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The Small Lagoon In El Nido, Palawan: A Complete Guide


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Enrica Deitz



The Philippines is a tropical paradise renowned for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking natural wonders. Among the many breathtaking destinations in the country, El Nido in Palawan stands out for its beautiful lagoons and picturesque landscapes. One of the most captivating attractions in El Nido is the Small Lagoon.


The Small Lagoon is a hidden gem nestled amidst towering limestone cliffs and lush greenery. Its tranquil waters, lush vegetation, and dramatic rock formations make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Whether you’re looking to snorkel, kayak, or simply bask in the beauty of nature, the Small Lagoon offers a captivating experience.


This article serves as a comprehensive guide to the Small Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan. From its location to how to get there and what to expect, we will provide you with all the essential information to plan your visit and make the most of your time in this natural wonder.


Location of the Small Lagoon

The Small Lagoon is situated in the breathtaking El Nido region of Palawan, Philippines. El Nido is a municipality consisting of 45 islands and islets, each offering its own unique charms. The Small Lagoon is located on the island of Miniloc, one of the most popular islands in the area.


Miniloc Island is known for its dramatic limestone cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and stunning marine life. It is surrounded by other equally enchanting islands like Dilumacad, Shimizu, and Entalula. The island is accessible by various means of transportation, making it convenient for visitors to reach the Small Lagoon.


To get a better idea of the Small Lagoon’s location, it is approximately 238 kilometers from Puerto Princesa, the capital city of Palawan. It takes around 5-6 hours by land travel and approximately 6-7 hours by boat to reach El Nido town proper, the gateway to the Small Lagoon.


Once you arrive in El Nido town, you will need to take a boat to reach Miniloc Island. The boat ride typically takes around 40-45 minutes, allowing you to soak in the scenic views of the towering cliffs and turquoise waters along the way. It’s important to note that the boat ride may vary depending on the weather and sea conditions.


Upon reaching Miniloc Island, you will find the Small Lagoon nestled within the island’s exquisite natural surroundings. The lagoon is accessible through a narrow entrance, surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and lush vegetation, creating a sense of tranquility and escapism.


Overall, the Small Lagoon’s location within the stunning El Nido region of Palawan adds to its allure and makes it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the pristine beauty of the Philippines.


How to Get to the Small Lagoon

Getting to the Small Lagoon requires a bit of planning, but the journey is well worth it. Here are the steps to reach this hidden gem:

  1. Fly to Puerto Princesa: Start your journey by flying to Puerto Princesa International Airport, the main gateway to Palawan. There are direct flights from major cities in the Philippines, as well as international destinations.
  2. Travel to El Nido: From Puerto Princesa, you have several options to travel to El Nido, which is the starting point for your Small Lagoon adventure. You can take a shared van or bus, hire a private van, or book a domestic flight to El Nido Airport.
  3. Arrive at El Nido Town: Once you reach El Nido, make your way to the town proper. This is where you’ll find tour operators and boat rentals for your Small Lagoon excursion.
  4. Book a Tour: To access the Small Lagoon, you’ll need to join a tour as the lagoon is part of the protected Bacuit Bay area. There are many tour operators in El Nido that offer island-hopping tours which include the Small Lagoon. You can choose from Tour A, Tour B, or Tour C, each of which has its own highlights.
  5. Board the Boat: On the day of your tour, head to the designated meeting point and board the boat that will take you to the Small Lagoon. Enjoy the scenic boat ride along the crystal-clear waters of the Bacuit Bay.
  6. Arrive at Miniloc Island: After approximately 40-45 minutes, you’ll arrive at Miniloc Island, where the Small Lagoon is located. The boat will dock near the entrance of the lagoon.
  7. Kayak or Swim to the Small Lagoon: From the boat, you have the option to rent a kayak or swim to the Small Lagoon’s entrance. Kayaks are available for rent on the island, allowing you to explore the lagoon at your own pace.
  8. Enter the Small Lagoon: Once you reach the entrance, paddle through the small opening, and enter the enchanting Small Lagoon. Take in the awe-inspiring beauty of the limestone cliffs, clear waters, and lush greenery that surround you.

