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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.

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.
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.

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.
(L) Amanda and Isa, kayaking pretty. (R) New species! Floating liar! No, that’s just Amanda.

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.

Posted: 2012 • 3 • 11

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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.. :-)

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!

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

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. :)

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!

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

jocelyn espinosa

your blog is all about travel on a budget, but you can usually do this on a group of 4 or 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. :)


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


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.


Is November a good month to visit El Nido?


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