The commercial capital of the Calamian Islands, Coron is both the name of the largest town on the island of Busuanga and a separate, smaller island just offshore. Located in the province of Palawan, Philippines, Coron comprises the eastern half of Busuanga Island, all of Coron Island, and about 50 other minor islets stretching as far as Tara Island in the northeast and Canipo Island in the south. All of these islands are part of the Calamian Archipelago in northern Palawan, which separates the South China Sea from the Sulu Sea. Coron is politically subdivided into 23 'barangays', Filipino for villages, districts or wards. The main population centre of the municipality is comprised of Poblacion Barangays 1-6, where the Municipal Building, Municipal Legislative Building and Judicial Hall of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court are located. In addition to Barangays 1-6, other barangays include Banuang Daan, Bintuan, Borac, Buenavista, Bulalacao, Cabugao, Decabobo, Decalachao, Guadalupe (also called Binalabag), Lajala, Malawig, Marcilla, San Jose, San Nicolas, Tagumpay, Tara, and Turda.
The first inhabitants of Coron and the Calamian Islands were the Tagbanuas, the second wave of Indonesians who migrated to this area some 5,000 years ago. A fort and church was built around 1670 by the Spaniards as part of the defences, along with Cuyo and Taytay, to protect against the Muslim slave raids in Libis, Culion. Eventually, these areas became migrant settlements. In the late-1890s, Culion became a leper colony, displacing settlers to the towns now known as Coron, Busuanga, Old Busuanga, Bintuan, Salvacion, and Concepcion. In 1902, Coron was officially named as a town. From 1939 to the start of World War II, it experienced a mining boom, and labour shifted from farming to mining. In July 1942, the Japanese occupied the mining camps and in 1944, a group of Japanese ships retreating from Manila Bay were sunk by American warplanes in Coron's waters. To this day, about a dozen of these World War II Japanese shipwrecks comprise what are considered among the world's best dive sites. In 1947, large-scale deep sea fishing was introduced to Coron. The resulting fishing boom drew many immigrants from Luzon and the Visayas to work as fishermen or miners. In 1950, the town of Busuanga was created from the former Coron barrios of Concepcion, Salvacion, Busuanga, New Busuanga, Buluang, Quezon, Calawit, and Cheey. In 1954, the islands of Linapacan, Cabunlaoan, Niangalao, Decabayotot, Calibanbangan, Pical, and Barangonan separated from Coron to form the town of Linapacan, Palawan. In 1992, Coron was further reduced by the official creation of the municipality of Culion. Today, the Tagbanuas remain the majority population of Coron.
Coron was formerly supported by the farming, mining, fishing, rattan, and basket-weaving industries. However, its exquisite natural beauty and superb dive sites has made this quaint fishing enclave an increasingly popular tourist destination for outdoor and nature enthusiasts alike. A fleet of well-preserved Japanese ships, sunk in Coron Bay during World War II at depths between 33-132 feet (10-40 metres), are surrounded by coral reefs and home to some of the world's finest diving. In fact, Coron and its neighbouring municipalities are listed in Forbes Traveler magazine as being among the top 10 best scuba diving sites in the world. Other attractions on Coron Island including tiny, beautiful white-sand beaches with crystal-clear waters surrounded by large limestone cliffs and wildlife. Of Coron Island's seven lakes, Barracuda and Kayangan lakes are stunning locations, and a haven for snorkellers. Some coastal areas are covered with pristine mangrove forests that are ideal for sea-kayaking. Coran Island is also the ancestral domain of the Tagbanua, an indigenous tribe who are primarily fishermen and gatherers of the very lucrative 'balinsasayaw', or bird's nests. Concerned about the impact of tourism, the Tagbanua manage the island in an ecologically-sustainable way, and limit access to a handful of sights.
The Calamian Islands' unique mix of Filipino and Indonesian cultures offers wonderful opportunities to explore the Tagbanua people, legacy and traditions of Coron. You can meet the locals, and experience indigenous lifestyles and customs at Coron's town centre, municipal buildings and churches, the Public Market and numerous souvenir stalls. Coron is also home to colourful festivities, including the Kasadyaan Festival, which takes place every August 28th during the feast of their patron, St. Augustine. On this day, the streets are adorned with 'banderitas', and a street-dancing competition takes place at the little 'plazuela', or small square, in front of Coron's Town Hall.
