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Coron Public Market is located near the wharf and just a few minutes walk from most of the hotels and lodges.

 

Vanessa and I arrived at Coron two days earlier than the rest of the group. We wanted to see the Puerto Princesa Underground River so we added two days extra on our trip to visit Puerto Princesa. It was too late, however, when we found out it wasn’t a good idea to spend our time traveling, given the limited time that we had. Going to El Nido alone would take 8 hours and from El Nido to Sabang would be another 8 hours or more. Well, that’s what happens when you don’t do your research first! icon smile Palawan: Exploring Coron Town   Day 1 philippine destinations palawan philippine destinations coron palawan philippine destinations philippine destinations posts review

We had already booked our tickets anyway upon realizing this, so we decided to just explore the town on our first day and arrange our own trip on our second day making sure that the places we would go to weren’t included in the package tour that we had arranged with the group.

 

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Coron Municipal Hall

 

OK I had to admit I procrastinated on reserving a place to stay in our so called two-day  “Do it yourself trip” in Coron. What’s the worst thing that could happen for two nights of stay anyway? All the usual places to visit in Coron were already included in our chosen package tour so we weren’t that enthusiastic on making our days jam-packed with activities. As a consequence, we arrived in Coron without a place to stay or any idea of how to get around the town! Vanessa didn’t even read the itinerary of our package tour or anything about the town so that’s when our adventure began.

 

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St. Augustine Parish Church

 

We landed at Busuanga Airport an hour later than our expected time of arrival due to bad weather conditions. I scouted for a local to ask for a good place to stay while waiting for our luggage and found an opinionated porter instead. Sea Breeze was the only lodge in his mind when I asked him what was the cheapest lodge in Coron. There were other accommodation to choose from at the airport lounge but the word cheapest was too hard to resist so off went to check out Sea Breeze.

The shuttle van driver seemed to agree with our choice too and had dissuaded us from trying something else. Fortunately, we were also able to avail of the airport transfer service from Coron Village Lodge even though we did not book our first two nights with them.

 

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It took us 30 minutes to reach the town from the airport. Half of the road wasn’t paved yet so it was rather a dusty and bumpy ride. The outskirts, however, were beautiful like an untouched safari waiting to be explored. On the way to the town, we saw the towering cross on top of Mt. Tapyas. The town proper reminds me of a coastal town in Bicol back in the 80s minus the dive shops and small-scale lodges. It was a typical fishing village that thrives on tourism, thus amenities like internet shops, souvenir shops and boutiques, cafes and pubs and numerous diving and tour agents were plentiful.

 

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Lolo Nonoy's Food Station is one of the cheap eateries at Coron Town.

 

It was past 12p.m. when we arrived at Sea Breeze Lodge. We were quite pleased when we learned that the fan room with its own bathroom cost 400 pesos per night while the room with shared bathroom cost 250 pesos. With this price though, don’t expect anything fancy. We were lucky to even have a towel provided for us. I am used to roughing it out in the bush anyway so anything with bed and pillow in it is already luxury. It was all up to Van if she would agree to stay here. In the end, we both agreed to stay at Sea Breeze Lodge. We reckoned it was only for two nights and we would be spending most of our time outside the lodge exploring Coron.

 

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Coron wharf- the jump-off point to all the island-hopping

 

After checking in our things, we headed to the market which was just a few minutes walk from our lodge. On the way, a guy on motorbike approached us and offered discounted island-hopping tours. He also suggested to visit Binalot Tong Dahon for lunch and try its Tapsilog. It was a few minutes walk from the market and we haven’t really eaten anything that day so we followed him to the eatery.

We had a chat with the owner of Binalot Tong Dahon. We found out later he also arranged accommodation and island-hopping packages with no extra charge as long as you eat at his restaurant. He also informed us about a group of four who was looking for other people to join them on their island- hopping tour the next day and had asked us to go back in the afternoon to arrange it with them.

 

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Lunch at Binalot Tong Dahon with the owner Kuya Alvin Gabilla.

 

After lunch, it was still too hot to explore around the town so we headed back to Sea Breeze for some much needed nap. It turned out to be a bad idea. The fan didn’t help much nor the breeze  which we were expecting to cool us down was nonexistent. Good thing night time was a different story and it was indeed breezier. Besides, when in Coron it is really imperative to stay out of your hotel and explore the place since a few days aren’t enough to see and experience it fully.

 

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Kawayanan Grill Station is one of the few bars and restaurants that has a band playing on selected nights.

 

It was already 5 p.m. when we got up and started exploring the town. We went to Coron Municipal Hall, St. Augustine Church, the wharf near the market and to the souvenir shops and restaurants around the town. In just an hour we almost covered the whole town. After our walk, we were tempted to climb Mt. Tapyas to check out the sunset, but we opted to wait for our friends who would be arriving on our third day (a visit to Mt. Tapyas was included in our tour package).

We went back to Binalot Tong Dahon to meet  the group who was looking for island-hopping mates. They found a tour package worth 4000 pesos for the six of us that included a visit to Malcapuya Beach, Culion Island, Banana Island and Malaroyroy Island. By joining them, we would only have to pay  666 pesos for a whole day of island-hopping. It was a good deal but we decided to play it by ear first.

 

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Coron Town Souvenir Shop

 

We had sinigang na sagisi, fresh catch from the market at Jackie’s Restaurant for dinner. It was dirt cheap (P30) and we got our fix of fresh and tasty seafood that night. After diner Ate Jackie, the owner of the place, approached us and told us about the couple who was looking for island-hopping mates the previous day. I immediately contacted them and found out that they got the same deal we had with the other group for only 2500 pesos. At first I was a bit wary because it was too cheap indeed. But then they assured us it was cheap because they were dealing directly with the boatman.

 

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We met Fritz and Archie and the boatman near La Sireneretta Restaurant. After sorting some more details, we finalized our itinerary for our second day. It turned out Fritz and Archie were also staying at Sea Breeze Lodge  so getting in touch became easier for all of us.

 

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About to have sisig at 24-hour Food Trip Eatery near the public market.

 

Our day 1 in Coron had been pleasant and eventful. We got a very good deal on our accommodation, met new friends, explored the town and finalized a good deal for our next day’s adventure – Island-hopping on 4 islands icon smile Palawan: Exploring Coron Town   Day 1 philippine destinations palawan philippine destinations coron palawan philippine destinations philippine destinations posts review .

WHERE TO STAY IN CORON

Coron Inland Accomodations

1. BALAY MAJIKA LODGE
Bgy Poblacion 3, Coron, Palawan
Contact Number: 09102292123
Contact Person: Ma. Luisa Aluluya

2. CORON REEF PENSION HOUSE
Bgy. Poblacion 5, Coron, Palawan
Contact Number: 09198877151
Contact Person: Mrs. Chinita L. Pe

3. DARAYONAN LODGE
#132 National Highway, Bgy. Poblacion 1, Coron
Email: dipulao@i-manila.com.ph
Website: www.darayonan.com
Contact Number: 09287003072
Contact Person: Letty Fernandez

4. MT. TAPYAS HOTEL
Bgy. 4 Coron Palawan
Email: mt.tapyashotel@yahoo.com
Contact Number: 09175005566
Contact Person: Ruth Jean Resco

5. RUDY’S PLACE LODGE
Bgy. Poblacion 5, Coron, Palawan
Contact Number: 09203633603
Contact Person: Mercedita M. Lim

6. SEA BREEZE LODGE
Bgy. Poblacion 3, Coron, Palawan
Contact Number: 09216904494
Contact Person: Jean Hachero

7. SEA CORAL LODGE
Bgy Poblacion 5, Coron, Palawan
Contact Person: Mr. Neri Lim

8. CORON VILLAGE LODGE
Bgy. Poblacion 1, Coron, Palawan
Email: darala@pldtdsl.net
Contact Person: Laureana Aguilos

 

CORON WATERFRONT ACCOMMODATIONS

1. BUSUANGA SEADIVE RESORT, INC.
Bgy. Poblacion 3, Coron, Palawan
Email: seadive@starnet.net.ph
Website: www.seadiveresort.com
Contact Persons: Ruth L. Galang/ Raffy Mendenilla
Contact Numbers: 09209458714/ 09184000448

2. L & M PE SEA LODGE
Bgy. Poblacion 1, Coron, Palawan
Contact Number: 09213549693
Contact Person: Lanie V. Mabacas

3. MICHAELANGELO HOTEL AND RESTAURANT
Bgy. Tagumpay, Coron, Palawan
Email: reservations@hotelmichaelangelo-coron.com
Website: www.hotelmichaelangelo-coron.com
Contact Person: Gliss “Jenny” Altigondo
Contact Number: 09214515503/ 09158346156

4. JENDI SEAFRONT LODGE
Bgy. 5, Coron, Palawan
Contact Number: 09183041498
Contact Person: Wilson M. Nonales

 

CORON RESORTS AND CRUISE

1. BUSUANGA ISLAND PARADISE
Sta. Monica Busuanga, Palawan
Website: www.busuangaislandparadise .com
Contact Number: 09159663388
Contact Person: Eloisa R. Narciso

2. CLUB PARADISE
Bgy. San Jose, Coron, Palawan
Website: www.clubparadise.com
Contact Number: 09285006013
Contact Person: Ms. Loida Alminana

3. DISCOVERY DIVERS RESORT
Decanituan Island, Coron, Palawan
Website: www.ddivers.com
Email: ddivers@yahoo.com
Contact Number: 09103842621
Contact Person: Melody M. Bunayog

4. DIVELINK RESORT
Bgy Llajala, Coron, Palawan
Email: infor@divelink.com.ph
Website: www.divelink.com.ph
Contact Number: 09284332428
Contact Person: Ms. Mila Gamboa

5. EL RIO Y MAR ISLAND RESORT
Bgy. San Jose, Coron, Palawan
Email: elrioymar_palawan@yahoo.com
Contact Number: 09172067581
Contact Person: Ms. Sharmaine L. Verano

6. KOKUS NUSS GARDEN RESORT
Bgy Poblacion 6, Coron, Palawan
Email: info@kokosnuss.info
Website: www.kokonuss.info
Contact Numbers: 09194487879/ 09197769544

7. KUBO SA DAGAT FLOATING MARKET. CORP.
Bgy. 2 Malbato. Coron, Palawan
Contact Person: Godofredo Contado

8. PRINCESS OF CORON (Austrian Resort)
Bgy. Poblacion 1, Coron, Palawan
Email: maelenapagui@yahoo.com
Website: www.philippinen _urlaub.at
Contact Number: 09192361430
Contact Person: Ms. Ma Elena. M. Paguia

9. SANGAT ISLAND RESERVE
Bgy. Bintuan, Coron, Palawan
Email: infor@sangat.com.ph
Website: www.sangat.com.ph
Contact Number: 09192050198
Contact Person: Mr. Andy Pownall

10. 7107 CRUISE SHIP
Telephone: (632-7528255) Fax: (632-8874590)
Email: info7107islands@yahoo.co
Website: www.7107islandscruise.net

 

CORON DIVE SHOPS

1. SANGAT ISLAND RESERVE DIVE SHOP
Email: infor@sangat.com.ph
Website: www.sangat.com.ph
Contact Number: 09192050198

2. DISCOVERY DIVERS
Email: ddivers@yahoo.com
Website: www.ddivers.com
Contact Number: 09103842621

3. DIVE CALAMIANES
Email: info@divecal.com
Website: www.divecal.com
Contact Number: 09182852060

4. CORON DIVERS
Email: arnipabelonio@hotmail.com
Website: www.corondivers.com.ph
Contact Number: 09209457637

5. SEADIVE RESORT DIVE SHOP
Email: seadive@starnet.net.ph
Website: www.seadiveresort.com
Contact Number: 09209458714

6. DUGONG DIVE CENTER
Email: info@dugongdivecenter.com
Website: www.dugongdivecenter.com
Contact Number: 632-8384956-60

 

How to Get to Coron:

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Coron is easily accessible by air and by sea to and from Manila. Schedules and other travel information are available at the carrier’s website.

By Air – 60 minute flights from Manila to Busuanga, daily

Cebu Pacific – www.cebupacificair.com

PAL EXPRESS – www.palexpressair.com

ZestAit – www.zestair.com

Note: Another 30-minute trip by land will take you to the Coron municipality proper. The jeepney ride itself is a treat with views of verdant countryside and cows lazing along the road at Yulo King Ranch.

By Sea – 12-hour trip to and from Manila, weekly

WG&A Superferry: www.superferry.com.ph

Negros Navigation: www. negrosnavigation.com