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Island Harmony: The Charms of Coron, Palawan

Embarking on a journey to Coron, Palawan offers a captivating experience, immersing you in the natural wonders of the Philippines. Tucked away in the heart of the Calamian archipelago and just an hour's flight from Manila, Coron graces the northern part of Palawan, an elongated island province in the western Philippines. Coron is celebrated for its breathtaking landscapes featuring pristine turquoise waters, dramatic limestone karst formations, and vibrant coral reefs. The enchanting scenery, the warm hospitality of the locals, and the opportunity to witness spellbinding sunsets collectively position Coron as a destination that simply had to be on our travel bucket list. 


DAY 1. Resort Accommodations and Experiences to Treasure



El Rio y Mar Resort proved to be the idyllic haven for our 3 days/2 nights stay, providing a perfect escape from the urban hustle. The resort, located in a tranquil bay, captivated us with its breathtaking views of calm waters and rolling hills, setting the stage for a relaxing getaway. The personalized service, infused with the warmth and charm of the native Palawe'os, made our stay truly memorable.


Our journey to El Rio y Mar began with a seamless pick-up from the airport in a private van, followed by a scenic 30-45 minute boat ride through the enchanting Mangroves. Upon arrival, the cheerful staff welcomed us with a traditional song and refreshing drinks, making us feel instantly at home. The smooth check-in process led us to our Casa Cabana room, strategically positioned with a calming view of the beach.



Excited to discover the underwater marvels, we chose a snorkeling adventure. The clear waters and vibrant marine life enhanced the allure of this tropical paradise. As the day unfolded, our excitement reached new heights with a hike to Hunter's Peak. 


Guided by a local expert (Kuya Jun), and sporting only flip-flops on our feet, we embarked on an hour-long trail, pausing to relish panoramic views of the bay. The steep, narrow paths guided us to the summit just in time for a breathtaking sunset, creating an indelible memory in our hearts. Embracing the thrill of descending swiftly, our goal was to reach the base before the sun fully set, casting the trails into complete darkness!







Our evening at El Rio y Mar was equally enchanting, with a delectable dinner, refreshing drinks, and live music creating a perfect ambiance. The experiences of our first day only heightened our anticipation for what Day 2 had in store for us. El Rio y Mar Resort had already woven a tapestry of memories, promising an extraordinary retreat in the heart of Coron's beauty.


DAY 2. A Day of Unforgettable Island Magic



On our second day in Coron, we immersed ourselves in a captivating full-day tour exploring breathtaking sites and scenic island destinations.


TWIN LAGOON


Photo by Franz C. Trinidad.


Our first stop was Twin Lagoon, situated approximately an hour away from Coron Town by boat.  Tucked away like a hidden gem amidst the stunning cliffs of Coron Island, these two remarkable lagoons offered an ideal backdrop for a refreshing swim.


Positioned adjacent to each other but separated by a narrow cliff, you can traverse between them using a precarious wooden staircase during high tide or opt for a more daring swim beneath a natural archway formed in the rocks during low tide to reach the opposite side. 


The limestone cliffs that envelop the lagoons not only enhance the scenic beauty but also serve as a protective barrier against currents, resulting in a crystal-clear and tranquil aquatic environment.  The dynamic nature of Twin Lagoon, marked by its ever-changing conditions, transformed our visit into an unforgettable and surreal adventure that felt almost too magical to be true.


BARRACUDA LAKE


Our next stop was Barracuda Lake, locally referred to as Luluyuan Lake. Prior to embarking on our exploration of the island, we enjoyed a delightful lunch in a stilted hut offering a breathtaking panorama of the crystal-clear blue waters.



As we hiked through  narrow steps between majestic limestone rock formations, we started our descent into the lake. Submerging ourselves in the water revealed an impressive temperature shift. Although we didn't venture into the deepest parts of the lake ourselves to experience it firsthand, there were reports indicating that the temperature sharply rises to just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit at depths of 45 to 50 feet then swiftly transitions to cooler temperatures near the bottom of the lake. This phenomenon was attributed to the fascinating interaction between salt and freshwater, resulting in the creation of an uncommon thermocline and halocline.


