Coron Town in 1 Day

Aaron/ September 18, 2019/ Southeast Asia/ 0 comments

This is the remainder of my trip in Coron, after the Super Ultimate Tour, the Island Escapade Tour, and the Dugong and Calauit Tour. Arranging the bits and pieces in Coron Town to form a full day itinerary here. I had 5 full days in Coron but rain took away a good part of that. Ideally I would have done those 3 tours, a full day in Coron Town doing the below without weather getting in the way, and also the Reef and Wrecks tour which was cancelled due to weather too. But in any case, here are some things you can do while in Coron Town on Busuanga Island!

Arriving on Busuanga Island

The main entry point to Coron is on Busuanga Island, either by ferry from the neighboring provinces, or by plane. The main town is called Coron Town, though it is on Busuanga Island. The attractions are mainly around Coron Island, the neighboring island to Busuanga. At the moment Busuanga airport (Francisco B. Reyes Airport) is a domestic airport, but plans to make it an international one seem to be in the pipeline.

Approaching Francisco B. Reyes Airport.
Approaching Francisco B. Reyes Airport.
Francisco B. Reyes Airport runway.
Francisco B. Reyes Airport runway.
Came to Coron on this Bombardier Q400.
Came to Coron on this Bombardier Q400.

Outside the airport, you wouldn’t need to look for transport to Coron Town as people will approach you. There seems to be some sort of agreement between the van drivers there, and tourists were assigned vans depending on the area in Coron Town they were staying at. Fees were flat at 150 PHP.

Coron Town Market

I did this on the morning of my 4th full day in Coron, when it was raining too heavily to do anything else and all tours and ferries were cancelled due to the storm at sea. I’ve always loved local markets and always happy to explore another one. In Coron the market is towards the jump-off point for tours around Coron, across a reclaimed piece of land that mostly sits empty and muddy.

Crossing the muddy field to get to the market.
Crossing the muddy field to get to the market.

It was lively around and inside the market, in spite of the weather outside. Late in the morning, business was more than half done, so some stalls were empty, but so was the market. Lively but not too crowded.

Didn’t check the prices, but I’m guessing everything other than seafood is more expensive as most of it is imported.

If you’re taking up a private tour option (renting the full boat with friends), you’ll likely purchase the ingredients here at the market and bring it on board for the crew to cook lunch for you.

According to locals once the airport becomes an international one and Busuanga develops further, the market might have to go as the owner of the land might want to build a mall on that space. Would be interesting to see how things go.

Around Coron Town

This was from my first day in Coron where I had a few hours after arrival and before dusk. That evening it rained heavily and little did I know it was a precursor of the storm to come. From the jump-off point I weaved along alleys to see what else was in town. Interesting enough for a quick look.

Getting to Mount Tapyas

And this was from my fifth day, when tours were still cancelled due to the lingering clouds, but the sun had actually came out. To get to Mount Tapyas, from the main road through Coron Town, turn off at Barangay Poblacion 4/ San Augustin Street, as seen below.

Turn in here to get to Mount Tapyas.
Turn in here to get to Mount Tapyas.

At the first junction (with Nueva Street), continue on the road that’s straight ahead. It starts to bend to the right, and soon you’ll come across a parking lot with a flight of stairs that goes up the hill. Follow the flight of stairs up.

Start of the stairs to Mt Tapyas. Mount Tapyas, Busuanga Island, Coron.
Start of the stairs to Mt Tapyas.
True but ... I can't think of anywhere else that'll put it this way. Mount Tapyas, Busuanga Island, Coron.
True but … I can’t think of anywhere else that’ll put it this way.
Sure. Mount Tapyas, Busuanga Island, Coron.
Sure.

The stairs flatten out to a garden, but the walk has only just began. At the end of the trail the stairs start again. There are some benches along the way if you need a rest.

Cats at the place where the trail flattens for awhile. Mount Tapyas, Busuanga Island, Coron.
Cats at the place where the trail flattens for awhile.
Then more stairs again. Mount Tapyas, Busuanga Island, Coron.
Then more stairs again.
Reaching the top! Mount Tapyas, Busuanga Island, Coron.
Reaching the top!

