Busuanga Island offers more than the usual tourist spots – here there are hidden gems and undiscovered sands. And the best thing is that you’ll have them all to yourself.
However, that’s only if you know where to go. Our custom-made road trip around the island takes you off-the-grid. If you’ve already seen everything from Coron Town, then get your wheels and get ready for an adventure around the unique tourist spots on Busuanga Island.
Coron Town is popular. The busiest island-hopping tours leave from here, and you’re likely to arrive and depart by ferry here. No Name Bar is a lot of fun and Levine’s is a great little food shack. Coron Town Proper has everything a tourist would need, right?
Unfortunately, this popular town is also home for the rest of the backpackers that, like you, are struggling to find reasons to escape the town.
Get away from the organised tours, the crammed day-trip boats, and explore even more Coron tourist spots throughout Busuanga Island. Use our Road Trip guide to Busuanga Island and you’re likely to have those tourist spots all to yourself.
- Roadtripping Busuanga Island Tourist Spots
- 1st Day: Discover Concepcion
- 2nd Day: Wreck Diving and Island Hopping
- 3rd Day: Beach Camping the North
- 4th Day: the Eastern Leg
- Where to Stay
- Where to Eat
- Busuanga Island Road Trip Summary
- Busuanga Island Road Trip Budget Breakdown
WEE TIP: you’re not going to have mobile signal for a lot of this trip, so be prepared. Try and save/pin all the locations you need before you leave Coron Town. Concepcion also has a really strong Globe signal now – they got a new mast installed about a month before we were in town!
Roadtripping Busuanga Island Tourist Spots
To begin with, you’ve an easy drive to the west. In Concepcion you can check out waterfalls, spend days exploring uninhabited islands, take in gorgeous sunsets and wreck dive. You’ll even be surprised to find a happy hour with an infinity pool.
From there, you’re going to enjoy one of the best beaches on the island at Ocam Ocam. Feel free to stay the night here in a treehouse, or head to Coron’s best-kept secret: Atilo Beach.
The final leg of your road trip around Busuanga Island takes you down the eastern leg. You can check-in at Cheeki Diver Inn (formerly Vicky’s Guesthouse) and go kayaking or diving with dugongs.
WEE TIP: the northern parts of the road around Busuanga Island are far from smooth (and best avoided in heavy rain altogether). The road at the most northerly point of Busuanga is a swamp after heavy rain, making the drive impossible. That being said, if the weather is on your side and you’re confident in your semi-automatic skills, then be brave and try it out.
We were told to try it at our peril but were really glad we took the risk. The tourist spots on Busuanga are more difficult to reach but totally worth the effort.
Day 1: Discover Concepcion
Get Your Wheels
First thing’s first: you’ll need your wheels for the next few days. If there are two of you then try share x1 motorbike between you. Rent your motorbike from Angels Motorbike Hire at a cost of P500 (you should be able to make a deal for P450 a day).
You’ll need a semi-automatic for the bumpy roads. If you’ve not ridden one before just ask them to give you a quick demo. The guys here will provide a hand-drawn map with suggested stops around the island that you can see below.
WEE TIP: Try not to take all of your luggage with you – you want to travel as lightly as possible. Your back will be grateful! The owner of Angels kindly let us leave our big rucksacks in his house for a few days or you can ask your accommodation in Coron Town to store it for a fee.
Now you’re all set for Busuanga Island’s more remote tourist spots! Driving west, head towards Concepcion Town, which will be your base for the night. This small town will take around 45 minutes to reach.
Visit Concepcion Falls
While the other backpackers are busy island hopping, you’ll find this lovely waterfall refreshingly empty. For a P100 donation, you can swim in the natural pool, dive off the ledge and do your best Mysterious Girl impression under the rocks. It’s a short 5-10 minute walk from the parking area, just over the bridge.
