Coron / Higantes Island – Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoons


Minutes after finishing a fantastic prawn breakfast, we jumped into a tricycle for the three minute ride to the Coron town market, behind which was a small pier for bancas. hig2We had earlier arranged to rent a banca for our use over the next two days and it was waiting for us there. We headed to Coron Island (Higantes to locals), an imposing mass of uneven rounded peaks that from afar looked like some impenetrable jungle covered South Pacific destination William Bligh might have come across. The quick 20+ minute journey on calm waters was refreshing. Closer in, it became apparent that this island was actually made up of jagged and extremely sharp limestone and that trees and shrubs were growing out of little crevices or pockets of soil, and also, instead of one big lump of rock which is the impression one gets from afar, there are lots of hidden coves, beaches, lagoons, etc.

Coron island is actually now considered the ancestral domain of the Tagbanua tribe of people, whose ancestors, according to some assertions, may have occupied the island hig3for over 3,000 years!!! Where they live on this beautiful, but rather inhospitable landscape is beyond me. Apparently there are many caves on the island and some of these caves are used as burial grounds… I didn’t get enough of a historical tour to understand if one had to find your own cave or “apartment” then when you had passed on if they would move you to burial caves or you would just hang out forever in your cave… But that is being flip. Let’s just say I was totally fascinated by the fact that the indigenous tribe had been here for possibly 30 centuries! Today, the island is being administered by the Tagbanuans and any revenue from tourists goes to the upkeep of the tourist destinations. I think we had to pay P150 or P200 each to see the sights. Our first stop was a small cove and beach which served as the entrance point to Kayangan Lake, or sometimes referred to as the Blue Lagoon.

From sea level, one has to climb 150+ steps in a steep and highly vertical ascent. There are branch railings to help you steady yourself but it is an arduous climb for the couch hig5potato. I managed the climb with just two short pauses to turn around and take some photos of the crystal clear blue waters from the approach to the beach. If you aren’t keen on heights, don’t look back down where you came from. Just when you think you have made it to a “peak,” you have to descend steeply on the other side to get to the lake. It seemed like most folks could manage this climb but I have to say a bunch of extremely FIT looking tourists just minutes ahead of us had one of their group slip and take a NASTY fall, grazing her leg in a big way. So be careful. Kayangan lake itself is spectacular. Reaching it after the climb, one is instantly ready to strip off your clothes and dive into the clearest water I have seen in a freshwater Philippine lake. Actually, the water tasted a bit salty so I am not sure if it had seawater in it or if the concentration of minerals from thousands of years of evaporation gave the water a different taste.


Depending on the lighting, parts of the lake are STUNNINGLY BLUE, almost identical to the saltwater blue on the other side of the climb, hence the term blue lagoon, I suppose. There are also a LOT of fish in the lake, that I think, were also BLUE in color. hig6I suppose the thing to do is bring a kayak with you and head a little further into the lake but we were on express tour mode so we stayed for a while to enjoy the water and take a photo or two then decided to head back to the banca and have our adobo pack lunch before heading onto to other sights on the island. Kayangan lake was utterly beautiful; definitely worth the climb and if you somehow happen to get it all to yourself (off-season or off-hours, less tourists), consider yourself extremely lucky.


From Kayangan Lake we passed by Barracuda Lake (very jagged rocks on a short climb) but noticed a lot of other bancas waiting so we skipped that and headed to the twin lagoons, a beautiful protected cove where one has to literally swim under some hig7rocks to get to the second lagoon. The tide was extremely high so bringing a camera to the other lagoon was impossible but nevertheless the natural beauty of the place, jagged limestone cliffs, crystal clear water in several hues of blue, the greenery were all awe inspiring. Frankly, my photos don’t do the place justice, but let your imagination run all the way to the right and you haven’t reached reality yet. These are the kinds of settings that inspire you to consider that we are so privileged as a nation to have these natural wonders, and yet so utterly irresponsible and stupid not to collectively manage our own affairs in a manner that allows us to preserve many of these sites and to make it possible for the majority of our citizens and their descendants after, to see and appreciate them.

