No trip to Coron is complete without visiting the stunning Kayangan Lake. This is a highlight of any trip to the islands of Palawan and is one of the best things to do in the whole of the Philippines. However, it is one of the most popular spots in the country and gets incredibly busy.
Fear not, you can still get Kayangan Lake all to yourself and have an incredible experience. It’s not easy but it can be done. Here’s how.
How to get to Kayangan Lake
Kayangan Lake is only accessible by boat, and it’s a short 15 minutes journey from Coron town (or 5 minutes from the stunning Twin Lagoon). Most people choose one of the package tours to see this beautiful place, many of which arrive at the same time. By hiring your own boat, you’ll be able to magically skip all the crowds and have a fantastic experience (more on that later). There are no public transport options to visit Kayangan.
With either option the boat will dock at the pier in the middle of this stunning bay.
This is the view that is most commonly associated with Kayangan Lake. However, this is not the lake itself, nor a place you can swim! Pretty view though.
We’d recommend visiting this lookout after you’ve swum in the lake, you won’t have too much time without other people even if you arrive here incredibly early, so spend it in the lagoon.
Kayangan Lake Hike & Steps
Don’t fear, the walk to Kayangan Lake is easy, there are stairs, but the trail is very short. In total there are 360 steps, only half of which are uphill. It isn’t overly steep and the stairs are in good condition all the way, so if you can climb over a hundred steps you can do it.
From the viewpoint at the top it is a leisurely walk down to one of the prettiest lakes in the whole of the Philippines.
How to get Kayangan Lake to yourself
Book a private boat
Hiring a private boat is more expensive than going on one of the package tours (but not horrendously so), and you will have an infinitely better time. It’s by far the best way to see the best things in Coron.
If you go on a package tour, you will go to Kayangan Lake at exactly the same time as all the other groups. Tour companies in Coron are unimaginative and all stick to very similar timetables, so you’ll bump into the same people all day. This means you’ll be going to every spot at the most crowded times of day.
Package tours also have strict time limits and will hurry you from place to place. If you love a place you have no freedom to stay longer.
Private tours in Coron enable you to miss all the crowds. We went to Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake and Twin Lagoons and barely saw anyone else - something unheard of in Coron.
You can organise a private boat trip at any of the travel agents in town but you will pay a premium as they will take their cut. They will also insist that you cannot leave until after the coast guard begins work at 8.30am. This will give you virtually no time at all before groups start arriving.
Go early! The best time to visit Kayangan Lake
Without a doubt, the best time to visit Kayangan Lake is as early as possible. Tour groups start to arrive from 8.45-9.00am and don’t stop all day. We’ve heard some horror stories about how the place was so busy that visitors could barely swim anywhere without bumping into someone. This also makes it hard to get nice photos as it is compulsory to wear life jackets, hundreds of bright orange floats in your photos anyone?! Incidentally, this is another reason why we loved going early, the life guards had not yet arrived and you could swim without life jackets.
We were able to convince our boat crew to let us go just before 7.00am (we wanted to leave earlier, but our crew were pretty slow on getting ready so our 6am start time became a little later). This gave us around 45 minutes at the lake where it was just us and one other couple. After that point people began arriving in small groups and later there would be hundreds.
We were the only ones swimming in the lagoon for a while too which was complete bliss.
Before you go
Swimming in Kayangan Lake
Once you’re at the lake you can dive straight in from the boardwalk at the side or use one of the various sets of steps down to the water. You can only swim in a certain section of the lake - sadly - but the water here is stunningly warm and the area is still quite large. The lake has some cool pointy nose needle fish and pretty rock formations but you don’t even really need a snorkel as the water clarity is incredible.
Due to the tragic death of two Czech travellers who were free-diving in Kayangan Lake, wearing a life jacket at all times is compulsory. This is something that Barracuda Lake and Twin Lagoon also enforce as well. If you go early enough you can get away without wearing them, bring them down from the boat though just in case. It goes without saying if you aren't a confident swimmer wear one regardless. There is no point at which you can touch the bottom of the lake.
Kayangan Lake Entrance Fee & Preparation
Kayangan Lake has the most expensive entrance fee in Coron at 300 pesos per person (approx $6 USD). You will need to buy your entrance ticket the day before your visit if you want to go early as the office doesn’t open until 7am (you may get lucky and be able to buy it earlier but it is risky). Your boat crew will organise this for you just as they would if you are on a group tour.
Drone Useage at Kayangan Lake
Technically speaking the use of drones are not permitted at the lake. In reality we arrived so early that when we asked to briefly fly our drone we were given the go ahead. This is probably as there were only two people other than us at the lake and nobody minded. Later in the day we were told it would not be allowed. If you’re a drone photographer it’s one more reason to get to the lake early!
Packing list for Kayangan Lake
Here’s our list of the stuff you should bring with you! You can buy it all on Amazon before you go.
A GoPro is handy for Kayangan Lake as you can take this in the water without the fear of it breaking. We use a GoPro Hero 5 Black which has a decent battery life and take 4k video and 12 megapixel photos. You can also shoot time lapses and burst photos.
This isn’t so much for Kayangan Lake, but is essential for the rest of your island hoppng trip. Reef shoes will stop your feet getting cut up on any of the rocky places the boat will moor at.
Reef safe sunscreen
Reef safe sunscreen will ensure you’re protected from the sun without harming the environment.
Not essential for Kayangan, but you can use it to see the rock formations and fish below. This is more essential for the reefs and skeleton wreck around Coron Island.
The best way to keep your valuables safe whilst island hopping and visiting Kayangan Lake.
Where to stay in Coron
Finding decent accommodation in Coron is tricky, but Charms balances a good location with comfort. It is overpriced (like everything in Coron), but once you get past that you’ll find it a great place to rest up after a day’s island hopping.
It is a new hotel and the rooms are immaculately clean with air conditioning and hot water. It is a five minute (15 peso) tricylce ride from town, making it easy to get to the loading dock and restaurants in town.
Midrange - The Funny Lion, Coron Town
Almost everyone we met seemed to be staying here and judging by the reviews it looked like they were on to something! We also noticed they were building one in El Nido too so it should be a good choice.
The rooms look good and the views look exceptional. When we tried to check it out it was fully booked so it is one to book early.
Luxury - Two Seasons Coron Island Resort & Spa, Bulalacao
This is the place that everyone was talking about in the luxury bracket. The rooms are individual bungalows which look fabulous and the beach and resort views look amazing. This is likely what you’ve been dreaming of when you’ve been thinking about visiting Palawan not the dusty town.
However, one thing to consider is that you are a boat ride and then drive away from the town, this means you will likely be taking all of your boat tours directly from the hotel itself which probably means they will be a lot more expensive than in town. It might be best to check in advance to make sure it doesn’t turn into a very expensive surprise.
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Are you planning a trip to Coron? Is Kayangan Lake top of your must see list?Let us know in the comments below!