The first half of our 2015 Coron tour was spent in the town proper, and we had the tour on the day of our arrival. We arrived at the Busuanga Airport around 10am and checked in at Coron Eco Lodge around lunchtime–travel from the airport to the town was around 30-45 minutes, with some parts of the road rough and a bit bumpy, and other sections already paved.
We availed of the Coron Eco-Lodge accommodation and tour package, so our town tour and island hopping tour were already pre-arranged. There were two options for the town tour–by van or by tricyle. We opted for the tricycle tour since there were only two of us. The town tour was scheduled at 4pm on the day of our arrival, with the following destinations included in the itinerary:
This was our first destination, an open park facing the sea where visitors can take photos and enjoy a view of Mt. Tapyas from afar.
St. Augustine Church
This is located in the town proper, a spacious and simple church that was under renovation at the time. We went inside, prayed for a few minutes, and took some photos before proceeding on our tour.
Coron Pasalubong Center
Our tour guide, Kuya Nonoy, informed us that this is the biggest pasalubong shop in Coron, and it’s almost complete with local knick knacks and cashew goodies that are the town’s specialty. There are ref magnets, purses, key chains, pearl jewelry, t-shirts, and other items for visitors who are looking for some travel souvenirs.
This seems to be the most popular cashew manufacturing establishment in Coron, although the place is nothing fancy. It looks like just a simple home inhabited by a family who specializes in making cashew goods. The store was manned by an old lady who appears to be the head of the business.
We were fascinated by the various photographs on the wall of the store, which show Nanay with different local celebrities such as Kris Aquino–it seems like it’s a favorite destination in Coron by those looking for cashew.
This was supposed to be included in our town tour during the first day, but it was raining at the time and Kuya Nonoy advised that we visit the place on another day when the weather gets better. We rescheduled our visit to Mt. Tapyas early morning on our third day, and we soon found out why it was not a good idea to visit the place on a rainy weather–we had to climb 721 steps to reach the top.
It was a challenging climb, and we had to take several rest stops before we reached the peak. Once there, though, we found that the breathtaking view was worth the effort. The viewing deck, where the Mt. Tapyas cross is erected, offers a view of the entire Coron town and the sea. The breeze was refreshing, and the peace and quiet was calming. We took a few photos before leaving and had the chance to chitchat with other tourists on our way down.
Maquinit Hot Spring
This was our last destination during the first day, and I would say the highlight of the tour. It was a rough and long ride from the town, passing by residential neighborhoods and areas with only trees on both sides of the road. We reached the place at around 6pm. It was already dark, and we were already cold and almost soaking wet because of the rain. It was the perfect condition for a hot dip.
The entrance to the place is Php200, although we didn’t pay anymore because it was already included in our tour package. Inside the area are several cottages for sharing by guests, a small grotto overlooking the spring, and a small store where visitors can leave their valuable stuff. We shared a cottage with a few other guests, ate the snacks prepared by Coron Eco Lodge, and then went for a hot bath in the spring.
The water was really hot, and it felt almost unbearable during the first few moments until our body was able to adjust to the temperature. The lake is enclosed in concrete, looking like a huge pool with small stones and sand for its floor. There are 2 small pools flowing into the bigger and main pool, and there is another small pool to which water from the big pool flows–a total of 1 main spring and 3 smaller ones, all connected to each other.
The spring is adjacent to the sea, separated only by the concrete wall that surrounds the spring water. Leading to the sea is a wooden bridge that’s perfect for taking photos. And as it got later and darker, more and more visitors arrived–the place seems to be a popular destination for night swimming, although operation is until 10pm only (they accept guests until 8pm). It’s the perfect destination to relax after touring the town.
We left Maquinit Hot Spring at around 8pm, and it was already dark on the road back to Coron Eco Lodge, with some areas almost pitch black except for the illumination coming from the headlight of the tricycle.
Overall, the tour took about 4 hours, including the 2 hours we spent in Maquinit. Looking back, it’s easy to do a DIY tour of the town. All of the destinations we visited (except Maquinit) could be reached by regular commute (Php10 per way by tricycle). Only Maquinit will require a private transport since it would be difficult to find a tricycle back to town unless you rent one going to the area (and ask the driver to wait for you). We also saw establishments offering tour for Php650, so it’s possible to go there without a prior tour arrangement–the challenge will just have to be in the search for the most affordable package.