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25 Responses

  1. We’re definitely going to Palawan next time we’re home!…. opted to go to Bohol last time, enjoyed it as well…..yeah why do we have to work out of the country to be able to afford to enjoy our own :(

  2. Hi MM,

    I can really understand when you say that the pictures don’t do justice to the place. Yours pictures are great but indeed the place is much much more spectacular when your vision of it is 360 degrees :) I’ve done a solo backpacking trip to Coron a few years back but we were not able to visit Baracuda lake. Indeed the Philippines is very beautiful.

  3. It is good to see that there are already hand rails going to Kayangan lake. I was really lucky that I was able to join a small group of tourist for a kayaking trip the local boat owner didn’t let me pay a cent–I guess because I look like a small barrio lass with nothing in my pocket. It is so good to travel.

  4. Palawan ruined the other beach destinations for me. I was there last year with a couple of friends and fell in love with the place. Now, Everywhere else seems to come 2nd best.

  5. I’ve been cruising everywhere in the Caribbean and visited St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Curacao, Aruba, Antigua, St. Lucia, Bahamas, Barbados, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, San Juan, Colombia, Venezuela, Martinique, Trinidad and Tobago, Grand Cayman and other Caribbean islands. But I tell you, NO ONE CAN BEAT PALAWAN. Its the best unexploited, still secluded paradise in the world. I’m going on vacation in the Philippines in two months time and I plan to visit Palawan. I like Plantation Bay Resort in Cebu but still, I love Palawan!!

  6. yup, for those looking for an alternative to boracay, this is it! go to coron! i just hope that its resources will be still be preserved in its pristine condition even with the deluge of tourists that is sure to come in the future. for the past year and a half, i’ve been going to culion on a regular basis because of work and i truly envy all those honeymooners that go there on a vacation.

    btw, fyi, there are a lot of mosquitoes in kayangan, so be prepared with your off lotion. at any rate, what better way to fend off the mosquitoes – just dive in the lake!!!

  7. Hi. We sent you the e-Ticket for the Philippine Blog Awards 2007. Please show this at the registration table. You will then be given two entrance tickets: one for you and another for your guest. If you have not received your e-Ticket or have any questions please email philippineblogawards [at] gmail [dot] com. Best of luck to you and your blog. See you there!

  8. Wow. It’s definitely a must-see place for me the next time I come to PI.

    I can see myself doing some panoramic shots of the lake and the surrounding limestone rock formations. What an awesome sight.

    I searched and found a few ‘Coron’ video clips … I particulaly like this one.

    Apparently, the place is popular amongst shipwreck scuba divers as well … mostly Japanese warships that were sunk by the Americans during WWII. Click the link for more information.

    ‘Hope you bag the blog award, MM. We’re all pulling for you.

  9. I have been to El Nido and stayed for a week when the dollar was still P25 to P1. These lagoons and limestone cliffs are so spectacular and magestic, going around them in a kayak (if you can manage it) is almost spiritual! I want to go back to Palawan, especially this part of Palawan again. A definite MUST see for every one! The beauty here is quite a stark contrast to our reality. It speaks loudly that this is how God, the universe, etc. really intended our world to be! Just beautiful!

  10. hey MM hello from the French Alps.. am at Courchevel
    hmm plans tp philippines been cancelled.. but soon time allows

  11. Went to Coron two years back, and visited the places you mentioned.. Swam at Kayangan Lake,and it was really cool and refreshing after a short trek…the experience was just spectacular! Hope it will be preserved and maintained for future generations to enjoy!

  12. My dad’s family is from Palawan and I’m lucky enough to have been exposed to the wonders of the place at such a young age. I have been to Coron only twice and the last visit was 6yrs ago! Maybe it’s time for a tirhd visit =)

  13. thank you for your reminder– in your usual lively prose and excellent photos — of how blessed we truly are.time to examine what we have done to our blessings.
    palawan, romblon, siargao and many other places are a must for every filipino. i hope you continue to feature those beautiful spots of our c ountry, and of course, their markets

  14. From our trip last year, we heard from one of the local island owners (I think the island was Dicalubuan?) that some of the nearby islands were already being slated for development. And by people involved with Boracay properties.

    Go now, before they have their way with the place.

