Coron is one of the 7107 islands in the Philippines- a diver’s paradise. The island cn be reached by plane or ferry and is mostly famous for its WWII wrecks. A little less famous- but definitely worth a dive- is Barracuda Lake. It offers a unique and interesting diving experience as it is a mixture of fresh and salt water, with visible thermo- and halioclines.
Upon beaching at the dive site- 20 minutes by boat from Lualhati Wharf on Coron, divers are required to carry their gear up a staircase and along a wooden pathway. The 20-15 minute walk takes you inside the tall, dark limestone cliffs that surround the spectacular lake.
The fresh water at the surface is a comfortable 28°C – no need for a wetsuit here. At around 14 meters the water temperature rises by 10° from 28°C to 38°C. The thermo- and halioclines are visible as divers slowly descend into the depths of the lake. At this high temperature the water seems ‘thick’ as you make your way to the bottom where it becomes slightly cooler and more comfortable.
The bottom of the lake is soft, silty sand, swallowing extended hands into its silky touch. Along the furthest wall there is a crevice where a barracuda sometimes hangs out. While one might think that Barracuda Lake is named such because of a large population of barracudas, it is actually because a large barracuda skeleton was discovered in these waters.
From the perch of the crevice divers can see the grey-black lines created by the heliocline where the cooler, fresh/brackish water and warmer, salt water mixes as they look towards the opposite side of the lake.
Divers often stop in the shallows near the entrance of the lake to remove their fins and experience the feeling of playing on the surface of the moon, navigating around boulders and sunken tree stumps.
When to go: Diving at Barracuda lake is excellent year-round.
Details: The water temperature ranges between 28°C and 38°C, making a swimsuit adequate for this dive. The maximum depth of the dive is 35 meters with an average visibility of around 30 meters.
With its unique water composition, extreme thermo- and helioclines and odd, silky, silty bottom, Barracuda Lake offers a dive filled with new and uncanny sensory experiences. It is truly a dive not to be missed next time you visit the Philippines.
* A version of this article was first published at www.scubadiverlife.com