Witnessing it firsthand, the underwater scenery showcased remarkable limestone formations rising on all sides and extending beneath the water's surface. This lake, renowned for its natural beauty and distinctive underwater features, undeniably emerges as a destination of choice for divers and snorkelers seeking an exceptional adventure.



KAYANGAN LAKE


Continuing to be captivated by the mesmerizing Barracuda Lake, we subsequently moved on to explore Kayangan Lake. The journey unfolded amidst breathtaking scenery, characterized by towering cliffs and the beautiful hues of blue, green, and turquoise waters. 



Despite its escalating popularity, Kayangan Lake proudly holds the distinction of being the cleanest lake in the Philippines. Following a brief boat ride, a 15 to 30-minute ascent involving the negotiation of approximately 326 steps and narrow cliffside paths led to the pristine shores of the lake. The pinnacle of the excursion was reaching the viewpoint, offering an ideal vantage point for capturing stunning photographs. 


Beyond its photographic allure, the lake presented opportunities for cave exploration, swimming in its brackish waters (comprising 30 percent saltwater and 70 percent freshwater), and navigating concealed passages nestled amidst limestone cliffs. The day unfolded as an adventure-packed experience, and the remarkable clarity of the lake, with visibility extending up to 30 feet, rendered it accessible even to non-swimmers.  Kayangan Lake stands as a true gem for both nature enthusiasts and photography aficionados alike.


SIETE PECADOS


Our journey concluded at Siete Pecados, a locale that left an indelible mark on our senses. Immersed in the alluring waters of Siete Pecados—a collection of seven captivating islets—we found ourselves entranced by the breathtaking scenery and the vibrant underwater world teeming with marine life.  The crystal-clear azure waters unveiled a mesmerizing exhibition of lively coral gardens and a diverse spectrum of fish species, swaying and swimming gracefully beneath the sun's rays.



Yet, Siete Pecados transcends its natural beauty; it carries the echoes of a poignant local legend. In a coastal village, a compassionate mother once lived with her seven beautiful daughters, each celebrated for her unique charm. Despite the mother's warnings, the sisters, lured by the sea, defied her wishes and ventured into its depths. Tragedy befell them as they were ensnared by a powerful current, unable to return.


Heartbroken, the mother prayed fervently, and miraculously, the next morning, seven new islets emerged near the spot where the sisters were last seen.  These islets, now known as Siete Pecados or "Seven Sins" in English, were believed to be a divine intervention, transforming the sisters into these picturesque formations. This legend imparts emotional depth to the marine park, turning it into not just a natural wonder but also a place of local folklore and cultural importance.


Siete Pecados, with its awe-inspiring underwater beauty and rich biodiversity, serves as a testament to the fusion of nature and local legends. The timeless tale of the seven sisters infuses an air of mystique into this natural wonder, creating a place where the ocean's beauty harmonizes with the resonance of an enduring narrative.


DAY 3. Final Day - A Tranquil Retreat at the Resort


After an extraordinary day filled with island adventures, we chose to unwind and savor a tranquil day at the resort. Our day commenced with a delightful breakfast and coffee enjoyed by the beach, creating a serene vibe for what lay ahead. The subsequent kayaking excursion was a joyous affair, with waves of laughter accompanying every paddle stroke against the picturesque backdrop of the crystal-clear waters. As our time on the island drew to a close, we dedicated the final hours to the resort's inviting pool, allowing us to soak in the paradise one last time.



Reflecting on the multitude of experiences, our vacation became a lasting memory that seamlessly blended thrilling escapades, moments of serenity, and the breathtaking allure of the tropical oasis we were fortunate enough to explore. Our time in Coron has been nothing short of enchanting and unforgettable. The pristine beauty of turquoise waters, stunning limestone cliffs, and vibrant coral reefs has left an indelible mark on our hearts. The charm of this tropical paradise extends beyond its natural wonders, embracing us in the warmth of its local culture and the genuine hospitality of its people. Coron's beauty was not just skin deep; it was an immersive experience that had woven itself into the fabric of our cherished memories, creating a longing to return to its captivating embrace.

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