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The Big Lagoon In El Nido, Palawan: Complete Guide


by Lexy Sok



Welcome to El Nido, Palawan, a paradise renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and stunning landscapes. Tucked away in the Philippines, El Nido is a small municipality located in the northern part of Palawan Island. It is famous for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, pristine beaches, and towering limestone cliffs.


One of the must-visit destinations in El Nido is the Big Lagoon. This picturesque lagoon is a hidden gem nestled in Bacuit Bay, surrounded by towering cliffs covered in lush greenery. It is a haven for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and those looking for a tranquil escape.


The Big Lagoon is known for its enchanting emerald waters, which reflect the beauty of the surrounding limestone formations. The calm and serene atmosphere exudes a sense of tranquility, making it the perfect place to unwind and immerse yourself in nature’s wonders.


Whether you’re a snorkeling enthusiast, a kayaking adventurer, or simply want to bask in the splendor of the lagoon, there is something for everyone at the Big Lagoon. Dive into its depths and discover a vibrant underwater world, or paddle through the lagoon’s placid waters and marvel at the stunning karst cliffs that encircle you. It’s a place where dreams come alive and memories are made.


As you journey through the Big Lagoon, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views and encounters with a diverse range of flora and fauna. Keep your eyes peeled for various species of fish, vibrant corals, and even elusive sea turtles that call the lagoon home.


In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into everything you need to know about visiting the Big Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan. From getting there to the best time to visit, we’ve got you covered. So, grab your snorkel gear, prepare your sense of adventure, and let’s embark on a journey to uncover the wonders of the Big Lagoon.


Location of El Nido, Palawan

El Nido is situated in the province of Palawan, which is located in the western part of the Philippines. This tropical paradise is nestled on the northern tip of Palawan Island, approximately 238 kilometers northeast of Puerto Princesa, the provincial capital.


To get to El Nido, you can either take a domestic flight or travel by land and sea. The most common option is to fly to Puerto Princesa from major cities like Manila or Cebu. From Puerto Princesa, you can then take a van or a bus for about 5 to 6 hours to reach El Nido. The road trip offers scenic views of Palawan’s countryside and gives you a taste of the island’s beauty even before arriving at your destination.


Alternatively, there are direct flights available from Manila to El Nido through AirSwift, which can significantly reduce travel time. These flights operate on a limited schedule, so it’s essential to check for availability and book in advance.


El Nido’s geographical location is what makes it so captivating. The town is nestled within the Bacuit Archipelago, an area consisting of numerous limestone islands and islets scattered in the clear waters of the Sulu Sea. This unique topography contributes to the beauty and charm that El Nido is famous for.


With its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and towering limestone formations, El Nido is truly a tropical paradise. The town itself sits along Bacuit Bay, and from there, you can easily explore the surrounding islands, lagoons, and dive sites that make up the breathtaking landscape.


El Nido’s location not only offers stunning natural wonders but also provides a base for exploring other attractions in Palawan. Just a short boat ride away, you can discover and experience destinations such as the Small Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, and Shimizu Island.


Overall, the pristine location of El Nido in Palawan makes it a haven for nature lovers, adventure enthusiasts, and those seeking relaxation amidst unparalleled natural beauty. From its turquoise waters to its towering cliffs, El Nido and its surrounding islands are truly a sight to behold.


Getting to El Nido

Getting to El Nido, Palawan is an adventure in itself. Although it may seem remote, this tropical paradise is well-connected and offers various transportation options for travelers.


The most common way to reach El Nido is by flying into Puerto Princesa, the provincial capital of Palawan. Several airlines offer domestic flights to Puerto Princesa from major cities in the Philippines, including Manila and Cebu. The flight duration varies depending on the departure city, but it typically takes around 1 to 2 hours.


Once you arrive in Puerto Princesa, you have a few options for getting to El Nido. The most convenient and popular choice is to take a van or a bus. These can be found at the airport or at designated terminals in Puerto Princesa. The journey from Puerto Princesa to El Nido takes approximately 5 to 6 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.


If you prefer a faster and more comfortable option, you can book a direct flight from Manila to El Nido through AirSwift. These flights operate on a limited schedule and take around 1 to 1.5 hours, significantly reducing travel time and providing a more convenient option for those with a shorter stay.


Another option for getting to El Nido is by sea. From Manila, you can take a ferry to Coron and then transfer to El Nido. This option is suitable for those who enjoy a scenic boat ride and have more time to explore the surrounding islands.


Once you arrive in El Nido, the town itself is relatively small and can be explored on foot. However, if you plan on venturing to nearby islands or visiting attractions such as the Big Lagoon, island hopping tours are the most popular and convenient way to get around. These tours can be arranged through various tour operators in El Nido.


It’s important to note that transportation options may vary depending on factors such as weather conditions and availability. It’s always a good idea to check with reliable sources and plan your travel accordingly.


