Let me start by saying photos don’t properly illustrate the unique beauty of this place, and the most impressive experiences couldn’t be photographed at all.
By way of connections in Tokyo and Manila, I’m in Coron, Philippines with my friends from our 2015 Austria / Croatia trip. They are experienced divers going for a deep water / nitrox certification. While they’re in the dark depths of a sunk oil rigger, I take a tour to Kayangan Lake. Vacationing locals take me in like their child and we have a great time exploring the limestone cliffs.
Wide open road on rented motor bikes, through rural countryside, on the hunt for waterfalls — without a guide. One of the guys straps a GoPro camera to the back of his bike so we can get some gnarly selfies.
Later in the week, the crew takes another day to scuba. Although I’m not yet certified, the locals are willing to let me join after I prove my skills in the shallows. We boat over to Barracuda Lake — a crater of blue water enclosed by limestone cliffs. We climb up and over the crater edge, into the warm, clear water beyond.
Sunlight is streaming through the water as I peacefully swim on my back about four meters below the surface. Large silver bubbles slowly rise from below, from where the guys are diving. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever see and the “photo” is only in my memory.
A small typhoon arrives on our final morning. Roads are washed out by heavy rain and electricity is out across the island. We slowly make it to the small, rural airport and wait for operations to resume. Wedged between my friends and our luggage, I’m so happy to have been here this week.