Author: Sam Lawsonpublished: Oct 28, 2023 | last updated: Nov 03, 2023
When heading to Coron and Busuanga most visitors choose to stay in Coron Town and take the various island hopping tours available each day. The downside to this is missing the real island resort experience of waking up and going to sleep by the tropical seashore. Not only that Coron Town isn't the prettiest place to stay - it does though offer many more budget accomodation options should you want to keep costs down. I have been to Coron and Busuanga several times and stayed many nights in Coron Town, there are many budget friendly options I can recommend such as Coron Eco Lodge and Casa Coron Hotel.
On a recent trip I chose to try out the most luxurious island resort options available in the area: Two Seasons Coron Island Resort, Club Paradise and Busuanga Bay Lodge. Read on to find out which of them were worth the price tag, based on each resorts unique location and the luxury resort experience of each.
Two Seasons Island Resort, Bulalacao Island
Two Seasons Coron Island Resort is situated about 1 hour (25km) away from Coron Town by the in-house speedboat, which is included in their complimentary transfer service from Busuanga airport. They provide a van for the overland transfer from Busuanga Airport to the Coron Town which takes 40-60 minutes. So from landing at the airport to stepping onto the sand of the island shores you'll be taken care of, and the whole transfer should take around 2 hours.
On my trip we were the only couple on the speedboat ride, and it was a great experience to be whisked away across the bay and around the Coron island tip. Anticipacition grew as we neared the shores of Bulalacao island, and indeed it is a beautiful island and resort. We were welcomed on their floating dock and spent sometime taking in the wonderful surroundings. Check in was extremely smooth and efficient, with in a few minutes we were taken by electric cart along the island to the very tip where I had booked the premier room - the Sandbar Bungalow.
This secluded luxury bungalow looked like something special from the resort website and seemed worth the premium price above the other similar bungalows on the sandbar tip. These luxurious bungalows come with a king sized bed are most suited to couples looking for a special getaway. All of the rooms on the sandbar tip have incredible views of the Coron and Culion area on both the front and back respectively. The Sandbar Bungalow being situated at the end of the island tip has views on three sides - the living area faces Coron island (in the distance), the bathroom faces the island tip and the bedroom has views towards Malcapuya and Culion Island.
We were most excited about the frequent sightings of baby black tip reef sharks on all sides, these harmless baby sharks are protected here in the exclusive sanctuary of Two Seasons resort. They certainly make the most of the pristine coral reefs around Two Seasons resort and especially enjoy the shallows around the mangroves at the back of the resort where they feel safest. If you swim or snorkel around the island, your chances of you seeing the baby sharks are actually quite slim since they're extremely timid and will disappear at first sight of a floundering human snorkeler.
Two Seasons really aced the design of the bungalow, it incorporates views on everyside, and both the bedroom and shower room feature floor to ceiling glass walls which have the effect of bringing the rugged rocks of the island tip right "into the room".
The Sandbar Bungalow ranges around USD$700-800 per night depending on the time of year. I think it offers good value, giving a unique luxury experience where the unspoilt island nature experience can be fully appreciated.
You can check all the Two Seasons Coron Island rooms here for USD$500-$800 per night.
Snorkeling the Reefs
We made the most of snorkeling right from the island tip around the shallow reef infront of the resort. The fish life are great thanks to the protected nature of the coral reef, I saw many larger reef fish - that on non-protected coral reefs would have been caught by the local fishermen long ago. The snorkeling was a delight and the reef is magnificent, not to at least try the snorkeling experience would be a crime. I was only lucky enough to spot one baby black tip reef shark while snorkeling but with in the blink of an eye it was gone.
Things To Do
Given the price you are paying to enjoy this idylic tranquil private island paradise, you may well like me - want to make the most of every second on the island and simply maximise your time staying at the resort. You can swim at the beach, or hang out at the pool or try to catch glimpses of the baby reef tip sharks - especially at the back of the resort around the mangroves where they seem to enjoy hanging out.
If you want to make trips to the nearby islands - I recommend Malcapuya island especially if you go early before the crowds arrive on the boat tours from Coron town. For the full-day tours of Coron island itself - the resort also offers these though its around 40 minutes by speedboat or an hour and a half away by the wooden bangka boats.
Being on a private island does limit you to the cuisine provided but rest assured we found the restaurants offerings delicious and for the most part quite reasonably priced. The buffet breakfast was also enjoyable especially given the open airy restaurant area and tremendous views of the beach.
Club Paradise, Dimakya Island
Situated off the northern coast of Busuanga island, Club Paradise also include a free transfer from Busuanga Airport. You'll take a quick 20-30 minute van ride and then hop onto one of their wooden bangka boats for the relatively short ride around 30 minutes (10km) to Dimakya island. The boat ride was a very tranquil experience for us, down the meandering river through verdant green hills and the shallow mangroves and out into Maricaban Bay. As we rounded the tip of the peninsula the small island of Dimakya slid into view and again anticipation of a private island resort experience grew.
