The Lagoons of El Nido: Part I

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while will be well aware that there isn’t much I love more than a good kayaking opportunity! Whether it be in tannin filled rivers along the coast of South Africa or amongst enormous icebergs in Greenland, I feel at home in a kayak and will jump at any and every chance to explore different parts of the world from within one.

There are many different areas to explore in the El Nido archipelago, but arguably the most famous and most popular are the big and small lagoons. These naturally formed lagoons are renowned for crystal clear waters, abundant wildlife and amazing snorkelling opportunities.

Being based on magnificent Miniloc, I had put myself in the absolute best location to explore these lagoons. Being such popular attractions, most visitors only ever see these lagoons filled with other people; there is absolutely nothing wrong with that but I wanted to explore them with as little interruption as possible.

After waking up to the most incredible sunrise of my life, I hopped in a kayak before 7am and set out to reach the lagoons before anybody else.




It is about a 30 minute kayak from Miniloc to the Small Lagoon. In the early hours of the morning this is an extremely easy kayak. The seas were not rough and with the sun not yet high in the sky, I was not at risk of getting a terrible sunburn! Not only is it an easy and pleasant sea kayak, it is also pretty damn stunning.




Once I arrived at the Small Lagoon – easy to find due to the rental kayaks moored outside – I was pretty ecstatic to learn that my plan had worked a charm – I had the entire lagoon to myself!


Though it is named the ‘Small’ Lagoon, it is anything but! Much like a Tardis, it looks smaller from the outside.


Once through the narrow entrance the rock opens up to reveal a beautiful shady paradise. The water is so clear you can see the ocean floor, and it is the most stunning shade of aqua I have ever seen. Trees had sprouted from the limestone and were obviously flourishing, schools of fish darted beneath my kayak and the only sounds I could hear were that of the birds chirping, the leaves rustling in the faint breeze and the water moving beneath me.



Once past the initial lagoon entrance, kayaking around revealed more openings and much more area to be explored.





After exploring for a good hour or so, I decided to head off in order to try and make it to the Big Lagoon before any big tour groups arrived. The kayak between the Big and Small Lagoons is really easy, and takes you back towards Miniloc Island. It is about a fifteen minute paddle between lagoons, and somehow, even more beautiful than my initial early morning trip out.




I could not get over how absolutely incredible the water looked. No litter, no rubbish, no pollution! I still cannot quite fathom how magical it was – but the proof is in the pictures!


From my kayak I was able to spot a tonne of wildlife along the way, including lots of moon jellyfish!


I ended up having to drape my towel over my shoulders, arms and back by this point. The sun had well and truly risen, and of course, in my excitement to explore the lagoons, I had forgotten to put on sunscreen! I did end up turning a lovely shade of pink regardless, but it was worth it to get the following photographs.




It was a pretty spectacular feeling to be kayaking around this incredible collection of islands without another human being in sight.


Before too long I had arrived at the Big Lagoon and luckily – not another kayak or boat in sight! Stay tuned, there will be more to come about the Big Lagoon in the next post!

T H E Β  L O W D O W N
Getting There: From Manila, book a direct flight with Air Swift
El Nido Resorts: I’d like to say an enormous thank you to the wonderful team at El Nido Resorts for not only making this stay possible, but also for making it so wonderful
Miniloc: This gorgeous resort is the best base to explore the lagoons of El Nido – find out more here
Small Lagoon: All kayak gear is free for guests at Miniloc
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 12-40mm M.Zuiko Pro Lens
Remember: To set that alarm for as early as you can manage!

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30-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

87 thoughts on “The Lagoons of El Nido: Part I

  1. i can’t tell you how many times I said WOW and oooohed these photos. I would loooooove to be in that lagoon! ❀️

    1. Glad you enjoyed πŸ™‚ it helps that my jet lag had me zonked out by 8pm the night before – meant I was ready to face the day at 4.30am!

  2. beautiful!….I can not wait to travel to this amazing part of the world later this year. your advice has been very helpful in my preparations πŸ™‚

      1. Im planning on Travelling through The Philippines and Indonesia for 2 months. El Nido is top of the list.

        Looking forward to more of your posts πŸ™‚
        SB x

  3. Beautiful pics…Adding this place to my bucket list.. you somehow manage to find places which retain the natural beauty and are not yet commercialized … Keep the post coming πŸ™‚

  4. Magical seems to be the right word for sure. At least according to your photos! I’m impressed to see how still the water is in some of these photographs. Makes for great photos! And I just love the idea of being completely and utterly alone in such a spectacular environment. Definitely evokes a sense of magic.

  5. Wow. Incredible. when I travel to a beautiful place many times I am annoyed by the presence of too much tourist. When I am trying to enjoy nature too much noise disturbs me. I can imagine how keen you were to enjoy the magnificent beauty of the lagoon in solitude.

  6. I am really happy whenever I see you posting pictures of your adventures in Palawan. Indulge in the tropical paradise, have lots of fun! I’m telling you, the beauty of this island will get into you for long time..I am already looking forward as well of visiting this place in the near future.

  7. Your blog has officially made me put the Philippines on my list of places to travel! I almost cried sitting at my desk reading this it was so beautiful! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    1. Omg really? Do not cry! And if you do – hopefully happy tears! Any chance you can book a ticket and make it a reality for yourself??

      1. Normally we go in April / May time frame it fesita time πŸ™‚ I’ll be going for a short trip I. Sept but just to Bohol

  8. I’m actually speechless from the photos this round. That sunrise alone floored me, then you got to the lagoon. Excellent shots of the place, and I can see that tons of us are wanting to head that way! Looks awesome!

    1. Wow thank you so much! It was a pretty incredible sunrise – definitely not the kind of thing you see every day. Any chance you will be heading there in the near future?

      1. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that a visit will come soon, but I can put a pin in it for the future. Plus, I’ve learned a thing or two that will transfer to other locations (like early morning rises beating crowds in a kayak)… That will come in handy lots of places I imagine!

  9. Kayaking in quiet lagoons is close to Heaven. My favorites are Prince William Sound in Alaska and in the Gulf of California off of the Baja Peninsula. Yours were beautiful. –Curt

    1. You keep giving me these incredible places in the US to add to my list! Unfortunately it will be borderline impossible to get a US tourist visa for several years as I am heading to Iran in January and will have an Iranian stamp in my passport πŸ™

      1. Oh awesome! Gotta love that!
        I hope so, I have many places in the US I would love to visit, but the Pink Mosque in Shiraz is higher up on the bucket list and this takes precedence. I will keep my fingers crossed the visa restrictions ease a bit!

  10. What a beautiful scenery. I too like to kayak if opportunity arises. It does give one access to places where it’s normally difficult to get to.

  11. Reblogged this on socalfoodventures and commented:
    I’ve always wanted to travel. Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamt of going everywhere and experiencing everything. I wanted to go to see the dazzling City of Lights in France, look at the celestial ballet of the northern lights, feel soft sand under my toes in the Maldives, explore the humid tropics of Asia, and the vast caves in South Africa. However, I’ve always been afraid of traveling alone; I was scared of planning something that wouldn’t work out or that would result in unforeseen circumstances. But after reading this blog, all of my fears vanished. In its place was excitement for my next trip.

    1. One word: WOW.

      This is one of my favourite comments EVER! I am so glad to have helped you overcome your fears and feel inspired to see the world on your own! You are amazing! I do hope you continue to tag along on my adventures and let me continue to inspire you πŸ™‚

  12. I admire your courage in kayaking by yourself – the reward being you had the place all to yourself! Maybe one day I’ll have the guts to kayak on my own somewhere like that…I’m always scared to travel alone…and I would never dream of tackling something like kayaking alone….so your post is inspiring!

  13. Wow!!!!! The color of the water alone has me swooning in envy! This looks like a little piece of heaven! I can’t even begin to imagine! I’m with you on loving the clean clear and gorgeous water! How did you manage to keep yourself from jumping in?

  14. I’m sure you don’t need to be add – but these photos are absolutely beautiful! The water is just so blue!! And I love that you travel solo. I’m trying to prepare for some travel to Europe by myself, but I’m so nervous. Hoping to get to Australia too by the end of the year as well!

    1. Don’t be nervous! Solo travel is absolutely incredible – you will finish your trip feeling independent, confident, competent and free – it’s amazing! I look forward to keeping track of your travels. πŸ™‚

  15. Great post! Keep writing! Keep inspiring!
    I’m living vicariously through you for now… I would love to travel solo also…
    how I wish I was young enough and bold enough… all the energy you have, I envy.

    One thing that I haven’t noticed in your posts about visiting Palawan is taking “prophy” meds for malaria which is (was?) endemic in that province. I’m curious if that has been eradicated because when I organized a medical mission there years ago, that was one thing we were asked to do.

    Thank you! Please, feel free to check out my blog, too…

    Carpe diem!

    1. Hmmmm, I never took any malaria medications and was fine, but I honestly didn’t research it that much! I will have to have a looksie and see what the go is!

      1. I just spoke to my cousin via viber. They went to Palawan, too. (Coron/El Nido)
        She says they were recommended to take those meds I was talking about.
        I just wanted to make sure coz I’m taking my 2 teenagers there come November. Malaria is a deadly disease that’s highly preventable. TYVM

        Carpe diem!

      2. Hmmmm, it was my understanding that malaria pills were unnecessary in all the most populated parts (Coron, El Nido, Puerto Purincesa, Port Barton etc) most of the health recommendations I could find state that it is really only a high risk if you spend a lot of time in the central and southern parts of the island. No matter though – doesn’t hurt to be cautious!

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