Busuanga Island, Palawan’s Last Frontier

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The Php150 (approximately $3) hot spring is open everyday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.  The Philippines’ Palawan province is home to the Calamian Group of Islands, the largest of which is the island of Busuanga. Having both a rich World War II history and thriving coral reefs, the island attracts many people looking for aquatic experiences.

Interesting fact: the American navy sank twelve Japanese ships along the Busuanga coast during World War II.

Coron Town in the south is the main tourist hub, as it serves as access to other popular areas such as Twin Lagoons and Baraccuda Lake. Despite the island’s reputation as a great place to go diving and island hopping, the town is often overlooked by visitors. The northern part of Busuanga is less well-known to tourists, making it a pristine paradise ideal for canoeing, swimming, and other outdoor pursuits.

The first question is, though: Busuanga or Coron? I’m confused.

Don’t worry; I thought the same thing at first. In a Google picture search for Busuanga Island, 90% of the results are actually of Coron Island. The authors don’t exactly make things simple, so allow me to explain.

LOOK | Coron Town and Busuanga Island Map
LOOK | Coron Town and Busuanga Island Map

Coron is a town, a municipality, and an island off the southeastern coast of Busuanga. It’s also where all those stunning Instagram photos are taken. If you book a hotel in Coron Town, you will actually be staying on Busuanga Island and not Coron Island. To get from Coron Town to Coron Island, you’ll need a Bangka (Filipino boat).

History of Busuanga Island

Busuanga Island, Palawan
Busuanga Island, Palawan

As the main entry point to one of the Philippines’ most rapidly developing and well-liked tourist hotspots—Coron—the recent history of Busuanga has revolved around the hospitality industry.

This stunning region of the country has been a destination for visitors for centuries, but it has a rich history that dates back millennia to that.

The indigenous Tagbanua people of the Calamianes Islands trace their ancestry back to the legendary Tabon Man.

Courtship dance practice among the Tagbanua.
Courtship dance practice among the Tagbanua.

The Tabon Man was unearthed on the island of Palawan, and his bones are thought to be the Philippines’ oldest modern human remains.

Tagbanua civilization flourished there for millennia, and even after the Spanish colonial empire began to control the Philippines, this territory remained on the empire’s periphery.

When the Japanese took control of the region during World War II, they transformed the numerous bays into safe havens for their navy.

Many Japanese vessels were sunk by American bombing, however, and these vessels are today popular diving locations.

Mass immigration from islands like Cebu and Luzon after the war pushed the indigenous Tagbanua to the periphery of Busuanga. Since then, the island’s economy and infrastructure have flourished thanks to the influx of tourists.

The Best Way to Get to Busuanga Island

The quickest and most convenient method to get to Coron is via plane. Francisco B. Reyes Airport, located near Busuanga, is less than an hour away from the town of Coron.

Busuanga (Coron) Airport PAL Express flight
Busuanga (Coron) Airport PAL Express flight

The following airlines fly from Manila to Busuanga and return.

  • Cebu Pacific Airlines
  • The PAL Express (Philippine Airlines)
  • SkyJet AirAsia Zest (Zest Air)

PAL Express also flies to Puerto Princesa from Busuanga and vice versa.

You can take a van from the airport to Coron for P150 per person or P1500 if you book the full van.

Where Can I Stay in Busuanga?

There are a number of options, and you can’t go wrong with any of them while planning your visit.

Sanctuaria Treehouses

Unique among treehouse resorts in Palawan, Sanctuaria Treehouses offers travelers a taste of the island’s rich history and culture. Set in a remote part of the jungle, you’ll feel like you’ve left the bustle of Coron Town far behind.

When you reach the top of the treehouses, you can look out over the surrounding mangroves, rivers, and Busuanga Bay. The sky is filled with stars at night, and the lights of Coron Town can be seen off in the distance. Refresh in the pool (one of the only pools in the area), kayak or paddleboard through the mangrove forests, or let Buhay, Sanctuaria’s four-legged tour guide, take you to Concepcion Waterfall.