As the boat came to deliver us to the sandy shores of the island, a large darker patch of water moved in the otherwise turquoise waters, the boat captain quickly announced that we were seeing a school of Jack fish, something that seemed slightly unbelievable at the time, but later we would see them first hand.
The checkin process was unfortunately quite chaotic with a miriad of staff hustling behind the reception. It took us at least 20 minutes of waiting and confusion to get the room keys, during which time my excitement for the resort certainly waned comsiderably. When at last we could proceed to the hillside room we were helped with all of our luggage and quite efficently ferried to the room by electic cart. Any checkin frustrations soon subsided upon seeing (and hearing) the incredible groups of giant fruit bats that reside on the trees of the island, where they sleep until sunset and then majestically set off in search of fruit trees on Busuanga island. The sight of them launching themselves towards Busuanga every sunset is a magical sight to behold.
Garden King Suite
For the first night we had one their Garden King Suite rooms which seemed to have been fairly recently constructed and was quite reasonable at around USD $200 per night. This type of room is spacious and cosy, i liked it, you do feel slightly far from the beach views though which is a shame on a such a beautiful private island.
The next day we transferred to one of the well appointed Sunset Villas right on the beach facing Busuanga island. The Sunset villas do look slightly old from the outside, partly due to their age and the traditional native construction. On the inside though they have been fairly recently remodelled though didn't quite reach the standard i expected for around USD$400 per night.
You can check all the Club Paradise rooms here for USD$300-$400 per night.
Club Paradise beach is a long stretch of fine powdery white soft sand and surrounded by crystal clear waters. There are life guards on duty and even if you are not snorkeling, the swimming for adults and kids alike is perfect. There's also a sizeable pool conveniently located only a few steps from the beach. There are two protected reefs to the south and north of the beach area, apparently these reefs have now been protected for at least a decade and so boast a plethora of fish species.
On our first day we immediately headed out to the area where we had sighted schools of Jack fish earlier. What a great experience to see so many fish schooling together and apparently in no hurry to leave despite numerous snorkelers around. May be they realized life was certainly much easier here at a "private" reef out of the reach of the local fishermen. Either way we enjoyed their company endlessly and it's one of my best snorkeling experiences anywhere. Apart from the Jack fish, there are a good selection of quite large reef fish again growing to sizes you might struggle to see at other unprotected reefs in the Philippines. We spotted both octopus and rays, the waters here were extremely clear, great for underwater photography.
There's a Padi dive center offering reef and wreck dives in the area, and also day trips to the famous Apo reef which i would love to try next time.
This is where Club Paradise shines, the menu for dinner is vast and everything we ordered was delicious. My only gripe would be a couple of the fancier options were perhaps less filling than you would like. Our dinners were also entertaining with the resorts large resident bird (a Night Heron) sometimes popping by for a cheeky snack of left overs. For breakfast they have an outstanding buffet, with a vast choice, this time we spotted the islands huge resident Monitor lizards which have a secret home under the restaurant floor.
Club Paradise is sold as a luxury resort, though it didn't quite give that impression from the accomodations and sometimes the service, but in any case it can be highly recommended for the snorkeling experience on their protected reefs.
Busuanga Bay Lodge, Busuanga Island
Busuanga Bay Lodge is situated on the western coast of Busuanga island and around 40 minutes by van from the airport. They charge around PHP2000 (USD$40) per head for the transfer.
The resort sits quite high on the hillside of a peninsula in a scenic cove that is protected from storms by a line of islands off the islands west coast. The cove is a popular mooring area for those with sailing or motoryachts, nearby Marina del Sol Resort and Yacht club offer moorings and other yacht services such as refuelling.
Being perched on the hillside gives the resort clubhouse with pool and restaurant perfect panoramic view of the bay. We loved the view on arrival, something a quite different than a tropical island view.
If you want to maximise the bay view you have the choice of a Hilltop suite or Clubhouse suite in the main building - both have a lovely bay view. Wanting to be close to the waters edge, I chose the Waterfront King room which is down at the shoreline. The views are still still good though ofcourse not the same as being up on a hill with the more panoramic view. I was impressed by the size of the rooms, the one we had was around 53sqm and felt huge. Also i felt the rooms were more impressive than the photos suggested. May be the clean design of the interiors looks a little plain in a photograph. The rooms prices vary depending on the season and room type from USD$150 to $600. The most exclusive villas are a whopping 253sqm with two bedrooms are around USD$600 per night, have small private pools and magnificent views of the bay.
You can check all the Busuanga Bay Lodge rooms here for $200-$600 per night.
So the beach here isn't really for swimming or snorkeling, for those activities you'll be better off taking one of their island tours to their own private island of South Cay. They also offer boat trips to further a field islands, such as Black island or Coron island.
The menu here is simpler than the other two resorts, but the food was good and the views from the restaurant are wonderful. At night the outdoor dining with a breeze is a delight.
I particularly enjoyed staying at both Two Seasons Coron Island resort and Busuanga Bay Lodge and would stay at them both again. Club Paradise was enjoyable but didn't quite live up to the luxury experience that they promise.