Culion Island is one of the few historic places in the Calamian Islands. In 1906 Culion was chosen as a containment area for people with leprosy and a leper colony was established on the island, which came to be known as the largest of its kind worldwide. As leprosy got completely eliminated in the nineties, Culion has been declared leprosy-free in 2006 by the World Health Organization. It has since become a tourist attraction.
Within the premises of the town’s hospital and sanitarium, the Culion Museum and Archives houses the most detailed and significant information about the leper colony. It shows the history and detailed timeline of leprosy in the Philippines. The museum houses medical equipment in use back at the time, medicine, press clippings and letters, photos, artifacts, and various other memorabilia. It is also a memorial honoring the brave men and women, physicians, nurses, priests and nuns who selflessly helped the patients with disregard for their own well-being.
La Inmaculada Concepcion Church is another popular tourist site in Culion. It was built in 17th century by the Spaniards, who used live corals for constructing the base and surrounding walls! It is approached by numerous stone steps and it is a real architectural beauty both on the outside and on the inside, especially its professionally painted sealing. It was restored and renovated in 1933 to preserve its structural integrity.
Right next to the church are the remains of Fort Culion, which was constructed back in 1740 by the recollect Augustinians. There are a couple of cannons here, which were historically used to defend the island and are now great for taking pictures. The Fort also offers an excellent vantage point of the sea, the town and the surrounding islands.
Aside from these historical sites, you can enjoy some outdoor activities like snorkeling and fishing. Crowning Glory Reef is Culion’s best snorkeling destination. The water is so clear that you don’t even need to dive to appreciate the rainbow colored corals and schools of fish. Sea turtles and dolphins can also be spotted in the area.
You can also try your hand at traditional Kawil fishing, using only nylon string with hooks and bait. Test your patience and skills as a fisherman and see if you can catch something. It’s a very satisfying and rewarding experience when you’ve caught your own dinner.
The best way to reach Culion is by a ferry boat, as ferries ride between Coron town and Culion daily, and the boat ride takes less than two hours.