Remember to follow the rules and regulations set by the tour operator and local authorities to ensure the preservation of the Small Lagoon and its surrounding ecosystem. It’s also recommended to wear appropriate swimwear, bring sunscreen, and pack drinking water and snacks for the duration of the tour.


With the right planning and a sense of adventure, you’ll be able to reach the Small Lagoon and embark on a memorable experience in the heart of El Nido, Palawan.


Entrance Fees and Permit Requirements

Before visiting the Small Lagoon, it’s essential to be aware of the entrance fees and permit requirements to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience. Here’s what you need to know:


Entrance Fees: To access the Small Lagoon, you need to join an island-hopping tour. The tour packages usually include the necessary entrance fees for the various attractions, including the Small Lagoon. The prices of the tours can vary depending on the operator and the inclusions, such as lunch and snorkeling gear. It’s advisable to inquire and compare prices from different tour agencies to find the best deal.


Environmental Fee: In addition to the entrance fees, visitors are required to pay an Environmental Fee, also known as an Eco-Tourism Development Fee. This fee is imposed to support the ongoing efforts in preserving the natural beauty of El Nido. As of writing, the Environmental Fee is ₱200 per person and is valid for 10 days. The fee is paid upon arrival in El Nido town and is typically collected at the tourism office.


Permit Requirements: To explore the Small Lagoon, you don’t need any special permits. However, it’s important to follow the rules and regulations set by the tour operator and local authorities. These guidelines are in place to ensure the protection and preservation of the lagoon and its surrounding ecosystem. Make sure to listen to the instructions provided by your tour guide and respect the natural environment by refraining from littering or touching any coral or marine life.


Booking in Advance: El Nido is a popular tourist destination, and the Small Lagoon can get quite crowded, especially during peak seasons. It’s advisable to book your tour in advance to secure your spot. This way, you can avoid any disappointment upon arrival and ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience.


By familiarizing yourself with the entrance fees and permit requirements, you can plan your trip to the Small Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan, with ease and have a worry-free adventure in this pristine natural wonder.


Exploring the Small Lagoon

Once you enter the Small Lagoon, you’ll be greeted by a mesmerizing landscape that seems like it’s straight out of a postcard. Here’s what you can expect when exploring the Small Lagoon:


Calm and Serene Atmosphere: The Small Lagoon’s enclosed setting creates a calm and serene atmosphere that transports you to a tranquil oasis. The towering limestone cliffs provide a natural barrier, shielding the lagoon from strong currents and waves, making the waters inside relatively calm and peaceful.


Kayaking or Swimming: To fully immerse yourself in the Small Lagoon’s beauty, you can rent a kayak on Miniloc Island or swim from the boat to the lagoon’s entrance. Kayaking allows you to navigate through the narrow opening and explore the lagoon at your own pace. If you choose to swim, make sure you’re a confident swimmer, and it’s advisable to wear a life vest for safety.


Lush Vegetation and Rock Formations: As you paddle or swim further into the Small Lagoon, you’ll be surrounded by lush vegetation and towering limestone cliffs. The sheer rock formations create a dramatic backdrop, adding to the lagoon’s enchanting ambience. Take your time to appreciate the unique shapes and formations of the cliffs, which have been shaped by natural processes over millions of years.


Clear Waters and Abundant Marine Life: The Small Lagoon’s crystal-clear waters offer excellent visibility, allowing you to observe the vibrant marine life beneath the surface. Grab a snorkel and mask, and take a closer look at the colorful corals, tropical fish, and other fascinating creatures that call the lagoon home.


Photography Opportunities: The Small Lagoon’s picturesque scenery provides ample opportunities for photography enthusiasts. Capture the stunning reflections in the calm waters, the interplay of light and shadows against the limestone cliffs, and the vibrant colors of the flora and fauna. Whether you’re using a professional camera or a simple smartphone, the Small Lagoon offers incredible backdrops for memorable photos.


Remember to practice responsible tourism by leaving no trace behind. Avoid littering or damaging the coral reefs and marine life. Respect the natural environment and help preserve the Small Lagoon for future generations to enjoy.


