For my second 7-Questions blog entry, Mustachio and I will be taking you to the postcard-perfect Coron in Northern Palawan. It belongs to the Calamianes, which is a group of islands known for its purple limestone karst seascapes, white beaches and deep blue seas.
Mustachio is a former colleague, an intrepid traveler and a book hoarder like myself. I am glad that he still agreed in doing this, knowing that I’ve regretfully (and consistently) declined all his travel invitations ever since.
Here’s to hoping that I will be atoned for my travel absences with this blog entry. Meanwhile below is Coron in just 7 questions.
Why go to Coron?
[Bren] My quick answer to this is that you can embark on a variety of adventures at Coron: beach bumming, island hopping, shipwreck diving, among many others. But despite the many activities that the island has to offer, it still exudes a charming and laidback feel. It doesn’t pretend to be the next Boracay. And I do hope that it stays that way as well.
[Mustachio] My quicker answer to this is: Why not? 😀
How do you get there, and how do you get around the town?
[Mustachio] Grow wings or gills! Impossible? Then grab a ride on something with wings, like a plane. Cebu Pacific and PAL Express fly to Busuanga (Coron) from Manila and Cebu. Or if you’re coming from El Nido and don’t mind floating around for eight hours, take the boat! There are daily boat trips to and from El Nido for Php 1500 per person. In Coron, you can get around in three ways: walk (if you have a lot of time on your legs), hire a tricycle, or hire a van.
[Bren] Coron town is small, so everything is just within ‘walking distance.’ 😉
What can you do there?
You can book your adventures through your hotel/inn or the many tour providers by the town center. The fees, including thebangka (outrigger boat) and trike rental, are fixed so you would not feel ripped off in any way. For backpackers, you can also form/join a tour group through Owen Ferrer’s DIY site. It has all the information (tour packages and travel advisories) that you would need in finalizing your itinerary.
[Mustachio] I am sure you will get sore muscles from Brennan’s suggestions (too much swimming during the island loop tour plus climbing the 700+ steps of Mt. Tapyas). Loosen up those muscles with a good soak in Maquinit Hot Spring and you’ll be up and running the next day for more adventures: get a tan in the surrounding islands (Malcapuya, Banana, Calumbuyan), check out the former leper colony in Culion Island, or see zebras and giraffes in Calauit Island.
Where can you spend the night?
[Mustachio] Depending on the ability of your wallet to spew money, there are many options from high end ones to really cheap ones. I stayed in Patrik and Tezz Guesthouse, a simple place that serves my purpose, a place to sleep in. The guesthouse has only four rooms (Php 500-600/room/2 pax) and all four share two bathrooms. Tours can also be arranged through the guesthouse.
[Bren] I highly recommend Mommita’s Lodge, a residence-turned-backpacking-friendly-lodge owned by the very motherly Mrs. Esther Reyes. It is located right along the national road, and is just a few meters away from the wharf and Mt. Tapyas.
What food stops should you not miss?
[Bren] I’ll name three:
- Try the pitik (slipper lobsters) that are offered in various restaurants in town. It is cheaper compared to the usual lobsters but you can save some more if you can request your hotel/inn to cook some for you.
- Danggit lamayo, for me is the ultimate Pinoy breakfast. It is the product of the curious marriage between marinating and then drying danggit (rabbitfish). You can have one at Foodtrip, an open-air eatery near the public market.
- Savor on Filipino dishes at Kawayanan Grill Station, whose interiors are largely made out of bamboo. The incessant playing of an album from Tribu Calamianen, a local band, completes its semi-exotic vibe.
[Mustachio] May I suggest a shopping stop? Don’t forget to visit the market and buy some danggit lamayo to send to me when you get back. Thank you.
What would you do differently, next time?
[Mustachio] Definitely stay longer.
[Bren] Me too!!! I’ll also find a way to get to Cabugao Lake, the largest lake in Coron, without disrespecting the Calamian Tagbanuas who consider it as a sacred domain. I would also like to stay with a Tagbanua family, even for just a few days. I drool every time I read Jacob Maentz’s stunning narrative of his encounter with them.
Rate your Coron experience.
[Bren] It’s 8/10 for me, and that says a lot already considering that I am actually not a ‘water person.’ 😉
[Mustachio] 5/10 only because I haven’t seen the other half of it.
If you have been to Coron already, please do not hesitate to leave your food trip suggestions and other travel tips in the comments section below.