Garden of Eden

This simple farmstay is ideal for minimalist travelers.
This simple farm stay is ideal for minimalist travelers.

Located on Busuanga’s eastern coast, close to the quaint village of Santo Nio, lies the eco-friendly Garden of Eden farm stay. It’s just a simple bamboo hut in the shape of a triangle, with a loft that goes up two stories.

Guests are welcome to tour the farm at will, taking in the beautiful scenery and interacting with the free-range pigs, goats, dogs, cats, turkeys, and ducks. A pet of any species will approach you with its own unique characteristics and seek affection. Horseback riding (about 1,000 PHP), bay kayaking, scuba diving, and island hopping are just a few of the adventures that may be arranged with the help of the innkeepers, Eden and Gunther.

Best Activities on Busuanga Island

1. Climb Mt. Tapyas’ 721 steps.

Mount Tapyas viewpoint in Coron
Mount Tapyas viewpoint in Coron

Most visitors to Coron Town visit Mount Tapyas, one of its two primary attractions. Another is Maquinit Hot Springs. As you explore Coron Town, you may see a large white cross with the letters “C.O.R.O.N.” on a hill. Mount Tapyas. This view of Coron Island and the landscape is popular. If you add this to your itinerary, be prepared to walk 721 steps in broad sunlight. The 30-minute walk to the top has little cover. The sunset view from the summit is amazing. The trail begins at K-Heights Inn.

2. Take a Hike Up Mount Darala

Mount Tundalara (sometimes spelled Mt. Dalara) is an excellent option if you want to walk somewhere a little more difficult than the stairways of Mt. Tapayas. Mount Darala, at an elevation of 600 meters, is the island’s highest peak.

The trail begins near a little cemetery and, after a brief stint in the trees, emerges onto an exposed section of the trail proper. The heat can be scorching, and there is no shade to escape it. You should bring a hat, sunscreen, and lots of water.

The day-long journey from Coron Town is strenuous, but once you arrive, you’ll have the place to yourself.

3. Take a dip in the Maquinit Hot Springs

Maquinit Hot Springs at Dusk
Maquinit Hot Springs at Dusk

On the island of Busuanga, the Maquinit Hot Springs are among the most appealing attractions. After a long day of island hopping, relax in the natural hot springs just a short tricycle ride from Coron Town and take in the intense and flaming sunset.

It’s possible to purchase refreshing beverages before kicking back in the warm waves and taking in the natural beauty of the mangroves and surrounding countryside. Whatever you do, just let yourself completely unwind in the soothing warmth of the water. The hot spring is available daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the cost to enter is Php150 (about $3).

4. Take pictures on top of Mount Talapay

At Mt. Talapay in Decabobo, Coron, Palawan, experience life and environment.
At Mt. Talapay in Decabobo, Coron, Palawan, experience life and the environment.

Mt. Talapay is an artificially constructed lookout point in eastern Busuanga. The grounds may still be under development, but there are many picturesque backdrops for your Instagram posts. You may relax in a human-sized bird’s nest or swing from a tree, and there’s even a fanciful seating area shaped like a windswept heart.

There is a little restaurant there where you may try some of the local dishes and drink some of the fresh coconut wine. To get away from the throng and take in breathtaking views of the sea and other islands, spend the afternoon atop Mt. Talapay.

5. Swing at Concepcion Falls

Concepcion Falls, Coron

The trail leads to a gorgeous natural pool surrounded by enormous trees, damp moss, and greenery. The bluish-green river shimmers as sunlight shines through the trees. Erosion exposes trees’ winding roots in the water. A little cave with an orange rope swing sits left of the waterfall. I swayed here listening to water dripping for a few minutes. The surrounds make Concepcion Falls worth visiting, not the falls themselves.

6. Swim with the sea mermaids, Dugong

Dugong of Busuanga Island
Photo Credit: World Wildlife.org

Dugongs, long assumed to be mermaids, are herbivorous mammals found in warm coastal waters from the western Pacific Ocean to the eastern coast of Africa. Sea cows, often known as manatees, are gentle and fat. Fishing-related mortality, habitat degradation, and killing have gravely endangered the species. Some conservation organizations are trying to save this species. Dugongs, the first Philippine marine mammal to be protected, are still found in Northern Busuanga.

