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Coron Island Boat Tours: The Good, The Bad and The ugly

Visiting Coron Island is a must when traveling to the Philippines. Palawan has become the darling of Instagram thanks to El Nido, a municipality known for its striking karst cliffs that jut out from the water and its abundance of seemingly deserted island beaches.
 
Coron, El Nido’s little-known brother, and is slowly catching up in popularity. Coron exhibits the same stunning karst cliffs and landscapes as El Nido, just without all the tourists.
 
For this reason on our trip, we chose Coron over El Nido, and we were not disappointed.
 
best-coron-island-tours
 
In Coron, everything you are going to want to see and do involves taking a Boat. There are no beaches to walk to from Coron Town. Any local tour agency will have a list of all the places that you can visit in and around Coron by pump boat. 
 
However, all are not equal.
 
CHECK OUT MY 10 DAY PHILIPPINES ITINERARY HERE

CORON BOAT TOURS

Of all the places we visited I’ll break down which ones you are going to want to visit, and which you should skip altogether. Seeing as you have to pay an entry fee to almost every destination, skipping the lame ones can save you time and money.
 
When booking tours, you can either join a group tour or hire a private boat. For a group tour, you cannot change the itinerary – you have to go to all the places listed on your chosen tour. You pay a single fee, which includes lunch, and all applicable entrance fees. These group tours start at 1000php per person.
 
A private boat starts at 3000php for 2-4 people. However, that is just the price for the boat, no food or entrance fees included. Depending on your itinerary and how many are in your group, it could actually be cheaper to hire a private boat.
 
Even if it costs more, the advantages of a private boat for me outweigh any extra cost. With a private boat, you can go wherever you want, whenever you want. Take as long as you want at each place, change your mind, or go back to a place you’ve already been, it’s all up to you. “What’s that over there? Turtle? Flipflop? Let’s go investigate…” Most importantly if you time it right, you can experience these amazing spots by yourself and not 10 other people who are ruining my your photos!
 
Cheeky Tip: When hiring a private boat you have to by law pay for a tour guide too. All three days we haggled and got the tour agency to not charge extra for the tour guide.
 

TOTALLY WORTH IT

kayagan-lake-coron-tours

Kayangan Lake 

This is a must. There’s more to this stop than just a lake. There’s a lagoon, a cave, a hike, and an entire underwater world beneath the surface of the lake that needs to be seen to be believed. 
 
Entry Fee: 300php
 
Cheeky Tip: All the group boat tours start at 7 30 am, which means they start arriving at Kayangan Lake by about 8 30 am. Get there any time before then and you might just have the entire place to yourselves. If you aren’t a morning person, ask your boat(if private) to visit Kayangan lake last, at the end of the day. Almost all the boats visit Kayangan Lake first, so again, you may just get lucky and find the place empty.
 
coron-twin-lagoon-tours

Twin Lagoon

My favorite stop. There are two parts to the twin Lagoon stop – I mean – it’s in the name guys! The two lagoons are connected by an underwater cave. If swimming through an underwater tunnel freaks you out – as it should – there is a 20ft ladder you can climb up and over, to reach the other second lagoon. You can also partake in mini cliff diving from the top of the platform.
 
coron-twin-lagoon-tours-cost
 
The water here is a deep turquoise and still as glass. Depending on what time of day you go, there could be a lot of tourists around. As most people are lazy, you tend to see groups of 10 people connected in a line floating in their life jackets being pulled by a poor Filipino tour guide.
 
Entrance Fee: 200php
 
Cheeky Tip: The karst cliffs around Twin Lagoons are breathtaking. Once you’ve visited the lagoons, ask your boat captain to anchor the boat just outside by one of the cliffs. You’ll have a beautiful spot all to yourself, where you can snorkel, dive and frolic in peace.
 

Smith Beach

This tiny little beach is just around the corner from Barracuda Lake. It’s so small, that not many people can fit on it at all. But as long as there aren’t a lot of other boats there at the same time, it can be incredibly picturesque. Get ready to whip your drone or camera out and snap some Instagram worthy FOMO pics for your friends.
 
Entrance Fee: 150php
 

Secret Garden

This spot is not even on the local tour’s list of destinations. Which means you guessed it, we had the entire place to ourselves. On paper, it doesn’t seem that special, it’s just a small inlet somewhere between Banol Beach and Atuwayan Beach. Our captain said it was called ‘secret garden’. But then the captain the next day didn’t know where the ‘secret garden’ was… So like veteran Island hoppers, we directed him!
 
