If you’re looking for the perfect place to stay in Coron, then look no further than Paolyn Houseboats. It may be one of the most expensive accommodation options out there, but trust us when we say every penny is very well spent.
Here is our experience and honest review of Paolyn Houseboats, and why we believe it is the only place you should splurge on in Coron.
NOTE: This post has not been sponsored by Paolyn Houseboats and is 100% our honest review of what you can expect.
Paolyn Houseboats is unlike any other accommodation you’ve ever stayed at before. It’s not really a hotel, nor is it a proper boat.
If you’re definitely set on 5-star luxury then this isn’t for you, however, if you want to experience something completely unique then this is just what your trip needs!
Located in a lagoon surrounded by lush green trees and vegetation, you can enjoy waking up to the sound of birds singing and seeing the antics of the monkeys jumping from tree to tree outside your room.
There really is no other place like it.
Why did we choose to stay at Paolyn Houseboats?
When we had decided to go to Coron we had a slight dilemma about where to stay.
There were lots of accommodation options in Coron Town Proper, but many were very basic without the usual comforts we enjoy (simple things like air-conditioning or reliable electricity).
We also knew that we’d be spending the vast majority of our time heading out on boats to visit the nearby islands and attractions, so we didn’t want to spend too much money on a luxury hotel that we wouldn’t get much use out of.
Plus, the only real reason you go to Coron is to do island hopping.
So, when we came across Paolyn Houseboats, it was a complete no-brainer.
Yes, it is extremely pricey for Coron, but for very good reason.
You can’t compare the pricing of Paolyn Houseboats to the accommodation options back on dry land. It is an entirely different experience.
We have previously stayed in water villas in the Maldives, and Paolyn Houseboats genuinely offers an experience closer to this than anything else.
What our options came down to:
- Stay in cheap accommodation on Coron, and spend time and money every morning getting out on boat trips.
- Take the opportunity to stay in one of the most unique locations in the world (we totally mean that) and spend more time enjoying the things we love the most.
Of course, the second option isn’t so easy for those of us on a strict budget, but we’re talking about affordable luxury experiences that create gorgeous memories to last a lifetime.
It was that easy for us.
Why is Paolyn Houseboats the only accommodation located on Coron Island?
Paolo and his wife April-Lyn (hence Paolyn) are a very ambitious and determined couple!
They had dreams to build the first and only floating accommodation in the bay near the Twin Lagoons – something that was never possible due to the restrictions imposed by the indigenous tribes that own and control Coron Island.
The Tagbanua tribes are some of the first people to settle in the Philippines and they have lived there for thousands of years. Many tourists are completely unaware that they even exist!
Paolo visited the Tagbanua tribes to gain their trust and permission to build the houseboats on what is effectively their property.
Paolyn Houseboats and the Indigenous Tribes
After some considerable time, persistence, and hard work, Paolo and April-Lyn successfully arranged to build their dream ‘hotel’ and employed members of the Tagbanua tribes who now live and work on the houseboats.
They also pay considerable rent to the tribes, which is the main reason why the prices that are set to stay at the houseboats are fairly high.
In our opinion, paying higher prices for this unique privilege makes it all the more worthwhile.
Where is Paolyn Houseboats?
Paolyn Houseboats is a 20-minute boat ride from Coron Town Proper and we must say, a lot of thought went into securing this particular location.
Not only is it in a mind-blowingly beautiful place, it is also sheltered from what can be fairly harsh environments during typhoon season – not that you would want to be on the houseboats at this time but it does provide some security for Paolo and April-Lyn!
Being amongst lush green vegetation means that rainfall is expected, although in short bursts. The bay shelters most of the heavy winds that can be experienced just outside.
This is an ideal location because of its proximity to the main attractions in Coron. It’s just a short paddle away from the Twin Lagoons and around 5 minutes by boat to Baraccuda Lake.
Arriving at Paolyn Houseboats
Where do we start?!
When we arrived on our first morning it had been raining a little and the clouds were low, but the sun was starting to peek through.
This is when the magic really happens.
Seeing the surrounding waters at sea level may seem mesmerizing enough, but when we got up onto the sun deck we were completely blown away.
