Coron Island

Top choice island in Coron Town

This island, only a 20-minute bangka ride from Coron, has an imposing, mysterious skyline that wouldn’t be out of place in a King Kong film. Flying over Coron, you see that the fortresslike, jungle-clad interior is largely inaccessible terrain pockmarked with lakes, two of which, Kayangan Lake and Barracuda Lake, can be visited. The entire island is the ancestral domain of the Tagbanua indigenous group, who are primarily fishers and gatherers of the very lucrative balinsasayaw (birds' nests).

Concerned about the impact of tourism, the Tagbanua have limited access to a handful of sights. Accessible by a steep 10-minute climb, the crystal-clear waters of Kayangan Lake are nestled into the mountain walls. Underwater is like a moonscape; there’s a wooden walkway and platform to stash your things 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.

Scenic Barracuda Lake is of interest to divers for its unique layers of fresh, salt and brackish water and dramatic temperature shifts underwater (it can get as hot as 38°C). It’s accessible by a short climb over a jagged, rocky wall that ends directly at the water's edge.

Other stops that are open to visitors include Banol Beach, a small sandy area with shelter from the sun, and photogenic Twin Lagoon, one half of which is accessed by swimming through a narrow crevice.

All of the above are popular stops on island-hopping trips out of Coron town, although standard group tours A and B take in at most two of the above at a time because of the relatively stiff admission fees at each site. To visit all sites at once, you should book a private trip through the Calamian Tourist Boat Association, which costs P2200 for up to four people, not including admission fees or snorkelling gear.