El Rio Y Mar Resort – Coron - Busuanga, Palawan Philippines

[Description below provided by El Rio Y Mar Resort]

El Rio y Mar Resort, is one of the best 4-star accommodation in Coron, Busuanga, Palawan. It is one of the top hotels in Coron, offering quite luxury lifestyle, first-class services, gracious accommodations and verdant surroundings.

Quaint and reserved. This Filipino native-inspired, eco-friendly and quiet luxury resort is offering 34 air-conditioned cottages with gardens, a spa, a private sand beach and an infinity pool that overlooks the sea, the picturesque views of the calming blue waters, the beautiful bay, and the hills of Coron Island.

Charming accommodations are well-situated between the mountain and the beach, ranging on the beach front and surrounded by lush mangroves wherein the best view of the sunset is from your own verandah.

With its lovely location, you can easily access to the sightseeing attractions and activities such as scuba diving, water sports, natural hiking trails and trips to neighboring islands.
Other part of the area is surrounded by enchanting mangroves and stunning views of neighboring islands.

Reaching the resort

Getting to the resort requires a 1-hour flight from NAIA (Manila), followed by a 20-25 minute van ride on a bumpy road. This will take you to a small dock from which you continue by boat.

This 25 minute boat ride along the Panggawaran River is beautiful!.
We were given refreshment drinks and a small sandwich during the boat ride.

The arrival

When we arrived at resort, we had a warm welcome from the staff at the boat dock by the pier reef Bar.
They were singing a welcome song to us and presented us with refreshment drinks.
After the welcome ceremony they gave us a short tour around the facility and then we were escorted to our bungalow.


The bungalow
Our bungalow was located directly at the beach (10 meter to the water). It had a kind of balcony and a small garden in front of it.
The bungalow contains a large room with (in our case) a large double bed a single bed.
There is enough storage room for several people.
The beautiful large en-suite bathroom features a toilet, a sink and a shower area.

We had warm water during our entire stay!
In the room there are also a couple of electrical outlets available (220 volt, 2 pin EU standard).
However, if you have many battery chargers etc. one or more splitters would be recommended.

Electricity was always available during our entire stay!



The balcony

The sunbeds


The main room has air-conditioning and a large ceiling fan. There is also a safe and a small fridge available in the room.

We had a large balcony with a great view over the bay! Right in front of the bungalow there is also a small garden on which you can relax on a couple of sunbeds.

Housekeeping will take care of your bungalow every day. This includes the complete cleaning, make your beds and changing the towels.

All done very well!


The sunset...


The resort & facilities

There are a couple of common area’s on the Island, the restaurant, the pool area and the bar on the pier.

There is also a reception and a couple of small (souvenir) stores and a public toilet. In the stores you can, besides souvenirs and clothing, also buy some snacks, drinks, cigarettes etc.


The bar is located above the water at the end of the pier. This is a great location! From here you can see the complete resort in one overview.

You can also look over the water or see the beautiful sunset behind the surrounding hills.

The pier is surrounded by all kind of fish, and is therefore also great for snorkeling!

Note: It is also possible to pay by bank / credit card..


Bar on the pier

Main pool at night Main pool Bar on pier



WiFi is available and strongest around the common areas like the restaurant and bars, and can be used to make call via network (e.g. WhatsApp) Cellphone signal is available most of the time (we were able to make calls)

The 3G and 4G network is mainly very week.



The restaurant

The restaurant, is located in the middle of the resort, close to the beach.

In the morning you can enjoy an great buffet breakfast. If you applied for full board, you can enjoy the buffet lunch as well.

In the evening there’s a a la carte dinner.

The quality of the food is very good!

This Resort provides Asian specialties in combination with Western food. They use fresh ingredients like fish, meat, vegetables and fruits.

If you are a diabetic and / or have any type of food allergy they will prepare separate mails for you.

During dinner there will be live music in the dining room and at your table.


The divecenter

The reason we came to the El Rio y Mar Resort was diving…

On the resort there is a dive center called ‘Dugong divecenter’ (http://dugongdivecenter.com).

This from origin German diving center owned by Dirk Fahrenbach is one of the pioneers of scuba diving in North Busuanga, Palawan.

His team consists of a large team of instructors, guides and boat crew.
They have 2 motorized wooden Banka’s which can hold around 12 divers, and one polyester speedboat.


The dive center has a storage for your dive equipment. They also have separate rinse bins for your equipment as well.

