Coron is not really a biking destination yet. People don’t go here to sample the singletrack and trails, but to swim in its crystal clear waters, marvel at the islands’ fantastic limestone cliffs, and to dive and snorkel in the archipelago’s incredible coral reefs and historic shipwrecks. That’s why Kara and I came to Coron, Palawan—we wanted to soak in the islands’ beauty, which begs for words that are beyond superlative.
But since we had a half-day of free time before our tour of the islands of Coron and Culion, we decided that we could explore Coron’s poblacion and its surrounding areas. Since everyone was telling us to check out the Maquinit hot springs, we decided to give this tourist trap a visit.
We could have just taken a tricycle, since it was just about 30 minutes away. But instead we opted to rent mountain bikes and pedal all the way there. I’ve always maintained that apart from walking, the best way to get to know an area is on two wheels.
Coron’s poblacion is like any tourist town. There are plenty of shops and restos there that cater to the hordes of local and foreign tourists who are drawn to Coron because of tales of its otherwordly seascapes. But beyond the poblacion or centro are sleepy barangays which are accessible by dirt roads.
The road to our destination, which was Maquinit Hot Springs, was almost always shaded by trees. To the side, we could see the sea and the towering cliffs of the islands beyond. We passed by a dock where fishing boats were moored. A nice cool breeze made the whole ride even more pleasant.
Aside from the occasional tricycles and motorcycles, we were the only ones on that road.
Before we knew it, we were already there in Maquinit. Apparently, we were the first visitors to the resort. We understood why the minute we dipped our feet into the pool. It was a warm sunny day not exactly the best time to take a dip in a scorching hot spring.
Locals say that tourists usually come to the hot spring in the evening, when the temperature in the island drops, and a dip in a 41 degree celsius pool becomes relaxing. But we visited it late in the morning when the sun was almost at its peak, and so the dip in the hot spring was not exactly soothing.
After spending almost an hour in the resort, it was time to head back for some real island adventure. I wish I could have biked some more, but our itinerary was tight.
Try Biking to Calauit
Bikers who are looking for something more challenging may try biking all the way from Coron to the Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary which is more than 70 kilometers away. Kara and I rode there on a rented motorcycle. On mountain bikes, it will be a tiring journey, but the scenery is more than worth it. The eroded road going to Calauit itself would be a treat for mountain bikers looking for some gnar.
Best of all, you will have to stay overnight in Calauit in an open cottage in full view of giraffes and zebras.
If you want a one-of a-kind souvenir shot, haul your bike on the boat going to Calauit and ride it in the wildlife sanctuary itself.
Get a photo of yourself riding in the open plains, with giraffes, calamian deer and zebras in the background! Who else can boast of going on an African Safari on a mountan bike? I would have liked to do this, but we had to budget our time.
Our guide in Calauit mentioned bikes are allowed on the island. However, bikers still needed to hire the island’s tour truck to guide them so as not to spook the animals.
Payong Bikes rents out mountain bikes for Php 80 an hour, Php 300 half day, and Php 500 whole day. They have size 15 – 17 bikes, which have Shimano Alivio components with hydraulic brakes. You can reach them at 0918 5667838 and 09215603525. They can also be reached through their FB page.
Entrance fee to the Maquinit Hot Spring is Php 150 per person.