We arrived at Coron Airport bang on time thanks to Cebu Pacific and proceeded to Coron town (the transfer costs P150 each for 22 kilometres) and waited for our free shuttle to Concepcion wharf that we shared with a French couple.
The road to Concepcion has some concreted sections but a fair bit of gravel. There are at least two bridges being reconstructed while further concreting is proceeding at the typical snail's pace, and is done one way at a time but not in a continuous manner. Befuddling!
Upon arrival at Concepion, the bangka (boat) tok 15 minutes to appear. There were 51 steps to negotiate to sea level and some were step, being completely unsuitable for anyone who is slightly or more disabled. This is not disclosed on the Coral Bay website.
The bangka took 51 minutes to reach Coral Bay in the resort. The long pier was well lit and as I later discovered when snorkeling, there are large fish plus needlefish who reside under the pier closest to the shoreline (the pier has wel built steps).
We were given private cottage 18 which was nicer and in better condition than the cheaper rooms. The room had a comfortable foam bed, good quality bottom and a cheaper half top sheet, reasonable pillows, an effective mosquito net, a good table and two comfortable chairs, a wide ottoman and a mirrored dressing table with a stool.
There were no windows, but the screens were well maintained. Since the cottage was less than five metres from the shoreline, it was possible to listen to the gentle lapping of the waters along the attractive close to white sand beachfront.
The bathroom had two steps down - again unsuitable for the disabled and was quite roomy with a cold water only shower and a handbasin. Towels were not the biggest but OK.
An effective fan and the seaside location together with air flowing from the front to the baxck (Philippine matted jungle) ensured a good night's sleep. Power is only available from 1800 to 0600 and is generator supplied. The sandy path to the cottage was adequately lit.
The owner Wolf, a fairly gruff Danish man of 60, said that the resort had sustained P3.5 million in Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) damage but most has been repaired. I did not see evidence of poor maintenance, except that the communal male toilet's cistern was defective but soon repaired.
The restaurant served delicious but expensive banana shakes (P190) while San Miguel Pale Pilsen and SM Light were both priced at an outrageous P92 per stubbie (P27 in Metro Manila supermarkets).
Snorkelling off the pier to the pontoon and then back to shore was very good, although even better on the highly priced P4500 four hour half day tour to the lovely North Cay (we were meant to go to Black Island but currents precluded this). We shared this trip with a French couple so split the cost in half. The bangka takes up to six so one could reduce the cost even further if three couples partook.
Restaurant food was variable. One night, the fried chicken was excellent; two nights later, it was horrible. The crab and corn soup was consistently good but creamier on the first night.
The divemaster Thomas is a tall Dane with an extremely pleasant personality. He would also be patient with students and wouldn't laugh at incompetence.
The waitress Marichu was clearly overworked and mixed up orders on one night. She may have been working for 14 hours (albeit with a mid afternoon siesta).
Wolf (owner) has an attitude problem (not to staff, who like him, but to guests).
He kicked two pleasant Danish girls off the 'ownetr's table' when they innocently sat there. If the patrons are 'King', why did he not move two other tables together elsewhere given that the seaside restaurant has two sections?
Wolf also smokes, even at breakfast, and turns a blind eye to European guests who similarly smoke. The resultant smoke is unpleasant to say the least.
We were charged a reasonable P1667 for our 23 minute speedboat private transfer to Concepcion wharf and then van to Busuanga airport but they do advertise free transfers to Coron town, but strangely not to the airport.
Both sea transfers had only one boatman: the first time I have seen this, and not good practice as if he had a heart attack, what would occur?
I bought a good map for a reasonable P800 but postcards were an outrageous P100 each. The excuse was that they were produced in Denmark. Tooth fairy stuff.
Upon checkout, employees Maricel and Bianca insisted that we pay an extra peso even though we had just given them an extra two pesos before an omitted bill was included. This smacks of penny pinching.
The setting of Coral Bay is great including the snorkelling but until the owner changes his attitude and realises how disgusting smoking is where food is present, I cannot give the resort a 5/5.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Coral Bay Beach & Dive Resort is Nature green resort, situated in the middle of a National preserved area. We offer diving at remote places,and the amazing ww2 wrecks of Coron, with possibility to meet reef sharks, dugongs and Whale sharks. We often have Dolphins cruising around right outside the resort. 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
- Coral Bay Beach & Dive Resort Coron, Palawan Island