Exploring the Small Lagoon is an unforgettable experience that allows you to connect with nature’s beauty and immerse yourself in the wonders of El Nido, Palawan. Soak in the tranquility, marvel at the incredible surroundings, and create lasting memories in this hidden gem.


Activities in the Small Lagoon

The Small Lagoon offers a range of activities that cater to different interests and preferences. Here are some of the exciting things you can do when visiting this enchanting destination:


Kayaking: Renting a kayak is one of the most popular activities in the Small Lagoon. Glide through the calm waters, maneuvering through the narrow entrance and exploring the lagoon’s nooks and crannies. Kayaking allows you to fully immerse yourself in the stunning surroundings and provides a sense of adventure and freedom.


Swimming: If you’re a confident swimmer, you can also choose to swim from the boat to the Small Lagoon’s entrance. Feel the refreshing water against your skin as you make your way into the lagoon. Swimming allows for a closer connection with nature and provides a unique perspective of the lagoon’s beauty.


Snorkeling: Put on your snorkeling gear and dive into the clear waters of the Small Lagoon. Discover the vibrant coral reefs that thrive in this protected area, along with an array of colorful fish and marine life. Snorkeling in the Small Lagoon offers a glimpse into the rich biodiversity of this tropical paradise.


Photography: The scenic beauty of the Small Lagoon provides ample opportunities for photography enthusiasts. Capture the reflection of the cliffs in the calm waters, the lush greenery that surrounds the lagoon, and the vibrant underwater world. Explore different angles and compositions to capture unique and memorable shots.


Relaxation: Take a moment to unwind and soak in the tranquility of the Small Lagoon. Find a quiet spot on the kayak or a floating device and simply enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Let the beauty of nature wash over you as you revel in the serenity of this hidden gem.


Caving: For those looking for more adventure, some tours may include a visit to the nearby Big Lagoon, which offers an opportunity to explore a limestone cave. Traverse through the cave’s winding passages and marvel at the intriguing rock formations. This adds an extra layer of excitement and exploration to your Small Lagoon experience.


Remember, while enjoying the activities in the Small Lagoon, it’s essential to preserve its natural beauty. Respect the marine life and coral reefs by refraining from touching or damaging them. Also, kindly follow the guidelines set by your tour guide to ensure the sustainability and preservation of this remarkable destination.


From kayaking and swimming to snorkeling and relaxation, the Small Lagoon offers a range of activities that cater to everyone’s interests. Spend your time in this breathtaking location and create unforgettable memories in the heart of El Nido, Palawan.


Best Time to Visit the Small Lagoon

The Small Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan, is a destination that can be enjoyed year-round, but there are certain periods that offer the best conditions for a memorable experience. Here’s a breakdown of the best time to visit the Small Lagoon:


Dry Season (November to April): The dry season, from November to April, is considered the peak season for tourism in El Nido. During this time, the weather is generally sunny, with minimal rainfall and calm seas. The dry season offers ideal conditions for water-based activities like kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling in the Small Lagoon. The visibility for underwater exploration is excellent, allowing you to appreciate the vibrant marine life and stunning coral reefs.


Shoulder Seasons (May and October): May and October fall under the shoulder seasons in El Nido. These months are characterized by transition periods from the dry season to the rainy season and vice versa. While there may be occasional showers or overcast days, the Small Lagoon can still be enjoyed during these times. The advantage of visiting during the shoulder seasons is that the tourist crowd is thinner, offering a more peaceful and intimate experience.


Rainy Season (May to September): The rainy season in El Nido runs from May to September, with August being the wettest month. During this period, there can be heavy rainfall and occasional storms. The rougher seas and limited visibility for snorkeling may deter some visitors. However, the advantage of traveling during the rainy season is that prices are generally lower, and accommodations are more readily available. If you don’t mind the occasional rain and prefer a quieter atmosphere, you can still enjoy the beauty of the Small Lagoon in the rainy season.


Ultimately, the best time to visit the Small Lagoon depends on your personal preferences and priorities. If you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy the clearest waters for snorkeling, the dry season is your best bet. However, if you prefer a more budget-friendly and less crowded experience, the shoulder seasons or even the rainy season can offer unique advantages.


