12 March 2012

Coron Palawan: Dark Depths and Turquoise Lakes

To dream and to fall into a dream are similar yet two very different things. To make dreams a reality is another thing. It was last year when I heard about the mysterious lakes of Coron, Palawan and saw some footage on the internet after I was finally convinced to visit the place. The dream to visit these places was the reason behind my entire Coron adventure. Of course, I had to bring my friends along with me to make the realization of the dream less lonely.

Siete Picados

Not quite a lake, Siete Picados is another marvelous site in Coron. The names comes after the legend of seven sisters who were punished. I do not know the real story behind it but nonetheless, the truth I know is that there were a thousand fishes under the sea.

It was in the morning when we headed to the place where the seven rock islands rest. The islands were quite peaceful on their own until we and a few other boats filled with tourists came.

My friend sat at the edge of our motorized bangka (wooden canoe/boat) and I took a snapshot of this wonderful scene which I thought would make another good memory.

I removed my glasses and dived into the ocean with my blurry vision. I wished I had super eyes so I could see everything in high definition but the fishes swam too close to me so I was happy. I couldn't count the times my disposable camera clicked under water. I had to shoot several times since there was no way to tell if the shot was good.

Siete Picados is like a borderless aquarium where fishes swim fearlessly. The only predator I saw that day was me.

Twin Lagoon

The entry to the lagoon was as mystical as Twin Lagoon itself. I would say my photo isn't the brightest piece to tell the story about this place. The real thing is always different from the digital version.

Entry to Twin Lagoon

A kid was paddling inside the lagoon and my friend couldn't help but joined him so she can stir it herself. After a few rounds, I join my friend and took my chance go circle the lagoon though I'm very sure I only covered less than a quarter of the lake. A Korean tourist shouted at us asking if she could borrow the bangka too. I understand her eagerness to try what we were doing but she pretty much waited a while and I wasn't sure if she ever got her hands on the paddle. 

My friend with a kid on a bangka in Twin Lagoon

There was an entry to another smaller lake that is why it is called Twin Lagoon. Our tour guides told us to lose everything that is not waterproof since there is only a small arch over the water to go through into the other lake, unless we want to climb over the rocks and jump into the water.

The water was as blurry as my eyesight since the saltwater and freshwater mix hesitantly, forming an oily-like texture. There was some shallow parts but they are rocky and a lot of pitch black holes due to the crevices. I couldidn't dare swim close to the shallow rocks since I was imagining that something might grab me into the dark hollows. I'm pretty sure something brushed on my legs and I don't know if it was a sting-less jellyfish. I would never know.

Barracuda Lake

I didn't see a barracuda but there sure were a lot going on underneath this huge lake. The jagged edges on the top of the rocks surrounding Barracuda lake is just as tough as the lakes' name. We climbed up and down the wooden stairs attached on very defined karsts.

Entry to Barracuda Lake
Karsts surrounding Barracuda Lake

The water was as dark as the night sky and I could only guess that the lake can only be as deep as the darkest color of the spectrum. I wanted to jumped into the water but my fear overcame me and so I chose to step into the water through another set of wooden stairs. The feeling was cold and I could feel the huge lake swallowing me. However, as we submerged into the water and looked down, we realized that there were more people beneath the surface.

Intimidating Barracuda Lake

Air bubbles from the divers' descent rose into the water and gave us a feeling of comfort. Immediately, I felt the dark water wasn't too scary at all. One of friends swam to one of the rocks to the farther side of the lake where she shared a few laughs with one of our guides. Her high pitched laughter echoed through the walls telling me that everyone was having a great time.

Kayangan Lake

The postcard photo for Coron is shot on a place high above any lake and it is over the bay which serves as access to Kayangan Lake. Everybody was sweaty and tired but at the same time we had the common understanding to enjoy this breathtaking scenery. We knew there were more steps to the lake so we had to keep the upward curves on our faces a little longer.

Overlooking the bay welcoming to Kayangan Lake

To our guides, this is the shallowest lake among others we've visited. But 20 feet still doesn't sound shallow to me. I still couldn't let go of my life vest though I took it off most of the time and just held it in my hand just to have a feeling of freedom. The lake was 75% freshwater and I felt that there was not enough saltwater to help me stay above the surface of the water.

We swam to the deeper side near the walls where the crevices are. On side of the lake, there was an entry to a small cave. I saw our guide vanished into the darkness as he swam into the cave. I almost lost my guts when I was left outside the entry because he was too quick. He held my hand to guide me inside the cave. As I stepped into the darkness, I saw some light from the roof of the cave and felt better. But I only felt relieved after I submerged back into the water and saw the bright hole leading back into the lake.

Our guide wanted to show off so he swam to the floor of the shallower part of the lake. I saw him lay his back on the ground and played on it the same way we form angels in the snow. The substance on the floor lifted off the ground like the way dust flies in the air.

One of my friends wanted to paddle the bangka herself but I was not confident for her because the current could be stronger at the edge of the lake. Our tour guide willingly joined to paddle for us. We approached the edge of the lake and vanished into the river. 

Kayangan Lake in its most peaceful time before sunset.

There was only us and the wooden craft cutting through the calm and clear waters. A few birds chirped from the jagged mountains surrounding us. There was not even a fish in sight. I wondered if they were sleeping or they were too small to see. It felt like the most peaceful moment in my life. It almost felt like dying except that there was no dramatic flash of days before my eyes but just a simple realization of things that mattered most to me - happiness and spending time with the people I care about.

The image is dreamy and I still feel like I'm drifting in that dream. Clear turquoise waters, mysterious dark depths and mystical landscapes best describe the lakes and mountains of Coron. I wish that these memories will remain true years in the years to come. For now, these images will reside play in my mind the same way dreams do when I am asleep.


  1. I'm from Palawan and never visited any of those places, well, except Underground River. looks like you enjoyed it;)

  2. Amazing underwater pictures! The Kayangan Lake is just so enchanting and mesmerizing. And those are very cute chromis fish. Those are sergeant majors if i'm not mistaken. :) I got curious with that Barracuda lake. Why it's named that way? Are they barracudas in there? I hope it doesn't have otherwise I would swim in that lake even if its that beautiful! :)

    1. Fortunately, we have not encountered barracudas in the lake. :)