Kayangan Lake: What’s it Really Like Visiting Coron’s Most Famous Natural Attraction?
If you’ve ever seen a picture of Coron in the Philippines, then there’s a high chance that the picture you have seen is of Coron’s most famous natural attraction, Kayangan Lake. It’s the postcard picture that has sold millions of flights to this ever more popular part of the Philippines, for the simple reason that it is absolutely stunning to look at.
But with Coron growing in popularity and Kayangan Lake, the lake that started it all, becoming busier and busier year on year – especially with the closure of the infamous Boracay Island in 2018 – many of you reading this will be wondering what it’s really like to visit now.
How busy is it? Do I really have to wear that orange lifejacket all the time? And is it really worth it anymore?
I’ve visited Kayangan Lake three times now in my life, and in this article, I’m going to put my expertise to the test and answer those burning questions.
What’s it really like visiting Kayangan Lake? Read on to find out.
What’s it really like visiting Kayangan Lake?
Kayangan Lake is one of the most spectacular places that you can visit in Coron. Because of this, and because of Coron’s rising popularity, Kayangan Lake is also the busiest destination that you can visit in the entirety of the northern Calamianes Islands that the area is part of.
Let me give you a brief overview of what you can expect when visiting the lake, based on my multiple trips here.
Where Is Kayangan Lake?
First up, you’ll be loading up into the local Bangka Boat, for the 20 minute ride from Coron Town’s harbour across the sea to Coron Island, where the lake is found. You’ll unload onto the wooden platform which runs rustically along the limestone rocks when you reach the landing area of Coron Bay and then you’ll tackle the steep ascent and sharp descent down to the lake itself.
The lake is located on Coron Island and you can see it on the map just below. It’s one of the quickest and easiest destinations to reach from the main town where most tourists base themselves – which is actually not Coron, but Busuanga Island!
The Picture Of Coron that You’ve Probably Seen At Least Three of Four Times, probably more
From the moment you step foot on the wooden docking area, there will be other tourists everywhere. All of them pushing and shoving their way along the narrow planks and then up the slippy steps. The point is though, there are a lot of visitors in a very crowded space.
There’s a viewing platform halfway up, turn around and you’ll be rewarded with incredible views over the bay. That’s the famous picture of Coron you may well have already seen, and the same picture I’ve used on the cover photo of this article and posted below.
That famous picture, as you will have seen, is not actually a picture of the lake, but of the boat landing area that leads to the lake. Kayangan Lake is the opposite direction to the viewpoint and if I’m honest, as beautiful as the lake is, it is very difficult to photograph well, which is why everyone photographs the bay.
Unfortunately, if you do want a picture of the bay, then you’ll be queueing for a while, especially at peak times. It’s a narrow path leading to the lookout and there are a lot of budding photographers.
My advice? Take a drone. You’ll get a better picture faster. I flew my Mavic Pro up from the loading area and I got some excellent aerial shots without having to queue. I did, however, have to avoid several other drones taking off and flying around in the compact airspace and then avoid all the people walking past when I wanted to land it again. I guess it’s a case of picking the lesser of two evils in this circumstance.
A Sea of Orange across Kayangan Lake
From the viewpoint, the steps then lead down to a wooden platform that leads around the lake. It’s very slippy and there are lifejackets, masks and snorkels flung all about the place.
The lake is incredibly large, however, only a certain area can be swum in as the lifeguards like to keep watch. If you want to enter the water, you also need to wear the funky orange lifejackets they give everyone on the boats. It’s actually a legal requirement, as several swimmers drowned not that long ago.
It also means that any pictures you take will inevitably be of a sea of orange. Lifejackets, splashing and shouting. That’s my main remembrance of Kayangan Lake when I look back now, but it is still rather pretty.
If you wish to avoid the sea of orange, then that’s a tricky task. If you do arrive early enough, the lake may be empty, but the local authorities try to limit the time that boats leave the harbour, so it may be difficult finding a boat that will actually be able to take you early enough to be the first one there.
