My cousin and I got the opportunity to spend two days in Coron, a gorgeous region in the province of Palawan. Our second and last full day there was a short one with just three destinations.
Waling Waling Island
On the way to our first stop, we learned that waling waling is the local term for orchid, which is what the island is named after. We didn’t see any orchids in bloom while we were there, but the island was beautiful and secured a spot as one of my favorite islands.
As the name suggests, there are a lot of coconut trees at Coco Beach, which is located on Bulalacao Island. We stayed here the longest because it’s where we had lunch.
On both of our days in Coron, Chia and I ate lunch by ourselves. I want to take time to note that our tour guides, Aldrine and Wendell, never came to sit with us. They would just walk over with a basket full of food, lay it out on a table, and then retreat either to the boat or somewhere else on the island. Oftentimes they’d leave before I could invite them to eat with us.
It’s such a stark contrast to tour guides in the United States, who I always see mingling and chatting with tourists.
Anyway, at this point in our time in Palawan, we had seen quite a lot of sand and ocean and trees. But what distinguished Coco Beach from the places we’d seen so far was that there were tons of hammocks all over the place! I wiggled my way into one of them and got to take a photo of myself that I’ve been dying to caption “just hanging around.” Hahaha.
Chia and I got to chat with another group of guides who were touring a group of tourists from Spain. We spent several minutes watching the guides and the tourists play basketball with each other under the midday sun. It made me really happy to see people from opposite sides of the globe connecting and enjoying each other’s company over a fun game.
While we mingled with the other tour guides, Aldrine – who we always called “Kuya,” which literally means big brother, but you can call other guys you aren’t related to Kuya as a sign of respect – told us about how he interacted with Chinese tourists. Some could barely speak English, so he’d use “sign language.” That meant pointing at things and making motions, like touching the tips of his fingers together and putting them to his mouth to tell them it was time to eat.
I had so much fun getting to talk to people who lived in Coron. And Aldrine’s story was such a nice reminder that language isn’t an absolute barrier when it comes to communicating with different people.
Malcapuya Island (?)
I have a question mark next to this because I don’t exactly remember the name of our final stop for that day D: I was frequently jotting down notes throughout the trip but for some reason I didn’t write down the name of our final stop in Coron. I think this was the name of the island, though, and so does my cousin.
We used the time we had left there to sit on the sand and wade in the water.
Back to Coron
On our way back to Coron, I took the opportunity to sit near the front of the boat. I’d seen a lot of other people do it in El Nido and it looked like a fun way to enjoy the view. With no one else trying to do that in Coron since it was just Chia and me, I got the front seat to the ocean view in front all to myself. Photos don’t do the experience any justice.
(They also don’t capture the loud rumbling of the motor in the boat and the mixed scent of diesel fumes and salty ocean water 😛 )
I wouldn’t recommend doing this if you get motion sickness easily. If you don’t, it’s pretty relaxing to watch the waves rolling. The movement of the waves reminded me of the way a beach towel looks while you’re waving it around to get the sand out – except a lot more slowly.
We were only there for two days but I quickly grew fond of the view we got to see whenever we got close to docking. It was of Mt. Tapyas. Even in the distance, you can read the word CORON at the top.
DAY 3/Mount Tapyas/Travel Day
We didn’t have a real Day 3 in Coron, but because we had a vacant morning before we headed back to El Nido, I took the opportunity to climb up to Mount Tapyas to see the sunrise.
The hotel we stayed at was literally a one-minute walk from the beginning of the 700+ steps it takes to get to the top. I made the ascent in flip flops that were dying a slow death because that was the only footwear I’d brought to Palawan. (Who needs shoes when you’re going to be at the beach 99 percent of the time, right?) My flip flops had been submerged in water and walked numerous steps on sand with me. That morning, they climbed up and down a total of 1,400+ uneven concrete steps with me.
Getting to the top of Mount Tapyas was a great workout. Once I got up there, I took time to just soak in the view and the soft morning light. It was beautiful to witness the town slowly come to life, although it was already pretty lively already so early. From the top I could hear roosters cockadoodledooing, a vehicle honking in the distance, birds chirping, dogs howling, the soft rumbling of tricycles in the distance, and women laughing.
Right at the top of the stairs is a concrete space where you can see a ginormous cross, as well as views of Coron from up high.
There are also some dirt trails around the side, which I decided to explore a little bit. There were only a few people there and it felt quieter compared to the concrete space.
There were no turquoise waters within sight at Mount Tapyas, but it was a highlight. It’s a place to make time for in Coron. And I think it’s a good idea to go early both so you can see the sunrise and so you don’t have to tire yourself out while the sun is overhead.
Back to El Nido
After climbing back down from Mount Tapyas, Chia and I grabbed some breakfast, packed our things, and headed off toward the ferry terminal to spend the night in El Nido.
The next day, we’d head to our final Palawan destination: Puerto Princesa.
Coron felt a lot quieter and calmer than El Nido, and that’s one of the reasons I loved it. It was refreshing to experience a mellower vibe after being in El Nido where it was always so lively.
Our tour guides were also really awesome. At the end of both the days we went on those tours, they always gave us P30 for our tricycle fare. I’m not sure if that was included in the price we paid for the tour or if it was voluntary (my guess is the former), but in any case, that’s a good way to make an positive impression on visitors.
While I usually prefer to explore new places, I really would love to come back to Coron some day.