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“Nice Location, Disappointing Service + Ghost Fees” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Coral Bay Beach & Dive Resort

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Coral Bay Beach & Dive Resort
| Maglalamba, Popototan Island 5317, Philippines   |  
Hotel amenities
Manila, Philippines
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Nice Location, Disappointing Service + Ghost Fees”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2013

Coral Bay is a dive resort, aimed specifically at attracting divers, situated in a nice location, on the cusp of a beautiful virgin coral reef. My stay there was as such:
Positives -

1) The dive instructors, Steve and Ian, were extremely personable, helpful, and knowledgeable. I am not a diver myself, but both instructors seemed highly skilled, experienced, and were very informative about the coral reef and local diving spots that surrounded the resort; a pleasure to talk to, and to learn from.
2) The location is beautiful and has its own coral reef to snorkel or dive in. Beautiful sand.
3) Some of the staff, particularly some of the ladies, are quite happy and helpful.

Negatives - Where to begin...
1) The service was overall very, very poor. Several times my partner and I were forced to search for someone to help us, or to serve us when we went to the resort restaurant. As there were only 6 other people staying at the resort for the first few days we were there, and then only us or the last few, the lack of service and the absence of any help was extremely frustrating. Time and time again we had to call, leave or table and search, or comb the resort for any staff. Awful experience in a resort we had assumed to be top notch.
2) One staff member in particular, Wendy, was very unhelpful. For example, when we asked her for help, she would often reply with a monosyllable. and walk away. When my partner asked if we could rent snorkel equipment one day after searching for someone to help us at the seemingly deserted resort she replied, "Breaktime", and walked away without offering to help us. Another time my partner asked if the resort restaurant had a microwave to heat up his pancakes (which had arrived at the table cold), and she replied, "No", and walked away yet again without asking to help us or what she could do to help us. I furthermore felt umcomfortable asking her questions as she always had the saddest, most miserable face I have ever seen! She looked like she was in distress at every second, and any question I asked seemed to heighten that sadness and distress. She never smiled, and I hesitated to ask for her help as she was so unhelpful to begin with. The most unhelpful staff member I have ever come across - I suggest that she not be tasked with greeting or working with guests. I have also read other reviews that mention her specifically.
3) The library: Upon reading the Coral Bay brochure, I read that the resort had a large library with several books. Upon looking at the library, I discovered that almost all the books provided are in Danish or French, as well as all the games and puzzles! There were almost no English books to be read! I was extremely disappointed as the brochure (written in English) had specifically mentioned a library as I assumed, as the brochure was marketed towards English speakers, and given that we are in the Philippines, that there would be some English books, games, or puzzles provided to pass the time. Extremely misleading!
4) The treks: Most of the trails on the island are infested by mosquitos, are not clearly marked, and basically require bushwhacking with nothing less than a machete. My partner and I attempted to hike the trails (which, in the brochure and on the website, were promised to be doable in flip-flops), and were shocked! I am a hiker and mountain climber and I have treked in several countries around the world. These trails were not fit for a casual hiker. My partner and I got lost several times because of poor marking, we were eaten alive by swarms of mosquitos, my partner injured his feet from the rough terrain, and most of the trails were overgrown by bushes! Very disappointing yet again! The website is misleading and incorrect!
5) Ghost fees: My partner and I were provided free transportation as the resort is a far from the airport - a boat ride and a van ride. At the end of our stay, we were presented with the bill and found that we were being charged PHP 2500, or nearly US $60, to be transported back to the airport for our flight leaving Coron. At this point, with no other choice for transportation back to the mainland, we were forced to pay this hidden fee, as the staff insisted that only our trop coming to the resort was included. My partner and I were very angry at this hidden cost when we were told differently at the beginning of our stay.
6) Quality: My partner and I were served powdered juice in the morning as part of our "included breakfast", and my partner was terribly disappointed with the meat served as the sausages were canned and tasted awful. We expected more from a resort which promotes itself to be a high-quality place to stay.
7) No air-con, hot water, or electricity during the day. My partner and I expected no electricity during the day, but were disappointed to discover that all the showers use only cold water...and it is COLD! Be prepared!

Overall my partner and I would not recommend this resort. Perhaps it will be different for people who come her specifically to dive, but for us, it was a huge disappointment. We will never come back.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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144 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (27)
Date | Rating
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  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
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  • Spanish first
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English first
Melbourne, Australia
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 1, 2013

My 3 friends and I had an amaaaazing time here. We stayed for 5D4N, and it is definitely not enough time to soak up all the goodness this island and its surroundings have to offer! First things first, do note that this is a uber remote island in the middle of almost nowhere with all its food/necessities brought in via boats, so don't expect everything to be available, and electricity and water to be 24/7 running and hot. This is island life, at its best and most basic. (At least there's wifi near the reception!) Bring lots of Off Lotion!

