the surprises of Coron Town

After arriving at the Busuanga (Coron) airport aboard Cebu Pacific 80-seater plane, we easily found our way to Coron town without prior transport arrangements. The new concrete road from the airport winds through the hilly interior of Busuanga Island, across agricultural lands and through small villages where a few fruit trees and small plantations are evident. The hilltops are largely brown and barren; valleys on the hillsides that have natural springs still show abundant growth of trees and shrubs. It is mid-morning when we reached Coron town.

Our plan was to go straight to Culion Island via motorized banca. On the port we were advised that all boat trips were cancelled due to a typhoon coming from the Visayas Region. We’re left with no other option but to look for accommodation and stay in Coron.

It looked like its going to be a dull Wednesday afternoon, whiling away the hours at the Coron Pension House. This news of typhoon Ramon has taken the fiesta out of my day. The sky was dark since we arrive and I could see black clouds dancing in formation. The wind picked up and then it began to rain. Wowoo and I decided to grab a late lunch at the Centro Coron Restaurant where I ate the most disgusting Beef Caldereta. The meat’s not even tender. I had to have it cooked again but still wasn’t able to eat it after.”. We walked again and looked for other restaurants in town. The rain poured continuously as we try to take shelter under a small floral faded umbrella borrowed from the receptionist at the pension house. The government truck slowly passed us by. It has a big speaker on top of it with a man loudly broadcasting that Typhoon Ramon will have its landfall 4pm that afternoon and boats were prohibited to sail. The man said the typhoon will continue until Friday. The advisory was repeated till it echoed my ear as the truck went farther.

Looking a bit disappointed we still stayed positive and thought it’s a good thing we’re staying there for a week. We waited for the “calm after the storm” to start island hopping and camping and stick to our itinerary.

While in the island, we spent our time learning about the small town.

Busuanga is the biggest island in the Calamianes Group ofIslands. It has two municipalities: Busuanga (West) and Coron (East).

Coron town is evidently transitioning from a small fishing village to a modest tourist town: with shiny new banks, rustic bars and charming restaurants offering local and international cuisine. Everything you need is seemingly within walking distance from your hotel. You can trek to the Mt.Tapyas to see the whole city of Coron.

FOOD

Aside from the street foods such as isaw, bbq, chicken feet, banana cue and kamote cue, there are a lot of carinderias in town offering Filipino foods. You’ll find these along Don Pedro St. near the marketplace. But is you want options and craving for some international cuisines, try:

unique chimes at the Kawayanan Grill

Kawayanan Grill – they got the name from the word “kawayan” which means bamboo. The place is in a small garden set up with small nipa huts that gives cozy ambiance. The menu offers mostly Filipino food but they also have Italian food. Try their hot Calamansi Juice and Bistek Tagalog.

Sea Dive Restaurant – located at the ground floor of Sea Dive Hotel. This restaurant offers international cuisine. The price is a bit expensive compared to other restaurants in town but all menus are on big servings. Try Classic Breakfast and Watermelon Shake.

B.O.G Coffee Shop

B.O.G. Coffee Shop – located alongNational Highway at the corner of Burgos St. The best place to end your Mt.Tapyas trek. They offer good hot coffee and frappes ranging from 115 – 145 pesos. They also have cakes and pastries.

 BARS

entrance to the Kweba Bar

Kweba Bar – located along National Highway. At first you wouldn’t recognize that there’s a bar there unless you go inside the Kweba Arts and Crafts Shop. There’s a stairway going underground, entrance to the Kweba Bar. You’ll be greeted by guys on dread locks. With that look you’ll know what type of music they play. The bar’s ethnic and exquisite interior makes it unique from other bars you’ll see in town and in Metro Manila. Music instruments like didgeridoo, bongos, guitars and some other ethnic ones I don’t know what’s called are appealing to the musician and curious customers. We’ve met the owner Rodney who said he has just recently opened the bar. He wanted something unconventional which will enthrall both local and foreign customers. I can say he reached that goal. Not an hour of drinking there, we became friends with the two Aussies Jono and Anthony who were also amazed at the eccentricity of the bar.

Subasco Bar – Subasco or “storm by the sea” is a newly opened bar and restaurant. It offers a wide variety of liquors and cocktails. At night the bar is converted to a club with live bands and djs. From town you need to ride a tricycle to Subasco. Fare is 10 pesos each.

mini museum at the Hell Diver's Bar

Hell Divers Bar – located at the Sea Dive Resort, this bar showcases the vintage war materials used during the World War II. It has one billiard table almost at the center of the bar which you can use for free. Try their rum coke for only 50 pesos a glass.

 BANKS/ATM

They have BPI, Allied and Landbank but I suggest bringing enough money or better to bring extra. The lines are queuing on day time and sometimes not all ATMs allow cash withdrawals, just balance enquiry.

HOTELS

sunset from the view deck of Sea Dive Hotel

Coron is a place where you don’t need to worry about hotels. Expensive and cheap hotels are sprouting like mushrooms everywhere. We stayed at Coron Reef Pension House along National Rd and our two nights in Coron was spent in Sea Dive Resort. Both of these accommodations are walking distance from the marketplace and nearby shops, restaurants and banks. A fan room at Coron Reef Pension House costs 600 per day and fan room in Sea Dive costs 800 pesos. Sea Dive sits at the end of the short pier. Considering that it’s a fairly new hotel, the amenities and ambiance is way better than Coron Reef Pension House. Contact details below:

Coron Reef Pension House – Contact: 09183361661,

Sea Dive Resort – email: seadive@seadiveresort.com, Contact: 09209458714

SOUVENIR SHOPS

You’ll see a lot of souvenir shops in town but the shops that sell unique accessories, native musical instruments and interior displays are the Asiano Arts and Crafts at the entrance of Darayonan Hotel along National Road.

You’ll also find unique ethnic accessories at the Kweba Arts and Crafts also along National Road.

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