How to choose your Island Hopping Tour in Coron (part 1)

Coron in The Philippines is a municipality in the Palawan province and is one of the two most stunning destinations to visit in Palawan (the other being El Nido). Comprising of several small inhabited as well as uninhabited islands, Coron is a nature lover's paradise! With some of the clearest lakes in Asia and blue-green waters with rich corals, diverse sea life and shipwrecks which are popular dive sites, this slice of heaven in The Philippines is a must-visit destination. If you're planning a visit, here's a guide to picking the right island hopping tour in Coron.

Here's a quick insight into understanding the geography of Palawan. Palawan is a province in The Philippines that comprises of Puerto Princessa - the capital and several other municipalities or towns such as El Nido and Coron. Coron is a municipality that encompasses the eastern part of Busuanga Island and several other smaller islands and islets. It is also a part of the larger group called Calamian Islands which consist of Busuanga Island, Calauit Island, Malcapuya Island, Banana Island and several other islands and islets.


Where to buy the Island Hopping Tour in Coron

Coron town, located on the Busuanga Island, is where most of the hotels and accommodations are located. You might want to read in detail about Everything you need to know before visiting Coron in my older post.

Firstly, you must understand that unlike El Nido, the Island Hopping Tour in Coron can differ from one tour operator to another. This means that although the names sound very familiar, the inclusions in the tour will differ from one operator to another. I would suggest purchasing your Island Hopping Tour in Coron while you're there instead of pre-booking online.

Island Hopping tour in Coron

The best way to purchase an Island Hopping Tour in Coron is either through your hotel reception desk, or a retail outlet in the town, or the flier that you'll be handed over as you get off your ferry at the pier. Feel free to compare your options, look at the inclusions and prices for each and then pick your favourite.

You have the option of either taking the group tour, a fixed tour that departs every morning from the pier (they provide hotel pick up) at 9 am and returns to the pier at 5 pm. However, if you want more flexibility in the itinerary, you can choose to do a private tour. Renting a boat, although quite expensive, means that you have the choice to go wherever you'd like and spend as much time at the place as you'd like. To save costs, I picked the fixed tours, which cost me ₱ 1,500 each, approx. This included hotel pick and drop, as well as lunch on board.

There are two types of tours that I would suggest you definitely take while you're there. One is the Ultimate Island Hopping Tour in Coron and the other is Coron Island Escapade Tour. Both of these are full day trips starting at 9 am, departing from Coron town in Busuanga Island and returning at 5 pm.

In part 1, I will talk about only the Ultimate Island Hopping Tour in Coron.


Ultimate Island Hopping Tour in Coron

Under the same name, the inclusions will vary from one operator to another. However, make sure the below places are definitely included in the tour that you pick for yourself:

  • Kayangan Lake
  • Barracuda Lake
  • Twin Lagoons
  • Skeleton Wreck
  • Coral Garden

Island hopping tour in Coron


Kayangan Lake

This is one destination that you cannot miss out on if you're visiting Coron! If you have only one full day, pick an Island Hopping Tour in Coron that takes you to this iconic clear water lake which is considered to be the clearest lake in all of Asia. Be prepared, however, to climb about 150 steps to the top before you cross over to the other side of the hill and descend to where the lake is (another 150 steps down). The breathtaking view from the top of the hill, where you'll find a queue for the viewing platform, is absolutely worth it. Do remember to carry your life jackets with you as they do not allow people to swim without one.

Visiting Coron
View from the top of Kayangan Lake's viewing platform

Once you take the steps down to the lake, you'll see a wooden platform that you can walk on and some wooden chairs to sit on if you prefer not to swim. However, the waters are so lovely that I recommend you to take a dip and even carry your snorkelling gear to enjoy the experience.

Kayangan Lake, the wooden platform

Crystal clear waters of Kayangan Lake


Barracuda Lake

Many Island Hopping Tours in Coron will have either Barracuda or Kayangan Lake in the inclusions. However, some operators do offer both in the Ultimate Island Hopping Tour in Coron package. I'd suggest picking the one which includes both.

