Kayaking in the Enchanting Small Lagoon of El Nido
The Small Lagoon is a little pocket of water in Miniloc Island not far from the Big Lagoon. It is sort of like a secluded cove accessible through a small opening between the limestone rocks. The lagoon can be reached by swimming or kayaking only. No boats could get into it as the opening is only about 2-3 feet wide. The lagoon is characterized by its shallow, clear waters, which are home to various fish species. The surrounding area features towering limestone cliffs, providing a dramatic backdrop to the serene waters.
How do I get to the Small Lagoon?
The Small Lagoon is located on the east side of Miniloc Island, not too far from El Nido town. To get there, you'll need to take a boat from El Nido town. You can either charter a private boat or join an island-hopping tour, which often includes a visit to the Small Lagoon.
The Small Lagoon is typically included in Tour A of the standardized island-hopping tours in El Nido. These tours are a popular way to explore the various attractions in El Nido, including the Small Lagoon. To book the tour, click here:
- El Nido Tour A
- El Nido Tour A + C
- El Nido Social Tour A with Lunch & Photographer
- Seacret Catamaran Group Tour in El Nido
- Seaduction Speedboat Group Tour in El Nido
When booking, make sure to check the details of the tour to ensure that the Small Lagoon is included in the itinerary. Also, consider the tour's duration, the size of the tour group, and whether equipment like kayaks are included.
Visiting the Lagoon
When the boat stopped and the tourist guide told us that we just arrived in small lagoon, I actually thought that we were already in the lagoon. But that was just the parking spot. He asked us to follow him into that small opening and what we saw after left us speechless. It was probably the best lagoon I've ever been to. It was hidden, secluded, private, small and intimate, and looked very much like the lagoon in "The Beach". The water was turquoise in color and was very clear even when it was drizzling. The limestone karst was filled with greeneries which stood out against the grey rocks.
During our visit, which was in July, the water was about 5-7 meters deep. It could get deeper and shallower than this, depending on the month of the year and time of the day. Within the lagoon, the water could get very cold since it is an isolated part of the sea and fishes are not as plenty, or at least I did not notice any as I was too much focused on the beauty of the lagoon from above the water.
Our tourist guide even suggested to take a picture of us from above the rocks, capturing the entirety of the lagoon. But the rocks were too slippery because it's been raining since the morning and we did not have enough time. It would have been more better experience if we could climb up the rocks and jump at that time.
Kayaking Around Small Lagoon
I had the chance to go back to small lagoon recently and this time the experience was much better. We were able to kayak around the Miniloc Island. Each kayak only has two paddles so I became the designated cameraman. My role was clear: capture the essence of the Small Lagoon through my lens while my friends handled the paddles. But photos in no way did justice!
The entrance to the Small Lagoon was a tight squeeze, allowing only one kayak through at a time. The lagoon was alive with fellow kayakers, the tranquility I had imagined replaced by the lively energy of tourists enjoying their own adventures. The sound of laughter and chatter bounced off the cliffs, occasionally punctuated by a shriek as a nearby kayak wobbled dangerously, its occupants teetering on the edge of a spill.
Reflecting on the experience, my advice to future visitors is simple: arrive early. The Small Lagoon is a stunning slice of El Nido, but its charm is best appreciated in the quieter hours of the morning, before the daily influx of visitors transforms this peaceful inlet into a lively waterway. An early start might mean a bit more effort, but it promises a more personal encounter with one of Palawan's natural wonders.
- Don’t forget to bring an underwater camera or your waterproof case since you need to swim or kayak into the lagoon. Outrigger boats are not able to enter the lagoon due to the size of the opening. The lagoon is such as magnificent place and you wouldn't wanna miss capturing that.
- Fishes are present in the lagoon so don’t forget to bring your snorkeling gears or goggles. You might end up not using it, the lagoon is so much beautiful from above the water but at least, you got one, just in case.
- To experience the Small Lagoon's splendor without the crowds, set your alarm for the crack of dawn. The stillness of the morning, paired with the soft glow of the sunrise, creates a magical atmosphere that's perfect for those looking to connect with nature.
How much are the damages/expenses?
El Nido island hopping tours are more organized and priced at a standard rate, unlike other island hopping tours in the country. Since the prices are standard across, there is no way for guests to negotiate unless you're going on a private tour.
- P1,200 per head for the entire Tour A, inclusive of the tour, the outrigger boat, lunch and life jackets.
- P200 per head Eco-Tourism Development Fund valid for 10 days covering all tours
- P200 per head entrance fee to small lagoon
- P200 rental fee of snorkeling gear for the entire day (this is the usual price but can change)
- Tip to the tour guide and the boatman
Frequently Asked Questions about Small Lagoon
Do I need to pay an environmental fee to visit the Small Lagoon?
Yes, visitors are required to pay an entrance fee of P200 per person to visit the Small Lagoon. This is on top of the Eco-Tourism Development Fee of P200 which is collected from all tourists visiting El Nido and it's valid for 10 days. This fee is used to fund environmental protection and tourism development projects in El Nido. You can read more about it here: El Nido Collects Fees to Fund Environmental Protection
What should I bring when visiting the Small Lagoon?
When visiting the Small Lagoon, it's recommended to bring swimwear, sunscreen, a hat, and a camera to capture the stunning scenery. If you plan to kayak, ensure your tour operation provides you with the appropriate gear and life jackets.
What activities can I do at the Small Lagoon?
Visitors can enjoy kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling in the Small Lagoon. The calm and clear waters make it an ideal spot for these activities.
Is it better to visit the Small Lagoon with a private boat or a group tour?
If you prefer a more personalized experience and wish to avoid crowds, hiring a private boat might be the better option. This allows you to leave earlier and have more flexibility with your itinerary.
What are the best times to visit the Small Lagoon to avoid crowds?
To avoid crowds, it's best to visit the Small Lagoon early in the morning. You can request your private boat to leave before the standard tour boats, which typically depart around 9:00 am.
Are there any restaurants or facilities at the Small Lagoon?
No, there are no facilities or restaurants in the small lagoon.
Where can I stay in El Nido?
You can also visit my compilation of cheap accommodations in El Nido here: Cheap Accommodations in El Nido, Palawan
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them here: