If you only had one day in Palawan, Philippines, there is one island that I would suggest you tour: El Nido! The lagoons of El Nido are famous for their teal waters and skyscraper limestone mountains.
El Nido Island is a beautiful, tropical hotspot of the Palawan province in the Philippines. We’ve previously explored Palawan’s capital, Puerto Princesa, and the Sevens Islands of Coron Island, but now we’re diving into a unique region of the Philippines that boasts three epic tropical lagoons: Secret Lagoon, Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon!
I’ll give you the cliff notes:
Big Lagoon: Waters so deep & blue! 💎
Small Lagoon: Not so small after all, a kayaking wonderland 🛶
Secret Lagoon: Is it a secret? Watch the video and keep reading to find out 🤫
We saw these lagoons during the popular El Nido Tour A. When you visit El Nido, you have the choice of Tour A, Tour B, Tour C or Tour D. All offer varying locations and activities throughout the island. But here’s the scoop on El Nido’s most popular tour option (provided by every Palawan tour company).
El Nido Tour A Schedule
Full Day (Usually 9 am – 4 pm)
7 Commandos Beach or Entulala Island (depending on the company)
El Nido Tour A Cost
Prices vary from 1,200 PHP ($20 USD) to 1,400 PHP ($25 USD) per person, plus the 200 PHP ($4 USD) Eco-Tour Fee (Govt’)
Hot Tip: Bring extra cash for water shoes, scuba gear and flipper rentals!
This video and blog article highlight the lagoon part of this tour. Another video (part 2) will show the other two stunning beaches we visited.
Anyways, back to the lagoons:
The first of the three gorgeous islands we explored was Small Lagoon. It got its name because it’s not quite as big as its neighbor, the Big Lagoon. However, this small lagoon is not small at all, measuring in at about 150 meters long and 35 meters wide! The best part about this lagoon is that it’s a shallow cove that is very well sheltered from the waves of the sea, making it a perfect spot to kayak! An hour-long kayak rental is about $5 USD (290 PHP). Small lagoon has mini caves to explore between the limestone cliffs… just make sure not to get your kayak stuck like we almost did! If it wasn't for some friendly paddle-by tourists, we might still be in there today!
To enter Big Lagoon, you actually have to go through Small Lagoon. Big Lagoon is about 800 meters long and 100 meters wide. Most recommend kayaking here, but I would advise on avoiding it. Why, you may ask? Just look at this image below:
Do you see that long stretch of sand bank? Well that’s what you need to kayak through to enter the Big Lagoon. During high tide this is fine, but during low tide you might get your kayak stuck on the way back to the tour boat! Oh no!
As you will see in the Lagoon YouTube Video, I find a pretty creative way to transport myself past this pesky sandbank. Haha!
⚠️ SPOILER ⚠️ - it’s not a secret! In fact, it’s a well-known hidden alcove. So well known, in fact, that there’s always a line for the entry! Talk about Instagram vs. Reality! But it is exciting to be inside an entire pocket of ocean encompassed by limestone cliffs, even if it’s with 30 other tourists from around the world! Haha!
Which Lagoon Was Your Favorite?
Overall, we had the most fun at Small Lagoon because of the gorgeous kayaking! Which lagoon looked most appealing to you? Comment your answer on my YouTube video: Secret Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon | El Nido Tour A | Palawan, Philippines