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!