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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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