WEE TIP: we had to pay the P100 fee to enter. This ‘environmental admission fee’ was invented a week before we arrived, apparently. We met others that didn’t need to pay, it just depends on whether the entrance is manned. Annoyingly, there might also be a wee boy happy to give you a ‘tour’ to the waterfall. Sure, he’ll stick his hand out at the end but P10 or so should do.
An infinity pool on a backpacker budget? It’s possible at Al Faro resort, found just down the bay from Concepcion. From 5-7pm every night they do the old favourite rum & coke for P60, which is also available for non-guests to enjoy.
If you arrange it with Busuanga Backpackers beforehand, they’ll pick you up from there by boat for P200 total. Or, if your group spend more than P1500 combined they’ll throw the transfer in for free.
Coron Town is not the only jumping-off point to visit incredible islands and we’ll let you in on a secret – it’s cheaper, less crowded, and easier when you’re further up the coast!
While the stops may not be as recognisable as the lakes and lagoons of the Ultimate Coron Tour, the white sand beaches of Calumbuyan Island and the Jurrasic Park vibes of Black Island are pretty damn incredible.
Busuanga Backpackers offer custom tours from P2500 (total for the group!), and your options will look this:
These tours hold a maximum of 6-8 people and you can pay a little extra for lunch cooked by your hosts at Busuanga Backpackers. They’re basically private tours that you can organise however you like.
If you’ve had enough of one place, then just let your captain know and he’ll be happy to take you to the next. This is quite the contrast to the strict structure of the Coron Town tours and makes these Busuanga Island tourist spots much more appealing.
Day 2: Wreck Diving and Island Hopping
If you’re a scuba diver, you’re in for a treat. If not, enjoy your day island hopping!
As the wreck-diving capital of the Philippines, scuba divers would be mad to miss out on experiencing the underwater world of Busuanga Island. The bay is home to some of the best-preserved WWII shipwrecks in the world and it’s easy to see why Coron is on many divers’ radars.
WEE TIP: if you dive with the Coron Town operators, you’re in for a long boat ride to the wreck sites (1hr30-2hrs). Coming from Concepcion, it’s just 15 minutes. This lets everybody have a long lunch break at the incredible Calumbuyan Island in between the second and third dive. Not to worry if you’re not qualified for deep dives – there are of plenty of opportunities to snorkel at some of the wrecks and sandbanks.
Pirate Divers Concepcion our choice
Small dive groups, un-crowded sites and competitive prices – Pirate Divers know how to enjoy a relaxed day diving. This company is the cheapest in Concepcion by a long way, and that being the case some reviews complain about the equipment.
Sure, the equipment is a bit old, so just be sure to double-check your regs before you start diving. We didn’t have any problems with the equipment during our dives. In fact, you can read about the biggest problem we had in our Coron RAG here.
- The Sandpit
- Landing Craft
- P4600 for 3 dives (2 wreck + 1 reef) including all equipment
Coron Town Proper or Concepcion?
We know that x3 dives are roughly P3,300-3,5000 from Coron Town Proper, so why would you pay more out here?
First of all, you have the advantage of time. From Coron Town Proper, you’ll spend around 90 minutes getting to your dives sites and 90 minutes getting back – this means less time between dives and potentially less time underwater.
Since you’re already at Concepcion, you only have a 15-minute ride to your sites. This gave us around an extra two hours to snooze and snorkel on Calumbuyan Island, which was an amazing experience in itself. In fact, it ended up being one of the best tourist spots we visited on Busuanga Island.
Had we planned it a little better, we could even have brought our tent and camped on the island for P200 pp, per day.
Another advantage is the group size. We were the only people with our Divemaster, and Simon took x3 other people. Some people told us horrendous stories from Coron Town of 8 divers to one Divemaster, of people losing their group within the wrecks, often with 20+ crammed on the boats, kit and all. In our opinion, it’s worth the extra money to have a much more chilled day.
You’re in good hands with Simon (owner) and the entire boat crew. Even though the visibility wasn’t great when we were there, they did their best to make the dives as interesting as possible.
Sascha – our Divemaster on the day – was great. He even had us practicing our AOW maneuvers during the safety stop, which was a much-needed reminder!
After your diving, enjoy some cheap drinks or milkshakes in Ann and Mike’s. If you’re really hungry, you can grab some pizza and beers at Bella Louise. After a busy day, head back to your accommodation for a good night’s sleep. If you haven’t been island-hopping yet, then that’s what you’ll do tomorrow, or move on and head north.
Day 3: Beach Camping & The North
It’s now time to wave goodbye to Concepcion and make your way north on the (bumpy) island roads of Busuanga Island towards the town of New Busuanga.
WEE TIP: you won’t believe this unless you see it – we certainly didn’t. Busuanga Island has a safari park in Busuanga Town. Yup. Calauit Island National Park is the crazily-conceived idea of an ex-president to import animals from all over the work and create a safari experience. Entry to the zoo costs P100. The animals are underfed and malnourished, and staff complain about missing wages. A seriously sketchy and sad operation.
Ocam Ocam Beach
First stop? Ocam Ocam beach (P20 entry/parking). The road down to this beach may be tricky and the turnoff sign is hard to find from the main road, but we promise you it’s worth the effort.
The views over to Black Island are outrageous and we were surprised by how un-commercialised it is. Apart a handful of beach ‘resorts’ run by locals (which charge just P500 a night for a beachfront treehouse) there’s really nobody here. Without a doubt, it’s one of the Busuanga Island tourist spots that nobody else will have heard of.
- You’ll need to order lunch early from the lady who runs Sunset View. Be prepared to wait around an hour as you watch her husband grab his fishing boat and go and catch your lunch! It doesn’t get much fresher than that. The meal for two was around P400 and delicious.
WEE TIP: get used to driving one-handed! Driving through each small ‘village’ you’ll be greeted with huge smiles and rows of kids waving back at you – their enthusiasm’s infectious.
Visit Black Island
From Ocam Ocam beach you also have the option of enjoying a quick trip to Black Island. Expect to pay around P500 per person for what is essentially a private tour – we were too busy relaxing on the beach to bother. However, other backpackers told us that it really is an amazing place.
Now it’s up to you to decide where you want to sleep tonight. The treehouse huts at Ocam Ocam are tempting, but we wanted a night in the tent under the stars. That being the case, we hopped back on the scooter and braved the sometimes impassable road heading north.
WEE TIP: as we’ve already mentioned, the road from Ocam Ocam heading north can be treacherous. There was a little rain the day before our journey, but we thought we’d try it anyway: the road was fine. It’s bumpy, hilly and can be difficult to drive. If you take your time and go slow you shouldn’t have any issues.
Heading slowly uphill you’ll get great views of the northern coast of Busuanga, and come across a few shacks along the way. Eventually, you’ll arrive at the unassuming, and frankly, mysterious Atilo Beach (Google Maps PIN: 12.258524, 119.990317). P100pp to visit for the day (if you stay overnight you’ll need to pay for x2 days).
This is such a beautiful stretch of white sand and sea. The sisters working there didn’t speak any English, but we managed to ask about staying the night in the tent. We believe we were the first people to ask to do that!
The Atilo Beach Mystery
Clearly, somebody’s spent some money here but we couldn’t find out who. Nobody on Busuanga Island seems to have heard of this beach. There are lovely decorations on the tables, plenty of hammocks and lots of space to relax. If you manage to find out what the deal is here, please get in touch in our Comments section and let us know! Our best guess is that a nearby dive school uses it as a pit-stop for lunchtime.
It cost us P200 to pitch our tent. The sisters picked us fresh coconut (P50) and cooked us up some chicken adobo (P100 pp) which really hit the spot. To top it all off, you’ll have beautiful sunset views from our self-titled sunset viewpoint a short walk away. Atilo Beach was one of the highlights of our Busuanga Island road trip.