Coron's inviting, white-sand beaches, idyllic bays, coves, hot springs, volcanic islets, abundant coral reefs, and lush, verdant natural preserves, mangroves and forests offer a splendid array of incredibly picturesque and delightful sightseeing venues for outdoor enthusiasts. Land-based excursions include mountain-biking on Busuanga Island, horseback-riding, bicycling and safari tours on Calauit Island, and bird-watching, hiking and jungle treks on the mountains of Darala, Lunes Santo and Tapyas. Scenic and memorable water-based excursions include swimming and snorkelling at the inviting Twin Lagoons, Skeleton Reef, beaches of Banol, Atwayan, Smith, and Dicantuman, and islands of CYC, Banana, Dumunpalit, Bulog, Boracay, and Malcapuya. You can also indulge your senses with the emerald-green waters and spectacular scenery of the Barracuda and Kayangan lakes, and take an invigorating soak in the geothermal Maquinit Hot Springs. Alternately, sea-kayakers can glide through the pristine mangrove trails at Popototan Island, and Kingfisher and Lualhati parks. Coron is world-renowned for its scuba diving, and among the finest destinations for wreck-diving in the Philippines. Coron Bay is home to a dozen World War II shipwrecks, as well as the stunning 'Cathedral Cave'. A wide array of local diving vendors and excursions are available to experience the vast undersea beauty of Coran and its environs.
Due to its compact size, Coron can be easily explored in just a single day.
Going Ashore in Coron
The ship is scheduled to dock at the Port of Coron. Coron's town centre can be reached via a 0.6-mile (one-kilometre) tricycle-ride, or 5-10-minute walk on-foot. Covered tricycles are available at the pier, but are not metered. Please make sure to establish a price before starting any journey.
The ship may be at anchor. Guests will tender ashore to the Port of Coron. Coron's town centre can be reached via a 0.6-mile (one-kilometre) tricycle-ride, or 5-10-minute walk on-foot. Covered tricycles are available at the pier, but are not metered. Please make sure to establish a price before starting any journey.
Coron features an abundance of shopping opportunities, including local favourites such as dried fish and squid, cashew nuts, handicrafts, woodcarvings, t-shirts, pearls, jewellery, wind chimes, refrigerator magnets, postcards, guidebooks, and other souvenirs. Popular local stores include: Makulit Shop for original designer t-shirts, accessories, jewellery and popular handmade soaps; Asiano for arts and crafts, and other souvenirs; Airport Shop at the Departure Terminal for pearl necklaces and jewellery; JP Snackshop & 1 for cashews, t-shirts, woodcarvings and pearls; and numerous souvenir shops in-and-around town. Most shops are open daily from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. The local currency is the Philippine Peso.
Coron is renowned for its Filipino, Asian, Latin, French, Italian, Mediterranean, barbecue, vegetarian, and international cuisine. Abundant local seafood is typically salted, pan-fried or deep-fried, and then eaten as a simple meal with rice and vegetables. Other variations include pangat, or fish cooked in a sour broth of tomatoes or tamarind; sinigang, or fish prepared with vegetables and a souring agent; paksiw, or fish simmered in vinegar and peppers; inihaw, or fish roasted over hot charcoal or wood; escabeche, or sweet and sour fish; relleno; or deboned and stuffed fish, and kinilaw, which is similar to ceviche, and marinated in vinegar or lime juice. Dipping sauces and condiments include vinegar; soy sauce; kalamansi, or lime juice; patis, or fish sauce; bagoong, or fish paste; bagoong alamang; or shrimp paste, and luya; or crushed ginger root. Meat staples include chicken, pork, beef and fish. Local specialities include kasoy, or hand-roasted cashew nuts; lamayo, or half-dried marinated fish; lechón, or whole roasted pig; lechonillo, or suckling pig; lechong baka, or cattle calves; and halo halo, which is a drink made with shaved ice, evaporated milk, dried fruits, and other flavourings. Coconut meat is often used in desserts, coconut oil for frying and kakang gata, or coconut milk, in sauces. Roots used in Filipino cooking include gabi, or taro; kamoteng kahoy, or cassava; ube, or purple yam; kamote, or sweet potato; kamatis, or tomatoes; bawang, or garlic; and sibuyas, or onions.
