Coron is one of the most famous destinations for tourists visiting Palawan, Philippines and one of the most known lakes that every tourists would not want to miss out is the Barracuda Lake. This famous fresh and salt water lake holds a secret that draws in diving enthusiasts from all over the world.
Barracuda Lake, situated on the north shore of Coron Island in the Philippines, offers one of the most unique diving experiences. Occasionally referred to as Luluyuan Lake by locals, its crystal blue waters hidden between majestic rocky formations aren’t big on actual barracudas and other wildlife. Instead, divers can experience a thermocline and halocline unlike anywhere else.
Starting out on the surface of the lake, divers, swimmers, and scuba enthusiasts can expect temperatures around 82 degrees Fahrenheit. But as you descend into the depths of the lake, around 45 to 50 feet down, the temperature drastically changes to just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (to put that in perspective, most people keep their hot tubs at 104 degrees, so it’s best to forego a wet suit here).
This very strange increase in temperature is due to the fact that the lake contains both salt and freshwater. Divers can even see the thin, distinct boundary that separates the two bodies of water. Barracuda lake is also characterized by an impressive display of limestone formations that rise up on all sides and extend beneath the surface.
Barracuda Lake presents the curious with a unique opportunity to dive in a harmonious mix of fresh and salt water set against a backdrop of imposing jagged limestone walls. And if you are really lucky you may even have a chance to encounter with the only resident barracuda for which the lake was named, who is said to lurk in the shadows of the lake’s thirty-meter cave. Let’s just say, scuba diving Barracuda Lake is a sensory experience you are sure to remember for the rest of your life.
Divers have described a sense of “weightlessness” while exploring the hot or cool depths, and the sensational experience (which is largely devoid of flora and fauna) has also been likened to what it must feel like to walk on the moon. But the lake holds yet another surprise: just when the salt watery heat becomes a tad unbearable, the temperature changes back to cool again near the bottom – might sound and FEEL scary!
Another unique feature of the lake is the sand at the very bottom, which has been described as “jelly-like,” “silky,” “airy,” and “silty.” The lake bottom was so light and airy with one throw you could fill the water with a billowing cloud of its murkiness. It’s apparently good for play, too. And although the barracudas aren’t really around anymore, if you’re lucky, you may still catch a glimpse of one.
A set of ugly dwarf catfish and large brine shrimp nervously navigated their way. They were truly some of the ugliest critters under the sea. Barracuda Lake was a most unusual dive indeed!
<please add a video here of scuba diving in barracuda lake>
Know Before You Go
This lake is best experienced via scuba diving to get the full experience of the thermocline.
If You Go: Coron Scuba Diving at Barracuda Lake
What: Most people associate tropical fish and whale sharks with scuba diving in the Philippines. However there is more to its vast archipelagos and islets than aqua blue seas. Barracuda Lake may be one of the most unique dives you’ll ever do, full of surprises at every turn.
Why: Barracuda Lake is a standout thanks to its dramatic thermoclines where saltwater and freshwater oddly coexist in harmony. The first few layers of water as you dive down are normal freshwater (approximately 28° Celcius) until you approach 14 meters where you hit a halocline and thermocline and the water becomes saline and the temperature rises to a hot 39° Celcius. It is so hot you will want to skip the wetsuit. If you are an advanced diver and up for the challenge, there is also a cave at 35 meters that can be entered.
Where: Barracuda Lake is situated on the north shore of Coron island in Palawan, Philippines. It can be reached by an easy 20-minute boat ride from Coron town. If you are going with a dive operator ask to do this dive first as there are fewer tourists early in the morning and visibility is better.
When: You can dive Barracuda Lake year round.
Go there early in the morning when the place is not yet crowded. The entrance to the lake is small, so it can get crowded during peak hours.
Chill by the lake and enjoy this piece of paradise surrounded by limestone cliffs.
Visitors may snorkel or swim in the lake. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the barracudas residing in its waters. The name may sound scary but no need to worry because the barracudas won’t eat you.
You may even spot other fishes like rabbit fish, cray fish, catfish, and other sea creatures from the ocean that have found their way through the small openings in the limestone cliff walls.
If you are into diving, you will have the chance to experience the changes in water temperature (thermocline) as you go deeper.
It is advised to wear a life vest when you swim or snorkel.
Follow the rules at all times. Practice caution, especially when swimming without your life vest. The lake is very deep, if you can, do not go on your own or out of sight of your companions or the local guides.
If you are planning to swim, just bring what you need. There’s a resting area but it is advised to not leave your things unattended.
Bring enough money to pay for other incidentals such as food and drinks and entrance fee, especially if your group didn’t join a group tour.
Charge your gadgets and/or bring battery packs.
Keep the place clean. Practice proper garbage disposal. Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but picture and VIDEOS!