This is a popular dive site in Coron, not for the marine life but for the terrain. Although you might catch an occasional barracuda, the limestone cliffs that are at the bottom of the lake are what'll capture one's attention. If you're not going here for diving, be sure to carry your life jackets (due to an accident a couple of years back, it has been made mandatory for non-divers to swim only with life jackets) and your snorkelling gear to be able to catch these limestone formations which are absolutely incredible!

Island Hopping Tour in Coron


Twin Lagoons

The boat docks at one of the lagoons so you have to swim through the lagoon or borrow the kayak from your ferry. As you swim across these green waters, you will see several types of fish, fine white sand, and the lagoon surrounded by limestone cliffs, forming a spectacular scene. The other lagoon is on the other side and can be visited by either climbing a ladder or swimming through a crevice under the rock. If you're not a swimmer, just relax and float with your life jacket, you'll love the experience!

The boat stops here for about 30 minutes.

Island Hopping in Coron

Island Hopping in Coron


Skeleton Wreck

Coron is a famous site for many shipwrecks. However, most of them are accessible only to certified divers. This Japenese sunken ship has been destroyed completely and there's only a skeleton remaining now. However, it isn't very deep and thus, can we viewed only by snorkelling near the surface of the water. One of those awe-inspiring snorkelling sites I have ever seen, I wish I had a better underwater camera to capture the lovely images. If you're a confident swimmer, you can take a deep breath and go all the way down to the shipwreck skeleton as well! When picking your Island Hopping Tour in Coron, make sure a visit to the Skeleton Wreck is included, it'll be worth your while!

Island Hopping in Coron


Coral Garden

Another slice of heaven for the non-certified divers, the Coral Garden is the perfect way to enjoy colourful corals and beautiful marine life, right from the surface of the water. Your boatmen will advise you to not step onto the corals as they're very precious and need to be preserved. Even before you jump into the waters, you will be able to see from the surface that the water here looks a little different. Once you have your snorkelling gear on, get ready to see some really stunning coral and fish, intriguing marine life and unparalleled sights under the waters.

Island Hopping in Coron

Island Hopping in Coron


Smith's Beach

Although this inclusion is not as important as the rest, our ferry stopped for lunch at Smith's Beach and the vibe of this really small island was amazing! Wooden beach shacks, fresh coconut water shops and eye-pleasing green waters at this little island made it the perfect spot for lunch. The ferry stops here for about 1 hour, allowing you enough time to swim or just relax by the beach.

Island Hopping in Coron

Lunch spot

There are several other spots that might be included in your Island Hopping Tour in Coron. However, the above five were my favourite and if you were to choose a private boat tour, I'd definitely recommend you to visit these spots as they were the highlights of the tour. Watch this space for Island Hopping Tour in Coron part 2!

 

Looking to go Island Hopping in SE Asia? Thailand is a great idea too. Read about Island Hopping Tours in Southern Thailand.

139 thoughts on “How to choose your Island Hopping Tour in Coron (part 1)”

  1. Your photos of the Philippines make the swimming and coastline looks stunningly beautiful. I’ve never been anywhere near it, but will have to reconsider. It’s just too lovely to pass up.

  2. I keep postponing a trip to the Philippines, but this article has me wanting to book a ticket right away. It’s good to know that it’s better to book an island hopping tour once you arrive, as I tend to plan things out before I leave home. No matter how many times I scroll through this, I can’t get over the colour of the water!

    1. I usually plan and book things in advance as well, before arriving in the country. But in some places and especially some activities, you always get the best deals at the destination rather than online.

  3. A lot of tips and very well writing. All the places are very beautiful, everyone wants to visit all those places. All the information is very helpful for all the travelers, here we can gather the knowledge how to select the best beach to visit. All of the tour pictures inspire us for traveling, I especially like the Kayangan Lake, the crystal water, and the environment. I think my next trip will be here. Keep inspiring us to travel.

  4. We spent nearly two weeks in Coron and I did the island hopping tour twice. Once was a group tour leaving from Coron Town and the second time was a private tour leaving from our hotel on a private island. I will say that the private tour was well worth it. We completely avoided all the other boats and tours that go to these places and it was much more enjoyable. We even went scuba diving at Barracuda Lake, which you definitely won’t do on the group tours leaving from Coron Town.