A variety of fruits and vegetables are often used in Filipino cooking. Included are: bananas, kalamansis, or limes; bayabas, or guavas; bananas; mangoes; papayas; watermelon; star apple; jackfruit; and pineapples. Green, leafy vegetables include kangkong, or water spinach; petsay, or Chinese cabbage; petsaywombok, or Napa cabbage; and repolyo, or cabbage. Other vegetables like talong, or eggplant, and sitaw, or yard-long beans, are also commonly used. Seasonal local fruit includes: mango, watermelon, star apple, jackfruit, coconut, and starfruit. Food can be purchased at the Coron Market, numerous bakeries around town and popular local restaurants, including: Bistro Coron; Blue Moon; Restobar; Brujita; KokosNuss Resort; La Sirenetta; Lolo Nonnoy's; Trining Bacsa; Winnie's; WG Diner; Sinugba sa Balay; Coffee Kong; Corto del Mar; Noname; Big Mama's Pinoy Hot Pot & Grill; Macarios Mongolian Barbecue; Dad's Coronzy Coffee and Tea; Lobster King; Calle Real Bistro; La Sirenetta; Santino's Grill; Los Guapos; Kokie; Kawayanan Grill Station; Blue Moon Resto Bar; Coron Village Bar and Resto; La Sirenetta; Tita Esh Eatery; Amphibi; Helldivers Bar; Sky; Ice Valley; and Seadive. Popular hotels for dining include the Asia Grand View Hotel, KokosNuss Resort and Coron Village Lodge.
Located approximately 30 minutes from Coron Town is Mt. Tapyas. A 719-step staircase leads to the spacious viewing deck, which offers breathtaking panoramic views overlooking Coron Island, residential areas, commercial buildings, lush greenery, and the road to Busuanga. Visiting Mt. Tapyas in the late-afternoon is recommended for an opportunity to experience some of the most beautiful sunsets in the Philippines. A cross atop Mt. Tapyas was blown down by Typhoon Haiyan.
Located near Kayangan Lake, Lake Barracuda is among the cleanest and greenest lakes in the country, and its allure lies in its shimmering emerald waters. One of Coron's main attractions, Lake Barracuda is popular with divers due to its unique layers of fresh, salt, and brackish water and dramatic temperature shifts, which can reach as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). The lake is accessible by a short climb over a jagged, rocky wall that ends directly in the water. Bring goggles or snorkelling gear to observe the amazing underwater rock formations.
One of Coron's primary attractions, Lake Kayangan is located on Coron Island and accessible by a steep 10-minute climb. The crystal-clear waters of Lake Kayangan are among the cleanest in the country, and nestled into the mountain walls; here, the underwater environment is like a moonscape. A little wooden walkway and platform area is available to store your personal effects if you'd like to go for a swim. Before approaching the lake, ascend the area above the cave to the top of the mountain for spectacular panoramic views of the most photographed area in Palawan.
Maquinit Hot Springs
Locaged near Coron Bay about 25 minutes from the town centre, the Maquinit Hot Springs is nestled between a hill and the blue sea; its shores are lined with mangrove trees and floating bamboo cottages. It is accessible via a 15-minute tricycle-ride from Poblacion, or by boat via the mangroves. The Maquinit Salt Water Hot Springs home to the only known saltwater hot spring in the Philippines, and likely the only one in Asia. A dip in the hot spring is an invigorating experience after a tiresome hike. The water actually comes from an underground volcano, and its temperature is about 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).
Accessible via a 20-minute boat-ride from Coron, exquisite Banol Beach features rocky limestone cliffs leading down to a gorgeous, white-sand beach adorned with numerous large, flowering 'kalachuchi' and tamarind trees. Nipa huts are located in the shade of the Kalachuchi trees, and ideal for a picnic lunch.