Note: for photographers; there is also a separate bin with fresh water for cameras available.

There is a small swimming pool in front of the dive center used for educational purposes.


Basically you have to make sure you have your equipment on board of the boat. (Help will be offered by the crew if needed).

Nitrox is available on request, note that you will be charged an extra fee for the nitrox. Standard tanks are 12 liter aluminum DIN connection (15 liters are available on request.)

There are 3 default dives a day during a boattrip.
Most of the guides are locals and very good at their job!
Bottom line is that the dive center is professional with high safety standards and well managed. Compliments to the entire dive team crew!


The diving

Diving, that’s what we’re here for!
As usual I always warn our readers that we are  ‘spoiled’ divers… we’ve been diving all over the world on all the top locations. Therefore the interpretation of our dive experience might differ from less ‘spoiled’ divers…

As the name of the divecenter already reveals, you can find Dugongs here! Actually there is a protected Dugong area
The divecenter offers a eco-tourism program "Dugong Watching“ as a full-day excursion to several feeding grounds along the Busuanga coast line for scuba divers.





Dugongs are a wonderful, but endangered, species which can only be found on a small number places around the world.
So, we didn’t want to miss this trip!

First we received a briefing about the dugongs and how to deal with them.
Then the rangers of the 'Dugong watching program' will try to spot the dugongs.

The planning is to make 2 dives on a small coral garden and sea grass bed once the dugongs are spotted.


We were lucky to have several Dugong encounters on both dives!

For what we've heard there is a 80% chance to encounter Dugongs during these trips.

The current population is over a 100 in this area !

Besides Dugong trip, they also offer daily diving trips in the surrounded area. This area is also known for its large number of WW2 wrecks, including a Japanese WWII fighter plane wreck just 10 minutes away from the El Rio Y Mar Resort.

This aircraft is a late model Nakajima Ki-43-IIb Hayabusa and lies around a depth of 40 meters.



Besides the airplain wreck we also dived the Kyokuzan Maru Wreck, this Japanese freighter measures about 136m long and lies almost upright. Both dives were great!

Other dives in this area are mainly ‘muck’ dives, meaning that you will most of the times be looking for ‘small stuff’.
Recommended divestes are Dimakya Island, Diboyoyan Island and Rock Islands.

The corals are all in excellent condition; however they are not present in large numbers.


Most of the dives we did were based on macro life, we encountered a large variety of nudibranches and shrimps, but also lots of different types of clown fishes and a lot of turtles! (Sometimes more than 15 on a single dive…).

Even the El Rio Y Mar resort house reef is highly recommended!

We really enjoyed diving around Busuanga, but that’s also because we also like macro diving.
Keep in mind that besides great wreck diving this area will not bring you the ‘large stuff’.

P.S. There is an option to go to Apo Reef in order to spot the ‘large’ species like sharks etc.

Note that this is quite a trip (leave around 5 in the morning and return after 19:00 hrs.).
For that reason we decided not to go on this trip.



Our evaluation

Our ratings below are based on our personal experiences. They are also adapted to our needs as divers. Meaning that we’re less focused on additional features.
Therefore you should only pay attention to our ratings if you’re planning a diving holiday.

Where we base our score on:

Accommodation: Room size, beds, cleaning, bathroom, location, environmentally friendly, etc.
Facilities: Pool, sport activities, organized trips, TV, Internet, phone, etc. (If applicable)
Dive operations: Quality of equipment, boats, crew, dive guides, location, service, marine conservation, etc.

Scoring matrix


The El Rio Y Mar resort is a great resort located on one of the most beautiful pieces of Busuanga. The resort and the staff are very kind and helpful. As mentioned the location is breathtaking and the accommodations are really good.

The resort is suitable for divers and non-divers.
We really enjoyed the hospitality of the El Rio y Mar Resort and the dive center!

The divecenter is well arranged, and satisfies the standards. The crew is friendly and helpful. Besides that they are excellent guides with ‘eagle eyes’.

With regards to the dive locations we can say it’s a muck diving paradise! Also the WW2 wrecks are well preserved and a pleasure to dive on.
If you are here, the Dugong dive is a must do! This is a once in a lifetime experience you do not want to miss. Our opinion is that the diving here is great! (But that’s all depending on our personal interest off course)

Based on all arguments we can highly recommend El Rio y Mar Resort !
Our verdict
Dive operations:
Total score: