Coron island hopping tour – The good, the bad and the ugly of the Ultimate Tour…
Coron is, indeed a paradise we all should experience at least once in our lives. From it’s turquoise waters to it’s towering limestone formations, white sand beaches, shipwrecks, and underwater gardens, Coron has something for everyone. We recently went on the “Coron Ultimate Tour – 7 Islands in One Day” so let’s find out if it was worth the money…
Annoyance with the Tour Organizer
The Coron Town Tour we had previously taken and enjoyed was booked with “K Tours” so, that night, after the tour had ended, we decided to book their “Ultimate Tour”. This is where things really went bad. We gave them the name of our hotel after paying for the tour (make sure you get a receipt) and we were told they would pick us up at our hotel at 8.45am the next morning.
We were out the front of our hotel at 8.20am the next morning and waited till 9 am before deciding to call their office. We were abruptly instructed to catch a tricycle to their office as the tour started there (they were NOT picking us up). We caught the first tricycle we saw and arrived at K Tours in not the best frame of mind. We were then told we needed to go to their office so we could get our snorkeling equipment.
They asked us to surrender (surrender meaning they keep it until you return with their gear) an ID for the rental of the snorkeling gear. What we didn’t like was that we needed to go all the way to Kawayanan Grill after the tour had finished so we could get the ID after returning their gear. The package description clearly states HOTEL pick-up and drop-off but unfortunately, this was not the case. 20 minutes later we were in a van going to the harbor.
It Continued At The Harbor
Once at the harbor we met two Canadians who also had been told the wrong information about the tour. They were told to catch a tricycle straight to the harbor and so were there without snorkeling gear. To make it worse the boat was tied 3 boats out from the jetty so we had to climb out over 3 boats to get there (not good when you are carrying bags and cameras). Once on the boat, we found another group who had been waiting at the harbor since 7 am that morning… It was now very close to 10.30am.
Many of us were hungry even before we had left the harbor. The trip to the first location (Twin Lagoons) was going to take over an hour and a few of the kids were already complaining. The crew was given only enough food for lunch and they still had to cook it so it was hard for them to keep the hungry ones happy. The boat crew was nice, helpful and friendly. 40 minutes later they were able to bring out rice they had cooked for the kids in the group that had been waiting since 7 am. The rest of us looked on as our tummies rumbled.
After a long trip, we finally reached the Twin Lagoons. This is where the Coron Island Hopping Tour really starts. Approaching the first of the two lagoons is quite impressive and you notice that this scene is often featured on many of the Coron photographs you see. The entrance to the Twin Lagoons lies hidden between the green mountains and can be hard to see unless you know what you are looking for.
The captain anchored in the shallows of the first lagoon behind at least a dozen other boats. We jumped over the edge and swam through dozens of people to get to the first lagoon proper. This was our first time to swim in brackish water – where saltwater and freshwater combined. As soon as you enter the lagoon you will be amazed by the crystal clear water and limestone cliffs around the lagoons.
It is a unique experience swimming in the lagoon. To reach the other lagoon you have to sort of “cross” over or under a natural wall. Since it was high tide, we couldn’t swim through the hole so we’ve used the stairs to cross over. A few of us had a hard time getting through the small rock opening that separates the two lagoons, especially with a queue of people in your way. You had to file in line to get in/out. You have to be very careful since the stairs tend to be slippery. (I slipped – fortunately, there was a concerned tourist to hold my hand before I fell – my right foot felt sore).
Since some of us aren’t the best swimmers, our tour guide had a way of getting us through without too much effort. While in the water, he asked us to form one line, float forward and hold the person’s leg in front, thus forming a “human centipede”. With our vests on, it was not hard to do. The guide then positioned himself at the front of the line and pulled us forward using a rope. It was so much fun being towed like that and have to balance to keep the “human centipede” intact. Our floating and swimming skills were put to a test. LOL! Unfortunately, I hurt my left foot on underwater rock’s. Some of them do have sharp edges so be careful. It was still a lovely place to swim and kayak. Please, if you are going to kayak, make sure to respect others and watch what you are doing and where you are going. I was almost hit by some guy on a kayak paddling backward. Luckily Gary was able to kick him in another direction before he hit me. Gary was so mad at the guy…
GoPro Tip: When we made it back to our boat, Gary told me he blew up the GoPro Black 6 (make sure the USB cover is fully closed before diving into water).
The Twin Lagoons are a great place to visit and we fully recommend going there. It was serene despite the number of tourists that were there with us. The amazing rock formations really took my breath away. We had a great time even if we (You do know by “we” I mean “Gary”) did ruin the GoPro.
Coron Island Hopping Tour | Ultimate Tour
“20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Our next stop was Atwayan Beach where we had lunch. Named after the shells — known locally as “tuay” — that cover the shore, Atwayan Beach is one of the best picnic locations in Coron where you can relax, or do a little snorkeling, and take in the amazing coral and marine life in the area. Unlike the surrounding beaches, this small beach isn’t the place for diving but a place for some much-needed leisure time. Picnic huts can be seen everywhere and they’re a great spot for lunch.
