Just mention Coron to any Filipino and their eyes light up at the thought of it. Many Filipinos have never been there themselves, but they’ll confidently declare that Coron is the most beautiful place in the Philippines. Travel + Leisure even named Palawan, the province that Coron is part of, as the world’s best island. Needless to say, we were excited to visit the island that made so many go gaga over it. After spending two weeks hopping around Coron Town and on islands around it, we’ve come up with the top adventurous things to do in Coron that you shouldn’t miss when you visit.
1. Hike Mt. Tapyas
Coron has to be the hottest place I’ve ever been. And we lived in the desert, so that’s saying something. Even with temperatures of 97°F and humidity at 95%, we were assured that climbing to the top of Mt. Tapyas should definitely be on your list of adventurous things to do in Coron.
We’ve climbed Humphreys Peak in Flagstaff to the summit at 3,851 meters (12,633 feet) and trekked up to the cone of Stromboli at 924 meters (3031 feet), so a measly 210 meters should be a walk in the park. Holy hell, walking up 742 steps to the top of Mt. Tapyas left us pouring buckets of sweat.
But the view over Coron Town below and stretching out across both Busuanga Island and Coron Island is worth the stinging of salty sweat dripping in your eyes. Just be sure to bring enough water, a towel and maybe don’t start the climb at 3pm when the sun is at its hottest. Seriously, the heat and humidity is no joke here.
2. Soak in Maquinit Springs
Soaking in hot springs might sound a bit insane after I was just going on about the heat. Honestly, sitting in 39-41°C (102°F) sounded like the last thing we wanted to do, especially after having just climbed Mt. Tapyas.
Maquinit Springs are one of very few salt water hot springs in the world. Two pools that have been built in the mangrove forest and there’s a small beach just beyond. Natural hot water from an underground volcano feeds the pools to produce the therapeutic waters. And actually, it felt really good even after the hot climb up Mt. Tapyas.
The springs are located about 30 minutes outside of Coron Town, but you can easily hire a tricycle. Negotiate with a tricycle to take you round trip. It should cost between 300-400 PHP (about $8 US) and they will wait while you visit Maquinit Springs. Entry to the springs is 200 PHP ($4 US) for the first hour and an hour is really enough.
3. Swim in the hidden lagoon at Twin Lagoon
The Twin Lagoon gets its name from a limestone wall that divides the water in to two lagoons. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen…and I can’t believe I got to experience it twice.
During low tide, you can easily swim through an archway in the limestone wall to access the inner hidden lagoon. With the limestone towers of Calis Mountain embracing the inner lagoon, fresh and salt water meet causing a thermocline with layers of varying water temperatures.
The limestone walls surrounding the inner lagoon are rich with corals and marine life. I swear, aside from when you stir up the brackish water and cause it temporarily to look like oil mixing with vinegar, you can see down clearly for at least 5o feet. This was one of our favorite places to snorkel because of the unique environment coupled with stunning walls of coral.
4. See the most beautiful view in Coron and swim in Lake Kayangan
Lake Kayangan is one of the most popular places in Coron and the most photographed. It can get incredibly crowded. With views like that from a much easier and shorter climb than Mt. Tapyas, it’s easy to see why it gets so crowded. The key to enjoying this spot is to go early.
We’ve done both a small group tour and a private tour with Two Seasons Resorts and highly recommend the private option. Not only are the Two Seasons’ fleet of speed boats and outriggers more comfortable, but doing your own private tour allows for the schedule to be altered. Two Seasons also provides all guests with water booties, which are essential for visiting Lake Kayangan. I actually missed the climb up to Lake Kayangan on my first group tour because it had rained, was very slick and I didn’t have the appropriate footwear.
We could choose what time we wanted to leave, and by leaving the resort at 8am we were the very first visitors to Lake Kayangan. It’s one of Coron Island’s seven fresh water lakes and one of only two lakes that are open to the public (the other lakes can potentially be visited by requesting special permission from the indigenous Tagbanua tribe who calls the island home).
After a short, but hot and sweaty hike up to a viewpoint overlooking Coron Bay, the rocky trail descends down to the fresh water lake. It’s really refreshing to take a dip in the lake, especially after that hike. Just don’t forget to stash some mosquito repellent in your bag because the mosquitoes can get aggressive with the thick vegetation surrounding the lake.
5. Dive to see the underwater mountains in Barracuda Lake
Barracuda Lake is another one of Coron’s fresh water lakes, and the weirdest place we can imagine diving!
