Busuanga / Coron Palawan
Busuanga / Coron is one of the most beautiful Philippine cruising destinations, offering a wide variety of experiences as well as typhoon-safe moorings and anchorages. Busuanga Island, the largest island in the Calamian Island Group, is comprised of the municipalities of Busuanga (West half) and Coron (East half); the whole island (and the island's 123 siblings in the Calamian Island Group) provide a very special cruising adventure that may keep you transfixed for as long as a month, or more . . . some visitors decide to stay and put down roots.
The Calamian (or Kalamian) Island Group is located at the extreme northwest of the province of Palawan. The island group comprises 124 islands and islets and is surrounded by crystal clear water throughout the year. The largest islands in the group are Busuanga Island and Culion Island.
Busuanga / Coron is most famous for its collection of Japanese, World War II wrecks. All sunk on the 24th September, 1944, as Allied Forces pushed to liberate the Philippines from the occupying Japanese Forces.
One of the modern features of Busuanga Island is the many hectares of uncharted, commercial pearl farms spanning the bays and inlets to the West of Coron town. These pearl farms attest to the cleanliness of the water but pose a significant navigational hazard to yachts during low visibility and at night. Best advice: do not cruise close to the southern fringes of Busuanga Island, West of Coron town, after dark.
Marinas In Busuanga / Coron
Busuanga Bay Lodge Marina
The Busuanga Bay Lodge, located less than a mile to the West of the Busuanga Yacht Club (see below) has recently installed a pontoon-berth marina facility capable of handling up to five visiting yachts, up to at least 60-foot in length - the largest visiting yacht so far has been a 62-foot Lagoon catamaran.
Facilities include power, plus water & fuel supplies, and access to the Busuanga Bay Lodge resort. The resort offers accommodation, dining and local tourism information, and can arrange excursions to suit most ambitions in the context of a first class tropical paradise location.
Although the marina facility is not completely safe from typhoons, in the adjacent coves and river estuary you can find safe anchorage to last out all but the most severe of Nature's fury.
Visit the Busuanga Bay Lodge website for contact information: www.busuangabaylodge.com
Marina Del Sol Resort
The Marina Del Sol Resort (formerly the Puerto Del Sol Resort), is the location of the Busuanga Yacht Club (see below) is in the process of installing Mediterranean-style marina floating-berths to the East of the property. The marina berths will provide fuel and water for visiting yachts.
Facilities for visiting yacht will include water & fuel supplies, and access to the Busuanga Yacht Club. The Marina Del Sol Resort offers accommodation, dining and local tourism information, and can arrange excursions around this first class tropical paradise location.
The Marina Del Sol Resort marina facility will be sheltered from all but the most severe typhoons.
Visit the Marina Del Sol Resort website for contact information for more information: www.marinadelsol.ph
Moorings In Busuanga / Coron
Busuanga Yacht Club
The Busuanga Yacht Club is located on the southwest corner of Busuanga Island and sits at the entrance to a river estuary. The deep estuary has a dog-leg around the Marina Del Sol peninsular that provides an effective typhoon shelter. The Marina Del Sol Resort is the home of the Busuanga Yacht Club although the resort's main business is providing scuba diving adventures and an escape from Manila for those in need of tranquility. There are currently 14 swing moorings provided, spanning both sections of the dog-leg; the westerly moorings being preferred if there is no storm in the vicinity as this area receives more breeze. In the very near future a further 6 swing moorings will be added to bring the total to 20.
The Busuanga Yacht Club is very informal and welcomes short and long stay cruisers - both motor yachts and sailing yachts. If there are no moorings available when you arrive then you are welcome to anchor in the vicinity, but check with the Marina Del Sol Resort so as to avoid interfering with any marine life or getting your warp snagged on the corals.
Swing moorings attract a fee of Php250 (about US$5) per day; if you spend more than Php500 (about US$10) at the resort, on F&B or accommodation, then your mooring fees will be waived.
El Rio y Mar Resort
The El Rio y Mar Resort is located on the northeast side of Busuanga Island, inside a pretty bay, within the municipality of Coron. The up-market El Rio y Mar Resort is the focal point of the bay and the resort is also responsible for maintaining the moorings, although some reports suggest that the moorings are not inspected regularly and may not be safe during a blow.
Mooring fees are reported to be about US$10 per day, a fee that may be offset completely against your bar/restaurant bill at the resort.
