When visiting the Philippines, an island hopping tour in Coron is a must-do. We spent one month in the Philippines, and Coron was the first place we went to. We must say our trip started with a bang. Coron is everything you might have in mind about the Philippines, the most unique, clear and turquoise water, small islands with beach huts and lagoons.
Best time to visit the Philippines
The best time to visit the Philippines is between November and April because these are the dryer and colder months. The wet season starts from Mai until October brings a lot of rain and hotter temperatures. However, the tropical weather in the Philippines is very unpredictable all year round.
We visited the country in February, and we had rain regularly. But it usually lasted only a few hours. Be prepared that the weather can change very quickly. It can be the most beautiful sunny day, and an hour later it is raining heavily. Another hour later, it may be perfectly sunny again.
How to get there
Coron has an Airport which is called Busuanga. If you arrive at the airport, there is a shuttle bus service for 300 pesos (5.60 $) to Coron town. They will ask you at which hotel you stay and show you which minibus you should take. It’s about an hour’s ride into town.
If you travel between El Nido and Coron, we recommend you to take the local ferry, which takes you 4 hours and costs 35$ per person.
Visa to enter the Philippines
Most nationalities can enter the Philippines for 30 days visa-free. If you want to extend your stay, you have to apply at an Immigration office. You can find all information here.
Island hopping in Coron
If you visit Coron, it is a must to take an island hopping tour around the Island because the most beautiful places in Coron are located on the smaller islands. You can choose whether you want to go on a group tour or book a private boat. A group tour is the cheaper option, but we decided to do a private tour mainly because it allowed us to start earlier in the morning and choose where we want to go.
Where to book a private island hopping tour in Coron
If you want to book a private tour to go island hopping in Coron, we recommend you head down to the port and book directly with the boatmen. Tourist offices in town will be able to arrange private tours, but they will charge you additionally, and they won’t let you choose your stops. If you arrive at the port, walk along the public market until you reach the backside of the building and can see the boats. There will be boatmen coming up to you to ask if you want to book a private island hopping tour. They will show you a poster with all the possible stops and prices and there you can choose and organize your private trip.
Tipp: If you want to start your private boat tour earlier than the group tours, we would recommend you to go down to the harbor a day before and book your trip for the next morning.
Cost for a private island-hopping boat tour
- Price for the boat incl. crew 2700 pesos (50$)
- Entry fees for different Islands/Lagoons 2350 pesos (45$)
- Rent snorkeling gear 100 pesos (1.90$)
- Food from the market (10$) for rice, vegetables, and fruits
You can buy the food you like in the public market and bring it to the boat. The crew will cook it for you. We brought rice and vegetables and watermelon and bananas and had a fantastic lunch.
Best stops to choose for your private tour
We listed here our favorite places from the island hopping boat tour in Coron, which might help you to choose. But we are sure that you will love every place because Coron is just incredibly beautiful.
This place was definitely one of the highlights of our boat tour. We recommend you to make this your first stop in the morning because this place can get bustling. Once you arrive here, you will have to walk up and down again to reach the lake. The walk takes you around 10 min, and you will have a fantastic view from the top. The lake itself is incredibly peaceful, with the clearest blue water. Take a morning dip to refresh yourself from the walk.
When your boat enters Twin Lagoon, you will be blown away by the beauty that surrounds you. The turquoise blue water and the limestone rocks around you will make your heart beat faster. The Lagoon has as the name says two parts. One side is where the boats stop and drop the people. From here, you can swim to a whole in the rocks to enter the second Lagoon, and you will see the most turquoise water off your life. Life vests are a must here, and even we were a bit annoyed at first as good swimmers, we were glad to have it in the end because the Lagoon is huge, and we swam for over an hour. At the place in between the two lagoons is a little stair which you can climb to have a great view.
Tipp: bring a dry bag to your boat trip. If you don’t have one yet, you can buy one at Coron town for around 5$ (depending on the size). It will allow you to bring a phone/camera otherwise, you won’t be able to take photos here because the Lagoon can only be reached by swimming.
