Kayaking around Small Lagoon

BIG AND SMALL LAGOONS: Jagged Utopia in El Nido, Palawan

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I was starting to enter a state of depression as I tried to zip up my life jacket forcefully. “My tummy is getting in the way,” I self-deprecated when I was asked what the matter was. It was the third life jacket I tried and I really needed one because I, embarrassing as it sounds, doesn’t know how to swim. Boo, bite me. (I should start taking lessons.)

But it’s difficult to be sad in El Nido.

Kayaking!

The imposing limestone cliffs fringed with green vegetation are therapists in disguise. Their colors against the blue skies are visual music that has the ability to relax, hypnotize and blow all bad vibes away. Heck, even the sound of the boat’s engine has that ability, too. It’s funny because every time the sound of the engine stopped, we knew we were in for a treat.

Miniloc Island is right smack in the middle of Bacuit Bay, El Nido. The island’s jagged coastline is filled with pockets of white beaches and lagoons and caves, both shallow and deep. It is one of those islands you think only exist in the movies or your head.

Gliding Around the Big Lagoon

It was like the limestone cliffs parted as our boat glided through to the Big Lagoon. Miniloc Island is like a place straight from a fantasy movie. The towering cliffs are lined up on both sides like sentinels and as you go deeper, you feel like you are sailing into another dimension. Everywhere you look, you are blown away. Whether you try to see what’s beneath the crystal blue fluid blanket or look up to see the sun peeking behind the top of the cliffs, or look around to try to find your way around the limestone labyrinth, Miniloc Island will mesmerize you.

We didn’t get off the boat at the Big Lagoon, though.I guess we were all tired and hungry. We just sat there as our boat glided around the paradise. That’s not to say that we weren’t amazed by the Big Lagoon. Time itself can be such a buzzkill sometimes.

Entrance to the Big Lagoon! Yes, this is just the entrance.

Moving into the Big Lagoon!

Other tourists coming in...

Other tourists coming in…

Beach bum's biggest nightmare...

Beach bum’s biggest nightmare…

That's me with my friend Isa in an obligatory pic

That’s me with my friend Isa in an obligatory pic

Big Lagoon!

Big Lagoon!

Kayaking Around the Small Lagoon

“The last time I was here, I swam,” I bragged as I prepped her life vest. My friend Isa was just about to kayak for the first time.

“No, not swam,” I corrected myself. “Floated.” I don’t swim. I can’t swim. I float, with-orange-life-vest-on kind of float. Aimlessly like a piece of driftwood kind of float. So yeah, I floated the last time I was here. This time, however, we were kayaking.

It was one thing I had looked forward to since the prospect of returning to El Nido dawned on me. I kayak whenever it is available. It is relatively easy. And in the gentle waters of Small Lagoon, it is unbelievably easy. This is why I adore lagoons. They’re just not as tiring as the sea or the freakin’ ocean. The waves are gentle and “friendly,” and they do not try to drag me farther against my will.

A white beach near the Small Lagoon

A white beach near the Small Lagoon

The gap to swim or kayak through to penetrate Small Lagoon. And that's our boatman.

The gap to swim or kayak through to penetrate Small Lagoon. And that’s our boatman.

My friends Brenna, isa, and Amanda entering the inner section of the Small Lagoon

My friends Brenna, isa, and Amanda entering the inner section of the Small Lagoon

The Small Lagoon is accessible through a gap between two giant limestone rocks that appear to be about to kiss each other. Through this little space, one can swim or kayak into the lagoon. It is actually these cliffs, and the rocks and corals in the shallow part of the area that temper the waves, protecting the water in the lagoon from the all whatever violent events in the open sea.

Our group took our time exploring every nook and cranny of the lagoon. When we reached the small cave in one corner, we had to get off the kayak and swam. The water here was much, much colder. But it was just the refreshing change we needed.

New species! Floating liar! No, that's just Amanda.

New species! Floating liar! No, that’s just Amanda.

Amanda and Isa, kayaking pretty

Amanda and Isa, kayaking pretty

As I hopped back onto our boat and take off the life jacket, I realized just how lucky I was to be there. And that not even my tummy or weight or whatever negativity could ruin a mood of someone who is surrounded by, hmmm, what is it? Ah, perfection.

How to get to Big and Small Lagoons: From El Nido Town Proper, the Big and Small Lagoons is just a boat ride away. It is part of the standard TOUR A, which will take you around Miniloc Island and surrounding sites. Tour A costs P700 or lower depending on the travel agency.

Updated: 19 August 2013


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Yoshke Dimen

Captain Dreamer at PhilippineBeaches.org
Yoshke is a part-time digital marketing consultant, part-time travel blogger, and full-time dreamer. He has three passions in life: social media, travel, and --- wait for it --- world peace. Yoshke has won 3 Philippine Blog Awards and received 9 nominations. Learn more about his personal journeys at Yoshke.com.



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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Glenn-Jamora/100002358104190 Glenn Jamora

    Only regret is we didn’t get to see the secret beach when we went there because the waves weren’t friendly that day.. ‘guess that’s one more reason to go back..

    • The Poor Traveler

      Aaaaw! Sayang! But please go back! I’m going too coz I didn’t get to enjoy Tours B and D. :D

  • Lovely Paronable

    been there so beautiful.. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/riza.allain Riza Allain

    definitely our nxt destination!! can’t wait…

  • Lyle Diegolo Coruna

    In El Nido, dive with Plankton Divers . They’ll take you to great dive sites!

  • Mary Jane Melgar

    i really miss this place’ i was in EL NIDO last month . we will be back there on june’ to visit in EL NIDO and CORON. i really love that place!

  • http://www.byahena.com May Macatugal

    I’m sure we will visit this place one day so nice, we really have beautiful places I hope they can still preserve it. Nice post girl!

    • The Poor Traveler

      I’m a dude. Haha

  • http://www.facebook.com/drdhambre Ed Hambre

    I heard the EL NIDO in Palawan Islands is the most popular tourists destination now. I’ve read some good reviews among tourists around the world. Its a must place to go if you’re planning a vacation in the Philippines.

    • The Poor Traveler

      Hi Ed! I believe Boracay is still the most popular beach destination in the Philippines but El Nido is growing fast, too!

  • Gil Sharon

    Just came from there and it’s even more beautiful from the pictures :)

    • The Poor Traveler

      Agreed! Pictures don’t give justice to the beauty of the place! Super ganda ng El Nido. :)

  • http://www.peaklifestyle.com/eagles Gerald Pardo

    We’ll be there yhis June.Pretty excited!
    Tnx for helpful infos.
    God Bless!!!

    • The Poor Traveler

      Thanks Gerald! Have a blast in El Nido!

  • http://eulaorticio.tumblr.com/ Eula Orticio

    I wish I can go there to experience ‘kayaking’, it was exciting traveling from small lagoon through big lagoon. The rock formation that serves as wall of the lagoon makes it more eye-catching. Is it possible to climb up those cliffs? I think that was exciting. :)

    • The Poor Traveler

      Haha, been thinking that, too. I don’t think so, though. But there’s a cliff in Matinloc Island that visitors are allowed to climb. :D

  • http://facebook jocelyn espinosa

    your blog is all about travel on a budget, but you can usually do this on a group of 4 or more.how do you usually find company on your trips?do you ever organize tips group tours?

    • The Poor Traveler

      Hi Jocelyn, I usually travel with my friends. :)

  • F

    on the secret beach how big was the opening in between the limestones?? I wonder if I’ll fit, coz’ am a super sexy gerl eh (pun intended for me!) Also the boats’ ladder are they like sturdy??

    BTW your posts are like so AMAZING! I specially like when you detail the expenses, its so inspiring for us “poor travellers” in planning & dreaming of our so longed GET AWAY.

    Thanks for your response!

    • The Poor Traveler

      I have no idea how sexy you are but I’m sure you’ll make it through. It’s big enough. :P

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful.I am so excited to visit this place by June.I hope 1 week is good enough to explore all the beautiful places in El Nido.I am also wondering if there is one island where i can put a tent and stay there over night.

  • Pierre

    Is November a good month to visit El Nido?