Sunday, October 21, 2012

Kwentong Kaladkarin #46: Captivating Coron – Behold, Bikini Bottom!

Da Where: Coron, Palawan, Philippines
Da When: September 9-12, 2012
Da Who: me and Vin to celebrate our golden monthsary. ;D

If I knew how much swimming/floating/paddling this day involved, I would've backed out pronto. But then, I would've regretted it. Big-time.

Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.
We rose and shone early on Monday and met our boat captain and guides, Kuya Ruel and Kuya Jonathan at the dock which was literally a stone's throw away from the guesthouse. Vin handed them the payment for entrance fees to the lakes and lagoons earlier that morning so it was already all paid up at the municipal tourism office when we stepped on the boat.

Suplado look or constipated look? Lol! Peace! :D

I was still slathering on some sunblock when the boat started to slow down and Kuya Ruel  pitched the anchor. What?! First stop already when we've only been moving for 15 minutes? Unbeknownst to me, one of the richest marine parks is only minutes away from the shores of Coron town. We were welcomed to Siete Pecados Marine Park by colorful flags and a lone guard on a small banca. We weren't alone though, there were at least 3 other boats already within the area of seven closely-group islets (hence the name) at  0900H in the morning.

Welcome to Siete Pecados!

Vin brought Skyflakes for our fish-feeding activities and we learned that trick from previous beach trips. The crackers are less likely to break apart versus sliced bread when submerged so the fish would have to come near and feed. Problem was, I'm deathly scared of deep waters, weird-looking corals and yes, fishes. :(

Good thing the boat had a nifty ladder installed so getting into the water didn't involve diving straight on. In fact, I didn't need to swim anymore. I only had to sit on one of the ladder steps and the fish immediately nibbled the crackers I was clutching. Vin, on the other hand, started snorkeling.

Fishes: "Kainan na!" :D
Who needs to swim? :D
The waters as are sooo clear, you can look down and see live corals and fish below. No need of underwater camera!

I am amazed! I've never seen this much live fish up close! It was like one huuuuge open-top aquarium beneath me!

Coron's Marine Life. Sorry for the dirty lens and our irky voices. :( Haha!

So yes, I was too chicken for not going into the water while Vin was goading me to try it. Our guides were sniggering the whole time . Then again, I think I regained my composure when our next stop tested my guts and breathing techniques for staying calm.

The Palawan peninsula does not only offer incredible seascapes but also amazing lagoons so deep, some are favored diving spots. Kayangan Lake is probably the most photographed feature of Coron, they even call it the 'Crown of Coron'. It is said to be the cleanest lake in the country.

Entering Kayangan Lake

While Kuya Ruel prepared our lunch right on the boat (portable kitchen, yes!), Kuya Jonathan accompanied us to do a little hike to the other side of the karst towers. Finally, after several years of pining after photos online, I was seeing the blue-green waters with my own two eyes!

And now the Extra Challenge part, of course in order for me to fully experience Kayangan, I needed to swim. I was already petrified on the wooden walkway but started to dip my feet into the water as I tightened my Conquer life vest. Good thing I decided to keep on my Sandugo trek sandals which allowed me to stand on the spiky underwater karst structures without wounding my feet.

Crystal-clear waters with limestone formations below
Vin held my hand and pulled me along as we started paddling slowly out into the middle of the lake. I could feel my heart pound as I viewed from my snorkel mask how deep the lake is after you pass the set of karst stones near the walkway. It was like an endless swimming pool with white sand at the bottom. There was not much to see except the occasional silvery fish darting about but the rock formations beneath the water were fascinating.

Si Anne Curtain at Direk Ramsey. Haha!

We even slipped inside a small cave that had light shining somewhere up ahead just for the heck of it. Now I understand why people said it is a totally different world underwater! It was mysterious and magical at the same time. And scary too, after finding out the lake went as deep as 20 feet. Waaaah! I just swam in a 2-storey swimming pool! :D

The postcard-perfect view of Coron's Kayangan Lake is actually not the lake itself yet. It's the entrance! :D
All that flailing around used up all our energy and made us ravenous. We made our way back to boat just in time for a mouth-watering hot meal. This was one of the highlights of our tour, a PhP150/pax lunch that consisted of crabs, grilled pork and fish with chopped tomatoes and onions and mounds of rice. *Buuuurp!* Excuse me! :D

Well the delicious meal was supposed to prepare me for what's ahead. After Kayangan, we're heading to Barracuda Lake and yes, it's named after the fish that's supposedly feared because they can feed on humans with sharp, fang-like teeth.