WEE TIP: If you’re not travelling with a tent (Momittas in Coron Town rent tents for P700 per day if you’re interested) worry not – there are budget accommodation options further along the coast including Camp Benedikt and Cashew Grove.
Day 4: the Eastern Leg
What a view to wake up to in the morning! If you’re an early riser, then head for a swim and pack up the tent. If you’d like to spend a bit more time here and stay another night in the north, then take your time. But there are still a few more tourist spots to see on Busuanga Island.
And that includes a few other incredible, deserted beaches dotted along the northern coast. Many of them are unfortunately owned by the few resorts on the northern coast. Others are rocky coves, and the nearby islands are a mixture of both. Some of them are reachable from Camp Benedict and Cashew Grove, who also organise day trips and tours.
Vicky’s Guesthouse The Cheeki Diver Inn
Today you’re going to travel even further along to the town of San Jose and stay at the highly recommended the Cheeki Diver Inn (privates from P500). Here, you have the chance to kayak to Rock Island and other deserted island beaches, or go diving with the dugongs.
If however, you find that you arrive after the boat and kayaks have left for the day, there isn’t really anything else to do here. We found that out the hard way. We’d recommend making the most of the morning at Atilo Beach, arriving later in the day and staying the night.
If you don’t fancy a fourth night on the road, then enjoy the drive back to Coron Town via the Airport. If you stay the night at Cheeki Diver Inn, then Day 5 will be the day to head back to Coron Town Proper and drop off the bike.
And there you go! That’s our 4-5 day itinerary for a road trip around the best tourist spots on Busuanga Island. There are absolutely heaps of things to see on the island once you escape backpacker-infested Coron Town. Get in touch using our Comments section below if you have anything to add to our loop. Or if you solve the mysterious Atilo Beach mystery.
Finally, if you find yourself spending time in Coron Town Proper, check out the things to do from Coron Town too. Palawan next on your list instead? Then check out our Palawan Itinerary and make sure you don’t miss any of the highlights.
Where to Stay
Busuanga Backpackers our choice
The only real ‘backpacker’ option on the loop, Luke, Jen & Danica (plus hyperactive Buddy the dog) have created an affordable accommodation with a friendly atmosphere. The rooms are simple, comfortable and the hosts will help you out with all the information you need for your time on the island. They cook up quite the carbonara, too.
Dorms from P300, privates from P650
Ann & Mikes
Popular with families, Ann & Mikes is a friendly guesthouse located near the pier. Even if you don’t stay here, their dinner menu and cocktails are worth a visit, especially after a day’s diving.
Privates cottages (shared bathroom) from P800
Concepcion Divers Lodge
Right next to Conception Pier with its own (small) sandy beach area, this waterfront guesthouse offers rooms at reasonable prices in a great location.
Privates from P1,750
Busuanga Bay Lodge
With its own exclusive dive centre, yacht and infinity pool this is waaayyyy outside most backpacker’s budgets, but it’s there if you fancy a treat. They also have an excellent dive school – say hello to Quinn!
Rooms from Too Much!
This is the new kid on the block. Area 52 hadn’t yet opened when we rocked up to their bar with great coastal views. However, staff showed us the cute and well-designed rooms, which looked like great value for money. You get great views of Alam Indah beach, and you’re close to all the action. One to watch.
Rooms from P700 (fan), P1200 (AC)
Ocam Ocam Treehouse Huts
These are basic, no-frills huts with a pretty steep ladder up. They’re unique though, and there are plenty worse places to spend the night than gorgeous Ocam Ocam Beach.
Private huts from P500
Like we’ve already mentioned, we absolutely loved this place. If you have your own tent then it’s the perfect place to pitch up and enjoy the beach. You should get an incredible sunset, the freshest coconuts and the place all to yourself. You couldn’t be further from Coron Town here.
Day entry P100 pp (you’ll need x2 days). Tent pitch P200 overnight.