    1. I agree, private tour is a brilliant idea for someone who’s not on a very tight budget. As compared to other parts of the world, it’s still cheaper to rent a private boat and go around!

  5. I absolutely LOVED Coron! Kayanugan lake was super cool, and snorkeling around the skeleton wreck was incredible. Of course, part of my excitement was probably that I stayed at one of the coolest places ever when I was there. I wish I spent WAY more than 3 nights in the area. I can’t wait to go back.

  6. Wow ! It’s all so beautiful I would not know where to begin or what to choose, but you have made it quite easy with this great post. The coral gardens sound like the perfect spot for me.

    1. The Coral Garden is beautiful and you don’t even need to know how to dive for it, you can enjoy it by snorkeling as well!

  7. If we decide to visit the Philippines, Coron would have to be on the list. Love your photos of the topography and would love to snorkel or dive the coral garden. Thanks for the comprehensive article.

  8. Such a helpful post for travelers. Kayangan Lake is my favorite so far. Philippine has such variety of islands. The islands hopping is absolutely blissful and adventurous there. Loved the way you have mentioned each details. Great Post.

  9. I love that you can see the most of Coral Garden without having to scuba dive. It looks just stunning! We have been in some places in the Seychelles where the coral had died recently and all looked colorless. So sad! Obviously also fish disappeared and there was not much to see anymore. Hopefully, that won’t happen in Coral Garden.

    1. You don’t have to choose amongst these islands, Punita. You just need to choose the Island Hopping Tour that takes you to all these in a day 🙂

  10. Gosh every one of the spots on the tour looks utterly stunning! It’s so often the case in tourist hot spots that all the operators offer virtually the same tour itineraries, so it’s very handy to know that isn’t the case for island hopping tours in Coron!

  11. I have Philippines dreams!!! I really do hope to visit the country and just dip myself into the bounty of nature’s gift that it has!!!
    This is a perfect guide. Thanks you Medha.
    150 steps climb and descent is totally worth it, if you get to dip your toes into that pristine lake…

    1. Most people in Coron were local tourists from other parts of The Philippines. It’s time to explore your country’s most gorgeous waters 😉

  12. Skelton bay looks like so much fun with seeing all the shipwrecks and I just love those limestone cliffs. They look so unique and gorgeous for photos ops with the blue waters. I can see why you prefer the tour with more stops since there’s so see on Coron.

  13. What a gorgeous area of the world! I’m not usually a water person, but the kids are. I might have to change my opinion of swimming though to get to experience such beauty like this!

  14. The pics are wonderful and so is the post! Coron seems like a really nice place.. I had not heard about it before but now it is a part of my bucket list. Thanks for the addition!

  15. Oh wow, I can’t even get over the color of the water! I’d love to be able to check out the Skeleton Wreck. I’m not a scuba diver, so I like that it’s viewable from just snorkeling.

  16. This post is super useful and detailed! I can’t believe i haven’t made it to Coron yet, it looks absolutely stunning. Skeleton Wreck looks like it would be really fun to explore – I’ve never seen a shipwreck in real life before.

    1. The best part is – you can see it from the surface of the water, you just need some good snorkeling gear 🙂

  17. Love the photos. I have seen many photos of Coron, it seriously looks like paradise on earth. Kayangan Lake looks incredible 🙂 I really hope I can visit one time. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Wow, Coron is incredibly beautiful! This is great to know. Picking tours can be so overwhelming, especially when you’re not sure if you need to book ahead or not. It’s nice to know what the options are and what to expect.

  19. It’s a shame that I’m from the Philippines and have been to other countries, but I haven’t been in Coron and El Nido. I actually been planning to visit here and I’ve read a lot of great things and beautiful scenery about Palawan. Anyway, I love that you have provided us the complete guide on the Island hopping tour set up in Coron. I will definitely love to douse myself in kayangan lake and twin lagoon If I get the chance to come here soon.

    1. It’s very common for people to not have explored their own country 🙂 I am from India, yet there are so many places I haven’t been to in India! You must try to make it to Palawan though, you’ll love it.