This is the place we were going to call home for the next few days and we were so excited.
It was just as we had hoped.
In fact, it was much better!
Is it a Luxury Experience?
If you are used to 5-star luxury accommodations then there is a lot you’ll need to go without. However, the reason for staying here is not about what the rooms offer in terms of comfort.
5-star luxury for us is not what it used to be. It’s about world-class service and unique experiences that you cannot find elsewhere.
Paolyn Houseboats ticks many of these boxes for us and it’s definitely worth foregoing a few necessities to experience the beauty of this place.
So what are the rooms like at Paolyn Houseboats?
We couldn’t contain ourselves when it came to seeing our room, although a little apprehensive as we were sacrificing some of our usual creature comforts in return for prime location.
We needn’t have worried, as everything worked as expected and provided the perfect setting for a few days in paradise.
We stayed in a bamboo suite that had two double beds and a separate bunk bed which made for a great makeshift wardrobe!
There are a few clothes hangers, a mosquito net, and a safe for your belongings.
We were a little bothered by the heat on the first night and asked if we could have the air-conditioning switched on (which costs around $40 per night). This seemed to make no difference at all so we didn’t use it for any of the following nights but to be honest, we got used to the heat very quickly.
Electricity is quite precious. Using a hairdryer is not really an option and charging your phones and cameras can take quite some time, so make sure you’ve got a seriously good portable charger before you go.
Wifi in the Philippines is generally not very reliable, and if you’re planning on getting a lot of use out of it at Paolyn – then you can pretty much forget it! Being in the bay does not help, but if you really need to then you can get a fairly good signal whilst roaming on 4G.
What is the bathroom like at Paolyn Houseboats
This is the one area that we found was lacking in information when we were looking at staying here. Some people don’t need to know about the bathroom – others need to know everything!
We were pleased to find that it was very clean, there was hot water 24/7 and the shower pressure was more than adequate, considering the location we were in.
Paolyn has a big task on their hands transporting gallons of water from the mainland to service the rooms and kitchen, so inevitably water usage is precious.
There was a double sink and full-length mirror, with lots of natural light coming into the bathroom.
The toilet operates via a pump and not a flush system. Toilet paper goes into the trash – the same as everywhere else in the Philippines.
NOTE: If there is one thing to point out (and this is a very minor point) is that the chemical smells from the toilet were quite overwhelming (and sickly) at times. There’s not an awful lot that can be done about this though.
It would never stop us from returning to Paolyn, but just in case anyone has a sensitivity to these types of smells it’s worth considering.
The best part of the Bamboo Suite
Without a doubt, the best part of the Bamboo Suites was having our own private deck with a seating area, facing the ocean.
Waking up in the mornings and having breakfast delivered whilst watching the sunrise is something we will not forget easily.
There are two allocated sun loungers per room, and if you’re thinking about catching the afternoon rays you’ll want to make sure you have a lagoon-facing room.
It also offers room service like we’ve never experienced before – coffee delivered by boat from across the bay!
TIP: Bring a portable speaker and chill out on your deck whilst you sunbathe. The bay is so vast, that no one else will mind (as long as it’s not too loud!)
Facilities at Paolyn Houseboats
Upon arrival, you are given a radio to use when communicating with staff from your room.
You can use the radio whenever you need a boat to collect you from your room (if staying in the Bamboo Suites) and transport you to the restaurant. You can also order room service for tea or coffee, or cocktails!
The restaurant is located on the main houseboat which has an upper sunbathing deck with around ten sunbeds. We never made use of these apart from heading up there to take photos of the bay.
The restaurant has ample seating, and although fully booked when we stayed, there was always enough room to spread out and pick your own seats. There is a communal toilet near the restaurant.
Across the bay is another houseboat where the kitchen is located. This is separate from the restaurant and any of the rooms in order to ensure that guests are not disturbed early in the morning whilst they are preparing breakfast.
The Food at the Restaurant
One thing we did prepare ourselves for was average food when arriving in the Philippines. We are huge foodies and ordinarily love Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine and were given the heads up that Filipino food was nothing spectacular.
We were quite surprised when we had our first meal at Paolyn – it was actually quite good!
