Kayangan Lake Coron Palawan is definitely one of the most visited sites and highlights of our Coron holiday. Gorgeous emerald waters surrounded by towering karst formations – it’s certainly a treat to effortlessly float around in its crystal-clear brackish waters. According to Coron Tourism, it is the most photographed spot in Coron. Kayangan Lake is said to be the cleanest and clearest in the Philippines. Do you agree? Let’s find out. . .
Kayangan Lake, being as popular as it is, usually has a multitude of tourists and boats flanking the gateway to the lake and effectively block the view and ruining many great shots and pictures – but what could you expect? And, yes, this as the case when we arrived. Kayangan Lake has been plastered on plenty of travel websites and social media accounts; it’s understandable that the crowds have come. The water is extremely clear and the colors are amazing. While it puts Coron on the map for most visitors, these beautiful islands hold many more amazing sights as well. Here is everything you need to know when planning a trip to Kayangan Lake Coron Palawan.
The crystal-clear waters of Lake Kayangan are nestled into the mountain walls; underwater is like a moonscape. There’s a little 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 boats unload passengers looks like a mall parking lot at noon. Gary brought his drone but sadly he decided not to use it because of the crowds, the limited time we had there and he simply followed the Phillippine Drone Laws (which most people sadly don’t follow).
TRIVIA – This island is part of the ancestral domain of the indigenous people in Palawan called “Tagbanua”. The term “Tagbanua” came from the word “Taga-Banua” – one of the oldest ethnic groups in the Philippines. And they are actually classified into two major groups based on their geographical locations. One of them is found at the southern part of Palawan and the other group is located at the northern part of Palawan specifically at Coron Islands. Some of them reside on this island and they are claiming the said area and that’s why they’re collecting ₱200 entrance fees.
Let me give you a little background regarding that matter according to our tour guides. During the year 1998, the Tagbanuas were given a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) for over 22,000 hectares of land and sea in Coron. That certificate gave them the right to manage the area under its territory and to preserve its marine and land resources. The area where Kayangan Lake is situated belongs to the Tagbanua tribesmen. That explains why most of the islands of Coron have entrance fees because they guarded maintained the place.
The trip itself to Kayangan by boat from the mainland was already breathtaking. The islets made of limestone of different shapes and sizes were amazing. They’re countless and they’re photogenic. Once you reach the Kayangan docking area, you’ll see houses on stilts along the boardwalk. From there, it’s a short walk before you start climbing the steep stairs. I suggest you stretch first, especially your thigh muscles and calves.
Since hiking is involved, visiting time here for tourists is from 8 am – 4 pm only. Kayangan Lake is accessible by a steep 75m climb (about 300 steps total), both up and down into it, about 15 minutes if you are in reasonably good shape – that includes the waiting time, as the path is too narrow to accommodate traffic in both directions, and because it is a popular destination, be prepared to slide to the side and wait occasionally. The trek is quite tiring but I assure you that it’ll be worth the physical exhaustion. If you had already climbed to the summit of Coron’s Mount Tapyas, then the trek going to the lake will be easier for you.
When it gets dark, trekking or going up and down the steep steps can become dangerous. There are no lampposts here and if you miss a step, it’s going to be a long and bumpy fall.
CAVE NEAR THE VIEW DECK
Once you reach the view deck, you will also notice a small cave. Visitors are not allowed to go inside the cave, but you are permitted to pose at the cave’s entrance for awesome photos. Spelunking here is not allowed for the safety of tourists. It’s said to be a “dead cave” because it has “no moisture or growth of mineral deposits associated with moisture.”
A VIEW IS NOT A VIEW
Midway through the 150-step-climb, you will come across a view deck overlooking the lagoon. This is one of the highlights everyone comes here for… This view. Most people know of Kayangan Lake for the famous viewpoint, but what most don’t know is that the viewpoint isn’t looking at Kayangan Lake. Instead, the viewpoint looks on the Coron Bay between Coron Island and Busuanga Island. The view from the top of the hill on Coron island looking down on the crystal clear turquoise waters and tall cliffs of the surrounding islands.
