The Lagoons of El Nido: Part II

By the time I arrived at the Big Lagoon in El Nido, it was probably between 8-9am. I did not bring a watch or phone with me, so was unable to determine the time. However, the time itself was irrelevant – I just wanted to get there before it filled up with boatloads (literally) of other travellers and tourists alike. It might be selfish – but I wanted the place all to myself!

On this particular sunny Filipino morning, the solo travel gods seemed to be smiling down on me. When I arrived, the place was completely deserted! Not even the workers renting out kayaks and paddle boards had arrived yet to start the day.

Success! Like the Small Lagoon before it, I also had the famous Big Lagoon all to myself!



Though located just a 15 minute kayak away from each other, the Big Lagoon and the Small Lagoon have completely different looks, smells and vibes. The Big Lagoon is arguably the slightly more popular lagoon – getting extremely busy during the day with snorkellers, kayakers and paddle boarders.


When you first enter the lagoon, the water is extremely shallow – there were a few times I could feel my kayak grazing the sand and I thought I was going to have to get out and pull the thing! I did not end up needing to – good thing as I was in extremely long pants and it would have been rather difficult.

Now you may be thinking – ‘Ellen – why on earth did you put on long pants to go sea kayaking?’ – but appropriate clothing decision making has never been my strong suit. This is the girl that forgot to wear thermals every single day she was in the Arctic Circle after all!


Once passed the shallow bit, the lagoon gets pretty deep – but the water remains incredibly clear. I was able to see reef sharks swim along the bottom – but they were always too quick for me to get pictures of!

There are lots of little nooks and crannies to be explored in the lagoon – as well as some very welcome shady areas where the pale skinned of us (ahem) can gain a little reprieve from the harsh UV rays.


As much as this pale girl loves the shade, she cannot deny that coming out of those little shaded coves to see sunlight blazing across the huge and empty lagoon was pretty amazing too.



The Big Lagoon was certainly beautiful, but I have to admit – I think the Small Lagoon was more my thing. I enjoyed the peace, the quiet and the way it felt like a hidden world. The Big Lagoon is a geological marvel – but it is so large that I felt like a little bit of magic got lost along the way.

After I had finished exploring and my skin was getting borderline lobster, I kayaked back to Miniloc – an easy 10-15 minute trip – and went to reapply more sunscreen before going out for more exploring.



T H E   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.

61 thoughts on “The Lagoons of El Nido: Part II

  1. Jealous best describes me looking at these photos. Those lagoons look so beautiful and inviting. I grew up on a big lake and have bloating in my veins!! ❤️❤️

  2. Both amazing, in separate ways, much as the Grand canyon and Canyon de Chelly are each fascinating, differently, or Lofoten and South Island are each spectacular, and unique from one another.

  3. Really enjoyed this. Very well written as well as informative, and the pics were great.
    I’m Michael…..and I’m your newest fan!

  4. I love all your photos and your whole content, it’s worth to read as always. I have been dreaming to travel to El Nido since then, I hope I can accomplish it within this year.

  5. Quite beautiful, Ellen. Early morning is a wonderful time to explore. I voted for Traveling the world solo. I saw a photo yesterday of a kayak with a see-through bottom and thought wow. –Curt

  6. That’s beautiful. The water is so crystal clear. I am not a fan of kayaking but I think the reason is that I have only tried it in the cold waters in Finland, hehe.

    1. I love cold water snorkelling! I have done it in Greenland and loved it! I am jealous – I would love to do it in Finland too 🙂

  7. When we travel, we aim to get out early before the crowds. It is always worth the effort. Early breakfast and get out there.

    Beautiful scenes. Put on your sunscreen.

  8. How beautiful, here is a suggestion for another amazing lagoon area: the coast of Oman. We visited it with our women’s travel group, and there are deep blue lagoons along the way created by the high mountains between Oman and the Saudi Arabian Empty Quarter.

      1. i’m hoping I’ll get to go there this year or the next. since I am in the Philippines already. I just don’t know why it’s so hard for me to go there. Maybe I’ll just wait for a sale. Cant wait to see the clear water and snorkel to see fishes and corals!

      2. i know but my friends already went there without me earlier this year. surely next year i’d be able to go there! lol, im gonna give myself a deadline :))

  9. Amazing. Your photos make me feel like you’re just in your own world there. So peaceful and beautiful. Also, very impressive that you’re able to take such great photos while kayaking. I’d be way too distracted!

  10. Lovely! I really enjoy the perspective of your photos, with the tip of the kayak visible in the picture. Gives me a better sense of scale and place, if that makes sense.

      1. You’re more than welcome. I’m always looking forward to the next installment, so keep up the great work!

  11. Nothing like the Eastern Shore of MD. Some years ago I would love taking our canoe up the small tidal creeks. Just being alone and at times reading a few pages of a novel with the chirp of the Red Wing Blackbird as background music was wonderful. Thanks for the ride in the Lagoon.

  12. I was going to comment, but I see you are already, so I guess you changed already. My only concern was as with those people who go from WordPress, to a paid address, and then you’re no longer able to comment on or like their pages without each time having to enter so much information to make it not worthwhile.

    If you have changed, I guess everything is OK. Glad you’re still with us.

    1. This was my concern too, and why I hadn’t changed URLs sooner – however, it has been a smooth transition which I am most thankful for! My site wouldn’t be the same without all my lovely readers comments and thoughts!

  13. El Nido certainly has stunning lagoons. And we agree with you, places like Small Lagoon and Secret Beach are more our thing. We plan to go back to El Nido to check on some dive sites.

  14. Fantastic! Yet another little piece of heaven! I was thinking it would be the perfect area to paddleboard till you mentioned reef sharks! Reef sharks swimming below….yikes. Lol. Another fantastic outing girl! More amazing photos! Will I ever stop being jealous of you?

    1. Don’t worry! The reef sharks are vegetarian and totally harmless! As for the jealousy thing, I’ll be posting about my time in the Maldives soon… so possibly not haha

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