Mount Tapyas

Many people come to Mount Tapyas to watch sunrise or sunset, but during the day the viewing deck is perfect for a hanging out too. Just bring some snacks and drinks as there aren’t shops at the top, and it’s a long way down.

Mount Tapyas viewing deck. Almost 360 degree views of Coron and beyond.
Mount Tapyas viewing deck. Almost 360 degree views of Coron and beyond.
The cross at the summit of Mount Tapyas.
The cross at the summit of Mount Tapyas.
The huge Coron sign which you'll spot from afar when returning from island hopping adventures.
The huge Coron sign which you’ll spot from afar when returning from island hopping adventures.
The top left corner of that piece of reclaimed land is where the market is and where boat tours to nearby islands start.
The top left corner of that piece of reclaimed land is where the market is and where boat tours to nearby islands start.
Coron Island, stretching across the horizon.
Coron Island, stretching across the horizon.
Made friends. This guy walked over and sat down right beside me while I took pictures.
Made friends. This guy walked over and sat down right beside me while I took pictures.
Mount Tapyas viewing deck from the other end.
Mount Tapyas viewing deck from the other end.
Behind the cross at the summit of Mount Tapyas, a different view.
Behind the cross at the summit of Mount Tapyas, a different view.
In the distance, the highway to the west of Busuanga Island.
In the distance, the highway to the west of Busuanga Island.
From the top of the stairs at Mount Tapyas.
From the top of the stairs at Mount Tapyas.
Back at the side street leading to Mount Tapyas. Here's the carpark where the stairs start.
Back at the side street leading to Mount Tapyas. Here’s the carpark where the stairs start.

San Agustin Parish Church

Back on the busy main road, head slightly further down east, and San Agustin Parish Church will be on the left.

Mount Tapyas as the backdrop. Coron Town, Busuanga Island, Coron.
Mount Tapyas as the backdrop.
The same spot, at night. With a bit of zoom. Coron Town, Busuanga Island, Coron.
The same spot, at night. With a bit of zoom.
San Agustin Parish Church facade. Coron Town, Busuanga Island, Coron.
San Agustin Parish Church facade.
Inside San Agustin Parish Church. Coron Town, Busuanga Island, Coron.
Inside San Agustin Parish Church.

Depending on what time you begin the above itinerary and how much time you spend at each stop, there may still be time to take a break at a cafe or back at your hotel before heading to Maquinit Hot Spring. Most people come here in the evening to enjoy sunset.

Getting to Maquinit Hot Spring

Throughout Coron Town there’ll be tricycle drivers offering to get you to Maquinit Hot Spring, especially close to dusk. It’s usually 500 PHP for a roundtrip to the Hot Spring, including the driver waiting for you for an hour. Seems that both the price and waiting time may have room for negotiation though. The price is per trip, regardless of number of passengers on board. It takes about 20 minutes to get from Coron Town to Maquinit Hot Spring. Towards the end the dirt track is very bumpy and unforgiving. I wouldn’t recommend riding here on your own unless you’re very experienced with off road riding. If you’re doing any of the packaged tours there should be enough time to add Maquinit Hot Spring to your day after the tour. I did this on my last day, which was pretty empty except for Mount Tapyas.

Maquinit Hot Spring

Maquinit Hot Spring is an outdoor saltwater hot spring by the sea. Entrance costs 200 PHP. You can enter between 8am and 7pm, but you can stay till 10pm, though it is quite empty after 8pm. Most people come around sunset. To avoid the crowds come earlier in the day. There are changing rooms and toilets available, but no showers. There are also no lockers. You can get snacks and drinks here but they seem pricey, might be a better idea to get them from Coron Town.

Maquinit Hot Spring is surrounded by mangrove swamps, and a boardwalk leads to a scenic view of the sea.

From Maquinit hot spring, looking out to the boardwalk by the sea.
From Maquinit hot spring, looking out to the boardwalk by the sea.
Walking through mangrove trees.
Walking through mangrove trees.
Warning signs. There wasn't any need to though, views were perfect from the boardwalk.
Warning signs. There wasn’t any need to though, views were perfect from the boardwalk.
View from the boardwalk at Maquinit Hot Spring.
View from the boardwalk at Maquinit Hot Spring.