We got the last beach hut at the end of the island. A tiny bit of a trek from the restaurant, but we didnt mind as it made for a bit of an adventure every night after dinner. The hut has basic necessities. Beds for all of us, a decent shower and toilet, 3 fans each facing a bed (well thought out i must say), electricity from dawn to dusk only. It took us a day or so to settle into the island life routine and getting used to cold water, limited electricity and limited access to internet, but once we got into it, it was kinda uplifting. Like being released from the grip of the fast-paced city life. Thank god we were a bunch of pretty easy-going travellers, so we eased in really quickly. Food at the restaurant was decent. The mango shake was amazing! We only hoped the meal portions were a bit more filling because we were all soooo starved from a day chokefull of activities! (we are pretty big eaters too.) I would suggest bringing some extra food like instant cup noodles and snacks just in case! (Some marks & spencer digestive biscuits for the island dive instructor would make him a very happy man)

Diving. YOU MUST DIVE. Must must must. If you come to Coron.. and skip diving, you are wasting the trip. It was my first diving experience and I am so glad I did it here in Coron. I was blown away by the reefs, corals, fishes and everything in the ocean. It was pristine, colourful and full of life. The reefs surrounding the resort is beautiful and I could easily snorkle there daily (for the rest of my life if i could). Tons of jellyfishes, jackfish, clownfishes, starfish, stone fish, butterfly fish. You name it. We went on a boat to other dive sites like coral garden, lusong gumboat, and other ship wrecks and they were all beautiful, especially coral garden (saw a sea turtle there). I count myself so so lucky to have dived here and will definitely go back again to visit all the other dive sites. Steve, our dive instructor was amazing! Very thorough with his instructions, very helpful and friendly as well! He was kinda like our host at the resort too! Couldn't have asked for a better dive instructor.

Island hopping was a great experience too! Kayangan lake is a MUST-SEE. The most beautiful body of water I've ever seen. Even locals go there for a swim! Seven islands was nice too but then it started raining so we had to cut short our snorkling!

All in all, we absolutely enjoyed our stay. It's a tiny piece of paradise and I really hope it will stay this way for a long long time. May the dark dark hands of ugly tourism and commercialism never touch this island!


  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
12 reviews 12 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2013

Our boat ride from Concepcion Pier and the approach to the jetty of the resort at Popototan Island was very dramatic thanks to the sunset. The sunrise was equally stunning as I opened my beach front cottage as the light flooded the front porch, the native hammock swaying and the placid clear water gently lapping about few feet away. I had a good night sleep despite the small size of the cottage that only has a fan and the natural sea breeze to cool the room. It helps that the bed was quite sturdy and the pillows were aplenty and supple. The bathroom was a bit of a challenge to maneuver at day time when electricity isn’t supplied…it’s dark and dingy. Although the new rooms I heard have better ventilation and have air-well.

The beach wasn’t as attractive as I hope for. It’s a good place to survey the environment as it’s surrounded with mangroves which promised a variety of species. The restaurant serves Western food and it’s ok, nothing to rave about but nothing to complain either. The internet was surprisingly FAST and available around the reception area. Most importantly, the staffs were so helpful and accommodating that you tend to relax a few hours or a day upon arrival.

Room Tip: The cottage on it's own near the restaurant has the best view. Room 1 is good too where we staye...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2013

It's the only resort of the island, and only 1 restaurant for no choice, but we didn't care that much, it's all about nature, the cottage is deco with shell and bamboo and rock of islands, no much modern work, you can feel the breeze of the sea when lying in hammock right in front of room; the staffs are very nice and helpful with cleaning, food ordering, and diving gear set up. Don't forget to order all kind of milkshake, the best I've tried ever. The only WiFi received is closed the reception, and electricity only offered from 6 PM to 6 AM, so, forget everything about work and try to free yourself away from world, just bring your bathing suit and snorkeling gear will be the best luggage for the trip. (They need cash better than credit card--no bank on that island)

Room Tip: Choose the beach front room is much valued that garden view.
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 10, 2013

This is a pretty straight review there are some good and bad things about this place.

The Good
-Great remote setting little island on the edge of the South China sea, remote and peaceful.
-Decent hiking around the Island to keep you occupied for half a day.
-Great kayaking around the island, well worth a day or an evening as long as you are up for a decent paddle.
-Less than an hour by boat from Black Island which is a great half day/day trip, one of the best in Busuanga (maybe best) with great snorkelling, caves and lovely beach.
-Nice setting for the actual resort, only con is not being able to see the sunset unless you walk an hour or kayak for 30 mins.
-Our room was upgraded to a cottage, guess they had a spare? Great views of the bay from the cottage, worth it over the rooms. Great decoration and feeling in the rooms too.
-Decent value on the food for the price you should be happy.
-Didn't dive so no idea about that but their dive shop looked top notch.

The Strange
-Management don't quite seem to understand the difference between doing business and customer service. When booking our flights back to Manila I called and asked how long the free boat transfer took and it was stated at 45 minutes. Booked the appropriate flight with time to get from Resort to Coron to the Airport but the transfer is actually 2 hours and includes 75 minutes in a van. Obvously this needs to be pointed out, i cant assume that their is a van trip included. I called to ask, webiste fine print that I didn't read is not a good excuse. Sometimes it's 2 hours on a boat sometimes 75 mins in van 45 mins on boat but this was not made clear. The owner wasn't happy to answer these simple questions politely either and suggested we email for the details of the transfer. The email didn't include the transfer time duration just departure times. This meant we had to pay for a private transfer back to catch our flight, supposedly 2500p but they never include VAT and tax so everything is always 20% more unlike everywhere else in the world which includes these costs in the price, obviously. We were also told we had to be at the airport 2 hours before the flight for check in to convince us we needed to take the private transfer which is a lie, it's 30 minutes. This was because another group wanted to stop on the free transfer for some snorkelling which we couldn't afford the time for. I had enquired about the transfer the day before also and got a very 'yeah yeah yeah, its no problem to get the airport in time (please go away)' type reply too. In addition to this the first phone call we made from their office in Coron attracted an extremely rude reply, suggesting we sort this out at their office on the island, not in Coron in a very condescending way. On the other had they were very nice for most of the time we were there, and gave us good recommendations as to what we should do with our time there. It just felt a like they were more in it for $$.
-Staff were nice but very mechanical, and the cooks liked to stare out their open window at the customers as they were eating sometimes and also peeing 10 metered behind it, I'm sure there is a toilet no?, off the edge of the footpath too..
-There was a rat living under our bed, it gets in by walking in under the big gaps under the doors, easy to fix... the rat wasn't removed after requested for the last night and twice in our stay ended up on our bed. I understand its a remote island but the rooms aren't cheap.
-Power goes off at 6am, so your fan goes off too, so you can't sleep in it's too hot.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
trimixPhilippines, Owner at Coral Bay Beach & Dive Resort, responded to this review, May 11, 2013
Hi. Thank you for your feedback, it is nice to hear, so we can change, what ever is possible.
The good part, we are happy you enjoyed your stay. Happy you enjoyed your upgrade. We actually often do that, when we have better rooms available, not just because of something... we try to give our guest what we can.
Maybe we are expensive, - but for an island resort, it is the cheapest one you can find, and maybe the most beautiful also?
Regarding your bad part. I am sorry if you felt it like we did not care, - we actually tried to tell a lot about what to do here. When you called out here, you asked for a Coron Island tour, and I said, that it was maybe a good idea, to go here first, before ordering a trip going back 2 hours, to where you actually came from. It was just because, we have a lot of free things to do, and a lot of people appreciate that advise. Then people, as the ones you mention, snorkel on their way back, they saved the boat trip, and got the tour very cheap.
Time to go here: The Van trip takes exactly 45 min. and the boat trip 35 min. We are on an island, an it takes a van and a boat. IF you choose to go the whole way to Coron town by boat, it takes 2 hours (you were offered that one for free, incl. Coron Island, which you wished to buy, before you arrived). - We still have nature factors, as waves, cows on the road, broken bridges etc. that is part of the adventure, going to "the end of the world".
The price for the private transfer, it for the van, the boat is free.
Airport: Really strange system, but the airport are stated as international, so they say 2 hours before. It will be important, in case of flight cancellation. If you are to late, they will not rebook you.- In MNL. for Europe flight, it is 3 hours before. - But of course, it is not for my sake, but for yours, I say it.
Rates and tax/Vat. In the Philippines they add that always, it is Government decided, when it is a business more than 5 years old. Many even ad service charge. We do not do that way in Europe, and it is a strange system, I agree.
About the dishwashers.....Wish you told me right away, I will take care about that right away. Can not imagine anyone would approve such, and I will never! But they are island people, and used to go in the bushes, so it takes time to teach.
The animal in your room, - We actually put up traps under your house, and put poison in a tube on the roof while you were on island tour . But we are also living in the middle of nature, so we fight against the forest right by the resort. - Still, hope to see you here another time, so we can make up for what you did not appreciate.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
17 reviews 17 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
49 helpful votes 49 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2013

When we arrived, Monica welcomed us by saying "welcome to our little paradise". And so it was. Beautiful quiet place, great diving, excellent food, great for kajak excursions. Perfect service. We loved it.