  20. Were you from Bangkok before this trip to the Philippines? I am not sure if it was you I was with on the flight back. Anyway, Coron is indeed a beautiful and must destination for those who crave the sun and the water! Philippines can be very underrated and that’s what is so great about it too! It just gives you way more than you expected!

    1. I was not in Bangkok, Karla. I don’t think it was me 🙂 Would’ve been one amazing co-incidence though!

  21. Oh man, what a beautiful place. All of them. I think I want to explore all of the beautiful water and docks. Even Smith’s Beach because that water is so clear. I would love to spend time here. Thanks for the introduction.

  22. First of all, I love your colorful dress! It totally brings out the bright spirit of the place! I’m not really a swimmer but I would love to see Skeleton Wreck someday. Also, I’d be totally willing to climb 300 stairs for Kayangan Lake (those waters are stunning)…after all, no gain without pain!

    1. You don’t need to be a swimmer Anshula. You can wear a lifejacket to float and use snorkeling gear to view the Skeleton Wreck.

  23. The Philippines has such a soft corner in my heart that every time I see a post on it, I wanna go back. I love that country. And, Palawan is my favourite island. It has got so much to offer. love it’s water activities and beauty.

  24. Beautiful photos! I can’t believe there is a shipwreck you can free dive down to at the Skeleton Wreck, that sounds like an insane experience. I can’t believe how clear and blue the water is, it must be helpful to spot any incoming barracudas! Thanks for sharing!

    1. There were people diving in the Barracuda Lake, must’ve been an insanely beautiful experience for them! I could only snorkel, unfortunately, but even that was amazing.

  25. I loved the Philippines when we visited in 2016! So many beautiful islands, I’m sure to be back one day! Coron looks lovely, so I’ll keep your list at hand for next time!

  26. A lot of tips and very well writing. All the places are very beautiful, everyone wants to visit all those places. All the information are very helpful for all the travelers, here we can gather the knowledge how to select the best beach to visit. All of the tour pictures inspire us for traveling, I especially like the Kayangan Lake, the crystal water, and the environment of this attractive me. I think my next trip will be here. keep inspiring us for travel.

  27. Hope I can make it to Coron islands some day. I haven’t been to Philippines yet. With your suggested tours. Those waters are so alluring.

  28. Coron seems to be a lovely place. Especially Kayangan lake, it looks absolutely stunning. Will definitely add this to the list when we visit the Philippines.

  29. Gosh, it’s just stunning there! I love the idea of island hopping so that you can see them all without having to pick between them, which looks like it would be an impossible choice!

  30. I cannot believe I was so close to here last year but ended up being so sick I could not move. I did try, I got on a boat to go on a tour and sat there for about 30 seconds and had to literally run off to be sick. I will return though one day, it is a beautiful place and the people of the Philippines are such nice, friendly people. Looking at your photo’s I am so disappointed but next time.

  31. This is like a Diver’s paradise. From exotic sea life to ship wrecks, so much variety to just see under that water. And how clear the water is. I bet the visibility even with snorkeling would be high. I am confused as to where I would like to start. I guess, I will just go in the order you suggest. Thanks for the inspiration, Medha and amazing pics!

    1. If you take the full day group tour, Ami, just make sure to pick one that includes all these. Then you’ll be able to visit them all in one single day!

  32. Philippines is so dreamy. Every destination seems extraordinary. I don’t know what I should must see and what I can skip. Coron too looks beautiful. Your pictures are beautiful as always. I am surely going to refer to your post while planing a trip to Philippines.

  33. Kayangan Lake sold me! SOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL! I usually travel with my kids so the private tour is more up my alley. How much would that be in USD? We are currently planning a visit next Feb and will definitely take one of these Island hopping tours ! Thanks for the info about not booking ahead and looking at the choices when you actually get there! As someone who likes to have everything organized, it is good to know that this can be left until our arrival!

    1. It’s around USD 120 to rent a boat for the entire day and take a private tour. Not that much actually, if you think about it 🙂

  34. Thanks for the detailed post Medha! Coron is lovely and I love island hopping…so it’s certainly a perfect match 🙂

    It’s interesting how all operators offer a ‘Ultimate Island Hopping Tour in Coron’ but having a list of must-visit places certainly help. How much would a tour typically cost?

