1 PEAKING EARLY
For first-timers, the starting point in Coron has to be Mount Tapyas. It is not really a mountain. It is a 230m-tall hill with one side that, from a distance, seems to have been lopped off like an ugly cake shabbily cut near the middle and the portion taken away. The name "tapyas" is Tagalog for "lopped off".
A cement staircase 1m wide snakes up the hill. It is not an easy climb - 700 steps in all. Thinking myself fit as I run at least 30km a week, I think I can scale it in one go. But halfway up, my lungs, stuffed with nicotine in my younger days, are already bursting.
It is 4pm when I reach the summit. I hide in the shade and wait for the sun to set.
I see hundreds more make the same ascent. They begin crowding the viewing deck, taking innumerable photos with their phones, digital SLR cameras, GoPros and drones for their Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and other social media accounts that make them believe the world is watching them.
When they do stop documenting themselves, they scan the islands and the sea and, for a millisecond, manage to stay still.
On one side of the hill, away from the selfie-loving crowd, about a hundred sit quietly on the ground, facing the setting sun like sunflowers, basking in the afterglow.
Where: Mount Tapyas, at the heart of Coron town
Info: If you find yourself at the fringes of the town, you can take a motorised rickshaw there for 10 to 50 pesos (S$0.28 to S$1.40)
2 MERMAID'S RESTAURANT
Now hungry, I make my way down to La Sirenetta for dinner.
The restaurant is not easy to find. It sits at the end of a long pier, its corners held up by columns carved into the shapes of mermaids, from which it gets its name: The Little Mermaid.
It has become notorious for slow service. (That is why the owner has installed a billiard table.)
The culprit, I think, is the menu. There is just too much on offer - an assortment of pizza, pasta, rice dishes, seafood and cocktails.
It is a bit pricey by local standards.
A seafood pasta, beer and bottled water can set you back $14. But the place is quiet, airy and has an excellent view of the sea.
If you are not sure where you want to eat, this place is a safe bet. And if you want to watch the sunset with a beer or a cocktail in hand, this is also the place to be.
Where: Reef Pier, near Central Market, Coron Town Proper
Open: 11am to 10pm
Info: Call +63-918-903-7063. La Sirenetta accepts reservations, so to avoid a long wait in the queue, call first
3 A BAR WITH NO NAME
Well, it actually has a name: No Name Bar. It also has a solid reputation among tourists seeking to unwind after a whole day under the sun. It is a modest bar. There are about a dozen tables and a mini thatch-roofed cabana bar that opens to the street.
Cheap drinks are on offer - banana and watermelon shakes for $2.80, or a glass of Jim Beam for $3.30. It also has French fries, spring rolls, a quarter-pounder burger, sandwiches and everything else that goes well with liquor.
You go to this place to end the day. The bartender has a good ear for someone complaining of the heat and crowd, or recapping a satisfying romp at the beach.
Where: Barangay 4, National Highway, Coron Town Proper
Open: 2pm to 2am
Info: You can come in your swimming trunks, but do not forget your wallet
4 NIGHT-TIME STROLL
There are foreign faces everywhere. Most are European, many of them French, German and Spanish, plus a good number of Chinese and South Koreans. In the morning, they all head out to sea, hopping from one island to another to dive, snorkel or just take everything in. At night, they walk Coron's streets, this time hopping from one bar or restaurant to another.
There are plenty of kiosks, called "sari-sari", that sell all kinds of basics - soap and shampoo in sachets, sodas and bottled water, candy and crackers, beer and cigarettes, and mobile phone top-ups.
Hotels, lodges, backpackers' inns and hole-in-the- wall tour offices, blaring beach-appropriate songs like Matisyahu's One Day, line a two-lane "highway" that links everything in Coron.
People get around on a motorised rickshaw that can carry five for 10 to 50 pesos. For longer trips, rent a van at 150 pesos a person. But the most appropriate way to move around is by walking. After all, nothing is ever far in Coron.