  15. Kudos for your wonderful sharing of your trip to Coro! Your mention of the Tagbanua people as the owners of the Island is indeed very much welcome and appreciated. This is long departure to the days when the Tagbanuas’ were in danger of losing their land and getting evicted from their island. They now have a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) over the whole island which they refer to as Bato, including a substantial portion of the ocean that surrounds them. In fact this is the 1st ancestral waters claim that has been recognized and titled globally.

    The earnings from the kayangan Lake visitor project has been very helpful in raising the much needed revenues to support basic services in the island. While the operations still need a lot of improvement,it has allowed the Tagbanua community to participate in the toursim industry in the area.

    The Tagbanua live in two main villages east of the island, these are in Banuang Daan and Cabugao. BTW, there are a couple of small nice white sand beaches scattered all over the island, however most of these are not open to the public mainly because these are sacred areas or cemeteries. In Tagbanua culture, the whiter the sand the better it is to lay the dead to rest!

    If you want to visit the villages and get to know the people, you can get in touch with Manong Kudol (Rogelio Aguilar) and ask for permission. He is one of the most respected eldwers of the Tagbaua and he just might allow you to take a short trip into their village.

  16. I’m looking forward to reading your Palawan series. I’ve never been there, but have wanted to go for a very long time. Maybe after I read your posts and see your pictures, I finally will make plans! I just arrived today from Donsol, where we had an incredible and magical experience swimming with the butandings (whale sharks). MM, you should take your family to do this; I guarantee you will never forget it! It convinced me that I have to see more of the Philippines’ unique beauty before they disappear. Whether due to the locals’ ignorance, government’s greed, or environmental change, I realize that we can’t assume these natural wonders will be around much longer. We should grab the opportunity to see them NOW!!!

  17. I’m a Filipina civil engineer working in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (oh yes this is an existing country in the caribbean) and my Vincentian boss went to the Philippines with me last December and we went to Coron Island. He fell in love with Kayangan Lake which is really awesome. In fact he has a picture of himself with Kayangan Lake as the background displayed in his living room so he can show everyone that he’d been to paradise.

  18. Hi MM,

    Am really interested reading all your Palawan entries. This is my dream place, i hope i will have the chance to visit the beautiful place soon. I’m here in the US but will be home at the end of the year. I come from Batanes province and I suggest you make plans to visit our ‘equally’ pristine and beautiful islands. It’s a whole new world out there. Best regards.

  19. Hi! Two weeks ago my friends and I went to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. The original plan was going North but since its expensive there, we decided to go South. The underground river tour at Sabang and island hopping in Honda Bay were such an experience! But definitely, we will go back but this time in will be in the places you just mentioned. And if time and budget allow, we will visit Kalauit Island too.

  20. I hope we could visit Kayangan lake on may 17, 2008…news said that it is temporary closed because of GMA-7 “Dyesebel” taping. Last april 5, one group were not allowed to visit the lake.

  21. Hi, I will be travelling solo to Coron Palawan on halloween. I dont know if I made a right decision. Anyway I just want to be with the beauty of nature,relaxing, closser to God , asses myself more and meditation. Thats why I did not ask my friends to accompany me, yes plentier is happier but noisy sometimes. Can somebody give me a good advice if what are the best places/activities I can do alone at Coron?


  22. hello! just got back in manila… me and my fiance stayed at Busuanga Island Paradise Resort. We visited the place youve mentioned and they were all STUNNING and UNFORGETTABLE!!! I suggest peeps to stay at Busuanga Island Paradise Resort. VIP treatment, plus you get at tour guide who’s good with must-see places in Coron. We’ve been to Kayangan Lake, Banul Beach, Twin Lagoon, Siete Pecados, Maquinit Hot Springs and Mt. Tapyas + Barracuda Lake. That’s what I can suggest you to do and stay at Busuanga! Happy trip….. Oh and dont forget your underwater cam. :)

  23. hi! there’s a newly opened hotel just beside the Coron market.The Gateway Hotel.Pricy but very nice.just make sure that your room is facing the beach and the mountains. para sulit:)
    and if you get hungry or just want to sip some coolers while relaxing, try Kawayan Grill.yummy food and fast service..the owners are very friendly.Enjoy Coron!

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