Coron

Coron, Philippines

The mountainous Coron Island, just northeast of Palawan, is part of the officially designated ancestral domain of the indigenous Tagbanua people (possibly descendants of the original inhabitants of the Philippines). They steward the land and sea, and control access to the island, much of which is off-limits to visitors. There is still plenty to attract travelers to the area, though: a small, sleepy town and clear lakes; limestone rock formations; and white-sand beaches. Those lucky enough to be welcomed into a Tagbanua community can learn about their culture and how they spearfish, as well as the special techniques for harvesting octopuses, seaweed, and sea cucumbers. For snorkelers, Siete Pecados offers rich coral reefs and the chance to spot dugongs, giant hawksbill turtles, and baby sharks. Divers can also hope to get a glimpse of puffer fish, eels, and giant clams. As well as the diverse marine life, there are numerous Japanese shipwrecks from World War II on view underwater. Add in the visibility of up to 80 feet, and this area is a superb playground for diving enthusiasts.

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Coron and the Calamian Archipelago

The mountainous Coron Island, just northeast of Palawan, is part of the officially designated ancestral domain of the indigenous Tagbanua people (possibly descendants of the original inhabitants of the Philippines). They steward the land and sea, and control access to the island, much of which is off-limits to visitors. There is still plenty to attract travelers to the area, though: a small, sleepy town and clear lakes; limestone rock formations; and white-sand beaches. Those lucky enough to be welcomed into a Tagbanua community can learn about their culture and how they spearfish, as well as the special techniques for harvesting octopuses, seaweed, and sea cucumbers. For snorkelers, Siete Pecados offers rich coral reefs and the chance to spot dugongs, giant hawksbill turtles, and baby sharks. Divers can also hope to get a glimpse of puffer fish, eels, and giant clams. As well as the diverse marine life, there are numerous Japanese shipwrecks from World War II on view underwater. Add in the visibility of up to 80 feet, and this area is a superb playground for diving enthusiasts.

Northern Palawan

Coron is one of the northern-most islands of the Palawan archipelago. We spent a day touring the island by boat, visiting its lagoons, coves and lake. I loved observing our boatman who was at total ease, effortlessly maneuvering our banca through the sea.

Coron Market

Calamansis, peppersm and tubers for sale in the Coron town market.

Island Hopping the Bacuit Archipelago

Imagine hundreds of tiny islands, coral reefs, limestone cliffs, turquoise water, white sand beaches, and hidden lagoons. Basically imagine a tropical paradise and you have the Bacuit Archipelago surrounding El Nido on the island of Palawan in the Philippines. It is easy to feel like you are the last people left on earth when you arrive in these islands! El Nido is not all that easy to get to which puts it off the beaten path. To me this is a good thing as it stifles corporate development and ensures that only committed travelers will make the journey there. Once in El Nido it is easy to hire boats or join a tour to take you island hopping. Renting an ocean kayak to take to the islands is an additional expense but it is worth it to be able to explore the hidden lagoons and beaches within many of the islands on your own! If you travel to El Nido during the “low season” (Jun-Sep) you run the risk of rain and typhoons, but you maximize the chance of having picturesque beaches and maybe even an entire island all to yourself! Most hotels in El Nido will help you line up an island tour but we booked our trips through Art Cafe because of their reputation and we were not disappointed. The tour guides were pro and the beach lunches were hearty and delicious. We also enjoyed meeting the other travelers that we shared the tours with!

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