CHOOSE PHILIPPINES: Our 5D/4N ocean-filled itinerary in Coron, Palawan

It was already my second time in Coron and yet, I seemed to have forgotten what it looked like the last time I was there. All I could remember were the pristine islands my friends and I visited years ago, which I boasted to my siblings – whom were eager to see this place that I’m proud of.

It wasn’t difficult to impress my “balikbayan” crew, the islands surrounding Coron are utterly beautiful. Even the town proper, albeit the narrow, uphill, tricycle-laden roads filled our eyes with amusement. The real struggle was how to fit everything into our tight itinerary without compromising R&R, because let’s admit it, there are times that we just want to succumb to those comfy, white sheets and air-conditioned hotel rooms.

But being a self-confessed adventurer and amazing race contender-wannabe that I am, I was up for this type of challenge. I devised an itinerary that appeared not too planned, left room for last-minute changes, and also didn’t leave important (aka touristy) places unexplored.

D A Y – O N E

MO2 Westown Lagoon

About 20 minutes away from the airport, we checked in at our chosen accommodation in Coron – MO2 Westown Lagoon. I was impressed with how lovely the resort is. I was pretty skeptic while booking because of its bad reviews (which I didn’t encounter during our stay – well, except for the terrible wi-fi connection, which was the case not just in the hotel, but in all of Coron!). Thankfully, MO2 Westown lived up to my expectations and most importantly, my family seemed to like it.

We hadn’t have enough sleep before our flight so, we didn’t do much on our first day. The only activity we did was the Coron Glittering Fireflies Night Tour + a buffet dinner on a floating restaurant which I only booked on the same day we arrived. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take good photos, but the buffet dinner was a nice start to our much-awaited vacation – we feasted on fresh seafood atop a restaurant that floats in the middle of the sea, while being serenaded with classical music and with a picturesque view of Coron at night. After dinner, we were taken to the mangroves via a speedboat and there we saw fireflies and witnessed bioluminescence in the water. Although there were times that we found ourselves bored, we still can say that we enjoyed parts of it. If you have extra time to spare, don’t miss this activity. Otherwise, skip and focus on more worthwhile ones.

D A Y – T W O

We woke up on our second day, bright and early, and eager to explore. I hired a private boat to take us on what they call the Coron Islands Escapade Tour. Since we didn’t go with a travel agency, here is a summary of the expenses we paid (in philippine peso):

Food – 1,500 (We went to the local market with our boatman/guide and bought food that we wanted to have for the day)

Boat + tips – 7,600 (For a boat that accommodates 7 of us plus 3 more boatmen. We didn’t skimp on tips because our boatmen/guides were the absolute best! Especially Kuya Toto who patiently accompanied my mom on every snorkeling adventure we did. They also cooked the fresh produce we bought and were impressed with their talented food presentation πŸ‘ŒπŸΌ)

Entrance fees – 5,000 for 7 pax (We went to the islands of Ditaytayan, Waling-Waling and Malcapuya. Because most travel tours go to the islands of Banana and Bulog Dos, we had Waling-Waling and Malcapuya all to ourselves and only shared Ditaytayan with 5-6 foreign tourists :))

Extras – 500 for 3 snorkel rentals and 100/head for a small boat that took us snorkeling in a clam farm in Malcapuya.

First stop: Ditaytayan Island
We lingered for quite some time here – snorkeled, played games, took pictures and just bonded with each other while having a good laugh.
It’s so hard not to take some #instashots on a place as beautiful as this.
Lunch stop: Waling-Waling Island
Aside from the local who was manning the small sari-sari store, we pretty much had this whole island all to ourselves ☺️
There is a stairway that leads up to a viewpoint where you can admire this insane view. Aside from having our lunch in this island, we did a little snorkeling although we didn’t see much and struggled with a mild current.
Last stop: Malcapuya Island
This is a common stop out of the three that we’ve visited. Our guide must’ve strategically chose it as our last stop because by the time we got there, visitors were already leaving and we again had an island solo.
We took a small boat (and by took, I meant, we held onto ropes πŸ˜…) to a small coral park and snorkeled (again!) We saw a lot of colorful fish, some giant clams and vibrant corals.

