We were the only visitors during the first time we came to this white sand beach in the early 2000’s. Part of the Coron Island loop tour even back then, Banol Beach was our lunch stop for the day. It was practically deserted with no human-made structures in sight. Resting after our exhilarating snorkeling experience at nearby Skeleton Wreck, we got to enjoy lunch, packed for us by our resort, under the shade of the trees. The serene scenery all around us made for an ideal afternoon rest.
More than ten years later we were back in Coron, Palawan, this time as part of a 10-person tour group on a rented motorized outrigger. Coron is much more popular now and there were at least five boat loads of visitors on Banol by the time we arrived. There were also several native-style huts now lining the white-sand beach where visitors took lunch prepared for them by their boat crews. Some things haven’t changed much though – Banol Beach is still one of the most popular lunch stops for the Coron Island Loop tour.
Banol has one of the longer strips of white-sand on Coron Island. Huge karst formations tower over the beach while kalachuchi or plumeria trees, some of them sprouting from the limestone rocks, cast their intricate shadows on the sand below. To our relief, many things haven’t really changed. The waters around Banol have also remained clean, clear and pleasing to the eye.
Underneath those bright aquamarine and turquoise waters are equally colorful marine life that we soon discovered after our boat crew helped us snorkel several meters from shore. We were pretty impressed with how they went about their job, encouraging and assisting even non-swimmers and those who have not previously snorkeled to explore the coral reef and its inhabitants just offshore.
Even better snorkeling (and diving) could be had at nearby Skeleton Wreck which we explored during our first visit. The wreck is actually a sunken World War 2 Japanese vessel that was caught and sunk along with 10 other freighters and gunboats by aircraft carrier-based US Navy bombers in 1944. The sunken vessel was eventually overgrown by corals which in turn attracted a wide variety of marine life. This and many other sunken wrecks in the area have pushed Coron to the list of the top 10 dive sites in the world according to Forbes Traveler Magazine.
There are other beaches on Coron Island that are also used as lunch stops by boats plying the Coron Island Loop such as nearby Smith’s Point and Atwayan Beaches and Kalachuchi Beach. Our boat, however, detoured off to the Coron Youth Club or CYC Beach, which is on the itinerary of most boats doing the Coron Island Loop tour. This beach lies on an islet just off Uson Island, an island northwest of Coron Island.
Banol Beach and CYC Beach are part of a day-long package tour offered by boat operators in Coron called the Coron Island Loop Tour. For directions on how to get to Coron, Palawan, and for more information about the Coron Island Loop tour, go to this page. (Please take note that prices may have already changed since this page was last posted.)