It’s important to note that weather patterns can vary, and it’s advisable to check the forecast before planning your visit. Regardless of the season, always come prepared with sunscreen, insect repellent, appropriate swimwear, and a sense of adventure to make the most of your time in the Small Lagoon.


Overall, the Small Lagoon is a breathtaking destination that offers captivating beauty and memorable experiences throughout the year. Choose the time that suits you best and embark on a remarkable journey in El Nido, Palawan.


Tips for Visiting the Small Lagoon

Visiting the Small Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan, is an incredible experience that requires a bit of preparation and planning. Here are some useful tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit:


1. Book your tour in advance: To secure your spot and avoid disappointment, it’s advisable to book your island-hopping tour, which includes the Small Lagoon, in advance. This way, you can choose a reputable tour operator and have peace of mind knowing that everything is arranged for your visit.


2. Be mindful of the weather: While the Small Lagoon can be visited throughout the year, it’s important to check the weather forecast before your trip. Heavy rainfall or storms might impact your experience, especially during the rainy season. Plan accordingly and consider rescheduling if the conditions are unfavorable.


3. Pack essentials: Make sure to bring essentials such as sunscreen, insect repellent, a towel, a change of clothes, and drinking water. Protecting yourself from the sun, insects, and staying hydrated is crucial for a comfortable experience in the Small Lagoon.


4. Wear appropriate swimwear and footwear: It’s recommended to wear comfortable swimwear as you’ll be engaging in water activities. Additionally, consider wearing water shoes or sandals with good grip to protect your feet from sharp rocks and slippery areas.


5. Practice responsible tourism: Respect the pristine beauty of the Small Lagoon by following sustainable tourism practices. Refrain from littering, damaging coral reefs, or touching marine life. Help preserve this natural wonder for future generations to enjoy.


6. Listen to your guide: Pay attention to the instructions provided by your tour guide. They have local knowledge and insights that will enhance your experience and ensure your safety. Follow their guidance when it comes to navigation, proper behavior, and environmental protection.


7. Respect other visitors: The Small Lagoon may attract a number of visitors at any given time. Be considerate of others by sharing space, maintaining a peaceful atmosphere, and avoiding excessive noise or disruptive behavior.


8. Capture memories responsibly: Take photos and capture the beauty of the Small Lagoon, but do so responsibly. Avoid touching or damaging the surroundings and be mindful of other visitors while taking your shots. Leave nothing but footprints.


9. Be prepared for limited facilities: Keep in mind that the Small Lagoon is a natural and remote area. Facilities may be limited, so it’s advisable to bring your own snacks, as well as any personal items you might need for the duration of the tour.


10. Embrace the experience: Finally, remember to enjoy every moment of your visit to the Small Lagoon. Immerse yourself in the stunning beauty, take a moment to appreciate the tranquility, and create lasting memories in this hidden gem of El Nido.


By following these tips, you can make the most of your visit to the Small Lagoon and have an unforgettable time exploring the natural wonders of El Nido, Palawan.



The Small Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan, is a destination that showcases the stunning beauty of the Philippines. Nestled amidst towering limestone cliffs and surrounded by crystal-clear waters, the Small Lagoon offers a tranquil and enchanting experience for all who visit.


From kayaking and swimming to snorkeling and photography, there are various activities to enjoy in the Small Lagoon. Explore the calm and serene atmosphere, marvel at the lush vegetation and dramatic rock formations, and immerse yourself in the vibrant marine life that thrives beneath the surface.


When planning your visit to the Small Lagoon, be mindful of the best time to go. Consider the dry season for optimal weather conditions or the shoulder seasons for a quieter and more intimate experience. Don’t forget to book your tour in advance, pack the necessary essentials, and practice responsible tourism to help preserve this natural wonder.


Visiting the Small Lagoon is an opportunity to connect with nature, appreciate the splendor of El Nido, and create lasting memories. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or simply a chance to escape and unwind, the Small Lagoon offers it all.


So pack your bags, embrace the beauty that awaits, and embark on an unforgettable journey to the Small Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan. Explore, discover, and let the natural wonders of this destination leave an indelible mark on your heart.