Coron, Palawan, Philippines

February 2013 Banol Beach, Coron, Palawan
Being a Filipino, I feel ashamed that I don’t put much effort to explore my own country. I have visited Bali and Phuket before finally deciding to go and see Coron. And boy, I was just stunned!
Coron is the third largest island in the Calamian Islands in Northern Palawan in the Philippines. It is approximately about an hour's flight from Manila.
I was joined by my two highschool friends and headed there last February for the Chinese New Year long weekend and the weather was just perfect – sunny, clear and blue skies! We had three days (Plus one day rest day) to explore this paradise! 


Our first stop: Hiking at Mt. Tapyas. I suggest to do this either early morning to see the sunrise or late afternoon to see the sunset. We opted for the latter. We climbed about 700 steps. Thankfully they were concrete so it was just like climbing a very tall staircase which made it easier to get to the top. There were also benches and shade if climbers ever get tired and want to rest (pretty convenient). 

Steps to Mt. Tapyas

History has it that the topmost part of the mountain is said to be hit by a bomb dropped by a Japanese war plane during World War II so it looked chipped (“Tapyas” in Tagalog).
After several minutes of climbing, we were rewarded by a very calming view of the ocean and its surrounding islands as the sun was about to set. 

The viewing deck is surrounded by rolling terrains of grasses and hills which reminded me of those like in the Lord of the Rings movies.

This massive cross is lit up at night.

After enjoying the breathtaking view, we went down and headed to Maquinit Hot Springs. It was the perfect place to go after the hike to relax our tired legs!

Island Hopping! 
First stop: Twin Lagoon. Its name pretty much suggests its origin, it has two identical massive rock formations.

We headed to Banol Beach where we had our lunch on a nipa hut. The good thing about our timing was it was not the peak season so we have enjoyed the the beach exclusively to ourselves. Up from our nipa hut we got a postcard view of the beach which made eating too difficult to concentrate at. That feeling of like staring at a computer wallpaper brought to life. The water was so clear you can actually see it glinting under the sun.

Banol Beach

After our traditional Filipino lunch – grilled fish, tomatoes and indian mangoes with bagoong (eaten on a banana leaf), we continued our island hopping towards Kayangan Lake. There were more lakes that we could have explored but this is the only one open to the public. The Mangyans (Coron natives) are protecting and preserving the other parts of the island so most of these are restricted to tourists.

To get to the lake, we had to do real hiking this time. The steps were steep (not concrete) and slippery and some of them have wooden handrails. 

On our way to Kayangan Lake

I can't recall exactly how long it took us to get there but we kept asking our guide "Are we there yet?" After several more minutes, our guide asked us to stop to catch our breath and marvel at the view from above. 

Large rock formations surrounded by blue green waters under a clear sky. A picture postcard view that I forgot my tiredness from the hike.

Coron Island Cove
We carried on to our hike. After about a few more minutes, we have finally arrived!

Dubbed as the cleanest lake in Asia, it sure lived up to its title. And what a better way to reward ourselves but to do snorkeling in here. Since it is a lake, the waters were warmer compared to sea water.

Kayangan Lake

Then off we go snorkeling at Siete Pecados (which means seven islets).  We had some difficulty to get started as the current was really strong. Nevertheless we have enjoyed feeding the fish as we snorkel around the islets.
Snorkeling at Siete Pecados

Our two days in Coron have absolutely been incredible. There is truly much to see in here apart from its islands and beaches which makes the trip more interesting.

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