Coron - A Diver's Paradise
Busuanga Island – a province in the Philippines is a beach resort at the northern tip of Palawan. The Island is bestowed with a vast reserve of postcard perfect natural beauty with abundance of wildlife. Tourists travelling to spend a holiday to this part of the Philippines will inevitably find themselves in the township of Coron. It is the base point for many activities in the area and it also has accommodations to suit every budget.
A remote province in the Philippines doesn't sound like the ideal location for a holiday, but for adventure-hungry tourists, scuba diving and water sports are most fun here; and fortunately, dining out is a close second. One will feel instantly welcomed by the landscape of sheer limestone cliffs, tranquil waters on reaching Coron. You will notice the iconic Hollywood style 'CORON' lettering on the top of one of the many mountains that surround the cityscape. The streets in the area themselves are a winding maze, with a buffet of dive shops, restaurants and bars to choose from.
There are plenty of things to do for someone seeking an unforgettably adventurous holiday in this part of thePhilippines. One can opt for a day of island-hopping on a Banca Boat or enjoy a day of snorkeling through corals in and around the shipwrecks of WWII battleships. The coral reefs at Coron resemble an underwater forest of sorts, complete with trees, bushes and grass. This cove of corals is a protected area, offering the chance to see marine life both big and small. Once you dive into the crystal clear water, you are very likely to be followed by a colourful shoal of fish, and the wonderful experience of swimming among these sea creatures leaves one awestruck and makes memories last a lifetime.
What kind of diving?
Surface level (Snorkeling)
Although you can't just grab your mask and snorkel and dive into the water off the boardwalk, there are many fantastic snorkeling spots nearby. There are many coves and inlets protected from fishing, so expect to see fish of various sizes. Apart from renting a mask and fins, your only expense is going to be the cost of finding a boat captain to take you out on the water. One can either join a group tour or rent a boat of their choice.
For starters, unless you have your own diving certificate, you'll only be allowed to undergo training dives, the first of which will likely be in your hotel's pool. If you can handle the rules and restrictions, scuba-diving gives a fascinating insight into a world we know little about. Instead of peering down from the ocean's surface, you're able to look up and see the sun's rays flickering with the tide.
Definitely not one for beginners, free diving involves holding one's breath underwater for as long as possible. While some record holders have managed to dive lower than depths of 100 metres, some of the sunken World War II battleships that scatter the waters surrounding Coron are only 10 metres below the surface. Free diving is similar to snorkelling, in that you only really need minimal equipment. One can rent goggles and fins as well as find a boat and captain willing to take you out on the water.
Despite being a small town, Coron has a multitude of restaurants to choose from. As it's by the seaside, seafood fanatics will have a field day here, spoiled for choice by the region's many fishermen. Vegetarian options also abound, but one must look a little harder to find them. La Sirenetta serves both Filipino and Western delicacies, which makes it particularly popular with foreign visitors. Those with a sweet tooth will not be disappointed either, as the desserts on the menu are much more than just an afterthought. The sweet crepes here rival those of a cafe along the Seine River in Paris, and are stuffed with local produce. Think pineapples, mangos and bananas, all prepared with a delicate chocolate rum sauce. It's a match made in heaven, having both a sweet taste and warming touch.
Sea Dive Resort
This place is perfect for scuba divers, but the prime location and affordable rates make it the best choice for many visitors.
Coron Village Lodge
This establishment is geared towards visitors on a budget rather than scuba divers. The rooms are pleasant though, with all rooms equipped with air-conditioning, hot/cold showers and private bathrooms. The courtyard also has a fine garden, perfect for reading.
Villa Hermosa Coron
This is the best hidden secret in Coron Town. The place is oozing charm. The boardwalks as well as the vast majority of sights in town are within walking distance.
While you have the convenient option of catching an hour plus flight from Manila, you can also opt for other routes which offer a lot of adventure. If you have an aversion to airplanes, or just really love the deep blue sea, you can also take a boat to Coron. The boat you'll catch will probably fit just 15 people.
Philippines Airlines, Zest Air and Cebu Pacific all offer daily flights from Manila to Coron. The flight takes 45 minutes.
By public vans
Public vans will take you to Coron for 150 pesos.
Visitors in Occidental Mindoro can take a bi-weekly banca that departs from San Jose in the morning (timings will vary) and arrives in Coron between 6 to 8 hours later.