In Coron, Philippines, there are many tours to choose from. Most of them are day trips around the islands, but one stands out for being a night tour – the Coron Fireflies Tour.
Fireflies Tour Cost and Details
The fireflies tour costs 950PHP per person, which roughly translates to $19USD. This includes pickup and dropoff at your hotel, the speedboat ride to the mangrove swamp, and dinner. They also give you some bug repellant lotion (you need it!), but I’d bring extra!
General Overview and Details
The tour will pick you up in a 15 passenger van. Depending on where your hotel is, it could be close to the tour start time or an hour ahead of it. They tell everyone to be ready an hour ahead. This can be worrisome if you’re at a hotel late in the route – they’ll pick you up about 10 minutes before the tour!
The van takes you down to the dock, where it unloads. Depending on the number of tours they’re running that night, you might get split into different boats. You load up on the boats, then they pass out the bug repellant. And Philippines mosquitos are no joke! Use it all! (And seriously, bring extra!)
They also stagger the boats with the restaurant and the mangrove forest. So some boats will start at dinner, then the mangroves and fireflies. Others will start at the mangroves and then do dinner.
On the way to the mangroves is what I think is the most under-advertised part of the tour: it’s a phosphorescent bay! The water lights up when you touch it! And given that the boat itself disturbs the water, it’s constantly lighting up around. It was one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen! And it was a surprise from the pamphlet, which didn’t mention it at all!
When you get to the mangroves, they ask you to be quiet, because fireflies are easily disturbed. You’ll spend about 10 – 15 minutes observing them (and they really are cool!). Then, the boat takes you back to the dock or to dinner (depending on the order of the night).
Dinner is at a “floating restaurant” set in the bay and it’s served buffet style. The food was not amazing, but it was more than sufficient (and a great deal when you think that it’s included in the tour price!). You’ll get about 30 minutes to eat, so make sure to be somewhat quick about it. The tables are set with candles and tablecloths, so it’s pretty and peaceful out on the water.
And then you’re done! That’s the whole of the tour. When you get back to the dock, they’ll organize you into vans to go home based on which hotel you’re staying at.
Coron Fireflies Tour Thoughts & Reflections
This was one of the best tours I’ve ever taken, but there is some false advertising you should be aware of.
The pictures of the tour make it seem like you’ll get a chance to paddleboard in the mangroves. This is not the case. You’ll always be in a powerboat and there is not an opportunity to get out on the water in a kayak or on a paddleboard.
The advertisements show this tour as being very romantic. Honestly, I’d check your expectations on that one unless you take a private tour. They pack the speedboats to capacity and there are likely to be many children and families. So you’re not really going to have space or privacy to have a quick kiss! Dinner is also a lot of people in a relatively small space. Again, this depends on your definition of romantic!
And finally, the advertisements show lots of time for pictures. You will probably not get any pictures. It is dark, so your camera’s sensor will have to be very sensitive and the aperture quite large to have a chance. At dinner, it’s light enough you might get some shots. But getting the plankton or fireflies on camera is not likely. You are always on a boat where the awesome pictures would be, so a tripod is not going to work. And there’s no room for a tripod anyway. (This is also why the pictures in this post are from Coron – but not from that night!)
Even with the false advertisements, I still loved this tour and thought it was worth every penny! It was a magical experience to actually get to see phosphorescent plankton! And if you’ve never seen wild fireflies, it’s a really cool phenomenon.
If you’re in Coron, you should go on this tour! Just don’t expect the most romantic night of your life kayaking and having great pictures!