There are two things you go to Coron, Palawan for - snorkelling and scuba diving. Oh and casual boat trips to white sand beaches and fresh abundant seafood and a chance to dip your toes in the turquoise Sulu Sea and... ok, maybe more than two things! But it's the snorkelling and scuba diving you'll hear the most about, and with great reason. I'm not a diver, so I stuck to the snorkelling aspect, but I was not let down for a single moment, the life an
Before I begin to wax lyrical about how great it was, I will freely admit that I have never been snorkelling in a coral setting before. In fact, my snorkel experience can be summed up to sweet lakes in rural Ontario - neat, but entirely different.
Coron is specially known as the site of 12 Japanese warships (most just supply carriers, but a couple of gunboats for good measure as well). Along with one of the top coral reefs in the world, this is the main reasons that many visit this area. And indeed, was one of the main draws for us as well.
While many travel to Palawan Island and stop at the other top hits of El Nido and Porta Princessa, we were looking for a mixture of outdoorsy-ness and relaxation (not always an easy combination but one we strive for more often than not), and so decided to forgo the other two locals and settle into Coron and make it our home for the week.
We arrived at the end of monsoon season, in the middle of a monsoon, making the hour long boat ride from the town dock to our hotel island an unforgettable introduction. Top that off with the sun going down and these two bleary eyed travellers weren't able to take in much more than high winds and a lot of salt water. That is, until we got to our hotel. We happened to arrive just as dinner was being served and so happily tucked ourselves into a meal of same-day caught crab and lobster. From that moment on, things were starting to look up!
I like to think that Other Half and I are still resolutely in the "hostel" category when we travel, but it seems that more and more we've started treating ourselves to rooms with their own shower, and places that get cleaned on a near daily basis. I suppose these little splurges go along with such grown up things as steady paycheques. Anyway, the point of that little side story was to tell you that this time we splurged. We stayed at the Chindonan Resort and Dive Centre which is on its own island and features its own coral reef and family of sea horses just out front. Or in other words, bliss. In addition to not needing to leave the surrounding area and still be entertained and well fed (breakfast and dinner included!), they offer their own tours of the Coron area, and have a dive instructor living on site.
Note: I am NOT being payed/endorsed in any way, I just had a really great time and want to share that with you.
While we did our research before leaving, and knew you could get a cheaper tour in town, we ended up taking 1 full day and 1 half day tour with the resort staff, because apparently we're ballers now. In Coron in general there are three main tours that people go on, and these can be done privately or in groups of up to 12 (I think). The resort (and probably other similar resorts) offer variations and different itineraries based on their location and so we chose a full day trip with several stops at popular white sand beaches, snorkelling spots, and hot springs. In my personal opinion, this was only okay. And at times underwhelming. Because there was so much natural beauty at the resort, we didn't take a lot away from this trip.
Our second, half day, excursion was to some epic snorkelling spots off the beaten path. As with almost every travel experience I've ever had, going against the grain was worth it. Malcatop, Lusong, and the coral gardens were our stops for the day and each proved to be different from the last, with the highlights being the pure serenity of Malcatop, the sunken Japanese gunboat of Lusong and the bat fish of the coral gardens.
On the days we weren't on excursions we would explore the house reef hunting for sea turtles and seahorses (no such luck for us!), head over to a teeny little island across the way to explore there or take the kayaks out and see what we could see. Each evening we would head down to the restaurant/bar, watch the sun go down with a drink in hand and then gorge ourselves on a seafood buffet.
As you can imagine, it was great week of exploring, eating and relaxing. I must do if you're ever travelling through South East Asia!