The eco-friendly North Busuanga Dugong Dive Center is the greatest place to see these gentle critters. This team of conservationists and Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel lets you see Dugongs in their natural habitat.

7. Discover the Busuanga River

Located to the north of Coron Bay, Busuanga River is a popular local destination that receives fewer tourists. The river meanders through the island’s interior, passing via settlements and mangrove groves at the northwest corner. In addition to exploring the river on your own, many hotels along the northwest coast also provide tours of the Busuanga River. The River House will transport you upstream on a tiny bangka, stopping at the village of Panggawaran, and the Busuanga Bay Lodge will take you on a relaxing twilight cruise along the river.

Busuanga River
Busuanga River

Would you like to visit Busuanga Island? What exciting experiences have we failed to have? Share with us in the comments your experiences on Busuanga island.

Read more about Calamian Islands of Palawan here.

If you decide to check out Palawan, our small family operation organizes private custom boat tours through the Palawan area, voted the best island in the world, with its 52 pristine white sand beaches and some of the clearest waters in the world 

Palawan Boat Tours - Cebu - Things You Need to Know

Experience the thrill of island hopping in the Philippines.

Home » Palawan » Explore » Busuanga Island, Palawan’s Last Frontier

05:51 03 Apr 24
I give 5 stars because they actually helped me to arrange the tour to Balabac in last minute. However, because the money wired through the local bank in my country took time to be processed, so i missed the boat due to peak season as many people paid before my money was received by the tour guide.As most of people usually feel, once your money has been transferred out to someone you do not know, you probably frustrated that your money would not be able to be refunded.But not in my experience. I dont need to be worry, the owner refunded me the money he has received (minus the bank fees). He promised to refund me and he did it. It was around 18.700 Pesos.So, eventhough i didn't manage to go with the tour, but i am really satisfied with their legitimate and great business practice. Hopefully, people will try their services and not worry about their legit business!Thanks a lot!
Chloe BlanchardChloe Blanchard
13:38 27 Mar 24
The most wonderful experience from booking to beach! Karel and Mel were so fast and responsive to my very last minute trip over the holidays. We booked a private boat for two and could not have been happier with our four day trip! We didn’t think about anything other than snorkeling the entire time. Linda, our captain, cooked wonderful meals and took us to totally empty beautiful beaches. We loved staying the night in Pical especially! Wonderful to experience the Philippines this way! Will come back again and would recommend to anyone!
hotel luci del farohotel luci del faro
08:13 31 Jan 24
We booked the 3 day 2 night expedition, from Coron to Sibaltan.First of all the booking part was really simple. I organized this trip to the Philippines last minute for my family (my parents and my uncles) but Karel answered all my questions very quickly and really made everything easier for me. It was an incredible experience. Albert, our tour leader, is a wonderful guy, always smiling and ready to help us. They assisted us in everything and really took care of making everything go smoothly. The accommodation on the islands is as spartan as you expect but the location of each hut alone is worth the trip. The wonder of nature was then added to the goodness of cuisine. It's really difficult to argue how you can cook all that goodness on a boat.If you are looking for an authentic experience, in contact with nature, off the beaten track, this company's private expedition is certainly for you.
Kate BrownKate Brown
00:22 27 Oct 23
What an unforgettable experience! We did a two night (3 day) island hopping tour from Sibaltan to Coron. Everything was so well organized and the boat crew were amazing and really made sure we had a great time. The accommodation was rustic, but added to the authentic experience of the Philippines. Karel always responded to any queries we had promptly. Our boatman, Albert, was the most amazing chef and we enjoyed every meal. The crew taught the kids how to fish with a line which was their highlight of the trip. They took us to the most unbelievable snorkelling spots along the way. Would highly recommend this trip.
Ian PascualIan Pascual
02:43 10 Aug 23
One of the most amazing, unforgettable things you can do in your life
Lou PrataliLou Pratali
11:04 25 Jul 23