Vicky’s Guesthouse The Cheeki Diver Inn
Recently re-named and re-branded, we found out about this place by accident. It’s the best accommodation option in San Jose. Rooms are basic, but Vicky is a local expert and knows everything about the area. She’ll take you on excursions, island hopping, and if you’re lucky, diving with dugongs.
Privates from P500
Where to Eat
Laura’s Garden Restaurant
Like the other couple who were looking for a motorbike pit-stop, we stopped here for a late breakfast shortly before arriving to Concepcion Town. Tasty iced tea, huge fruit bowls (P220) and generous pancake portions (P150) combine with friendly service made it a fantastic motor-biking break in a peaceful garden setting.
Who can resist a pizza and bucket of beer for P600? We loved the friendly owner of this place (and the Scottish touches in memory of her late husband) with incredible sunset views. The bats make an appearance after sunset too. You’re best checking this place out after you visit Concepcion Falls as it’s right across the road. They also offer accommodation from P700 a night.
Bistro de Busuanga
Extremely cheap, this is a good option for both breakfast and dinner. We ate here a few times and although the food is nothing to write home about, it was good value for money.
Aaaaand there you have it – our guide to a roadtrip around Busuanga Island. This was the highlight of our trip to Coron (we added 5 days to our original plan here) and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
For more tips on what to do in Coron, check out our Ultimate Guide to Coron Town. Happy travels!
Busuanga Island Road Trip Summary
- Get your wheels sorted!
- Drive to Concepcion and visit the waterfalls and organic farms
- Organise your scuba diving for tomorrow. If you’re not a diver, organise your island hopping trip with Busuanga Backpackers
- Enjoy Happy Hour with your private transfer at Al Faro
- Depending on what you’ve organised, enjoy your diving or island hopping
- Relax after a tough day in paradise, sip some cocktails and take in the sunset
- Today you’re getting out of Concepcion! Back on the bike, head north
- If you really want to, check out Alam Indah beach. We’d recommend heading straight for some fresh lunch on Ocam Ocam beach instead
- If you skipped island hopping in Concepcion, then get to Black Island from Ocam Ocam
- Sleep in one of the local treehouse huts, or jump back on the bike and enjoy the challenge of driving north to Atilo Beach
- If you slept at Ocam Ocam, then head to Atilo Beach for the day
- If not, then go for a morning swim and pack away the tent. Today you’re heading for San Jose
- And if you arrive early enough, then head out kayaking or diving with Vicky
- If you’re a late arriver, then get check-in to the Cheeki Diver Inn and organise your trip for tomorrow
- Enjoy your final day trip!
- If you’ve done it already, then drive back to Coron Town Proper via the airport and drop off your bike
- Busuanga Backpackers
- Ann & Mike’s
- Concepcion Diver’s Lodge
- Area 52
- Busuanga Bay Lodge
- Ocam Ocam Treehouse
- Atilo Beach
- The Cheeki Diver Inn
- Laura’s Garden Restaurant
- Bella Louise
- Bistro de Busuanga
- Al Faro
Road Trip Budget Breakdown
- Angels Motorbike Hire
- P450 per day (x5 days)
- P150 for a tank of petrol (x2 tanks)
Total: P2,550 ($48)
- Private double
- P650 per night (x2 nights)
- x2 day entries (P100pp)
- x1 tent pitch (P200)
The Cheeki Diver Inn
- Private double
- P500 (x1 night)
Total: P2,400 ($46)
- Ocam Ocam Beach entry/parking (P10pp)
- Concepcion Falls entry (P100pp)
- Scuba Diving x3 (P4600pp)
Total: P9420 ($180)
Total for 5D/4N: P14370/$275
The above budget is for x2 people. Food and drink are not included. Scuba Diving and Island Hopping excursions are also not included (as this depends too much on your qualifications/preferences).
This budget breakdown isn’t meant to be an exact record of what we spent, but should give you a rough idea of what you’re likely to spend.
*all currencies accurate at the time of writing (Dec ’18)*
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