Just a short plane ride away from Manila is a virtually untouched, non-commercialized slice of actual, literal, real paradise called Coron. It’s the third largest island in the cluster of Calamian Islands located in northern Palawan.
Palawan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines, and for good reason; all you need to do is search it on Google and it should be obvious why. I can’t speak for any other areas in Palawan, but in my totally biased/love struck opinion, Coron is the place you want to go, and I encourage you to visit sooner than later. The town itself still has dirt roads and so much charm that would be diminished or even non-existent in the hands of big companies that would want to build large hotels and other commercial structures.
Palawan and boat tours go hand in hand, so we set off from the mainland on an two-day island hopping and snorkeling tour which completely blew my mind (I’ll be writing about the snorkeling bit in a separate post). Not even 30 minutes after setting sail, we were greeted with enormous Karst rock formations made of Permian limestone dating all the way back to the Jurassic period. These mountainous structures were grand and breathtaking and totally awe-inspiring; I’ve said this in tons of social media posts but I’ll say it again and again: I still dream about these rock formations. They’re forever etched in my mind.
The water, as you can imagine, was so crystal clear near the shallows. You could see the rocks, corals, and even fish! At some points in the day when the sun hit the water at just the right angle, it looked like glimmering gemstones.
The island hopping and snorkeling tours offer something for everyone. The boats stop at checkpoints to let those who want to snorkel jump in and see corals, fish, and even Japanese shipwrecks from WWII. On one island, we hiked up one side of a mountain to get a glimpse of an amazing view, then hiked down the other side to swim in Lake Kayangan, the cleanest freshwater lake in Asia. For lunch, we stopped at an island for a buffet lunch of freshly caught seafood, seaweed, barbecue, and more.
We went on a two day island hopping tour but had to change our course on the second day due to rough, open water (it was honestly a little bit terrifying at times). I knew that there was a low chance of something happening to us and the boat, but I was still thankful for all the years of swimming lessons I took regardless.
This trip gave me so many “firsts”. It was my first time swimming alongside fish (something I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do), my first time seeing the difference in colouration between the shallow and deep waters, my first time seeing mangroves, my first time being so utterly mind blown by my surroundings.I guess it’s true when they say, “you never forget your first”.
Visiting Coron and getting to snorkel was, hands down, one of (if not THE) best experience I’ve ever had in my life thus far.
Below are the vlogs from Coron:
Some practical info:
- We stayed at the Coron Westown Lodge and I would recommend this hotel to EVERYONE! There are three outdoor pools and ample lounging areas, and the rooms themselves are gorgeous.
- It is a little drive away from the town but you can arrange for the hotel bus to take your group there and pick you up.
Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll be talking more about snorkeling!
Let’s talk: where have you traveled to or visited that you’ll always remember?