El Nido Tour A: Of Lagoons and Secret Coves

by - 10:03 PM

Still on a high from yesterday's awesome Tour C island hopping, I woke up the next day very early. I guess that's what happens when you feel excited and giddy for another day of adventure.

Prior to this trip, we decided to book the two most recommended island hopping tours in El Nido. We didn't want to miss those spots that most people had visited. And that leaves the uncharted, least known but equally beautiful places in El Nido to see the next time.

On our way to the first destination of the day.

Our tour mates were a new bunch and we exchanged a few "hi's" and shy smiles as we hopped on board the motorized banca. Kuya Lito was still our tour guide and today we discovered that he is from Cebu all along. Flashback those awkward Tagalog conversations we had yesterday. 

That's our banca for the day. A bit bigger than the usual ones you see in the country and could accommodate more or less 15 people. And did I mention that every island hopping tour in El Nido is inclusive of a sumptuous seafood buffet for lunch? Sweet deal, indeed.


First stop was the Small Lagoon. Well, the place didn't look tiny to me. Probably because I am tiny too but when tourists came pouring in, the once emerald-blue waters surrounded by huge limestone walls became flooded with orange life vests and the noise equals that of a marketplace at its peak hour. Suddenly I felt that the Small Lagoon was really tiny after all. 

Swarm of excited tourists of different ages swimming about. I wonder, where did they all come from?

From the banca, we had to swim our way through the inside of the lagoon and since I didn't know how to swim, Kuya Lito had to pull me and another female solo traveler with him. He then told us that a number of places in El Nido have been used as locations for various local and international TV series and movies like Survivor and the last scene of the latest Bourne movie.

That's Kuya Lito momentarily taking a break from pulling me and my tour mate as it was now safe to walk. Initially he was pulling us through that buoy because he didn't want us to step on the coral reef.

He also offered that we go inside a cave at the far end of the lagoon that only a few tourists venture in. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I paddled hard to keep up with the group and was surprised to discover that the cave was small. Nothing spectacular about it but I thoroughly enjoyed the water that seemed more refreshing and colder than the outside's.


The Big Lagoon really lived up to its name. Imagine going through a long passage of tall karst walls that leads to a really big blue lagoon with calm emerald-blue waters glistening under the mid-day sun. 

A platform inside the lagoon where you may hold intimate parties.

We had to ride the banca as we go inside the Big Lagoon and I couldn't help but stare in awe at how beautiful the place is! Going inside the lagoon took several minutes and when we got to the end, there was a white platform where people could hold parties or events. Kuya Lito mentioned that a couple of weeks back, a couple closed off the entire lagoon to hold a small gathering there and they lined up the walls that lead to the big lagoon with lights to guide the bancas on the way in.

A banca floating as still as the waters around it.

We passed by this beautiful view on our way inside the Big Lagoon. I wonder where this gap between the rocks would lead to. El Nido and the whole world for that matter really has a lot of interesting places to discover.

Exiting the Big Lagoon. Long way to go but I don't want it to end too soon.


The beach where we stopped for lunch. I wasn't able to observe and enjoy the place that much because I was really hungry and the place was too crowded to walk around and swim in. Maybe what's worth noting here was how the island got its name. They said that Mr. Shimizu was part of a group of Japanese divers who were exploring the area when suddenly planktons came swarming in, obscuring their vision. They panicked and unfortunately Mr. Shimizu wasn't able to survive. 


Our second to the last stop. People have to go through a tiny hole one at a time to get in and out of the Secret Lagoon. Nothing much to do here as the water was too shallow to swim in but too deep to sit on. Kuya Lito also pointed out a few natural markings on the wall like the Last Supper image, among others.

A crowd of tourists starts to form near the mouth of the tiny hole. This photo was taken while we were inside the lagoon. 

Since most of our tour mates were stuck inside, we decided to explore the surrounding area a bit more. Here we discovered these tall majestic limestone walls that seem to be guarding an unsuspecting prey behind. Picturesque, yes. But what lies behind these unforgiving walls was this beautiful beach below.

The postcard perfect beach behind those limestone walls.

Here's another angle. This time the photo was taken while I was on the beach looking towards where the walls were standing guard and where our banca was anchored.


Our last stop for the day was supposedly the 7-Commando Beach but it was recently bought and the owners charge tourists who want to use their place. So what our smart tour guides did was to dock on the adjacent beach which they call Papaya Beach. Same sea, same sand, separated from the other side with a big stone but without a price to pay.

The island life. Sipping some fresh buko juice while chillin on a hammock. 

What a happy day it was. Thank you for the best memories, El Nido. You are beautiful and I will definitely visit you again.  

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