This is a must to do!!Super ultimate tour is the best with Kayangan and barracuda lake, twin lagoons (my favorite), coral garden (blue fabulous coral) were the best. It’s really worth it to pay for private tour (3500 to 4000 PHP). You will also have to pay for entrance fees (150 to 200PHP by location) and eventually shopping at the market - must do (count 300 for 2 for fish, pork, fruits and vegetables, water).
16:11 07 Feb 23
I was looking for a personalized excursion to the stunning Bacuit Gulf.Based on the comments, I contacted Mel.Very responsive, very efficient and perfect organization.The on-board staff were very friendly and very helpful.And I'm not even talking about the meal on board...a marvel.In all fairness, this excursion will remain an excellent memory and I cannot recommend Mel and his team highly enough.A big thank-you.
Alyse TarbottonAlyse Tarbotton
23:48 30 Aug 22
This tour went well above all our expectations! I couldn't recommend this enough! The boat crew, captain and tour guide were nothing but amazing, everyone was so kind, helpful and friendly. The crew knew the best spots to visit that weren't overcrowded with tourists, 3 times we were lucky enough to have whole islands to ourselves! It was my partner's birthday while away and everything went above and beyond, bonfire, cake, birthday card, singing and celebrating with us.If you love camping this is definitely a tout you should do, it has been the highlight of our trip!!
Danish KayaniDanish Kayani
10:24 31 Oct 19
Coron is the best place i have ever seen.. picturesque. Beautiful. Peaceful
We booked a 4 days/3 nights private boat trip from Coron to Sibaltan. The organization went very well from the beginning, the owner answered to all my questions, and we were able to choose which islands to visit and where to sleep. The first night we slept in a bungalow in Banana Island, the second we camped in Araw beach and the last we slept in a seafront bungalow builded on a tree in Pical on Iloc Island.The islands in that area are the most beautiful islands I have ever seen, with clear water, lots of coral reef and fishes to see, white sand and almost deserted. The crew was very friendly and polite and they organize every single meal and for camping they give you a tent which was just perfect! This was our highlight in our 2 weeks in the Philippines and I wish I had booked a longer trip. A private trip gives you the freedom to decide where and when to go.
Gérard Benoit
Gérard Benoit
I was looking for a personalized excursion to the beautiful bay of Bacuit. Seeing the comments, I contacted Mel. Very responsive, very efficient and perfect organization. The crew were very friendly and very helpful. And I'm not even talking about the meal on board...a marvel. In all fairness, this excursion will remain an excellent memory and I can recommend Mel and his team highly enough. A big thank-you.
André Mardoñal
André Mardoñal
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The island world of Linapacan between Coron and El Nido with the clearest waters in the world is truly a dream for itself! Without a boat you won't be able to see it! But what this boat trips makes so amazing is the crew! Once you come on board they might be shy in the beginning but will make you feel welcome and home from the first moment. Not only that they are looking that you sit comfortable all the time, they will prepare fresh and delicious food what the buy from local markets. They know the best spots and most beautiful islands and will bring you to places where you get this "Robinson Cruisoe feeling". Every day you visit 3 to 5 spots for snorkeling, enjoying a beach or exploring a little island. The accommodation we had was good and simple. We slept in bungalows and tents right at the beach. Sheets and towels were always provided and sometimes towels. After a while you feel like a family on board. We loved living the boat life didn't wanna leave! If you doubt take a longer than shorter trip! For any questions please message me.
Sarah Uhan
Sarah Uhan
All in all it was a really great experience. It's a once in a lifetime thing to do and you won't get more authentic and basic Philippino experiences anywhere else. We were not so lucky with the wind and waves so we couldn't do all the stops we wanted to unfortunately. So be aware that especially the months from January to May can be very rough on water. But we still saw some great places Benji took us. Benji and his family was very nice and they did everything they could. The food was amazing - always freshly made in authentic Philippino style and way too much for the 2 of us. Make sure to bring enough cash - many of the islands cost extra (entrance fee) and be aware that any kind of accommodation and food (200php per meal) is not included in the boat fee. Also the deposit and commission fee for the agency are a little over the top, especially since the crew does not get any of it. The costs all in all are rather high for phillipino circumstances especially given the basicness of it all. However if you think about that all 5 boat people (in our case) live off of the boat fee alone, you spent the money willingly. Be aware though that accommodation and sanataries are very basic if even existant. So you gotta have the right mindset. Bring tissue, sanatiszer and earplugs to get some better sleep. Another feedback I have concerning the size of the boat. I don't think it is sufficient for more than 4 people. If the weather is like it was these days, you always have to sit on top and it was already a little squeezy with us 2 and 5 boat people. So I guess 4 guests can be fine but more than that won't have the space. There is different boat sizes but make sure to talk about that with Karel in advance. Other than that it was really worth it and we got to see so many great beaches and reefs which we could have never been able to visit without the tour.
Eric Liu
Eric Liu
It was scary to book a 5 day trip with no places to stay confirmed or a strong itinerary. And in the Philippines, communication is difficult. But that is part of changing mindsets to a rural island mindset. In the end, everything worked out. We had some tough moments with bugs. But we also had some amazingly beautiful secluded beaches, the best snorkeling in the world, relaxing on the beach, and freshly made food on the boat while docked at beautiful places (better than being on land). Note, we went with Benji. Recommendations: - you must get a local SIM when you arrive to make sure pickup and everything works out - some islands have bugs - use bug spray! Pros: - a fraction of the cost - away from the crowds - can customize what you want - just ask! - a truly local experience - saw a REAL rural town Cons: - locals aren't really polished tour guides - if you don't ask for it, you won't get it, need to be pretty proactive - pretty simple "activities" - no frills like bathrooms or kayaks etc.
Ángela Deand
Ángela Deand
We can't be more grateful to have had the opportunity of experience the peace in Patoyo Kitesurfing Camping! Spending two weeks in Dimancal Island, gave us the chance to experiment the rural and traditional way of life, in touch with the nature and people. We have learnt how to cook with fire, how to open a coconut and how to survive in an environment where for a time we forget about unnecessary needs, just to focus on enjoy the small details and pleasures of life. Mentioning too the amazing snorkeling and beautiful islands around this place, which make it unique​ and special. It is a lovely option if you are running away from tourists and overcrowded places in the Philippines. You will find yourself in the middle of virgin beaches and nature, surrounding​ by charming people. We will definitely come back!
Caroline Danielle
Caroline Danielle
We haven't done a Tao tour, but I would suspect that this is a cheaper version of the same thing. Our boat operator (Benji) and the entire crew were were fun, friendly and made an effort to ensure we had a good time. If you get a large group of people together it can be a really inexpensive alternative to other Coron-El Nino and vice versa island hopping tours. The food was good, but more expensive than as advertised by Karl. The price quote we got was 100 php a meal, but the boat charged us 200. Since the food was good we didn't mind the extra expense, but it is important to keep in mind if you're on a budget. Definitely plan for some incidental spending. Our boat did have some mechanical issues and as a result we ended up being stuck in the same place for longer than we wanted to be. That being said, little could have been done about it and the trip was fun nonetheless.
Hauk Are Fjeld
Hauk Are Fjeld
If you believe that doing the touristic tours in El Nido and going to "The hidden beach" takes you off the beaten path, you are wrong. There are lots of beautiful places in Palawan, but few of these places are without any other tourists. If you want to spend some extra effort on getting away from the tourist places, and don't mind a little "primitive" living, Island Hopping in the Philippines is definitely something you should check out
Arnold Cabiguen
Arnold Cabiguen
The snorkeling in this area is phenomenal. Clearest waters in the world. I guess it's because there is relatively such lower tourist traffic through here, and the locals really protect the reefs!
Karel Kosman
Karel Kosman
Love it so much, just had to say it twice!

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