Water is actually not my strongest element, but I embraced it anyway when my friend and I went to Coron in Northern Palawan early this year. When I reviewed the itinerary of the island loop tour that we booked online, I realized that for one whole day we would be treated to what Coron is famous for – spectacular limestone rock formations, hidden lagoons, placid lakes and white sand beaches.
Almost all the activities would also involve getting wet but I managed somehow to encourage myself because the sun was up and the seas were relatively calm at the onset of our tour. There are also trustworthy-looking life vests on our bangka (motorized outrigger boat) that should keep me afloat should my imagination of deep sea creatures run unnecessarily wild.
Siete Pecados Marine Park
Our first stop was the Siete Pecados, a cluster of seven small islets near the mainland. Legend has it that there were seven sisters that went swimming in the area. They did these against their mother’s wishes and were all drowned as a result. In another version of the story, the small islands sprouted when the datu requested the gods something that would honor the memory of his daughters.
This is now a marine sanctuary where one can enjoy the very clear waters, coral reefs and colorful fishes.
We then head next to Kayangan Lake which has been adjudged as the cleanest in the Philippines for several years in a row. After a brief trek from the shore, we were greeted with the lake’s clear waters amidst clean surroundings. Swimiming on it is like floating through a deep, emerald trance. The dreamy reverie gets interrupted only when you bump into another happy swimmer like yourself.
We had our sumptuous lunch which was prepared for us by our boatmen at Banol Beach. It is a private property that is postcard perfect in many ways. The white sand beach is set against a backdrop of purple gray limestone karst cliffs. The kalachuchi flowers added a poetic punctuation to the over-all tropical feel.
After our stomachs were filled, we headed next to the Skeleton Wreck. This is a 25 meter gun boat that sunk during the World War II. The ship’s bow is quite visible from the surface because it is located in shallow waters.
Next up was the CYC (Coron Youth Club) Beach, the only public island in our tour. There are no fees collected here which probably explains why its beachfront needs a clean-up soon. There is also a monkey playing around the island which is the last creature I expected at CYC. The small primate looked undernourished too and should be brought back to the mainland for proper care and attention.
We then negotiated our way through a maze of sharp yet beautiful limestone cliffs to reach our next destination: the Twin Lagoons. These pair of lagoons are separated by a limestone cliff with a small tunnel-like hole for passage. It was low tide that time so we just swam through the narrow opening to get to the other lagoon. The water here is brackish, which resulted from the mix of the waters from Coron’s lakes and the sea. Our guide also shared that the temperature also vary at different depths.
Our final stop was the Barracuda Lake which is named after the ferocious fish. Schools of barracudas are said to thrive in what is also considered as the deepest lake in Coron.
We saw no barracudas that afternoon though. By this time too, some of us in the group, myself included, were too tired to swim across the lake. It was quite a long day for us even if we only visited seven of Coron’s many tourist spots. We then headed back to the Coron wharf with the sun setting behind us.
This tour was also more memorable to me for one more reason. When we climbed aboard our bangka after we snorkeled at Siete Pecados, I realized that my mobile phone was in my pocket. It was snorkeling with me the entire time! It was beyond repair of course, but that did not dampen my spirits during the rest of our tour.
I snorkeled and swam through different bodies of water – all of which are not exactly my favorite adventures. But even so, I could honestly say that I really enjoyed our Coron island loop tour that day with a jam-packed and budget-friendly itinerary and in the company of new friends as well.
I highly recommend Owen Ferrer’s DIY Coron site. It is especially helpful for those who would like to enjoy the best of Coron under a tight budget. You could then join a tour group on this site so that you could share the total cost with the rest.
For a group of six, we only spent around Php1200 for this tour which included all the entrance fees, boat rental, lunch and snacks. The site also shows the breakdown of the total cost and other important advisories as well.