Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Barracuda Lake and Island Hopping

Wreck diving was awesome. However, the most unique dive was at Barracuda Lake, which is called "The craziest dive site in the Philippines." It's located on Coron Island proper, whose only inhabitants are the indigenous Tagbanua people, one of the original inhabitants of the Philippines. The island is protected as sacred land, and only a few locations are even open to tourists. We were actually staying in Coron City, which is not on Coron Island, but on the main island of Busuanga.

So you enter this beautiful bay with jagged limestone cliffs all around, and you swim to a set of stairs, which are really just narrow, unstable 2x2 boards. You then do a fairly strenuous 10 minute hike through sharp limestone formations along a rugged set of "stairs". In full scuba gear. It's not an easy climb, but very worth it.

Barracuda Lake's top 4 meters are cool fresh water, with salt water below. The point where they meet is a thermocline, meaning thin layer where surface and deep water meet, usually with a sharp change in temperature. Passing through this one is like going from the swimming pool at 75F into the hot tub at 105F. It's almost too hot to bear, but fortunately you can keep going deeper and pass into the salt water layer where the temp drops to a more bearable 90F. Amazingly, you can actually see where these layers meet, as they don't mix very well. The layer where the fresh water meets the thermocline is like oil sitting on water, or the meniscus of water on a glass. The deeper layer where the salt water meets the thermocline is eerie and plays tricks with your mind. Sometimes you see ghosts, like wisps of clouds rolling away. Other times the mixing layers turns all the water blurry, so everything is out of focus.

As if the dive wasn't cool enough already, we ended up finding a bunch of little cleaner shrimp and baby catfish that will munch on the dead skin from your hand, if you let them. What a trip.

Video Time! I put together the random few that i took from this dive and added some still shots. Yay!

I ended up with an ear infection after day one, but that didn't stop me from jumping back in on day three. On our day off we did a relaxing island-hopping tour. The highlight, besides the amazing scenery, was Kayangan Lake. Also on the protected Coron Island, it is known as the cleanest lake in the Philippines. A must-see on any trip to Coron.

On the island hopping tour.

Kayangan Lake

Next up: El Nido and the Bacuit Archipelago



Larkin said...

Dude, that is wild! you know actually that salt/fresh boundary was probably a halocline http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halocline

Those things are so tripping looking, and I love them because it is optics at work in the real world (via a distinct change in index of refraction).

Thanks for sharing. I really want to go :-)

Lester Moore Lambac said...

Barracuda Lake is amazing. This lake is one of the attractions in Palawan and today Palawan in the Philippines is considered as the best island in the world. This is a great post thanks for sharing.

I have also an updated post of Barracuda Lake here http://touristspotsfinder.com/2015/01/barracuda-lake-weird-dive-site/