Regardless of the transportation mode you choose, the journey to El Nido is part of the adventure. As you make your way to this tropical paradise, be prepared to be captivated by the natural beauty and tranquility that awaits you.


Overview of the Big Lagoon

The Big Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan is a hidden gem that will leave you in awe of its beauty. Nestled in Bacuit Bay, this stunning lagoon is renowned for its clear, turquoise waters and towering limestone cliffs that surround it.


The Big Lagoon gets its name from its size – it is larger than its sibling, the Small Lagoon. As you approach the lagoon, you’ll be greeted by its calm and peaceful waters, inviting you to explore its wonders.


What makes the Big Lagoon truly mesmerizing is its unique geography. The entrance to the lagoon is a narrow channel flanked by towering limestone karsts covered in lush greenery. As you navigate through the channel, you’ll feel like you’re entering a secret paradise.


Once you enter the lagoon, you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking sight. The emerald-colored waters are incredibly clear, allowing you to see the vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life below. The calmness of the lagoon creates a mirror-like surface, reflecting the majestic cliffs that surround it, making for picture-perfect moments.


The Big Lagoon offers various activities for visitors to enjoy. One of the most popular options is to explore the lagoon by kayak. Paddling through its tranquil waters, you can navigate through the hidden nooks and crannies, discovering hidden caves and rock formations along the way.


If you’re not keen on kayaking, you can still enjoy the beauty of the Big Lagoon by taking a boat tour. Many island-hopping tours in El Nido include a visit to the Big Lagoon, allowing you to marvel at its beauty without venturing into the waters yourself.


As you explore the Big Lagoon, you’ll be surrounded by a sense of tranquility and serenity. The towering limestone karsts provide a natural barrier, shielding the lagoon from strong currents and waves, creating a peaceful and idyllic environment.


Whether you choose to kayak, swim, or simply soak in the beauty of the Big Lagoon, it is an experience you won’t soon forget. The combination of crystal-clear waters, stunning limestone formations, and the sense of seclusion will transport you to a world of natural wonder.


The Big Lagoon is truly a paradise within a paradise, offering a glimpse into the unparalleled beauty of Palawan. It is a place where you can connect with nature, immerse yourself in its tranquility, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Things to do in the Big Lagoon

Visiting the Big Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan offers a multitude of exciting activities and experiences. Here are some of the top things to do in this enchanting destination:

1. Kayaking: One of the best ways to explore the Big Lagoon is by kayaking. Rent a kayak and paddle through the calm, turquoise waters at your own pace. Discover hidden coves, navigate through limestone formations, and marvel at the rich marine life as you glide through the lagoon’s pristine waters. 2. Swimming: Take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Big Lagoon. The calm and inviting lagoon is perfect for a leisurely swim, allowing you to cool off while surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Just be mindful of the designated swimming areas and respect the marine ecosystem. 3. Snorkeling: Put on a mask and snorkel to immerse yourself in the vibrant underwater world of the Big Lagoon. Discover colorful coral reefs teeming with tropical fish, sea turtles, and other marine creatures. Snorkeling here offers a unique opportunity to witness the diverse marine life that calls the lagoon home. 4. Photography: The Big Lagoon is a photographer’s paradise. Capture the breathtaking views and unique rock formations that surround the lagoon. The still waters and towering cliffs provide a stunning backdrop for your photos, creating picture-perfect moments you’ll treasure forever. 5. Beachcombing: As you explore the shoreline of the Big Lagoon, keep an eye out for seashells and other treasures that may wash up on the beach. Beachcombing can be a relaxing and rewarding activity, allowing you to connect with nature and find small mementos to take home with you. 6. Picnicking: Bring a packed lunch or grab a beachside spot and enjoy a picnic with a view. The Big Lagoon offers several spots where you can lay out a blanket and indulge in a delicious meal surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Just remember to practice responsible tourism and dispose of any waste properly. 7. Boat Tours: Many island-hopping tours in El Nido include a stop at the Big Lagoon. Joining a boat tour allows you to relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of the lagoon, as well as visit other nearby attractions. Professional guides will provide insights about the area, making your experience even more enriching. 8. Hiking: For those seeking an adventure, consider taking a short hike up one of the limestone cliffs surrounding the Big Lagoon. Climb to the top for breathtaking panoramic views of the lagoon and the surrounding islands. Just make sure to wear proper footwear and take caution while exploring. No matter how you choose to spend your time in the Big Lagoon, one thing is certain—you’ll be immersed in the beauty of nature. From kayaking through the calm waters to snorkeling alongside colorful marine life, the Big Lagoon offers endless opportunities for exploration and unforgettable experiences.


Wildlife and Marine Life in the Big Lagoon

The Big Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan is not only a feast for the eyes with its stunning limestone formations and pristine waters but also a haven for diverse wildlife and marine life. As you explore this enchanting lagoon, you’ll have the opportunity to encounter a wide array of fascinating creatures.