Locals offer fresh coconut juice. There was also a store selling cold drinks. We all shared a traditional Filipino lunch in the shade of a cottage. Our boatmen cooked a native lunch (grilled pork chicken, freshly caught fish and shrimp, eggplant omelet, and our dessert are bananas) We were given a bottle of water with lunch and most of us drank it down without thinking. Later we were told that we are only given 2 bottles of water on the trip. One was given to us before the twin Lagoons and the other was at lunch… Which meant, no more water for the rest of the tour! Now, that upset a few of us…. Especially because Gary was saving his water until someone took it when he went for a swim.
The beach area is not large but, to be honest, it was a nice place to stop for lunch. The water was clean and clear and there are plenty of shaded areas to rest. It’s not great for snorkeling though, even though there is a coral garden to the left-hand side. The place is well-preserved by the local tribe, surrounded by trees and stones.
The Skeleton Wreck is actually a Japanese ship – caught here and sunk along with 10 other freighters and gunboats by U.S. Navy bombers during World War 2. The sunken wreck eventually filled with corals and reef fish resulting in the visual spectacle divers experience today. Along with the other sunken wrecks in the area, this has pushed Coron to the list of the top 10 dive sites in the world. The depth is around 9-10 meters.
Snorkeling galore best describes our activity on this island. The beachfront was not visible at that time due to high tide. Plenty of marine life abounds in this area, truly a delight for snorkelers and much more for divers. Being a few strokes swimmer, letting go of my life vest to dive is a no-no!
Find the best deals in Coron
The next destination on the tour is CYC Beach which means “Coron Youth Club”. The beach has clear water, dotted with mangrove trees and rock formations. This beach is also the place for swimming and kayaking. The shallow areas tend to be rocky, so it is better to wear aqua shoes. Be cautious of the strong current and sea urchins when you go snorkeling. Sea Urchins seemed to be everywhere you wanted to walk in the water. One of the people on our tour stood on an Urchin and found out how painful it can be. He and his girlfriend became paranoid about poison and wanted the tour to be cut short so he could be rushed to a hospital.
Want to know more? Read here..
Kayangan Lake is definitely one of the most visited sites and dubbed as the cleanest and clearest in the Philippines. Gorgeous emerald waters surrounded by towering karst formations – it’s certainly a treat to effortlessly float around in its crystal-clear brackish waters. According to Coron Tourism, it is the most photographed spot in Coron and one of the best natural treasures of Palawan. Maintained by the local Tagbanua tribe, it is not surprising that Kayangan Lake is often dubbed as “the cleanest lake in the Philippines”. Even from the view deck halfway through the 15-minute climb towards the lake, the sight of the clear waters of the dock offers visitors an overwhelming visual delight, making the trip and the climb all worth it. Read more here…
Siete Pecados was our last stop in an island tour of Coron. “Siete Pecados” means the Seven Deadly Sins in Spanish. It’s an ominous name to give a marine park, considering there are very real possibilities of drowning and, morbidly, death. According to legend, seven daughters went swimming in the area against their mother’s orders and drowned, leaving the seven small islands that surround the area in their wake.
The turquoise water surrounding Siete Pecados is usually cold all year round. But despite the cool temperature, it is still one of the most sought-after spots in Coron. Why? It’s because snorkeling in Siete Pecados is like swimming in a giant aquarium! Schools of fishes of various species and color magnificently swim underwater occasionally accompanied by other sea creatures like small squid, octopus, and baby sharks. And because the water is crystal clear, one can see the fishes swarming together even while seated inside the boat. One can also feed the fishes from the boat though it’s generally discouraging so as not to distort the natural food chain in the area’s ecosystem.
Most of the fish you’ll see in this site are Angel Fish, but there was a point when our guide pointed at what appears to be a sea turtle, which we, unfortunately, wasn’t able to catch. Based on stories of our boatmen, there are also times when a whale shark would wander off in the depths under the marine park. Anyway, I enjoyed snorkeling here.
Unfortunately for us, as Gary dropped the GoPro at Twin Lagoon, we have an underwater camera for this trip. We’ve all heard about climate change and coral bleaching and the blatant disregard of our marine ecosystem so it’s nice to appreciate the coral reefs of Siete Pecados, which is still teeming with life and colorful corals. It’s a nice place to finish off a long whole day tour. Everyone on the boat enjoyed it
Coron Island Hopping Tour | Ultimate Tour
How To Get There
- Book a flight to Coron, Palawan. Major Airlines like Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have direct flights to Busuanga (USU). Skyjet also flies directly to Busuanga.
- From the airport, hire a van to Coron Town. Travel time is 30 minutes. P150/head
- At Coron Town, join a tour to Malcapuya Island. There are a lot of tour operators in town who offer packaged tours including Kayangan Lake.
- The best jump-off to Malcapuya Island in Coron Town.