Busuanga Island, Palawan’s Last Frontier


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.

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 beautiful Gulf of Bacuit.Seeing the comments, I contacted Mel.Very responsive, very efficient and perfect organization.The flight attendants 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.

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