Günter´s Cave (Cathedral Cave)
Günter´s Cave is named after Günther Bernert, who was part of the first dive group to explore the cave after hearing about its existence from local fishermen. Günter´s Cave is also known as 'Cathedral Cave' because during a certain time of day, the sun throws a beam of light through a hole in the cave's ceiling, illuminating the inside. It is possible to surface in the cave, as the hole in the cave's ceiling allows fresh air to enter; a unique scuba diving experience.
Located on the northwestern tip of Coron Island, the Twin Lagoons are surrounded by jagged limestone cliffs, and offers wonderful views and photo opportunities. The water here is deep and calm, and ideal for kayaking and snorkelling, especially when viewing the exquisite coral formations on the wall of the lagoon next to the cliff. The second lagoon is accessible via an opening from the outer lagoon. At low tide, you can kayak under the hole of the rock. At high tide, you can swim through the hole of the rock or use the walkway to access the other side of the lagoon.
Culion Museum & Archives
Located 18.6 miles (30 kilometres) from Coron via boat, the Culion Museum & Archives is located on the hospital grounds. It features a half-hour film, and several large rooms filled with photos and artefacts that tell the poignant and little-known story of the leper colony that was opened here in 1906, and once among the largest in the world.
Calauit Game Preserve & Wildlife National Park
Calauit Island is located just off the northwestern tip of Busuanga and home to the Calauit Game Preserve & Wildlife National Park. Here, view giraffe, zebra, impala and other species commonly seen on safari in Kenya, along with several wildlife species endemic to Palawan.
Siete Pecados (Seven Sins)
Located about a 10-minute boat-ride and near Coron Island, Siete Pecados, or 'Seven Sins', is a marine park with several islets. Its crystal-clear, 9-15-foot (3-5-metre) shallow waters are ideal for snorkelling, and represent a wonderful opportunity to experience some of Coron's most beautiful, rich and diverse coral formations, fish species and marine life.
Coron and its nearby islands are home to idyllic beaches, coves and lagoons, most with native huts so visitors can relax in the shade. Among the many popular lagoons is the Green Lagoon, which is guarded by high limestone cliffs, and accessible via the grotto. The crystal-clear water has an amazing green hue, and you can see to the sandy bottom. Snorkelling is popular for exploring the coral beds, tropical fish and marine life near the cliffs. The Blue Lagoon is located nearby.
About 1.5 hours from Coron Town via boat is Banana Island, also known as 'Dicalabuan Island'. This idyllic island features a beautiful, white-sand beach with some beach huts for a bit of shade, and crystal-clear water that is ideal for swimming and snorkelling.
Malcapuya Island is about 25 minutes away from Banana Island via boat, and a two-hour 'banca'-ride from Coron Town. Malcapuya Island is a bit more remote than Banana Island, with less shacks, visitors and facilities. However, this pristine tropical island is highlighted by powdery, white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and a superb snorkelling site with giant clams, coral and tropical fish.
The highest mountain in Coron, Mount Darala is excellent for nature-trekking and bird-watching. The trek to the top takes approximately three hours, and offers spectacular panoramic views of Coron and nearby islands.
Coron offers a splendid array of incredibly picturesque and delightful sightseeing venues for outdoor enthusiasts. Land-based excursions include mountain-biking on Busuanga Island, horseback-riding, bicycling and safari tours on Calauit Island, and bird-watching, hiking and jungle treks on the mountains of Darala, Lunes Santo and Tapyas. Scenic and memorable water-based excursions include swimming and snorkelling at the inviting Twin Lagoons, Skeleton Reef, beaches of Banol, Atwayan, Smith, and Dicantuman, and islands of CYC, Banana, Dumunpalit, Bulog, Boracay, and Malcapuya. You can also indulge your senses with the emerald-green waters and spectacular scenery of the Barracuda and Kayangan lakes, and take an invigorating soak in the geothermal Maquinit Hot Springs. Alternately, sea-kayakers can glide through the pristine mangrove trails at Popototan Island, and Kingfisher and Lualhati parks. Coron is world-renowned for its scuba diving, and among the finest destinations for wreck-diving in the Philippines. Coron Bay is home to a dozen World War II shipwrecks, as well as the stunning 'Cathedral Cave'. A wide array of local diving vendors and excursions are available to experience the vast undersea beauty of Coran and its environs.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship.