Our island hopping tour guide Niel promised to bring us to five destinations. We had gone to 3 places the whole morning -- Siete Pecados Marine Park, Coral Gardens and Kalachuchi Beach. We would spend the afternoon visiting two more.
My inner beach bum and I almost didn't want to leave the peaceful, crystal clear waters of Kalachuchi Beach but soon, the crew was calling out "all aboard" . Time to sail off into the blue, blue yonder.
Our boat took us through narrow waterways lined with the limestone cliffs that are part of Coron's landscape.
We made our way carefully through coral strewn channels and rocky islets where every turn yielded more stunning views.
Our destination was Kayangan Lake -- one of the must-visit places in Coron. Hidden inside a mountain, this body of water has been designated as the "cleanest lake in Asia". I was not at all surprised to hear this as what I had seen so far had been pristine and very encouraging. Responsible, sustainable eco tourism is alive and thriving in Coron!
One major reason why Coron has thus far escaped crass commercialism and over development is perhaps because the islands are under the ownership of the ancient tribe, the Tagbanuas.
The islands are part of their ancestral domain and I think they have thus far done a pretty good job of protecting and preserving their heritage and birthright.
Most of the areas of Coron are not even open to non Tagbanuas. Thankfully, tribe elders also understand the benefits of eco-tourism and have granted access to certain attractions -- one of which is Kayangan Lake.
Before we disembark from our boat, our guide issues a caveat -- the lake is indeed gorgeous,
a must see -- but to reach it, you have to climb up and go down 150 steps hewn into the mountainside. We were told to bring our life vests as Kayangan Lake is very deep and has no shallow portions at all.
I set out with a bit of trepidation -- since I twisted my left knee more than a year ago, it has not gone back to 100% of its stability and strength. I knew I could tackle the climb up but going down would be another matter altogether.
True enough, the steps up the mountain were rough, uneven and irregularly spaced. While there were wooden handrails on each side, there were also places where there were none, where the stairway narrowed just enough to let only one person through and places where some of the steps had become eroded and washed out.
I made my way to the top without a mishap and was rewarded with this awesome view of cliffs, placid blue waters and bancas parked by the wooden pier. If I knew how to photoshop I would have erased this unruly tree that obstructs this stunning view.
The steps going down to the lake seemed more uneven and rough than the steps going up. From where I stood, I could see the blue lake waters and right then and there, I made the decision that this was it for me -- the rest of the Amigos went down, went swimming and snorkelling in Kayangan Lake BUT my gimpy knee and I -- we stayed put, right here at the top.
Jay did go down and it is thanks to him that I have these photos of Kayangan Lake. A rustic wooden boardwalk allows visitors to walk around and take a dip from different parts of the lake.
Jay said that the lake was indeed quite deep -- perhaps ten meters or so but the water was so clear that you could see right down to the bottom. He said he had never seen anything quite like it -- it looked quite surreal and other-worldly. Do you see that strange, eerie face made by the reflection of light on the lake water? Do you think Jay unknowingly snapped a photo of some spirits of Kayangan Lake?
While waiting for everyone -- and I could hear their delighted laughter -- I almost wished my bum knee and I had thrown caution to the winds and gone down to Kayangan Lake .
But when Jay showed me these precarious looking steps, I knew I had made the right decision. I would have been a heavy burden to carry down and off the mountain.
From Kayangan Lake, our boat tootled over to Twin Lagoons -- again another of Coron's top attractions and a highlight of any island hopping tour.
There were several other boats parked and waiting for their passengers in the first or the outer part of the Twin Lagoons. The water was a bit cold as the lagoon was nestled in the middle of several sheer limestone cliffs. There was hardly any current so swimming was relaxed and easy.
Can you see that little opening through the rocks, right underneath the wooden ladder.
You swim through that small space to get into the other, inner lagoon which is completely enclosed by cliff walls. The ladder is used during high tide when the small opening is
submerged under water. You climb up and go down on the other side.
Here is a short video that I took of the inner lagoon. It was such a unique and memorable experience to swim through and see this hidden portion of the Twin Lagoons.
All too soon we were back on the boat and headed "home" towards Busuanga. It had been a
day of breathtaking scenery and incredible experiences. Ang ganda talaga ng Pilipinas!
The Philippines is truly a beautiful place. I can only hope that we have the farsightedness to take care of these gifts of nature, these blessings that have been bestowed on us.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam