Exploring the Enchanting Lagoons of El Nido: A Comprehensive GuideLast updated on: November 08, 2023
El Nido is a scenic town of towering limestones, glasslike water, rich flora and fauna, and home to the Philippines' famous lagoons and beaches.
The El Nido island has been hailed many times as one of the top tourist destinations of Palawan and the Philippines.
We will tell you why with this guide focusing on its timeless lagoons' beauty, features, tips, and activities.
Surely, visiting the lagoons of El Nido should top your list of where to see in El Nido Palawan.
Ideal Time to Visit El Nido Lagoons
El Nido Palawan, located in a tropical country, has two distinct seasons: the dry season, from November to May, and the rainy season, which happens from June to October.
Despite the foreseeable weather patterns, the rainfall occurrence, triggered by low pressure and the persisting Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), cannot be avoided.
Therefore, visiting between December and March with comfortable temperatures and minimal showers is best.
Understanding Peak and Low Season
Due to predictable sunny weather, tourist arrivals begin to crowd by December till the peak of March. However, if you like a well-balanced and serene experience with both crowd and the weather,
I suggest visiting in April-May or October- November when tourist trends are average.
The Iconic Big Lagoon
They say you haven't truly experienced El Nido unless you've kayaked at the Big Lagoon. You've probably seen a lot of travel photos and videos online about it. Big Lagoon is on Miniloc Island and has served as the face of El Nido Tours.
Mounting karst cliffs enclose the lagoon, and the water is emerald-clear, perfect for kayaking and swimming.
All tour boats are only permitted to dock at the lagoon's entrance, and kayaks can be rented for 300 pesos per hour.
Remember that wearing a life jacket is required when swimming or paddling at the lagoon.
When paddling through, you can take your time and embrace the mesmerizing surroundings and the clear water that reveals the marine life, so snorkelling is also possible.
Low tide can make navigating the lagoon's entrance difficult, and at peak season, crowds can be overwhelming but still fun to manoeuvre around.
Wear your aqua shoes when you plan to swim or snorkel, as sea urchins are spotted in the shallows.
"Meet the little brother!" adjacent to Big Lagoon is the Small Lagoon, which can be accessed by swimming or kayaking from a moored boat to a narrow entry point between two limestones.
The experience can be defined as unearthing a hidden treasure, which is accurate as it reveals another majestic creation.
Once inside the Small Lagoon, guests can explore a mini cave and a mini lagoon, both delivering up-close limestone formations. I suggest going to Small Lagoon for a more intimate experience to escape the crowds from the Big Lagoon.
The water temperature here is much colder than one from the lagoon. I suspect it is because of its size and the isolation effect of the soaring limestone surrounding it.
Bring your camera. The backdrop is fantastic, and don't forget your Ziplock in case it's not waterproof.
The no-longer-secret! Secret Lagoon is located in the southern corner of Miniloc Island, enclosed by towering limestone cliffs. To gain entry, you must crawl through a small hole.
Once inside, you'll be received by a completely different environment – that resembles a natural private pool with murky, bluish, cold water. It's wise to wear aqua shoes, as many sharp rocks are around.
Tour guides are always present to assist guests and ensure their safety, which can be challenging during high tides.
During peak season, there are often long tourist queues for this spot. If you're on a shared tour, you'll have at least an hour to spend in the lagoon and get amused by the limestone wall, but I don't spend all my time inside the lagoon as there is a nearby picturesque white beach, where one can swim and laze until it's call time to be back on the boat and sail to the next stop.
Cadlao Lagoon, located on Cadlao Island, is my personal favourite and is vastly underrated. You can get here by kayaking from Main El Nido Beach, which takes about an hour, or by joining a group tour "D", or hiring a private boat.
Cadlao has small limestone rock formations that can be climbed, but freehanding can be dangerous. Although the view from up there is spectacular, I do not recommend it because the rocks are sharp.
However, it is a soothing place to paddle around with its azure-clear water, and if you are lucky, turtles can also be spotted around the area. The location is ideal for snorkelling and swimming, and if you need a break from this activity, you can relax on the small sandbar and be enchanted by the haven you discover.
How do you maximize and experience something more for your Palawan Dream trip and not just visit popular lagoons?
Big Dream Boatman's Boat Trip from Coron to El Nido
Big Dream Boatman Expeditions is a renowned and respected Expedition Trip operator in El Nido, recognized for personalized Filipino service, eco-friendly practices, and customizable island-hopping experiences intended for a smaller group.
Big Dream Boatman's boat trip from Coron to El Nido is not just another tour valuing each guest's personal travel experience. BDBM has one of the biggest and most spacious boats that sail around Palawan, comfortable campsites, all-luscious meals, refreshing drinks, and well-maintained activity equipment.
The multi-day trip delivers Filipino hospitality while bringing you to off-the-beaten-path destinations in Coron and El Nido. The itinerary includes the finest lagoons, beaches, snorkelling sites, and serene camping sites.
The trip allows you to share and connect with fellow travellers and locals in the group, exchanging ideas, experiences, and learnings along the way. Feel free to spill special requests you have in mind. The team responds accordingly. :)
Seats are limited and quickly get filled. So book your spot and redefine your Palawan experience!!
Information about El Nido Lagoons
- Tours in El Nido are divided into A, B, C and D
- Big Lagoon and Secret Lagoon are both in Tour A.
- Small Lagoon and Cadlao Lagoon are both in Tour D
- Small Lagoon was part of Tour A before; however, it is now part of Tour D's itinerary to lessen the crowd.
- Only the Big or Small Lagoons are subject to the 200 peso lagoon fee and the 1200 peso tour fee.
- A 200 peso per person Ecotourism Developmental Fee must be paid once and is valid for 10 days is considered a tourist tax. Therefore, ask your respective tour organizers for a copy of your ETDF, and do not lose it. When a lost ETDF cannot be presented on the days you decide to take another tour, you must repurchase it.
- Although tour guides do their short briefing for essential things to remember during the island hopping, it is important to know them beforehand.
- Life jackets are required during boat travels, especially at lagoon activities. Avoid stepping or touching corals and other marine animals.
- Refrain from littering and properly disposing of your trash; having your own tumbler filled with purified drinking water is best.
- Bring necessary items such as reusable waterproof bags, aqua shoes, quick-dry towels, reef-safe sunscreen, underwater cameras, and extra cash for kayak and mask-snorkel rental.
- When meeting Local Boat vendors paddling around while on your tour, purchase at least one coconut from them locally. Coconut water is refreshing and enjoyable under the sun.
Winding up this blog, El Nido's lagoons are captivating and exquisite, from dramatic limestones to the clearest water you'll ever see. Sailing to these will awaken your inner child's wonders of fairytale settings.
Yet, for these beauties to survive for thousand years so others can experience them, we explorers must do our part in protecting and respecting the place.
Following our comprehensive insights can help you manage your expectations as tides, seasons, and crowds can affect your experience.
So, comment below, as we'd love to hear your travel tips and experiences in El Nido's lagoons.