It used to be an almost deserted cove when we first docked here 15 years ago. This time around our boat jostled for space with almost two dozen other motorized outriggers in a now-busy parking lot. The same boats practically blocked the view of the cove at ground level – a mild disappointment. The docking area had also been graded to allow easy access for tourists going on island-hopping tours around Coron Island. And they are now charging an entrance fee to the lake although that was already included in our island-hopping package.
Still a Sight to Behold
Some things haven’t changed, though, and just as well. More than halfway up the steep slope from the docking area towards Kayangan Lake we could still stop at a view deck and stare down at the beautiful cove from where we came. The iconic view of towering karst formations and crystal-clear turquoise waters still continue to mesmerize. And then it was on to old Kayangan Lake, said to be the cleanest in the country and among the cleanest in Asia.
And clean it still is. A mixture of salt and fresh or brackish water, Kayangan Lake is still a sight to behold with its crystalline waters offering up to ten meters visibility. Although equipped with masks and snorkels, we didn’t really need them to observe fishes swarming playfully around us. Here and there we would also spy a shrimp or small crab hiding amongst the rocks down below.
Fortunately the pristine beauty of the lake has not changed much over the years. Perhaps the only noticeable difference from the last time we were here is the wooden platform erected on the banks of the lake by the native Tagbanuas that serves as a launching and resting pad for swimmers and divers.
Coron Island’s Karst Topography
What initially attracted us to Coron was its karst landscape. More than 15 years ago we were simply awed by the surreal sight of the primeval towers of limestone that dominated Coron Island. Just the sight of the imposing karst towers surrounded by aquamarine waters was reason enough to visit Coron but the island has many other attractions in the form of coves, hidden lagoons, inland lakes, white sand beaches and coral reefs containing a wide diversity of marine life.
The Twin Lagoons
Another intriguing destination on the island are the Twin Lagoons, two bodies of water separated by a wall of karst. Boats have to enter a narrow channel to get into the outer lagoon. The latter is surrounded by sheer cliffs of karst and it is easy to assume that the lagoon ends here. That’s until you discover a hole in one of those karst cliffs that leads on to a second, inner lagoon.
The hole that leads to the second lagoon is completely submerged at high tide. A wooden ladder has been placed above this hole to allow visitors to climb up the rocks and view the second lagoon. However, during low tide the hole becomes visible and one can swim through the narrow opening – just big enough to allow two or three swimmers at time – to get into the inner lagoon. This lagoon is not as large as the outer lagoon but its size is still considerable and is difficult to negotiate from end to end for average swimmers. Most of our boat mates and other guests had life vests on when exploring the area as the lagoon is quite deep. Like Kayangan Lake, the waters here are also brackish – a combination of salt and fresh water.
Despite visiting both Kayangan Lake and the Twin Lagoons twice we won’t hesitate to do so given another chance. And we have yet to visit Barracuda Lake – another interesting destination that is not usually offered on the Coron Island Loop tour package. And that’s not all. There are actually bigger and probably more pristine lakes inland plus a few more coves in other parts of Coron Island that have yet to receive regular tourist visits but have not because they are considered sacred places by the indigenous Tagbanua tribe.