D A Y – T H R E E

Initially, I intended our third day to be our free day, where we can do whatever we want individually. However, when I booked a PADI specialty course for myself, I also encouraged my siblings to try scuba diving and so, we still spent almost the whole day together – well, minus our parents whom we unanimously agreed (much to our Mom’s dismay – sorry, Mommy! πŸ™Š) to leave in the hotel to have some R&R.

We had a grand time during the dive and I am glad that my siblings (and their plus ones) totally enjoyed it. Stay tuned for a separate post and review of the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Course I did with Neptune Dive Center 😊

D A Y – F O U R

Our last full day! We hired the same private boat we had on our second day and handpicked places from the usual Coron Ultimate Island Tour spots. Total cost below (in php):

Food – 1,500 (Just like before, we bought produce from the local market and decided on our own menu.)

Boat + tips: 5,000 (boat) + 1,500 (tips for 3-4 crew members) (The boat fee is also inclusive of cooking of your food, cooking materials and cutleries. Some islands enforced that less to no disposables were to be used. So, kamay kamay is the way to go! 😝)

Entrance fees: 4,900 for 6-7 pax (We went to Kayangan Lake, Skeleton Ship Wreck, Atwayan Beach, Twin Lagoon and Siete Pecados)

Extras: 100/head for snorkel rentals

Picturesque view from the uphill climb to Kayangan Lake
Please note that you have to climb approximately 300 steps to get to the lake and be wary of mosquitoes in the surrounding area especially when visiting during the wet season.
Welcome to Kayangan Lake
We were fortunate to arrive with just a few people in the area. Most of the tourists flock at around 9:00 am so make sure to arrive earlier to avoid the crowd.
Crystal clear water. Swimming in the lake is allowed provided you wear a life vest at all times. This is non-negotiable even if you are a strong swimmer.
Skeleton ship wreck. This was probably the only spot that we had to share with loads of tourists. Avid free divers will surely find this spot really interesting.
Lunch stop: Atwayan Beach
Inside the Twin Lagoon
There was a long queue of visitors crossing the lagoons and so we decided to skip it and move to another destination.
Our favorite stop: Siete Pecados is a group of seven mini islands which is also a famous marine park. We spent our remaining hours in this haven full of colorful corals and schools of fish. Beware of the spiky sea urchins that are also abundant in the area. I saw a lot of scuba divers exploring underwater and made a mental note to cross it off my bucket-dive list in the future.

After a full day of swim and snorkel (what can I say? We took snorkeling way too seriously πŸ˜…), we called it a day and returned to land. While my sibs and dad went back to the hotel to recuperate, my mom and I headed to our final stop: A HOTSPRING.

Maquinit Hotspring
Because no trip to Coron will ever be complete without dipping your toes – er, whole body in approx 40 degree celsius water 😳

Then it was a wrap. Until it was time to leave for the airport, we spent our remaining hours in Coron on our hotel beds. Lol. Five days quickly flew by and we were feeling major se(a)panx. It was just the perfect family trip that we needed before going on separate ways again and won’t be seeing each other for a while. Definitely one for the books, as they say ✨

Salamat, Coron! πŸ’™

Additional info as per time of visit (June 2019):

EAT      
Trattoria Altrove for fancy pizza and pasta.
Lolo Nonoy's for delicious comfort pinoy food. This was our Dad's favorite.
Food stalls near the plaza for street food fiesta.

SLEEP
Budget
Acacia Garden Inn

Mid-range
MO2 Westown Lagoon
Coron Westown Resort
Vela Terraces Hotel
The Funny Lion

Luxury
Two Seasons Bayside Hotel
Two Seasons Coron Island Resort & Spa
Club Paradise Palawan

SEE & DO
Island Hopping
Dive & Snorkeling Tours
Maquinit Hot Spring
Climb Mt. Tapyas

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