The tiny, inhabited island known as Pass Island in the waters surrounding Coron, is a popular destination for island hopping tours to relax and get lunch, despite being one of the furthest destinations from the town proper.
With nearly two hours (2hrs) travel time by motorboat from Coron’s town harbor, tourists often wonder what is the draw to Pass island… until they arrive.
Because the island is inhabited, there is a twenty-four (24) hour workforce available to sculpt, manicure, clean and build the islands facilities, and it shows. The island is somewhat of a rarity due to its ability to entertain dozens of boats full of tourists without putting much wear and tear on the island itself.
Some of the features found here on Pass Island include a well maintained (full sized) basketball court, several beach volleyball courts, over a dozen pavilions for picnickers and tourists to have their meals, a permanent tiki bar selling adult beverages, and even a permanent restroom building with running water. These are all great indicators that Pass island is very well cared for; and this attracts many day trippers from guided island hoppers, to solo sailors.
While an island this prepared for large groups is somewhat rare, it is not impossible to find. This place is very similar to Cowrie island in Honda Bay (Puerto Princesa), and Malacapuya island, also in Coron.
Just behind the basketball court, visitors may be surprised to see landscaped flowers (Bougainvillea) and shrubs behind a retaining wall, along with a staircase leading to the islands highest point. At one time, this hill was more of a mountain, but tens of thousands of years of rainstorms have eroded it down to a mere observation deck above the island; while at the same time, contributing tiny grains of sand to the soft sandy beach surrounding the island below.
Visitors have no shortage of activities here on Pass Island, so be sure to choose wisely as time can easily slip by while enjoying this gem.
End of an Island Hopping Day
Partly due to its distance from Coron Harbor, Pass Island also happens to be the final stop on Coron’s Island Hopping Tour C. Keep in mind that Coron island hopping tours are not very well standardized in comparison to El Nido, so there may be variation on how they are labeled.
On this day’s “Coron Island Hopping Tour C”, Pass Island happened to be one of just three stops, with it being the only actual island on the tour itself. This is because the other two stops on this advertised tour were the Irako Shipwreck and the Lusong Coral Garden, both of which are completely underwater.
While both the sunken Japanese wreck of the Irako and the thriving coral garden just off the shores of Lusong island are excellent for snorkeling activities, it would take their own articles to talk about all the sights there to see. This day began with the wreck dive, then the coral garden which are very close to each other, followed by a 30 min voyage to Pass island, and a significant amount of time there for food and activities.
All activities on Pass Island will likely end around 3pm to allow enough time to return to Coron by the Philippine Coast Guards imposed deadline of 5pm. This is to keep tour boats off the water, and safe, after dark.
The Island Itself
The beach is a sandy, gently sloping shore, dotted with rocks and soft coral. It is easy to tell that this has not been a popular spot for too long because the shallow waters surrounding the beach are still exploding with marine life and sponges/ soft coral, despite the large number of people wading around them.
Some of the silver fish can be territorial and a bit nippy, but that is common, and the bites wont hurt. Consider it a warning to find a different area to swim in.
Tour guides will recommend swimming out to the deeper waters where snorkelers won’t be interfering with the marine life, and therefore can observe from a safer distance. Swimming at least 80 meters offshore will be necessary to do so, but will definitely be worth the effort. Hard corals and many species of fish can be found in the waters off Pass island, so don’t forget to bring a GoPro or underwater capable camera along with you. Visitors will find that there are no noticeable waves or strong current here.
On land, there is plenty of space to distance yourself from other tourists for sunbathing and selfies. The beach itself is composed of clean, soft, white powdery sand, similar to Boracay’s White Beach. There are also a few volleyball courts in this area, again, with plenty of distance between you and the next group.
On the other side of the island, small groups of young, island-building mangroves line the shallow shores; with roots shooting right out of the water, forming a barrier against natural beach erosion.
The islands interior is home to many coconut palms that offer a natural respite from the tropical sun, incase you are too far from a pavilion. These trees are regularly stripped of their coconuts to offer a safe place to rest without the worry of falling objects.
A few beach dogs patiently wait for groups to finish their meals in hopes of getting a chance for some scraps. Thankfully, they are well fed, and therefore, not very aggressive.
Pass Island is a wonderful place to spend part of your island hopping day while in Coron. Enjoy!