Entrance Fee: None
 
Cheeky tip: The inlet is surrounded by really high cliffs so get here in the middle of the day so that the sun is directly overhead and not hidden, casting the teal water in shade. Before the tide gets too high at the end of the day there is also a tiny 10ft patch of sand that you can set foot on and feel like a real-life pirate for about 30 seconds.

MAYBE WORTH IT

Barracuda Lake

The entrance to Barracuda Lake looks pretty cool. It’s a small cove, with shallow emerald water and an old wooden walkway that meanders through the karst cliffs to the actual Lake. However, apart from a couple of nice photos, there’s nothing to do except visit the actual lake. If you’ve already been to Kayangan Lake, you won’t find anything new at Baracuda Lake unless you are scuba diving. The scuba driving is meant to be unreal. Barracuda Lake is known for it’s underwater cliffs. 
 
Entrance fee: 200php
 
Cheeky Tip: If only snorkeling pick Kayangan Lake over Barracuda Lake. However, you only have to pay an entrance fee at Barracuda Lake if you make your way over the rocks to the Lake. You can park up, get out and take some cool photos for free. Drive past, and if the cove isn’t full of other tourist boats, take a quick pit stop.

NOT WORTH IT

banal-beach-atwayan-beach

Banol Beach & Atwayan Beach

These beaches are kinda like the bastard brothers of Smith Beach. There is nothing special to them. Just a couple of empty huts and a lot of boats. Not worth the entrance fee and ar lunchtime they get busy because all the boats stop there for lunch. You also can’t even buy lunch there, you have to bring your own. So why not find your own secluded cove and eat on the boat for free.
 
Banol Beach Entrance Fee: 200php
Atwayan Beach Entrance Fee: 150php

CYC Beach

This beach is on a completely separate island. Far away from the others and again, tiny. The pictures make all these beaches seem much bigger. There is literally room for maybe twenty people to lie out, but instead, they will be sixty people all huddled beneath the shade of the beaches sole tree. The beach is fine, but not what we came to the Philippines for. 
 
Entrance Fee: Free
 
THIS ISLAND IN SOUTHEAST ASIA IS ABOUT TO BLOW UP
 

THE ULTIMATE CORON ISLAND BOAT TOUR

My recommendation would be to get away from the crowds and invest your time and energy in a multi-day tour. I myself did not do this but from what I’ve seen the tours offered by Big Dream Boat Man look incredible.

BIG DREAM BOAT MAN CORON ISLAND TOUR PACKAGE OPTIONS

3-NIGHT GROUP TOUR: Big Dream Boat Man offers a 3-Night tour with other like-minded adventurers. The first day of the trip you visit several of the hotspots like Kayangan Lake.  The next day, you venture far away from the crowds and camp on Pass Island. Don’t fret, this ‘camping’ is almost like glamping with everything set up for you. On the other nights, expect rustic huts with basic mattresses on deserted islands. This tour has it all, amazing freediving spots, with shipwrecks, turtles, stingrays, and incredible coral reefs as well as campfires, deserted islands, secluded hammocks, and unbelievable beaches.

3-NIGHT PRIVATE TOUR: If you have a group of 6 or more you can book the entire experience for just your group. 

Check out the full intinery and availabilty here: Big Dream Boat Man Website

Full List of Coron Island Entrance Fees

Coron Island Area:
Maquinit Hotspring = 200php/head
Siete Pecados Marine Sanctuary = 100php/head
Kayangan Lake = 300php/head
Twin Peaks Reef = 150php/head
Barracuda Lake = 200php/head
Vivians Beach = 100php/head
Twin Lagoon = 200php/head
Kaps Point Coral Garden = 100php/head
Smiths Point Beach = 100php/head
Banol Beach = 100php/head
Sampaloc Beach / Beach 69php = 100php/head
Atuayan Beach = 100php/head
Skeleton Wreck = 100php/head
CYC Island = Free

Malcapuya Banana Area:
Malcapuya Island = 250php/head
Banana Island = 200php/head
Bulog Dos Island = 150php/head

Gutob Bay Area:
Lusong Shipwreck = 50php/head
Lusong Coral Garden = 50php/head
Black Island = 200php/head
Dibutonay Island = 200php/head
North Cay Island = 200php/head
Calumbuyan Island = 150php/head
Pass Island = 200php/head
Calauit Safari = 400php/head

Island Overnight Fee

Banana Island = P1000php/person
Pass Island = P1000php/person

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