After 9-10 months since our community quarantine started, destinations have started to slowly and carefully ease up restrictions. To jumpstart our travel industry, major destinations like Boracay, Baguio and Bohol served as a model for safety protocols and procedures for travel. Last December 2020, world-class tourist destination, Palawan opened its doors to outsiders, particularly for those coming from Manila. Coron, Palawan, ushered in welcoming tourist. In company with DOT-MIMAROPA, we were able to experience how it is like to travel safely to Coron, Palawan. An exciting invitation to see how travel has changed during the pandemic. Also to check the state of Coron island’s, beaches and other attractions.
In those peak periods of the COVID-19 pandemic when we were all in lockdown in our homes, I have always wondered how some of my favorite nature destinations looked like now. If there’s one good thing this pandemic has brought, it made time for nature to breath. With destinations closed, tourism at a standstill there was less impact on what usually are crowded places.
Pre-pandemic, Coron, Palawan enjoyed a steady influx of tourist. I remember a friend telling me how they couldn’t even place their stuff down at the footpaths along Kayangan Lake with all the people. The narrow streets were always crowded especially on weekends.
Coron Island in the New Normal
In our recent visit at Coron island, we were almost the only tourist in the area. The islands looks lush, I could hear a variety of bird calls. Kayangan Lake was so tranquil. Our guide said it has seen little tourist so the waters were undisturbed and clear. Only a few Palawan locals and dumagats get to enjoy this lake. And as expected, I got to photograph a lot of endemic birds. Banol beach was solely ours. This time, I managed to step on the main beach. On my last two visits there, I always find myself on the smaller beach on the side since tourist would flock the cottages on the main beach during lunch.
Safety Protocols in Town
In town, the streets were not as dense. So much has changed since my last visit in 2013. More structures have popped up in town. Reclaimed areas have paved way to parks and other establishments. But all these led to a more quieter town with little tourist. Save for the newly opened McDonalds, there were a numbers of establishments boarded up. Folding from the pandemic.
The open hotel establishments authorized by DOT to operate are strict to enforce health protocols. So make sure to wear your face mask and bring face shields when entering establishments. Some locals may be more carefree when you pass by them on the streets. But as a visitor, it is encouraged to continue wearing face mask at all times.
We arrived late evening on our last day in Coron coming from Busuanga. It turns out that the town is still following a curfew of 10PM to 5AM. Some restaurants were already closed. So if you plan to do some night life here, you may be disappointed.
New normal travel takes time to get used to. One good thing about it is it really lessens the impact on places like Coron. One disadvantage is that it’s no longer as affordable as before. Since tours are now private its more practical to travel as a group to share the expenses. If one is yearning to see Coron in its most pristine and to truly enjoy its wonders, now is a good time.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.