Enter if you dare!
Barracuda Lake peeking a hello. :)
Okay seriously. Don't you get freaked out by Lake Placid here? :D
Kuya Ruel assured us the barracudas that used to abound in this lake are few and are in the deeper parts already, going around 30-40 feet. Still, convincing me to go further than a few meters from the wooden platform is next to impossible. It didn't help that we were the only ones there, no other tourists in sight. We enjoyed the cold waters for a bit before deciding we had enough creepiness for the day. :D

Swam for 10 minutes....
...then back to the ladder and platform. Hahaha! Scaredy-cat!

Some of the popular tour spots were prohibited by the local government due to some disagreements with the Tagbanwa people, the indigenous group that consider these islands as ancestral domains. Luckily though, we were allowed that day to see the Twin Lagoons which Vin was most excited about.

Entrance to Twin Lagoon
The inland body of water required all visitors to swim through a hole in the rock formation. What Kuya Ruel didn't tell us was it was one long exhausting swim in a water-filled abyss, about 500 meters from the boat and back. I didn't even bother asking how deep the lagoons were or else I'd get anxiety attacks and won't be able to swim back.

Smile muna bago lumusong.
Kuya Ruel guiding us in... :)
I just enjoyed the curious feeling of being submerged in both cold and warm water with the blue skies above me and the rich seabed below. The lagoon acts as an estuary where freshwater and saltwater meet, hence every stroke feels like you're in a warm bath and a cold shower at the same time. By the time we got back to the boat, I am done in.

Twin Lagoons

But the day was not over yet as we are dropping by the last snorkeling spot of the day in Aurora's Pass. This time, we're back to the open sea and as the boat slowed down to look for a good parking spot, I could already see corals as wide as dining tables beneath us. I was starting to get scared of going into the water again but I summoned all my remaining courage and jumped in.

Rained in but not giving up. ;D

With Vin guiding me, we ventured a few meters from the boat. We could see all kinds of corals (and they all looked alive and frightening to me!) and fishes. Our area was a little deeper than the one in Siete Pecados plus the skies were overcast so it was a lot harder to see just by snorkeling.

Look ma, am snorkeling in the sea! :D
Above-the-water shot of the corals. Amaaazing!

After Vin had to narrowly avoid sea urchins floating about, we decided to go back to the boat and enjoy our merienda  of puto (rice cakes) as we head to the last stop for the day.

CYC or Kambatang Beach is a small island nearer the town proper where you had to wade in several meters of knee-deep water to get to the white-sand shore. I was a little saddened to see trash on the beach and I was least expecting this in Palawan, being dubbed as the last ecological frontier and all. I saw some signs on the beach calling for conservation so I hope the locals are doing something about preserving it, including educating tourists. At least, the local cat was friendly. :)

Scenic spot for a reality TV show. :D
Emo  mode.
Kambatang's welcoming committee - a friendly cat.

As we head back to the cloud-covered Coron town, I was smiling like I was nuts. Well maybe I am, after braving all the fathomless (for me) parts of Spongebob's world that day.

The next time I'm out in the water, I'd probably shake like a leaf from sheer nerves but I know deep down, I won't say no to an awesome underwater challenge.

Bring it on. :)

Getting captivated yet? Read all about our Coron adventures:

Kwentong Kaladkarin #45: Captivating Coron – Touring the Town Part 1
Kwentong Kaladkarin #47: Captivating Coron – Beach Bums Away!
Kwentong Kaladkarin #48: Captivating Coron – Touring the Town Part 2


  1. Di ko pa napuntahan yung Aurora Pass ah. Parang siete pecados din ba sya?

    1. Almost, sir. Less fish and more corals though. Or maybe the rain scared away the fish. :D

  2. Horrifying! Deep water haunts me too, big time. Haha!

    1. You have phobias, Ms. PTJ? You, who fears nothing? Unbelievable? :D