Located in the Calamian islands between Palawan and Mindoro south of Luzon, about 500km of island-dotted sea separates Coron from Manila. It’s not easy to reach, as far as holiday destinations go, but its relative isolation insulates Coron from the overflow of tourists that mars other Philippine beach hotspots. That’s good news for Coron visitors. Nature-minded family travelers can take in the lakes, islets and shipwrecks here as they were meant to be seen — unspoiled and free from crowds.
Just as Siargao has transcended its surfers-only reputation, Coron is steadily moving away from only drawing divers and becoming more alluring for families. Yes, you need a PADI license to enjoy Coron’s colorful underwater life and World War II shipwrecks, but you can get by just as enjoyably by checking out the attractions on or near the water’s surface. The white-sand beaches on Banana and Malcapuya islands; the mysterious Kayangan and Barracuda lakes; the sea eagles, green sea turtles and sea cows inhabiting the waters off Dimakya Island; the imported African savannah wildlife of Calauit Island; and the relaxing waters of the Maquinit hot spring — all these Coron wonders are easily accessible for non-divers.
But don’t expect the usual tourist creature comforts here. Families with very young kids should stick to places with better infrastructure. Many stops around Coron require a fair bit of hiking or intermediate-level swimming or snorkeling: great for older kids who can manage on their own, but probably not a good idea for babies and kids under the age of 6.
Prime time: Tourists flock to Coron between December and May, taking advantage of the underwater clarity afforded by the dry season.
Stay and play: Around 100 hotels, hostels and beach/dive resorts can be found in Coron, mostly in the mid-range and budget segment.
Tuck in: You can’t beat Coron’s fresh seafood, especially the oysters and lobsters, which are both plentiful and cheap.
Shop stocks: Shop for souvenirs at Escarda’s Coron Harvest cashew shop and the Coron Souvenir & Gift Shop in Barangay 5.
Action and adventure: There are fewer than 20 dive shops local to Coron Town, with a handful of other outfitters specializing in boat tours of Coron and nearby islands.
Average daily cost for food and drink: Depending on your budget, you can spend as little as P500 to as much as P1,500 per family member per day.
In case of medical emergency: The Coron District Hospital in the main town can handle first aid and minor medical emergencies, but more serious situations may require medical evacuation to Puerto Princesa or Manila. Make sure your insurance covers the emergency trip.
Lights out: Beyond the resorts, Coron calls it a day by around 9pm.
Also read: Exploring the charms of Cuyo Island, Palawan
This article first appeared in the December 2016 issue of Smile magazine.