Group tour or private boat tour?
This is probably your main question: Private boat or Group tour? There are a couple of questions you need to answer to determine if a private boat tour is for you. Are you a photographer? How much of an issue are the financials? Where do you want to go? We’ll try to guide you through these while also giving our own opinion. And in the process we will write down how we did it.
Pricing comparison from the Private and Group Tours
Chances are we won’t have to help you find a Group tour or its pricing. When you enter Coron Town it’s full of little desks that are more than eager to help you find a boat. And honestly if you are backpacking and want to spend your cash as wisely as possible this is absolutely the way to go as you won’t be able to negotiate yourself a private boat to the same pricing.
The group tours will cost you around 900-1400 pesos per person. To make a fair comparison we’ll take the more expensive one for two persons. That would sum up to 2800 pesos which is about € 44,-
A Private boat though, will cost you 2700 pesos for 1-4 people. Which means getting up to 4 people instead of 2 really makes a difference and essentially cuts that in half. In addition you will have to pay 300 pesos for the guide which is mandatory. But you’ll be happy to have one in the end. Especially if you have expensive gear that needs carrying through the water in your waterproof bags or when you just need someone to make a picture of you both.
Don’t buy your Waterproof bags in your own country. There are literally so many people selling them in Coron and El Nido for about € 6,00 for a midsized oneTravelmonster Tip
The one thing that adds up a little for the private boats is the location fee you have to pay for every island destination in your tour. It’s a fee per boat that obviousy gets split when you are in a group tour. So after the 3000 pesos it depends on the number of locations you want to visit. The fee varies between 100-300 pesos. We did 8 locations which adds about 1600 pesos. All summed up we spend roughly of 4600 pesos for a full day tour. This is about € 72,- (€ 36,- per person) which compared to the group tour comes down to a total price difference of € 28,- for two persons (€ 14,- per person).
We can’t look in everyone’s wallet but for us that’s a no brainer for all the benefits it comes with. Especially if you are a(n) (aspiring) photographer and want some alone time in these beautiful locations, or at least to have a chance to have some alone time. Also the private tour is the only way to pick and choose your favorite destinations. To put it all in perspective in the past we’ve paid up to € 100,- per person for Disneyland which is fun but Coron is in our opinion one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The locations you really need to visit
The destinations we picked after speaking with a bunch of people in our hotels and some thorough internet research, are Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake, Coral Garden, Twin Lagoon, Siete Picados, Banul Beach, CYC Beach and Hidden Lagoon. There were a couple others that might interest you but that we didn’t visit like Skeleton Wreck and Atwayan Beach but I don’t think we missed a lot. If we could do it over, the one we wouldn’t necessarily do again is Siete Picados, but then again it only costs 300 pesos extra if you already rented the boat.
Go private and choose: Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake, Coral Garden, Twin Lagoon, Banul Beach, CYC Beach, Hidden Lagoon.Travelmonster Tip
Get yourself a tasty lunch
Before your guide will take you to your boat you will pass by the market. This is a real local market in Coron that gets as real as it can get. We assure you the place will be able to make your stomach turn if it’s just the tiniest bit weak. You will encounter cut down pig heads, they’ll chop your chicken in half while waiting and slippery intestines are moving on the tables.
Judith had a pretty rough time keeping in her breakfast and decided to just pass on the chicken. I was looking forward to BBQ though so I took half a chicken in a bag before we went for some potatoe chips and candy bars for Judith. Our boat was the first one to leave the harbour because we wanted to arrive early everywhere. To make it happen we really drilled them to get going. But everyone from those tours is a little bit passive as they probably have tourists like us every day haha, so they don’t really feel the same urgency.
Siete Picados (Seven Islands)
We started with the Siete Picados which probably is the place where we should have used the drone. Unfortunately we didn’t because I only had two batteries and wasn’t sure where to use them. If you don’t dronefly over here it’s probably not worth it to stop and probably better to try to be first at other places before the rest of the boats.
Hidden Lagoon, paradise full of starfish
Our second stop was at Hidden Lagoon which was a beautiful lagoon full of starfish. We were the only boat here. The starfish here were really all over the place. We just chilled in the water and this was a really cool place which we definitely recommend.
The most famous place in Coron, Kayangan Lake
Our next stop is the most famous one in Coron and to avoid the crowds it would have been better to go here first. By the time we arrived it was full of Chinese and Korean tourists wearing orange swimming vests that probably became mandatory because half of them can’t swim. We enjoyed the water here and entered some underwater caves but honestly it was a bit of an underwhelming experience due to how crowded it was. On the way back you have the opportunity to enjoy the great view over the Coron bay area that is well worth it and that you probably already saw on the postcards .