Although most diners at the restaurant are guests, there are instances of other tourists visiting for lunch (we didn’t see any).
The meals and drinks were all reasonably priced and quite tasty, albeit we couldn’t tell you what we had (obviously not too memorable!)
But, we didn’t go for the food and it didn’t affect our experience at all, just nothing to write home about.
NOTE: You have to let the staff know what you’d like to eat the day before as they need to go to the mainland to get the ingredients especially.
What makes Paolyn Houseboats so special?
Living on the water is one of life’s most relaxing experiences, and the location at Paolyn is first-class.
If you’re a water baby, there’s nothing quite like waking up to warm, crystal clear waters that you can dive into first thing in the morning – straight out of bed!
There is plenty to do within the bay and surrounding areas, such as snorkeling the pristine (intact) coral reefs and using the free stand-up paddleboards and kayaks on offer.
They have their own boats that can take you pretty much anywhere, such as Malcapuya Island Beach (which is a must!)
Taking on all of the adventures in the morning and then relaxing on the sun deck in the afternoons was the way to go for us. Absolutely gorgeous way to spend our time there.
1 (HUGE) Reason to stay at Paolyn Houseboats
Thousands of people flock to the nearby attractions weekly, such as the Twin Lagoons, Kanyangan Lake, and Barracuda Lake.
If you’ve been looking at recent reviews of any of these, you’ll see that people often complain of the large sea of orange life jackets flooding the area.
If you’re staying on mainland Coron, there’s little way of avoiding this, as the ports only allow boats to depart after 9 am (although some do get through earlier).
If seeing these beautiful places in complete tranquillity is high up on your list, then Paolyn can promise to deliver. Get on a boat at 7 am to head over and you’ll have the entire place all to yourself!
Being in the middle of all of the action means you have so much more time to explore.
How do you put a price on that?
What additional costs are you looking at?
The rooms at Paolyn Houseboats include free transportation to and from the port at Coron Town Proper, unlimited drinking water, free wifi, and use of the stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and snorkeling gear.
Other costs at Paolyn Houseboats:
- Breakfast – $5
- Appetisers – $3
- Main meals – $10
- Special grill – $14
- Dessert – $3
- Soda – $2
- Wine – $4
- Private speed boat hire – $60 for 4 hours / $165 for 8-11 hours
If you can find others to join you on the boats then these costs can be shared.
Pros and Cons of staying at Paolyn Houseboat
This will not be a great battle as the benefits far outweigh any downsides (in our opinion), but here is a summary:
- World-class location
- One of the most beautiful places to stay in the whole of Palawan
- Easy access to famous attractions
- Save time on traveling to and from islands
- Closer to the most popular island-hopping beaches
- Unique experience
- Daily costs are very reasonable
- Staff are very helpful
- You are supporting a sustainable way of living for the indigenous tribes
- Private sun deck where you have breakfast and afternoon tea whilst admiring the scenery
- Some of the best snorkeling spots are in this bay
- Memories to last a lifetime!
- More expensive than other options on the mainland
- It doesn’t offer 4 or 5-star facilities in terms of comfort
- May not be suitable for those who suffer from sea-sickness
- You’re a captive audience – no other dining options
What would we recommend overall?
If you’re visiting Coron for more than just island hopping, then spend a day or two on the mainland before heading over to Paolyn Houseboats for a few days.
This way, you can still explore some of what Coron offers whilst saving costs on accommodation. We spent two days in Coron Town Proper and then headed over to Paolyn Houseboats for 4 nights.
We would recommend you do it this way round as Paolyn WILL be the highlight of your stay!
Also, if at all possible, you must try and get to Siargao – our favorite island in the whole of the Philippines! This hidden gem will not stay hidden for much longer after it was voted the best island in the world by CN Traveler.
Our Paolyn Houseboats Review
Paolyn Houseboats is one of the most unique places we have stayed in the world, and has created memories for us that will last a lifetime.
It’s not for everyone, but if your budget can stretch to it, we promise that there is nowhere better to stay in Coron.
If you are thinking about going to Paolyn Houseboats and have any questions before you book, make sure to ask us below in the comments section!