Tourist must queue and patiently wait for their turn to take a few photos on the other side of the view deck. When our turn finally came, we had a photo with the most popular view of Coron as our background. The view was truly spectacular (shame the person taking the picture was not as equally skilled at using a camera… We were disappointed with the final pictures)
SWIMMING IN THE LAKE
After having our photos taken at the deck, we’ve started another 150 step trek to the lake (this part was all downhill). The terrain is pretty steep but not to worry, all this is worth it when you finally reach the lake. Trekking to the lake can be a little bit slippery, so make sure you take care. Upon reaching the lake, you’ll be greeted by a massive body of water surrounded by, seemingly endless towering limestone walls.
Kayangan Lake is 70% freshwater and 30% salt water. One may choose to swim or snorkel in the lake, or simply float around in a life jacket (Life jackets are a mandatory requirement to swim in the lake, but, as you see in the pictures, rules do get broken). The water here is some of the clearest anywhere in the world. Below the surface is plenty of interesting rock formations and lots of sea life. The water is so clear that you will be able to see from the surface what’s underneath the lake.
Although only rock formations surrounding the lake are what you can see under the water, bringing your snorkeling gears will still be a good idea as the beautiful rock formations under the water are worth looking at. They created make-shift benches along the entrance where you could drop your bags. I went to the water first while Gary stayed behind the platform for a few more minutes just to take some photos, look after our things and to absorb the beauty of the place. The place is really very peaceful and awesome. I’m enjoying God’s wonderful creations!
One activity we would have loved to do, but didn’t have time, is to take a raft ride around Kayangan Lake. Aboard a bamboo raft, you can explore the lake with a local guide.
- The lake can get quite busy, and even more so the viewpoint can get crowded. If you want to avoid the crowds you can try and arrange a private tour. Most tours run the same time meaning most people arrive all within a short time period of each other. Go there early in the morning when the place is not yet crowded if you want to take good photos.
- The overlooking viewpoint from the view deck. Take a break midway from your climb towards the lake and treat yourself a photo op with the amazing view of the dock as your background or your subject.
- Chill by the lake and enjoy this piece of paradise surrounded by limestone cliffs.
- Visitors may snorkel or swim in the lake and it is advised to wear a life vest when you swim or snorkel.
- Follow the rules at all times. Practice caution, especially when swimming without your life vest. Avoid deeper part and, if you can, do not go on your own or out of sight of your companions or the local guides.
- Bring enough money to pay for other incidentals such as food and drinks and entrance fee.
- Charge your gadgets and/or bring battery packs.
- Practice proper garbage disposal. Leave nothing but footprints.
- Visit off-season for an even more relaxed trip. The main tourist season for Coron and the lake is from November to April in the dryest season. Visiting outside of these times you’ll run into much thinner crowds in Coron and the lake.
* Since Kayangan Lake is usually part of Coron Island Tour, all fees that this trip may incur are included in the package tour fee that you will be paying if you join a group tour. This is perfect for solo travelers or small groups.
- Book a flight to Coron, Palawan. Major airlines like Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have direct flights to Busuanga (USU). Skyjet also flies directly to Busuanga. From the airport, hire a van to Coron Town. Travel time is 30 minutes. P150/head
- Another convenient way of getting to Coron by boat is 2Go Travel – a union of Aboitiz SuperFerry and Negros Navigation services Manila to Coron.
- Most tourists visiting Kayangan Lake choose to stay in Coron Town on the neighboring island of Busuanga because of the airport and accommodation options. Most tourists visiting Kayangan Lake choose to stay in Coron Town on the neighboring island of Busuanga because of the airport and accommodation options.
- Coron Island is a short boat ride away and can easily be arranged as a tour while in Coron Town. At the town, join a tour to Kayangan Lake. There are a lot of tour operators in town who offer packages tours including Kayangan Lake. The two main options are to take a group tour or hire a private boat for the day to see Kayangan Lake and surrounding attractions.
” If you’re planning to visit it though, don’t forget the golden rule for nature, “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.”