Banul Beach is the perfect place for your lunch break. It’s a white paradise beach with a few beach huts where you can eat comfortably. After lunch, you can go for a swim in the beautiful turquoise water and relax on the beach for a bit. We enjoyed playing with the beach pups.
Don’t miss to snorkel on your boat trip. The underwater world in Coron has a lot of beauty to offer too. There is a snorkeling point called Coral Garden, and another one is at a shipwreck. We chose the Coral Garden and were not disappointed by all the colorful fishes and Corals.
You can rent snorkeling gear at the harbor before you start your boat trip. Ask the boatmen for it they will show you the place. We only rented fins because we have our own masks/snorkels, and we paid around 2$.
Tipp: close from here is this Insta-famous place with the little beach hut. If you like to see it, tell your captain you want to go there. Eventually, the local people who own this hut are around then you will have to pay them 200 pesos otherwise it’s for free.
Our last stop of the day was at Baracuda Lake, which was great because most group tours left this place already, and there were only a few other people. This lake has the most transparent water, and because of that, you can see the rock formations that surround it go deep down into the water. It’s an epic place to end your tour and definitely worth adding to your trip.
Where to eat in Coron
We heard a lot how hard it is to find food in the Philippines as a Vegetarian / Vegan, so we were positively surprised that it wasn’t that hard anymore. The typical Philippino cuisine is indeed very meat and fish heavy, and for that reason, the local food was not really an option for us personally. But we found the following cute places to eat which are Vegan friendly:
- Full Lotus: fully vegetarian menu, small portions to share, / tapas-style, falafel, bowls
- Summer Cafe: best smoothie bowls and very good coffee
- Falafel 4:13: Falafel Pitas & Wraps
- Kulay Bowls: create your own salad bowls and smoothie bowls
- OM’s Thai: serves a delicious big fried rice that can be shared, good budget option
Overall we have to say that for us the Philippines was the most expensive country for food in southeast Asia. We spent, on average, 30$ for food per day for two.
Where to stay in Coron
We recommend staying in Coron Town, which is where most boat tours start. Accommodation in Coron is usually very basic. We recommend Treetop Suites for your stay.
How to get around in Coron
The easiest and cheapest way to get around in Coron town is Tricycles. They are everywhere on the streets, and you can just hop in. Always ask for the price first, and if necessary, haggling is allowed. An average price for a Tricycle is 100-200 pesos (2-3$).
Internet access in the Philippines is only reliable near big cities. If you’re on one of the many small islands, having internet access may sometimes be a matter of luck. Even though many cafes and hotels offer free WiFi, this doesn’t mean you’re having access to the internet.
From our experience, the best you can do is to buy at least one, maybe two SIM cards, or having a hotspot like the one from Skyroam as a backup with you. There are two major telecom providers: Smart and Globe. We chose Globe and have to say that we multiple times ended up not having a signal, where we would have had it with Smart. But as it sometimes was the other way around too, choosing the right provider is a matter of luck. In retrospect, we think we would go for Smart the next time we visit the Philippines.
Getting a SIM card is easy, as many shops are selling SIM cards. Even in remote places. We got ours at a small booth at the airport, and we paid 1000 Pesos (around 19 $) for a SIM card with 21 gigabytes of internet data. Unfortunately, we could only use twelve gigabytes but never figured out exactly why. Toping up your SIM card is straight forward and can be done instantly at one of the many small shops. Just watch out for posters from Smart or Globe. In the case of Globe, four gigabytes of internet data costs 140 Pesos (around 2.70 $) with the GOSAKTO140 package.
On all Islands that we visited in the Philippines, we found that there is a ban on single-use plastic such as plastic bags, straws, cups, and so on. In all Supermarkets and even on the very small local markets, they only gave us biodegradable bags. We loved this so much. We barely saw plastic pollution in the Philippines. People are much more aware of it than in other Asian countries. There are environmental taxes for most places you visit on boat tours so that these places can be protected and cleaned. On most boat tours, you are not allowed even to bring plastic bottles or other plastic. Please never leave anything behind except your footprints in the sand.