Water at Maquinit Hot Spring is about 40 degrees, which may be too hot for some. Apparently the trick is not to go in slowly, but as quickly as possible. I found it relaxing to sit in the warm waters, though I took breaks every 10-15 minutes to cool down. It was quite crowded around 7pm, but the water was surprisingly clean for the location and the crowd. Not the cleanest, definitely, but acceptable. As an attraction, Maquinit Hot Spring, after including transport, is relatively pricey. It’s a nice place to visit and chill but not an absolute must in my opinion.

The main pool at Maquinit Hot Spring.
The main pool at Maquinit Hot Spring.
As the sun went down, the crowds left.
As the sun went down, the crowds left.
Couple of smaller side pools. This was around 8pm.
Couple of smaller side pools. This was around 8pm.

Word of caution on the road to Maquinit Hot Spring

I came to Maquinit on a scooter with a staff from the guesthouse, and the way back was impossible at some parts, made worse by the lack of street lights. A couple other tourists who came on bikes disembarked so that riders can navigate out of the bumpy dirt track. There were a couple of near misses. This is why I’d advise not riding here on your own, and if you really have to do so, leave before nightfall.

Getting off bikes at the toughest parts of the track.
Getting off bikes at the toughest parts of the track.

Departing Coron/ Busuanga

That completes the things to do in and near Coron Town on Busuanga Island! Here are some shots leaving the airport on a beautiful morning. The sun decided to revisit Coron that day, after leaving me with days of rain.

Francisco B. Reyes Airport. Busuanga Island, Coron, Palawan.
Francisco B. Reyes Airport. Busuanga Island, Coron, Palawan.

Food in Coron Town

Food doesn’t seem to be a big thing in Coron, but here are some of the options since you might get hungry at some point. There aren’t any fast food chains here but there are quite a few options catering to the western crowd. Seems to take a bit more effort to find local food in the center of Coron Town.

Lolo Nonoy’s Food Station

Lolo Nonoy’s Food Station seems like a popular place for Filipino food. Prices seem slightly cheaper than the western food restaurants, but is expensive compared to the actual local places. On the plus side, you’ll get more English speaking staff, a cleaner environment, and generally more tourist friendly environment for that price. Lolo Nonoy’s is near San Agustin Church, and is open from 8am to 9pm. I went there a couple of times before deciding to venture deeper into the less touristy areas. Cheat sheet: if you’re ordering from their menu during peak periods it can take a really long time for your food to be ready (30-45 mins). If you’re not prepared to wait, order rice and ready to eat dishes from the display at the counter.

Coron Town Market

If you’re in for a more local experience, head deeper into the market. One of the rows has many food stalls selling rice or noodles with side dishes. Seemed to be mostly frequented by locals. Food was significantly cheaper than at Lolo Nonoy’s but the downside was not really knowing what I was ordering, and having to eat in a slightly dark, narrow alley. Nonetheless, loved that experience!

Street food

Street food seems to mostly consist of burgers, hot dogs, roast chicken and fried tidbits. They’re great for a quick snack but don’t expect much from them though. The buko shake was awesome though, coconut flesh, juice, milk and syrup blended with ice. Slurp.

Other places to eat

There are a couple of western food outlets and barbeque joints, mostly along/near the main road in the center of Coron Town. Some seem to have quite a good reputation. Smells good from the outside, with a good sized crowd on the inside. From a quick glance most seem to be priced much higher than places like Lolo Nonoy’s.

Where to stay in Coron Town

I stayed in Carillo Guesthouse with the Carillo family for the full duration of my Coron trip. It’s a pretty new set up as they just started business in 2019 and are in the process of expanding the place. Rooms and toilets were clean and not too cramped as some hostels are. Most importantly, the Carillo family were very warm and friendly. They helped with lots of the planning, which can be difficult for a foreigner on your own in a place like Coron where much of the attractions websites and not everyone speaks English (though many locals do). Despite the rain messing things up, I enjoyed my week in Coron mostly because the Carillo family helped to work things out with their expert local knowledge and network, such as my dugong and Calauit Safari trip. Definitely give them a visit if you’re looking for clean, good value hostel style accommodation!

Mr Carillo, whom I spent many hours hanging out with talking about everything under the sun. Or rather, rain. At the back, the extension of the house that was under construction in July 2019. It should be ready now, with more common spaces for interaction with other guests!

Other posts on Coron, Palawan

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