The one tour basically everyone who visits Coron goes on is what they call the “Ultimate Islands Tour.” It’s a day-long adventure out of Coron Town and into the surrounding area. And the surrounding area is just breathtaking. The tour is split fairly well between lagoons, beaches, and snorkeling, so there’s something for everyone throughout the day.
The highlights for me were the lagoons – we went to the Twin Lagoon and Kayangan Lake. Kayangan Lake (kay-ann-gann) is probably the image you’ve seen most-Instagrammed from Coron. It’s amazing, but I was surprised to see that the image spot that everyone uses is actually not of Kayangan Lake – it’s the lagoon on the other side of the lake. To get to Kayangan, you have to climb up about 300 stairs, then climb back down them into the lake. And of course, to get back to where the boats park, you have to do it in reverse. It was a great workout for the day.
The lake itself is a cool place to go – it’s about 70% fresh water and it’s surrounded by these incredible limestone walls that just seem to come straight up from the earth. There are also a few caves around the lake that you can explore. I heard that the fact that they have marked off a swimming boundary now is because apparently, a tourist swam out into the lake and drowned earlier this year. So they require people swimming to wear life jackets, and they also have them stay closer to the boardwalk you get in from.
Twin Lagoon was really cool to see, mainly from how you arrive there. First, you go into one lagoon, and it’s got a little house on the water and the incredible limestone cliffs. Then, you have to swim through a cave to get to the other lagoon! Or you can go over the stairs, but that’s not nearly as fun. You have to use the stairs during high tide, though. When I went through, there was about a six to ten inch gap between my head and the roof of the cave. I made sure to keep my head down, because there were spikes coming out of the roof that looked like they would be painful to hit your head on.
For snorkeling, you primarily go to Siete Picados, Malwaway Reef, and the Skeleton Wreck. The Skeleton Wreck and Malwaway Reef are essentially the same spot.
I really enjoyed snorkeling there. There are some people who say the Skeleton Wreck was a small Japanese ship from World War II, and others who say it’s just a small random Chinese boat that sank. It wasn’t nearly as impressive as the Sangat, but it was cool all the same. I took the tour before I went diving, so the Skeleton Wreck was the first wreck I got to swim on or near.
As I was snorkeling, I made almost a full circuit of the island we were snorkeling around – whoops! We were only supposed to go for about 100 meters. I perhaps got lost and went much further. One thing that surprised me on the tour was the number of people who went on the tour who weren’t strong swimmers. And when I say weren’t strong swimmers, I mean they weren’t willing to go into any water without a life jacket, and when they were in the water, the guides would form a “human centipede” with them where everyone would basically hold the feet of the person behind them under their arms. Then the guides would pull them along so they didn’t have to do any swimming on their own.
Unsurprisingly, the “human centipede” was rather slow, which was part of how I got lost. I was one of three people who didn’t join the centipede, and didn’t realize how quickly I was swimming. I lost sight of the group, and that’s why I kept going around the island – I thought they were ultimately going the other direction than they went! Luckily, our tour guide grabbed the kayak from the boat and came to find those of us who had gotten lost. All three of us who went on our own ultimately got separated from the group.
One rule of snorkeling is that you avoid touching the coral at all costs – not only does it disturb the ecosystem, but it also is sharp. While I was climbing into the kayak (it was not a graceful moment), I accidentally kicked a piece of coral with the top of my foot. And while they weren’t deep, the whole top of my foot looked like I had about 15 paper cuts in all directions. So flip flops or any shoes were painful for the next few days!
Siete Pecados made me laugh. There’s a strong Spanish influence in the Philippines, and so the Siete really is exactly what you might think – seven. There are seven little islets around the reef, and it makes for a cool area to snorkel. You can go in and see these giant clams living under water – like the clams were bigger than my head! If I pulled one out of the water, it was probably big enough to cover my entire torso.
There were also lots of fish swimming around and I even saw a barracuda!
As for the beaches on the tour, these were actually two of the beaches I was the least impressed with overall. Beach 91 they list as a stop just to make the tour look more inclusive. What it really is is a very small beach where they serve the buffet lunch. It’s not an especially pretty beach, and it’s crowded because they bring all the tour groups there for lunch. I was pretty suspicious of the food. I didn’t like the looks of the meat or fish that were laying in a buffet on a beach. So I stuck to rice, noodles, and fruit. But it was good and refreshing anyway!
CYC Beach stands for “Coron Youth Club” and it’s a very pretty beach – it’s actually where my first dive of scuba diving was. However, by the end of the day there are so many tour groups there that it’s not especially enjoyable. And you have to park the boat fairly far out and then walk into the beach. Which I was not about to do – CYC Beach is known for having a lot of sea urchins! I lived in fear of stepping on one of those things, so I just stayed on the boat.
It was a very enjoyable and jam-packed day. I feel like we saw a lot, but somehow it was mostly relaxing.