It’s more than a century since the first batch of the leper colony made it to Culion. The island has transformed as the people turned it into a home and a beacon of hope. After scientists and doctors found a cure for leprosy, the inhabitants have not only moved on but have also removed the negative perception of the town.
The island has re-opened. Culion’s isolation from the world for years has allowed its forests and beaches to remain unspoiled. Its homes and corners tell a distinct story; many of the current residents, which were also descendants of the former leper colony, have tales of loss and redemption that will pique the interest of visitors. It is rising as a tourist destination in Palawan; the stories of its locals and the town will wait for adventure seekers looking for an alternative.
Culion is a major island in the Calamian Group (this includes Busuanga, Coron, and Linapacan). Like its counterparts, the waters surrounding it are dotted with smaller islands, underwater ecosystems perfect for snorkeling and diving, and white-sand beaches. Listed below are some of the attractions you can visit during your stay in Culion.
Historical Walking Tour
You can do a Culion town historical walking tour during your stay. Places of interest include the Culion Museum and Church, the maintained structures the leper colony had built, and a short climb to Aguila, which has a statue of Jesus Christ. It is also a fantastic place to catch the sunrise because of its location overlooking the town. Some tours from Coron include Bogor Marine Park, which you can easily access from Culion’s port.
You won’t need a guide for the historical tour; however, we recommend you get one because they provide a local’s insights that enrich the experience.
Learn more about the history of the town when it was still a leper colony. The Culion Museum has displays about the past of the town. You’ll get to watch some videos, see pictures, medical equipment, and other artifacts. You’ll read about the patients and the health workers living on the island. Hire a guide to get a more personal experience; some guides may even have a grandparent who came to the island with leprosy.
La Immaculada Concepcion Church
This church is centuries old and dates back to the 17th century when the Augustinians had it built. Some parts of its walls were taken from the nearby Fort Culion. Time took its toll on the church, which made the local government to restore it to prevent further damage and destruction. Some of the materials used in building the church were live corals.
Like many places in the Philippines, the Spanish conquistadors left an indelible mark on the country, exemplified by old forts and churches. Fort Culion has a history that dates back to the 1740s. The Augustinians had this centuries-old structure built. The fort isn’t as glorious as it once was when it was fending off invaders. You’ll see remnants of its past such as non-working cannons and its imposing walls. It also provides views of the town, the sea, and the nearby islands.
There are a couple of land destinations you can visit during your stay; these include Balanga Falls, San Ignacio Farm, and Pulang Lupa just to name a few.
The name of this destination means “red soil.” It provides a good vantage point to get bird’s eye views of the town and surroundings below. You have the option to follow the trail which takes around two hours (or less) or hop on a motorcycle to get reach it within half an hour. Pulang Lupa is a good place to watch the sunset or sunrise.
Culion has a handful of viewpoints; one of them is Agila Viewpoint. You’ll need to walk up more than 300 steps to reach the deck. You might be sweating or breathing heavily after the climb, but the fresh air and views will refresh you. The climb up is scenic so don’t hurry. One of the most recognizable structures in Culion is the Christ the Redeemer statue, which you’ll see during your trip to Agila Viewpoint.
You can also go on another island hopping activity. Some of the places of interest include Malcapuya Island, Banana Beach, Bulog Bulog Beach, and Bogor Marine Park.
If you want to go to a beautiful island during your stay here, Malacapuya is the place to go. Many tourists visit this destination along with Bulog Dos and Banana Island from Coron. However, you can visit Malcapuya from Culion as well. It has powdery white shores and clear blue waters that will entice you to take a dip or go swimming. Beach-bumming, sunbathing or taking long walks are other things you can do. You have to rent an entire boat to visit Malcapuya or other spots near Culion. This is more expensive than the joiner tours from Coron.
From Coron, the tour that includes Banana Island and Malcapuya Island costs around P950 to P1200 depending on the operator. On the other hand, if you do the same trip from Culion, you might have to pay around P2500 to P4000 for the boat. Doing the island hopping from Coron may take longer, but is cheaper compared to doing it from Culion.
Snorkeling and Diving
The waters around Culion are also famous for snorkeling and diving. Some sites to include in your itinerary are the Crowning Glory Reef, Lusong Shipwrecks, Lusong Coral Gardens, and Sangat Island.
Crowning Glory Reef
This Marine Protected Area is a beautiful reef and highly recommended by travelers who’ve been to Culion. The clearness of the waters makes it easy to see the fish and corals living in them. Crowning Glory Reef is near the town, making it a good place to visit even for just half a day.
Note: The last two sets of things to do are closer to Culion than Coron. The former doesn’t get as many tourists as the latter; this means you’ll have to rent a private boat, which is expensive for solo travelers or small groups. In Coron, you’ll easily find joiner tours, which is a cheaper alternative.