A Place of Undeniable Beauty
After bemoaning the lifejackets and the crowds, you’ll be wondering why you even bothered to show up. But jump into the clear, cold and refreshing fresh water of Kayangan Lake from the wooden decking and you’ll realise that actually, this is a place of undeniable beauty.
Despite the crowds, the water is in fact still some of the cleanest and clearest in the Philippines. After the hot and sweaty boat ride, followed by the sharp climb, the water is unbelievably revitalising. As you lay there, looking at the beautiful limestone cliffs that surround the lake, you will be glad that you plunged right on in.
But then, as you climb out and make the journey back to the boat harbour, you’ll be wondering why you never visited Kayangan Lake before it became famous when it could have just been you in this incredible setting. Unfortunately, that can no longer be, it is incredibly popular because it is a spectacular place.
What you can do though, is decide whether or not that really matters to you. If you don’t mind crowds, then Kayanagan Lake will always be utterly beautiful. If, however, you find beauty in the remote and the untouched, then Kayangan Lake is not the place for you.
The Local Legend of Kayangan Lake
The local Tagbanua group are the guardians of Coron and many of the other islands of the Calamianes. They have lived here for thousands of years and have the ancestral rights to the islands, lakes and beaches that they call home. Coron Island does, in fact, have 11 lakes within its short boundaries, however only two of those – Kayanagan Lake and Barracuda Lake – are actually open to the public.
The Tagbanua have control, to an extent, over which areas they allow tourists to visit, and which areas they keep closed off. These are sacred sites remember, and they don’t want them ruined. It’s these guys who have so far kept the place so clean, even with so many visitors. At the same time, economically they benefit from allowing visitors into their beautiful land, and it’s very much possible that in future, as Kayanagan Lake and others like it get too busy, they may well open up other areas of Coron Island too for tourism.
How Can I Travel To Kayangan Lake?
Here’s my quick guide on the practicalities of travelling to Kayangan Lake Coron. I’d advise taking plenty of water and sunscreen, and if even a mask and snorkel to enjoy the cool, clear water! The lake, as I mentioned, is privately owned by the Tagbanua, and as such you pay an entrance fee to gain access. This may be included if you are travelling with a tour group, but check beforehand.
Please respect their beliefs and the efforts that the local Tagbanua go to to keep the area clean and safe, by removing all your rubbish and not drinking alcohol around the lake itself.
Tours From Coron Town to Kayangan Lake
Most travellers to Coron will end up staying in Coron Town. It’s the main area that’s set up for tourism on Busuanga Island. From the harbour here, hundreds of boats leave every day to explore the surrounding islands, including Coron Island which is twenty minutes away at its closest point.
Coron has an array of accommodation suitable for any level of budget, as well as restaurants and bars and plenty of tour agencies looking to arrange your trips.
You can easily combine a trip to Kayangan Lake with other local sights, such as Barracuda Lake and Twin Lagoons to name just a few.
It’s easy enough to organise a trip the day before you want to depart as there are plenty of companies and individuals offering their services in Coron.
You can also book your tours in advance through several agencies, and if you take this route I’d recommend using a locally run company called Calamianes Expeditions. They have several tour options or can privately organise tailor-made tours too. Their price starts from 950 PHP – roughly 17 USD – for the basic full day tour which encompasses Kayangan Lake and other major attractions.
When Should I Visit Kayangan Lake?
Coron is best visited during the dry season, generally between December and May. Outside of this, there can be typhoons and lots of rain. Dry season, of course, is also the busiest and most expensive time of year to go, but you are pretty much guaranteed excellent conditions.
Kayangan Lake gets very busy, especially around lunchtime. The best time to visit is early in the day before anyone else has a chance to even get there, but this is not always possible, especially when coordinating trips to other parts of Coron at the same time too.
All Photos and Words by Richard Collett