Barracuda Lake

Duiklocatie Barracuda Lake - Luluyuan "Barracuda" Lake - Luluyuan

Useful Information

Location: Colon Island, Palawan.
(11.956272, 120.216807)
Open: no restrictions.
Boat: depends on operator.
Fee: free.
Boat: depends on operator.
Classification: KarstStone Forests
Light: n/a
Dimension: A=30 m asl, L=660 m, W=360 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.



Barracuda Lake is a really strange sight, and actually we were not able to find out what it really is. If it ever has been researched we were not able to find an english language publication. The island is on the UNESCO Tentative List for its flora and fauna, but their submission is so weird, we can not see how the UNESCO could accept this even for the tentative list. Some weirdness even made it on the wikipedia page, but the wikipedia review works, and they marked it as needing correction. Just an example, the WHL submission states its rocks were "Permian Limestone of Jurassic origin". As the two periods Perm (298-215 Ma) and Jurassic (205-141 Ma) are separated by 10 Million years of Triassic, that's like saying "a Big Mac of Burger King origin". Really weird. There are other inconsistencies, but they are better hidden. For example, they state that there are "eight (8) brackish lakes and three (3) smaller one's that have underground connections to the sea". First, how could the outflow reach the sea if there was no connection, and second how could seawater flow into the lakes to make them brackish without connection. So obviously all eight brackish lakes are connected to the sea in a way which allows seawater to flow into the lake.

Nevertheless, lets start with a description. The Philippines are a collection of islands, and one of those thousands of island is Coron island, which is about 20 km long and 8 km wide at its widest point. It belongs to a cluster of islands with the main island named Busuanga island, and there is a harbour city named Coron right across Coron island on Busuanga. These islands are called the Calamian Islands and are part of northern Palawan. The Coron island is made of limestone and due to the tropical climate and the massive rains itis continually dissolved, forming lapies and even stone forests, The whole island is actually a stone forest with vertikal karren structures on any surface, the northwestern coast is called Baracuda Wall. The walls are steep, the island is a sequence of karst towers.

A really strange thing with this karstified limestone island is the fact, that there are numerous lakes on the island. And they are actually quite big, and they have an underground connection to the sea, in other words an underwater cave system. The special thing with those lakes is obviously not that they are connected with the sea. The special thing is that they are still lakes, and not just an extension of the sea protruding into the island, full of salt water and with a tide. Limestone is water tight, which is astonishing considering karst. But karst develops along cracks in the rock, caused by tectonic movements, along which the water starts to dissolve the limestone. Nevertheless, a mature karst like the tropical karst producing stone forest should have huge caves which would allow the water exchange between sea and lake. There must be enormous amounts of rain filling the huge lakes on such a small island, they have almost no catchment area. The lakes are a little higher than the sea, so the water flows mainly from the lake to the sea. But Barracuda Lake has a Thermocline and Halocline at 14 m below the surface. Themocline means the temperature changes from 28 °C in the upper layer to 38 °C in the lower layer. Halocline means the amount of salt in the water changes dramatically, while the upper layer is sweetwater with limestone and almost no salt, the lower layer is seawater with almost the same amount of salt as seawater. But this situation will change soon (in geological terms) because the water flowing out of the lake continually widens the cave and at some point there will be a really huge cave, all the water flowing out pretty fast and a continuous exchange between sea and lake. That's why those lakes are so exceptional.

The Barracuda Lake is only 30 m from the sea and a nice cove with white sand, where the boats land. It is reached on wooden walkways which were built through the stone forest. People are allowed to swim in the first part, but for some reason only with life vests. The rest of the lake is the realm of the scuba divers, but they might be quite unsuccessful finding barracudas, despite the name they do not live in the lake. Only sometimes a barracuda enters the lake in the lower level, before he returns to the sea. But the most spectacular property of the lake, and why it is so popular among divers, is the fact that the lapies continue underwater. The walls and the floor of the lake are also a stone forest.

And a few words about the name. There are numerous pages which call the lake Duiklocatie Barracuda Lake, even Atlas Obscura and Google Maps made this error. Duiklocatie is the Dutch word for diving site, but as philippinos do not speak Dutch this version of the name is probably from a Dutch guide book. Obviously Barracuda Lake is also a tourist label, but at least its English and widely used on maps, so we decided to use it. Actually the lake is named Luluyuan and the neighbour lake to the east is named Kayangan. Even if those names are used they are "internationalized" by adding "lake", although thats already hidden in the name. Really weird, when locals try to make it easier for tourists but actually just cause confusion.

So you heard it, there are actually two lakes which are almost identical and both have stone forest and both have a bathing site, and both are operated by boat tours from Coron harbour. So it actually makes no difference which lake you visit. Even the life vests are the same. The only difference is that its only 30 m to Luluyuan and 190 m to Kayangan from the sea. So if you go there for the stone forrest the second is definitely the better choice, there is even an outlook platform high above the sea.