The Beauty of the Philippines Part 2: Coron, Palawan
|Aerial View of Dimakya Island (Club Paradise)|
It started with a warning! Ricky, our guide, told us that we have to swim through a very narrow cave opening in order to get to Lake Barracuda. But that warning was intended for the seasoned divers or swimmers. We used the ladder instead. Upon entering the lake, we were introduced to the natural splendor of a different sort. The lake was surrounded by dark limestone, carved with a crisscross pattern. The sharp ridges were formed like steeples of a Gothic cathedral. With my snorkeling gear, I joined one of the Japanese tourists who jumped into the dark blue water. But the underwater was not that impressive. I swam around the lake and floated on my back to admire the amazing rock formation. The water barely hitting the hanging rocks gave an illusion of a wide mouth and huge teeth waiting to swallow a predator. The rustling of the leaves from the scarce trees growing in between the rocks and the echoes coming from a visitor who shouted in awe as he jumped into the water created a ‘herculean’ feeling. Lake Barracuda was aptly named I thought. It’s one majestic intimidating lake.
Kayangan Lake and the Postcard of Coron
I continued to film as we descended to Kayangan Lake, trying to capture the sight and sound of a lush tropical forest, the chirping of the cicadas and the twittering birds. Once we got to the lake, the site was stunning. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of nature. I put my snorkeling gear on, but after seeing a few needlefish I decided to just swim, float and relax. The water was so clear and the stunning views were soothing. I felt I was floating between water and air – I have never felt such serenity.
Coron Marine Sanctuary
Back in the boat, we headed towards the marine reserve. Ricky said, "this area is protected by the local government of Coron so fishing is not allowed". As I dove into the water, the undersea was a vision of abundance indeed. I was especially struck by what seemed to be an underwater garden with corals that looked like red, yellow, blue, purple flowers in extravagant bloom. Some corals looked like polyps and elongated stalks. The pale white corals I was used to seeing in the Pacific Ocean formed a wall that seemed to highlight the fish of different colors. As I swam farther I could see the water getting from pale blue to darker blue, which indicates an increase in depth. I noticed a cluster of black corals scattered in this area. I actually got scared. Perhaps it was from the cluster of black corals and the deepening sea or both. When I popped out of the water and saw our boat, I realized how far I have drifted. So I decided to head back. I was fascinated by the magnificent coral formation that I only began to notice the variety of fish as I head back towards our boat.
Maquinit Hot Spring
It was amazing how we navigated our way from seawater to fresh water and back to saltwater and how we ended up at the hot spring without getting off the boat. We crossed the bridge, which was made of mangrove trunks and roots, on foot. On the other side of the bridge was the Maquinit Hot Spring, where we relaxed in hot (more than warm) water – a perfect place to hang out after a long day of activities.
Coron Market (Market Pier)
Leaving our boat, we walked from the quayside along Coron Market. I headed straight to the fish market to buy fish and green caviar. (I was disappointed with our dinner the night before as I was hoping to have a meal of fresh seafood, but Club Paradise offered international cuisine of German and Italian food).
That evening, back at the resort, Ricky had the chef prepare the green caviar and fish. Before heading to the open-air restaurant for dinner, I stopped by the Dugong Bar and got me a bottle of sauvignon blanc. In addition to CP’s usual buffet dinner offering, Pia, our waitress, brought the grilled ‘lapu-lapu’ (rock cod) and green caviar salad (with fresh tomato and onions with kalamansi (lemon) to our table. Perfect dinner in paradise! I thought.
The following morning, I strolled along the ‘Hidden Beach’ and trekked up the hill to Eagles Point. The hill was steep but not strenuous. As I reached the top, I found Abbey and Pia (Club Paradise staff) relaxing. I thought it was a nice hideaway for them. We were also accompanied by sinister looking creatures. They were fruit bats that inhabit the island. They were harmless according to Abbey.
We were here on this hill towering the sea with a 360 view of the sea and the Escapade Island. Seemed so far-away, so pretty, so gorgeous... the Philippines more beautiful than I imagine.