    1. This one cost Php 1,600 which is USD 30 and included lunch. Pretty reasonable for a full day trip, considering that we visited about 7 different places.

  35. Wow, the blue stunning waters are so inviting. I could dive right in! Can’t believe we missed visiting Coron when we were in the Philippines. Guess, it’s time to make a trip back. Gorgeous photography!

  36. I’ve been to Coron and I just asked reception too on what tour to take. I especially loved the one that went to Kayangan Lake and the Twin Lagoons. I would love to go back!

  37. That seemed like a fair price for the tour, pick up drop off, and lunch. You saw a lot of beautiful places. That water is real crystal clear. So nice. I would love to swim through the lagoon or sit on a floaty.

    1. It was a very good price in fact! The Philippines is cheap, you get a lot more bang for your buck there.

  38. I have a fascination for turqoise colored clear waters which are surrounded by natural hills or rocks. island hopping tour in Coron is on my wishlist now. All of these islands are worth visiting and photogenic. The waters of kayangan Lake is really clear and transparent. Coral garden is also very a very beautiful island due to spotting of colorful marine life. It is great that all these islands can be covered in one day tour.

  39. Last time I was in Coron was in 2009. Now I Kinda want to go back. There are different Islands in Coron I really felt I needed more days. we were there on a quick visit but looks like you picked good options. I would like to go diving if I could.

    1. I went diving in El Nido because I’m not certified and Coron did not have a lot of sites for non-certified divers. Next time, once I get my PADI, I’d love to return for some of the most intriguing sites.

  40. How can you pick one tour when all these islands are so beautiful? I feel like I’ve seen pictures from Kayangan Lake before, so I’d definitely want to stop there for those amazing views.

  41. How amazing are ALL of these islands! Barracuda Lake looks so beautiful, and any place called “Skeleton Wreck” has my name all over it – it’s just a shame that I can’t do diving like that, because my ears don’t equalise properly and I end up with bad ear infections after 🙁 Hopefully one day I’ll get to this part of the world, as I’d love to see it (and snaps pics of it) for myself x

    1. Becca, you have so many lovely snorkeling sites in The Philippines so even if you can’t go diving, you can still enjoy a lot of underwater sea life. The skeleton wreck also is very close to the surface and because the water is crystal clear, you can see it only with your snorkeling gear 🙂

  42. Lovely islands I am not sure, which one I would choose. Looks like a good way to spend a holiday, pick up friends and drop to one of the islands for a night. Landscapes are pretty and water is really clean.

    1. Well, you’d have to put up a tent up stay on one of the islands in this trip, and at your own risk because there really aren’t people residing on any one of them!

  43. Who needs diving gear when you can just look into the water and see all the fish! lol! This truly looks like a paradise worth visiting, and appreciate the cost analysis of which one you get the most bang for your buck with on the boat tours.

  44. Philippines’ beaches look like fairyland!! I am in love with the color of the water. The blue-green is almost too beautiful to be true. I would love to do some snorkeling there till I learn the skills of scuba diving.

    1. You could go for a discovery dive, for which you don’t need to be certified. An expert accompanies you all the way through 🙂 It’s good for a first time experience.

  45. There are four types of combinations of islands if I am not wrong that have always kept me confused, I would rather have a look at your suggestions when I make my Coron plan.

  46. Oh my god, I so want to dive into that clear blue water right now. I am planning a trip for P’Pines soon so hopefully I can check out this place. If I there right now, i would visit Coron in a flash.

  47. Coron looks like a dream. It’s at the top of my list for my next trip to the Philippines! I love how stunning and clear the water is there. I’d definitely want to visit Kayangan Lake and snorkel over Skeleton Shipwreck! So many interesting things to do so close by.

  48. So proud of the beauty of Coron which I suspect is what makes Palawan the best island in the world several years in a row now. I am a Filipina but have not been to Coron. I will take that Ultimate Tour!

    1. Coron is a popular getaway for many Filipinos too. 75% of the tourists there were actually locals visiting the island for the first time 🙂

  49. Looks like paradise! What an amazing tour offering, I’d be in absolute heaven. I’d be tempted to get a private tour, but it would be nice to meet new people on a group tour too. I’d love to freedive Skeleton Wreck, what a cool spot.

