Writing this responsible tourism guide on alternative things to do in Coron Island, Philippines, I focus on activities other than organised tours. The true is that visiting Coron, the most beautiful is the island hopping tour where you can see the Twin Lagoon or Kayangan Lake. However, Coron is not just that, as the Busuanga Island (with Coron town) is also worth discovery. You can see few interesting places on the island, the best beach without taking a boat, support local communities and learn about the native people life. If you are not a big fan of tours and want to discover the island by yourself, this responsible guide to Coron (Busuanga) is definitely for you.
Alternative things to do in Coron Island
Being a responsible tourist in Coron Island is quite easy. It doesn’t take much effort to find alternatives, support local communities and chose responsible activities. What’s more, you will discover off the beaten path spots in Coron. For instance, you can see the tribal village, remote white sand beach, stay on inhabited island and soak in unique hot spring. I will show you how to manage alternative things to do in Coron without a tour agency.
1. Visit Marcilla village with the best sandy beach in Coron
One hour by motorbike from Coron town, we arrived to Marcilla. The best sandy beach in Coron is just near the Marcilla village. White sands, shallow blue waters and long empty beach is a real gem of Coron. Almost nobody was there.
Thanks to the Couch Surfing host in Coron, I managed to see simple life of the local tribal community. Native people from there struggle to keep their lands far from the investors. One lady we met here – Anita – which is active in the community says, that they want to keep their properties for people from Coron. They grow their own vegetables and fruits to keep as much sustainable as possible. We visited very simple wooden house of Anita and her garden with organic plants. She says she does not need much more from life, she is happy.
People sell their crops in the town, especially cashew nuts which are a speciallity of this region. It was the first time for me to try fresh cashew nuts straight from the tree. I didn’t even know that the seeds have dangerous acid on the skin. After cutting the nut with a cashew breaker, I had to wipe it with a tissue to remove the acid. A fresh cashew tastes so good and natural. Even bigger surprise I encountered, when it came to eating the cashew fruit, which was so juicy and delicious.
Buying cashews or fruits from Coron, supports local communities and their small businesses. You can get very cheap cashew nuts pretty much in every store in Coron. They also try to make jam out of the cashew fruits.
2. Stay overnight on not inhabited island
Local communities from Marcilla village grow seaweeds on the little island near the coast. Nobody lives there, people come there by boats to collect the seaweeds. Anita told us that for 500 pesos we can ask for a boat which will bring us there and leave for the night. There is a simple wooden house to stay overnight and no extra charge for that. The next morning the boat comes to pick up the guests. Sounds like a unique experience, right?
3. See houses on stilts
Looking for more of a local experiences? See how locals live in the wooden house on the water front. Coron town is touristic, however if you just walk along the coast, you will notice lots of houses built on the stilts, standing in the water. The pollution is incredible and the water is black and stinky. Some of them still no not have canalisation. It was thrilling to see one of the simple houses like that. You can find lots of houses on stilts in Coron town, just walking along the sea.
4. Visit Maquinit hot spring
Hot spring is one of the main attractions on the Coron Island. The entrance fee is 150 pesos. You can get there walking 40 min from Coron town. Maquinit is one of the very few saltwater hot springs in the world. Near, there are some nice beaches as well, called Bali Beach and Cabo Beach.
5. Sunset on Tapyas Hill
The last day of my stay in Coron, I climbed up the Tapyas Hill with the cross on th top and the big sign “Coron”. Apparently, it’s the second highest peak on the Coron Island. Panoramic view on the islands around, Coron port from above and the stunning colors made this sunset one the most beautiful I have ever seen. Highly recommend climbing those over 700 steps, because it’s worth it!
6. Try local food
When I travel, I try to support local communities. I am not interested to eat western food in Asia and avoid touristic restaurants. I quickly noticed, the fancy, good-looking restaurants are for tourists and the simple stands for locals. You can recognise them by silver pots standing in front of the shop. Some of them serve only take away food, some have tables and chairs. The price is very low, around 70 pesos per meal and food is home made and healthy. From my favorite tries in Coron was jack fruit curry with dried fish and peanut butter curry with spinach. Apart from those, you will find various street food options, from which the most popular are barbeque on the stick. Walking around the streets of Coron, do not hesitate to open any lid of the pot, that is a normal thing to check what’s in there.
Becoming a responsible tourist
When it comes to saving the environment, every bit helps. Our daily decisions when traveling matter in terms of carbon emission, waste and many other aspects. Every step farther makes us more ethical consumers and more responsible traveler with impact on more sustainable environment. It’s an investment in the future, good future for all of our planet and us.