To reach the lake, you have a short hike up rickety wooden stairs and slick granite rocks with all your dive gear on your back. The lake is a heliocline and a thermocline. That means it has layers of salt and fresh water, plus varying temperatures as hot as 38° C (100° F). Between being bizarrely hot while diving in a hot spring, it looks like the mountains from the movie Avatar underwater and you can just hang out suspended while taking in the view of underwater mountain peaks.
The lake is incredibly clear and it’s worth a stop even if you only snorkel, but to experience the hot spring and truly take in the magnitude of the underwater peaks, it’s best explored on a dive.
6. Snorkel on a WWII Japanese shipwreck
The waters around Coron are filled with WWII shipwrecks and the Japanese ship known as Skeleton Wreck is shallow enough that snorkelers can appreciate the wreck and coral reef that has formed on it. The stern of Skeleton Wreck lies in just 5 meters (16 feet) of water and with a dry snorkel, you can easily free-dive down for a closer look.
7. Dive in the top diving location in the Philippines
One of the top reasons that we chose Coron out of all the locations to visit in the Philippines was to put our new dive certifications to use. We did our research and Coron appeared as the one of the best places to dive in all of the Philippines.
In hindsight, Coron is an excellent dive location for divers a little more advanced than us. As previously mentioned, the waters of the islands that make up Coron are filled with shipwrecks perfect for skilled divers to maneuver their way through the various rooms of.
Tim did go inside a few rooms with our dive master, but I still feel like I’m figuring out my buoyancy and just don’t have the control yet necessary to avoid bumping in to things inside a confined space of a shipwreck. I also still get the nervous jitters in my stomach before a dive.
But even if you’re not advanced enough for some of the wreck dives or just not comfortable diving inside a shipwreck, there marine life is plentiful. While we had mostly good visibility despite enduring two typhoons during our visit, it’s best to visit from November through February for the best dive visibility.
8. Hole up on a private island
Coron Town isn’t the prettiest place and aside from hiking up Mt. Tapyas, visiting Maquinit Springs and wandering around the town, there isn’t much to do on Busuanga itself. Most of the best things to do are explored on day tours from Coron Town or while staying at some of the nearby private island resorts.
We absolutely loved our stay at Two Seasons Coron Island, so much so that we extended our stay for an additional three nights and scrapped our plans to stay in Coron Town or head to El Nido. The island was truly a slice of paradise with stunning beaches, unbelievably clear water that looked like you were swimming in a pool and excellent snorkeling right from the beach of the resort.
There’s plenty to do if you like an active vacation, or just hole up for a bit of romance.
9. Try the local Filipino food
We always feel that food is an important part of the travel experience. Good food is something that knows no language barriers and enjoying a meal is something we can all find common ground in no matter race, religion or anything else. And while I have to admit that Filipino food hasn’t been my favorite cuisine in the world, I did have some outstanding dishes.
If you do stay in Coron Town, which you’re likely to for at least one night depending on when your flight arrives or departs, I highly recommend Hunt Restaurant at The Funny Lion on the edge of town. If the barbecue pork ribs are on the menu, don’t even think twice! The meat literally fell off the bone and these were by far the tastiest ribs I’ve had anywhere.
In town, Santino’s Grill Restaurant is an excellent choice. They’re known for their pork ribs, though I didn’t think they were as good as the ribs at Hunt Restaurant at The Funny Lion. What was absolutely delicious is the variety of seafood dishes like the calamari, chili salt squid and grilled prawns.
A boodle fight, which is typically served as a communal meal during festivals, is also a popular way to try a variety of traditional Filipino dishes. I couldn’t really get in to the boodle fight because I’m the type of person that doesn’t like her various dishes mixing and touching one another. Also a boodle fight is eaten with your hands and you just scoop up a bunch of different things, shove them in your mouth and repeat. But if communal dining and mixing all your food up isn’t your own personal version of hell, then joining in on a boodle fight is definitely a unique Filipino experience.
10. Island hop
The Philippines is made up of over 7000 islands and the province of Coron is made up of eight major islands and a bunch of islets. There’s definitely plenty to see, do and explore and a great way to do that is to take an island hopping tour. Some islands and islets have gorgeous beaches and some have fantastic snorkeling and diving off of them. A day out on the water is never a bad day in our book and it’s nice to get out to see how the each island differs.
Know Before You Go
Our trip was provided by Two Seasons Resorts in partnership with Tourism Promotions Board Philippines and TBEX in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own. This article contains affiliate links. When you book on Booking.com through our affiliate site, we earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. It just helps us keep things running here at Luxe Adventure Traveler!