Visit the El Rio y Mar Resort website: www.elrioymar.com
Other Busuanga / Coron Moorings
As you cruise around Busuanga Island you may see that some resorts have laid moorings. Some of these resorts, e.g. Sangat Island Resort, welcome visiting yachts to pick up the moorings in preference to anchoring. The main reason for this is that Busuanga Island is primarily reliant on scuba diving tourism and almost the entire circumference of the island features coral reefs, sea grass meadows and associated marine life.
Anchoring In Busuanga / Coron
Anchoring in and around Busuanga is possible almost anywhere where you can see a large patch of sand on the seabed. N.B. there are a handful of highly desirable looking places to anchor off the adjacent Coron Island, however it is forbidden to anchor off Coron Island as it is designated as Ancestral Domain, under the exclusive jurisdiction of the native Tagbanua tribe. Permission to anchor off Coron Island must be obtained in advance.
The East coast of Busuanga Island does not have very much to offer in terms of places of interest and usually receives the strongest of the northeast monsoon breezes (November through May), which makes anchorages unconfortable. The North, West and South shores have many attractions and many islets where you can anchor far away from the madding crowd, snorkel or enjoy bathing in a hot spring among the mangrove forests along the shore.
Some of the more popular anchorages around Busuanga Island are:
The anchorage at Coron town is along the North side of the channel between Busuanga Island and Uson Island, West of the ferry terminal. This is a popular place for yachts to anchor while crew go ashore to replenish supplies and to visit the many waterfront resorts and restaurants. The anchorage offers good holding on coral sand and is relatively shallow (below 10 metres) but there are a few very shallow spots. This anchorage is not considered typhoon safe.
About six miles West from Busuanga Yacht Club are three sandbars, with rocky outcrops and a few trees, that offer excellent opportunities for snorkeling over sea grass meadows and shallow corals. During the northeast monsoon these cays offer good anchorage on coral sand, with gentle breezes and almost no wave action. Anchoring is best at the East end of each cay.
Elsewhere, follow the environmentally-friendly anchoring code and you should be welcomed in almost all locations.
Busuanga / Coron Tourist Attractions
Busuanga is known mostly for scuba diving (and dining on fresh fish). The "Coron Wrecks" are wrecks of nine Japanese military supply ships and smaller craft, dating from 24th September 1944, mostly scattered in the waters along southern shores of Busuanga Island. The Coron Wrecks rest at various depths, from 5-45 metres. They attract scuba divers from all around the planet and many consider the Coron Wrecks to offer the best wreck diving adventures in the World.
Coron Island to the southeast of Busuanga is a picturesque, craggy limestone island that embraces three large lakes. Visitors are allowed to enter just one of the lakes, with the permission of the Tagbanua - indigenous peoples of the island.
If you are not a scuba diver but like to snorkel then you will find the snorkeling around Busuanga / Coron to be excellent. Water clarity is superb throughout the year and the variety of corals and marine life is stunning.
Busuanga, and neighboring Uson and Sangat islands, present a variety of hot spring experiences. Busuanga has a developed hot spring with huts for rent and munchies for sale. Uson has a hot spring waterfall, while Sangat has a hot spring that you have to wade, in a meter-depth of water, through a mangrove forest, to reach.
Calawit Island, on the West end of Busuanga Island, is quite unique insomuch as it is populated by wild animals from Africa. The African animals were imported during the time of former President Marcos, to create an African Safari experience, for the wealthy from Metro Manila. The animals of Calawit Island have outlived Marcos and still roam free as a tourist attraction for all.
Adventure sports such as kayaking, stand up paddleboarding and kiteboarding are growing in popularity with many resorts providing equipment for rent.
Coron town has numerous banks that have ATMs, connected to international networks, and are usually working. Coron town also features an international deli and wet market for re-provisioning.
Busuanga / Coron Transport
Land transport around Busuanga Island is mostly provided by tricycle and jeep – not required in the town as nowhere is beyond walking distance. Inexpensive and frequent, if a little cramped at times, these motorized transports enable easy access to everywhere you may wish to go on Busuanga Island. However, some of the travels are long and you may wish to take a hire car.
There is a ferry service twice a week between Coron town and Metro Manila, and between Coron town and Puerto Princesa (Palawan). The ferries are mostly large and mostly air-conditioned. There is also a ferry service from Coron town to El Nido (Palawan) and another from Coron town to San Jose (Occ. Mindoro), but these are not so large and generally not air-conditioned. In June 2023 a new air-conditioned ferry service started from San Jose to Coron that offers a faster, if more expensive, option.
Three airlines offer daily flights from Manila International Airport (NAIA) to Coron airport - about 20 minutes drive North of Coron town. Most resorts will pick you up from the airport if you have made a reservation in advance.
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