  50. The word that coming to mind as I read and saw the pictures was “paradise!” What a gorgeous place. Your description of what specific places to see on the tours was really helpful, as was the advice to book when there instead of online.

  51. Wow! What a lovely tour! Kayangan Lake looks incredibly beautiful and so does the twin lagoons and coral garden. This looks like my type of tour – nature, sea and the tranquil vibes. Thanks for sharing these beautiful photographs. You’ve inspired me to add Coron to my bucket list. 🙂

  52. Thanks for this really helpful guide because it’s really hard to plan an island-hopping trip when there are so many options as to things to do and places to see. Beautiful photos that remind me of the picturesque natural landscapes of Halong Bay, Vietnam.

  53. I’d love to do island hopping trip in the Philippines too! The water in Coron looks so clear. The Coral Garden would be my favorite place to visit.

  54. The waters in Kayangan Lake are so clear I can’t believe it! I can see why Coron is such a popular destination for island hopping. I would love to go to the Philippines and see it for myself, especially the Coral Garden. This sounds like an excellent tour.

    1. These are some of the top places to see in Coron. You can either take a fixed itinerary group ferry tour or rent a private boat and do your own 🙂

  55. I did this exact tour and had a great experience exploring all the cool attractions and especially being in that amazing water – the climb to the lake was also a wonderful experience.

  56. I would choose the Coral Garden for two reasons – I like the name, it promises a range of corals and non-certified divers like me can go. Before that, I would have to plan a trip to Philippines though 🙂

    1. That’s the best thing about the Philippines, even non-divers can enjoy the underwater sea life, the snorkelling sites are equally amazing!

  57. The Philippines look spectacular!! I have only had heard wonderful things about the archipelago. The color of the water is almost too beautiful to be true, I would love to do some snorkeling there (deep diving is way too scary for me!)
    I also read today that the government has decided to close Boracay to tourists because of the incredible pollution, which quickly deteriorates the local ecosystem. I think it’s crucial that we all respect the beautiful places we visit and realize the impact we have! <3

  58. We haven’t explored much of Asia yet but the Philippines is one destination on top of our list for those gorgeous islands and the deep blue sea. The Ultimate Island Hopping Tour sounds amazing. While Kayangan Lake looks stunning to explore and the Coral Garden sounds very intriguing. Can’t wait to the Philippines and explore these beautiful islands.

  59. This looks like some kind of paradise place. I love the crystal clear water. Island hopping sounds perfect for that location and I love the coziness and calmness in your photos. The view from Kayangan Lake looks absolutely amazing, I am sure its worth the 150 steps. But also Coral Garden and Smiths Beach look so great, not sure what would be my favourite place of all these.

    1. Haha true, I cannot pick my favourite place from these either. They were all so amazing, I’m so glad I got to visit them 🙂

  60. Wow! I’m completely speechless after reading this. The waters in Coron are so blue and translucent, I’d love to snorkel there. Actually, I’m glad you have to wear lifejackets, as I’m not the best swimmer! Barracuda Lake looks incredible, and is somewhere i’d love to explore.

    1. They have life jackets for everyone on the boat itself, you can wear it all through the tour, wherever you feel the requirement.

  61. Ahhh each time you say lifejacket I get kind of turn off (and the crowds)!? I understand the reason why its important for the organizer but coming from a person who loves to free dive the thought of not be able to free dive into that beautiful underwater life makes me feel like I am in a straitjacket! I actually took my open water padi in El nido and I know how incredible the water and the sea life there are. Wish I could explore Coron too because we never got there and all the islands around sound so mysterious and interesting!
    I cant wait to read about the other islands tour!

    1. Well, if you’re PADI certified, then you can go to the same places for diving, separately! In fact, Barracuda Lake has a diving expedition too. This tour I am talking about is just for the regular tourists, the non-certified divers, like me 😀

    1. Thanks Mayuri 🙂 There’s a part 2 coming next week, you might want to subscribe to the blog and you’ll get it in your inbox automatically 🙂

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