From crystalline waters to craggy cliffs, the natural wonders of the Philippines’ Coron Island sound like a siren call

View between Discovery and Baquit Islands
Beach on Baquit Island
Dense trees rise out of jagged limestone formations
Access to Twin Lagoon
A storm brewing in the distance off Banana Island
Grilled eggplant with diced red onion, tomato, cucumbers and chilli
Spicy prawns
Mango smoothie
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Coron: A Quiet Paradise in the Philippines

For a sun-drenched holiday in Southeast Asia, many people immediately think of bustling hotspots like Bali and Fiji. But for the quieter traveller, Coron, Palawan, is a worthy alternative. Situated about 170 nautical miles southwest of Manila, Coron is the third-largest island in the Calamian group. It’s home to around 66,000 people and boasts stunning scenery, including multicoloured lagoons, massive limestone peaks, coral reefs, and World War II shipwrecks.

In the 1990s, Coron’s local fishing, rattan, and basket-weaving industries declined as resources dwindled. But tourism has saved the island, drawing visitors with its natural beauty.

Getting around Coron is easy. Locals and tourists alike travel by motorised tricycles on land, while island hopping is done by bangka (outrigger canoes).

The best time to visit Coron is during the dry season, from November to May. This is when we visited, and our days were filled with exploring the island’s many natural wonders.

Day 1: Twin Lagoon and Skeleton Wreck

Our first stop was Twin Lagoon, a favourite among outdoorsy travellers and social media enthusiasts. The two lagoons, separated by towering limestone cliffs, are accessible by swimming or kayaking. The water is a stunning turquoise colour, and the temperature varies depending on where you swim, as saltwater and freshwater mix in the lagoons.

After the lagoon, we dived into history at Skeleton Wreck, a Japanese supply vessel that sank in World War II. The wreck is now covered in coral and barnacles, creating an eerie underwater scene.

Day 2: Malcapuya Island and Barracuda Lake

The next day, we started with a trek to Malcapuya Island, a long stretch of white sand beach with plenty of private coves. After disembarking from our bangka, we walked to the island’s southern beach, relaxing under the coconut trees and snorkelling in the clear waters.

For the quieter traveller, Coron is a worthy alternative

In the afternoon, we visited Barracuda Lake, a freshwater lake surrounded by limestone cliffs. The lake is named after a local legend that claims a large barracuda once lived there. The water in the lake is surprisingly hot in some spots due to the unique mix of fresh, salt, and brackish water.

We finished day two at Kayangan Lake, Coron’s most popular destination. The lake is known as the Blue Lagoon, and it’s easy to see why: the water is crystal clear, and the scenery is breathtaking.

Day 3: Lusong Coral Garden and Coron Island Shipwreck

On our last day, we visited Lusong Coral Garden, a vast reef teeming with marine life. We donned snorkels and dove in, marvelling at the colourful coral and fish.

Our final stop was the Coron Island Shipwreck, an English freighter-liner that sank in World War II. The wreck is now home to a variety of marine life, and it’s a popular diving spot.

Coron’s Environmental Efforts

The Philippines is home to some of the most biodiverse coral reefs in the world, and Coron is no exception. The island’s citizens are working hard to protect their reefs through legal protections and environmental conservation efforts. This is one of the many reasons Coron is such a special place.

Text and photo Victoria Mae Martyn