Together with El Nido, Coron is one of the must-see destinations of northern Palawan in the Philippines, beguiling visitors with its island-hopping excursions amidst jaw-dropping karst seascapes. It’s no surprise that this idyllic tropical paradise always finds its way in travel magazines and influencer content!
Over the New Year holiday, I spent my fourth visit to Coron with family visiting from the US, and extended my stay for four more days to explore places outside of the main town. I rented a scooter from Mico Motor Rental (+63 9554325751), a recommended motorcycle rental shop located behind McDonald’s Coron, to see off-the-beaten track spots on Busuanga Island, the large island shared by two municipalities: Coron and Busuanga.
One of the hidden gems I discovered was Coron Natural Farms, an accredited farm tourism destination and farm school by Calamianes Eco-Xperience, one of the pioneer tour operators in Coron for nearly 25 years. This countryside retreat offers day tours and overnight stays in a 25-hectare rural estate, located in Sitio Panggawaran, Barangay Decalachao. The farm is 27 km away from Coron Town and only 6 km away from Francisco B. Reyes Airport (Busuanga Airport).
Here are seven reasons why visitors should spend the night at this unique place on their next visit to Coron:
1. Enjoy a change of scenery
Without a doubt, the coastal and underwater attractions of Coron are world-class, including its beaches, marine lakes, wildlife, and shipwrecks. But if you’re looking for a change of scenery or simply want to take things slow for a while, Coron Natural Farms offers something totally different –a perfect escape from all the sea-based activities. Whether you’re heading there by pre-arranged 4×4 land transfer or self-drive scooter, the 45-minute ride from Coron town to the farm offers beautiful views of the rolling countryside. (As of the time of writing, the 1.5 km access road to the farm was unpaved and one must be extra cautious when taking a scooter.)
2. Learn about organic farming
Coron Natural Farms is a lush oasis that offers a unique immersive glimpse of eco-friendly farming practices and organic living. During my first day there, the head caretaker Kuya Juan toured me around the farm property, together a Dutch couple day-tripping from town. He showed us different ways the entire farm works as a circular economy through innovative livestock raising, vegetable farming, aquafarming, bio-composting and vermiculture.
3. Eat farm-fresh food
After the guided walking tour of the farm under the mid-day heat, we were treated to a generous lunch made from produce grown at the farm or sourced from the local community. This included a large fried tilapia – fished out from the aquaponic tanks during the tour – as well as red rice harvested from the rice paddies in front of the hillside farmhouse. I particularly enjoyed the alimango or mud crabs caught by locals from the Delachao River, which runs along the farm estate.
4. Paddle down a quiet river
The Decalachao River runs along the farm, meandering for 6 kilometers before emptying out into Maricaban Bay in northern Busuanga. It’s a relaxing spot for kayaking or stand-up paddling, cruising down the narrow waterway lined with mangrove trees and nipa palms.
5. Relax in a springwater pool
The hillside farmhouse has a wooden-floored patio overlooking the rice paddies and the nearby mountains. One can spend the whole day lounging here, reading a book on large rattan hammocks, before taking a cool dip in the swimming pool fed by natural springwater, which overflows to irrigate the farm.
6. Sleep peacefully (with fireflies)
Guests may book overnight stays at Coron Natural Farms through Calamianes Eco-Xperience or AirBnB. The farmhouse has running water, drinking water, and 24-hour electricity. For a rustic experience, there are no rooms provided. It features a main kitchen with electric kettle and refrigerator, a souvenir shop, bathroom with toilet and a large bucket of water (for a typical Filipino “shower”), and an adjacent dirty kitchen where the staff does the cooking.
Visitors sleep on the open-air patio on comfortable mattress with pillows and blankets under a pop-up mosquito net tent to keep the bugs away. Nights on the farm were very peaceful with nothing more than the cacophony of crickets – a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of Coron town. If you’re lucky, a few fireflies may wander into the patio to send you off to dreamland when the lights go out.
The farm will soon be offering glamping accommodations in canopy tents located next to the rice paddies and along the river. An additional accommodation in the form of a thatch hut – inspired by the traditional dwelling of the indigenous Tagbanwa people – is currently being constructed behind the farmhouse.
7. Marvel at the native birdlife
The farmhouse patio is a comfortable vantage point to observe resident and migratory birds perched on nearby trees or hunting in the rice paddies below. Among the birds I spotted – thanks to a pair binoculars I brought with me – were cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis), collared kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris), brown shrike (Lanius cristatus), and white-breasted waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus). Beyond the farm, Calamianes Eco-Xperience can also arrange birdwatching tours for both novice and expert birders around Busuanga Island.