The steps of the stairs surrounding Kayangan Lake are pretty high and if you don’t drink enough you are gonna have cramps. I know we did and we had them until 3 days later. These were probably the worst cramps we ever had and we really could have been applying for Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks for three days straight. I know we are not necessarily Olympians but I also wouldn’t label us as the unfittest of the planet, so be warned and keep hydrated.
Barracuda Lake, the more quiet and more beautiful version of Kayangan Lake
Our next stop was at Barracuda lake and to go there you will pass the beautiful mountains of Coron Island that made us think about Expeditie Robinson, which is a dutch version of Survivor. We kind of felt like we made it to the finals haha and everything was so gorgeous. Sitting on the front of the boat enjoying the breeze through our hair. It really is a paradise even in between the locations.
The name of the Barracuda Lake as the legend goes comes from a big Loch Ness sized barracuda that lives in the lake. They say he doesn’t eat people whole but instead just nibbles on toes, fingers and well.. you get the picture. We decided to see for ourselves and we’re so happy we did.
The water from the entrance area is so clear and greenish it’s almost unreal. We’ve got some footage to show off because it really was that insane. Not to speak of the beautiful limestone structures that just steal the show and make it really hard to decide what to photograph.
You’ll climb some stairs before you eventually get to the lake. At the lake you can play around in an area that looks a little like Kayangan Lake but then with just 5 other people. For the daredevils there are even some rocks you can climb up to to jump in and we enjoyed swimming here. Apparently it is also a very popular destination to dive with a lot of underwater caves to explore, but we didn’t see any divers around at the time. Definitely don’t miss this place.
BBQ on the beach? Go Banol Beach
For those that didn’t let their appetite get ruined by those market photos in Coron, the boatman prepared us (me) a great meal with barbecued chicken, rice and some vegetables. Judith just went for the rice and vegetables. It was also a great place to fly with our drone because this beach has some of the bluest waters in the area. As you will see in our photographs the color of the water in the Philippines varies between, blue, lightblue, green and turqoise but all of it is equally pretty. It was the second time we flew it so we had to keep it short as we wanted to use our second battery on CYC Beach. Banol Beach is in our opinion a great place for lunch.
Go to CYC Beach if you like private islands
If you get lonely easy don’t go to Cyc Beach. I think only the private boats go here so you won’t see many other boats and tourists if any at all. I think we were just four people on the island which was perfect for another drone flight to really get a view of the whole island. For us that is the perfect afternoon. We enjoyed the sun a bit and discovered the small island before we went for almost our last stop.
Coral Garden the underwater paradise
For the underwater lovers Coral Garden is a must do. We’ve snorkeled for almost an hour just forgetting the time and enjoying swimming between big schools of fishes and amazing Coral. We tried to capture how beautiful it all was but somehow we still don’t quite get how to make pretty underwater photo’s that show off the beauty of the real thing. Just believe us when we say it’s well worth the visit.
Contender for most beautiful place on earth.. Twin Lagoon
Come on guys. That’s what you are probably thinking when we once again tell you how beautiful it is here? Well we’re really sorry we’re using so many superlatives but Coron is truly that special. But honestly even after all the beauty we already witnessed on this day we have to say the Superfinale was the Twin Lagoon. The crystal clear water from the lagoons is surrounded by walls of limestone rock. The lagoons are connected through a small cave-like passage that you can swim through. You’re gonna have to swim quite a bit to get to that place that you probably recognize from the pictures. But on the plus side that automatically means you can probably have some alone time there. Just timing it right and being a fast swimmer is all it takes to get it all for yourselves. We really took our time to enjoy this little paradise. We had so much fun jumping and diving in like little kids so many times. We also found out the hard way how hard it is to dive in with a touch of elegance.
This was our last stop and we believe it’s a contender for the most beautiful place on earth. After this stop we we’re headed back to Coron City. Our guide called us a tricycle so when we arrived back in Coron we had our transport waiting to go back to the hotel. Awesome service right?
So where did you book?
To be brutally honest I don’t think this matters much. Prices are pretty much fixed in high season and even though we really loved our guide I think they all know eachother and will really try to give you the best experience in the hope of a nice tip. I must say our female guide named Mary was such a doll. We kind of make it a habbit to really love our guides and sometimes they are so cute you just want to hug them. We just tipped 300 pesos because we always feel it doesn’t hurt us financially and it can really make someone elses day.
So you still want to know where we booked right? We just went to the fishermen harbour and spoke to someone who was on one of the boats. That’s all you need to do. But if you still want our trusted company you can find the details below:
Arizona Tourist Boat
Contact Joe and ask for Mary as a guide: