3 Lessons I Learned from My Coron Trip

Going to this island paradise in Palawan? A traveler shares some tips and tricks.

By Belle Yambao
May 20, 2016

coron main
You already get a winning view before going up to Kayangan Lake.

Looking for a new local destination to add to your travel list? Consider Coron, Palawan. With its mesmerizing blue waters and abundant marine life, this beautiful island is one of a kind. The locals are also some of the kindest people I've ever met, and their hospitality will truly leave you with good memories of Coron.

I went in search of a beach vacation with my barkada this summer, and what I got was four days and three nights of the ultimate sea adventure in Coron. Planning to head to this amazing marine sanctuary soon? Read on for some simple and practical lessons I learned from my trip.

Photo by Rommel Fabro. The reefs at Siete Pecados are so close you can almost touch them (but please don't!). Make sure to keep yourself afloat to avoid damaging corals.

1. You don't need to be a swimmer to snorkel.
I don't know how to swim, so one of my first concerns after booking a Coron trip was whether or not I could participate in the water-related tour inclusions. Fortunately, snorkeling is a "no swimming required" activity. You'll be wearing a life vest the entire time, so you don't have to worry about drowning. If you still have qualms, just stick to your tour guide. They'll be happy to help you go around the reefs with the aid of a life buoy and makeshift fins. In fact, I sometimes felt like I got to see more of the reefs, thanks to our guide's untiring efforts.

Coron is the perfect place for first-time snorkelers. Don't miss Siete Pecados with its clear waters full of colorful, unbleached reefs and wide variety of fish. Sangat Coral Garden is also a good place to add to your stops. We were able to spot a barracuda and a pawikan along the long stretch of reef among clownfish and angelfish sightings.

But if you feel like going off on your own, just remember to stay within sight of your guide (granted, they'll never let you out of your sight!) and always heed their warnings (e.g. keep your feet up, sea urchins ahead).

These crabs came with our lunch inclusion—and they were awesome!

2. Always order food in advance.
If you're from Manila like me, you're probably used to fast food and quick serving times at restaurants. Coron's idyllic atmosphere extends to their food culture. The usual serving time at restos (and even the resort we stayed at) is around an hour as they prepare their dishes on the spot with the freshest ingredients. So make sure you order your food in advance! If you're coming back to your resort after a day at the sea, pass by a resto to make your order for dinner first. That way, after taking a shower and freshening up, you can go back to the resto, just in time for the food to be served.

Tip: Keep ordering seafood. From crabs and mussels to fish and squids, Coron has them all—and everything's delicious! Try the gambas at Lolo Nonoy's, a native-style restaurant that serves awesome Filpino food. If you're on a tour package with a lunch inclusion, you're in for a treat! Their spreads include several dishes like grilled parrot fish and chili crabs.

The sunset view at the Mt. Tapyas viewing deck is definitely worth the trek!

3. Don't skimp on your cardio.
Coron is a great destination for barkadas who love adventures, but families traveling with young kids or grandparents should take caution when picking activities to try like trekking, snorkeling, and diving. If you don't exercise regularly, you might find yourself getting winded as you climb up the 724 steps to the Mt. Tapyas viewing deck (we got there just in time for sunset!) or the steep stairs going towards Kayangan Lake. If you do zero exercise, it will help if you do some daily cardio a week or two before your trip.

But if you don't have the time, some mental preparation might be all you need. Just make sure you listen to your body once you're on the actual trek. If you find yourself losing your breath or feeling faint while climbing Mt. Tapyas, there's no shame in stopping and going back down without reaching the top. Remember: Your health should always come first!

■Go to list of Palawan resorts and hotels
Coron and Busuanga