Coron was my last stop in Palawan, and it was one of the highlights of my trip. Travelers in Palawan who are pressed for time often have to choose between Coron or El Nido. I was grateful to be able to visit both because Coron offered unique experiences, especially for diving.
I signed up for several dives with Corto Divers and stayed in a room above the dive shop. Thanks to my dives in El Nido, I finally felt confident enough to take photos while underwater in Coron—it was about time!
On my first morning in Coron, my British diving buddy, dive master Randy, and I headed straight to Barracuda Lake.
The lake has layers of fresh and salt water, which causes shifts in temperature. Even though I get cold easily, Randy assured me that I wouldn’t need a wetsuit. Sure enough, the temperature jumped from a comfortable 80ish degrees to 100+ degrees once we were about 12 meters below the surface. Just as it was starting to feel stifling, the water suddenly cooled when we descended a few more meters.
As our boat drove to other dive sites, we admired the surrounding cliffs.
Coron has a number of Japanese shipwrecks that are relics from WWII. I was nervous about my ability to safely swim through the wrecks, but Randy thoroughly briefed our group about tricky spots. Once we were underwater, he pointed out potential dangers and regularly checked in.
Schools of fish swarmed around us at the bow of the Olympia Maru, one of the wrecks we visited.
Due to the poor lighting, most of my wreck photos were laughably bad.
Nonetheless, diving through the wrecks was unforgettable. Randy pointed out galleys, engine rooms, and even bathrooms (I guess these would be called heads on a yacht, but I have no clue if the same term applies to warships). I’m not a war history buff, but wreck diving was miles better than any class I’ve taken.
I’ve been fortunate to visit many great dive shops, and Corto Divers was among my favorites. Randy was a true professional, and the rest of the staff was just as superb. Olivier, the owner, promptly answered all my emails and made sure I got to go to all the dive sites I was interested in. At the end of each day, the staff treated us to a round of San Miguels. I also loved the lunches served on the dive boat. I wasn’t a huge fan of Filipino food in general, but the meals prepared by the Corto staff were delicious.
If you don’t dive, many companies in Coron offer island-hopping tours. I chose an “islands tour” with Nice in Paradise, one of the more popular options in Coron.
Our first stop was Kayangan Lake. On the walk to the lake, we reached a viewpoint overlooking the entrance.
TBH, Kayangan was a bit of a letdown after Barracuda Lake. I hate to sound jaded; there’s no doubt that Kayangan was beautiful. The crowds at Kayangan made it more difficult to enjoy the scenery, though. We reached Kayangan at around 10 AM, when many other tour boats were also visiting the lake. If you want a quieter experience, look for a tour that visits Kayangan earlier in the morning.
My favorite spot on the tour—hands down—was Green Lagoon, which was deserted when we visited. I know I’ve gushed about clear water in a lot of places I’ve visited, but this was on another level.
Our group jumped into the water, which was a perfectly comfortable temperature. Green Lagoon alone was totally worth the price of the tour.
Since many Filipinos are passionate about singing, I was excited to hit up karaoke bars. The opportunity didn’t arise until I met a group of Manila residents vacationing in Coron. Upon hearing that I hadn’t gone to a Filipino karaoke bar yet, they hunted down a “videoke” place on one of the main roads in Coron.
Anyone who’s been unlucky enough to go to a karaoke bar with me knows that I’m a terrible singer. The Filipinos were kind enough to tolerate me warbling through “Champagne Supernova,” one of the few songs that’s (kind of) within my limited vocal range. Unsurprisingly, they were a lot more talented than I was and slayed everything from “Barbie Girl” to Katy Perry’s “Thinking of You.” Even with my lack of talent, I was delighted to have fulfilled my karaoke goals with good company.
Coron was enchanting, and I was sad to leave after four nights. On my last afternoon in Coron, I boarded a flight to Cebu, my final destination in the Philippines. As the plane pushed back, I noticed that the airport staff was waving goodbye to us. It was an adorable gesture, and I couldn’t have imagined a better way to end my time in Palawan.