Room Tip: Definitely go for the the private bungalows, more quiet and private.
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2013

Like many other reviews of Philippines resorts, I will begin by saying that if you want a 5 star experience, this place, like many others, is not the place to go. Even the owners (Ulf and Monica) of this fine establishment will tell you the same thing.

Like many others, it has limited power (6pm - 6am), no hot water, and limited cushy conveniences. No A/C, so its still hot sleeping at night. But for me, it has soul, great value, and is a perfect base for adventures to surrounding islands and dive sites.

I read some reviews about how the owners are a bit aloof (or other negative comments), but for me, they are people who are doing this as a lifestyle, are proud of the place they built, and quite simply, do not suffer fools gladly. Which is ok by me, as I understand their point of view.

I was there mid December, 2012.

The service of getting me from, and back to, Busuanga airport was also great. Some reviewers have complained about waiting, being held up for others to arrive, but hey - look where you are! You need to consider it is a 45 minute van ride, and about an hour by boat, and it does not make sense for them to accommodate everyone individually. They really do their best to juggle various transportation challenges. Be patient - you will be rewarded.

Bottom line, if you want an "off the grid" experience, and can handle the above, I believe you will really enjoy this place. I met some great people, had great boating and dive experiences, and enjoyed the locally sourced food very much.

I mentioned to Monica how I loved the potatoes, and was treated to a different method of them being prepared at every meal following my comment! I really think they undersell the food aspect here, as I really appreciate the focus on sustainability, and felt they not only had plenty of choices, but the preparation and presentation was excellent.

The service was also very good, especially the two beautiful girls in the bar / restaurant. Always smiling and attentive, they were very nice to put up with the group of new friends I made, that drank too much and laughed too loud.

As a single traveler, the owners invited me to eat and drink with them, which helped me form some other friendships with families from Sweden and New Zealand. We all had a blast.

We put together a trip to "Black Island", which after diving for 25 years, was one of the best experiences I have had ANYWHERE. Again, the boat and dive teams were top notch, and I felt that the value was very good. The comments I read about it being expensive don't really make sense to me.

The cost of that trip was fairly divided between the divers and non-divers, and everyone sure seemed pleased. When you look at what it must cost to run a remote place like this, I would not begrudge the owners a chance to make some money on additional services like these.

The boat captain was a real highlight for me. He really was the genuine article, and treated me like a friend. Big smile, big heart, and a great captain. When I gave him my sunglasses at departure, he had tears in his eyes as he gave me a hug.

As for the "nothing to do at night" comments I read, hey - no kidding! So at dinner time, eat your delicious food, have a couple drinks, chat with people from all over the world, and if you are lucky enough to be there with a companion, go love each other and get some rest. If you want a disco, you should not be there.

You are on a remote island, and for the most part are there to enjoy the daytime activities, which even if you are not a diver, there are plenty.

The "house reef" out front is as good as many other places I have been that you have to take a boat to see! The pier out front is a perfect launching spot for some fantastic snorkeling, and you can swim to a nice little floating dock for some tanning.

We did a trip to the "Wrecks of Coron", which is famous to divers worldwide. Again, a safe and professional team, reasonably priced, with good equipment. For me, it was a "bucket list" event that I will remember forever.

While there is not a true "resort type beach" in front, I thought it was good, and they have lots of cabana space that is comfortable. A short walk to the other side of the island will reward you with a great beach escape. The kayaks are free to use, and you can easily get to some even more remote spots in a half hour or less.

The rooms are basic but clean, my little beachfront cabin had a great sunrise view from the porch that touched the water at high tide. For the price paid, I think the value was fantastic.

By the way, I had internet while I was there, and as long as you go near the office, its fine. Again, remember you are off the grid, living off a generator. If you really need to be linked in all the time, you should not be considering going anywhere like this in the first place!

I hope to return again, as there are some other islands nearby I want to discover, and some of the nicest, most unspoiled reef I have seen in quite some time.

Yes, in spite of what I have detailed, I rendered it 4 out of 5. This is only because I don't want people simply seeing the 5 stars and expecting a butler to come and serve them.

Hello to Ulf and Monica from "the old hippie" Dave.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Coral Bay Beach & Dive Resort

Address: | Maglalamba, Popototan Island 5317, Philippines
Location: Philippines > Mimaropa > Palawan Province > Popototan Island
Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Popototan Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Coral Bay Beach & Dive Resort is Nature green resort, situated in the middle of Busuanga. We offer diving ,and the amazing WWll wrecks of Coron. We have A big house reef is sited just a few swim strokes out, where you will meet a lot of exiting life, even just snorkeling. From the resort, we offer day trips to other Islands, where you can enjoy the silence and beauty of nature. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Coral Bay Beach & Dive Hotel Busuanga
Coral Bay Beach And Dive Resort

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