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Introducing Coron Island

This island, only a 20-minute bangka ride from Coron Town, has an imposing, mysterious skyline that wouldn’t be out of place in a King Kong film. Flying over Coron, you see that what lies inland, on the other side of the fortresslike, jungle-clad, rocky escarpments, is inaccessible terrain pockmarked with lakes, two of which, Lake Kayangan and Lake Barracuda, are Coron’s primary attractions.

Accessible by a steep 10-minute climb, the crystal-clear waters of Lake Kayangan are nestled into the mountain walls. Underwater is like a moonscape; there’s a wooden walkway and platform to stash your things under if you go for a swim. Don’t expect privacy or quiet, though, as the lagoon where bangkas unload passengers looks like a mall parking lot at noon.

Lake Barracuda is of more interest to divers for its unique layers of fresh, salt and brackish water and dramatic temperature shifts, which can reach as high as 38°C. It’s accessible by a short climb over a jagged, rocky wall that ends directly in the water.

Other common stops are Banol Beach, a small sandy area with shelter from the sun, and Twin Lagoons. Remember to carry enough small bills, as all fees are collected as you dock at each site.

The entire island is considered the ancestral domain of the Tagbanua, who are primarily fishermen and gatherers of the very lucrative balinsasayaw (bird’s nests). Concerned about the impact of tourism, the Tagbanua have limited access to a handful of sights (there’s talk of possibly imposing a single island-wide admission fee).