The clear and teeming waters of the Big Lagoon are home to a rich diversity of marine life. Snorkelers can catch a glimpse of vibrant coral reefs, which serve as habitats for colorful fish such as clownfish, sergeant majors, and parrotfish. Keep an eye out for graceful sea turtles gliding through the water or resting on the sandy seabed.


Beneath the surface, you may also spot critters like starfish, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers, as well as smaller reef fish darting among the corals. The Big Lagoon provides a unique opportunity for marine life enthusiasts and snorkelers to witness the delicate balance and intricate ecosystems that exist below the water’s surface.


As you kayak or paddle through the lagoon, don’t forget to look up and appreciate the avian inhabitants of the area. The limestone cliffs surrounding the Big Lagoon provide nesting sites for various seabirds. Keep your binoculars handy, and you might spot magnificent frigatebirds soaring above or small swiftlets darting in and out of their nests.


The mangrove forests found around the entrance of the Big Lagoon serve as important habitats for numerous species of birds, including herons, kingfishers, and egrets. These mangroves play a vital role in maintaining the overall ecological balance of the lagoon.


El Nido’s ecological diversity extends beyond the water and the skies. The lush forest cover on the limestone cliffs is home to a variety of reptiles, insects, and plant species. Keep an eye out for geckos clinging to the cliffs or colorful butterflies fluttering amidst the foliage.


To preserve the delicate ecosystem within the lagoon, it’s important to practice responsible tourism. Respect the marine life by avoiding touching or disturbing them, and refrain from using coral-harming products like sunscreen. By being mindful of your impact, you contribute to the preservation of the Big Lagoon’s natural beauty for future generations to enjoy.


Whether you’re an avid wildlife enthusiast or simply appreciate the wonders of nature, the Big Lagoon offers an incredible opportunity to witness and connect with a diverse range of wildlife and marine creatures. From the colorful fish to the majestic sea turtles, every encounter is a reminder of the importance of protecting and preserving the natural treasures of El Nido, Palawan.


Best Time to Visit the Big Lagoon

The Big Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan is a captivating destination that can be enjoyed year-round. However, certain times of the year offer more favorable conditions and can enhance your experience. The best time to visit the Big Lagoon depends on your preferences and what you want to get out of your visit.


The peak tourist season in El Nido, including the Big Lagoon, typically runs from November to May. During this period, the weather is generally dry and sunny, making it ideal for various activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. The water visibility is often excellent, allowing you to fully appreciate the vibrant marine life and stunning limestone formations beneath the surface.


Within the peak season, the months of December to February are considered the high season. The weather during these months is typically cooler and drier, with lower chances of rainfall. As a result, it can be more crowded and prices may be higher. It’s advisable to book accommodations and tours in advance to secure your preferred dates.


If you prefer to avoid the crowds, the shoulder months of November and May can be a great time to visit the Big Lagoon. The weather is still pleasant, with fewer tourists compared to the peak season. You can expect to have a more relaxed and intimate experience, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of the lagoon.


During the off-peak season from June to October, El Nido experiences its rainy season. The weather can be unpredictable, with increased chances of rainfall and occasional storms. It’s important to note that tours to the Big Lagoon might be affected or even suspended during inclement weather conditions. However, visiting during this time does have its advantages, including fewer tourists, lower prices for accommodations and tours, and the opportunity to witness the lush green landscapes that the rain brings.


It’s important to keep in mind that weather patterns can vary from year to year, so it’s always a good idea to check weather forecasts before planning your trip. Additionally, it’s worth noting that El Nido and its surrounding islands can experience a high volume of visitors, regardless of the time of year. To make the most out of your experience at the Big Lagoon, consider opting for early morning or late afternoon visits when crowds are often less intense.


Ultimately, the best time to visit the Big Lagoon depends on your preferences. Whether you choose the peak season for optimal weather or the off-peak season for a more peaceful experience, the Big Lagoon will undoubtedly leave you in awe of its natural beauty and serenity.


Practical Information and Tips for Visitors

As you plan your visit to the Big Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan, here are some practical tips and information to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience:

1. Permits: Make sure to secure the necessary permits before visiting the Big Lagoon. These permits are typically included in the island-hopping tours package or can be arranged through authorized tour operators in El Nido. Check the requirements and fees in advance to avoid any delays or issues. 2. Environmental Conservation: Practice responsible tourism by following the principles of Leave No Trace. Respect the marine life and surrounding environment by not littering, avoiding stepping on corals, and using eco-friendly sunscreen to protect the delicate ecosystems. Let’s work together to preserve the natural beauty of the Big Lagoon. 3. Safety: Prioritize your safety during your visit. Wear a life jacket during water activities and listen to your guides’ instructions, especially if you’re not a strong swimmer. Be cautious when navigating through the narrow channels and watch out for submerged rocks and shallow areas. 4. Bring Appropriate Gear: Don’t forget to bring essential items such as swimwear, a hat, sunscreen, and a towel. If you plan to kayak, consider wearing a rash guard or lightweight clothing for sun protection. Don’t forget to bring a waterproof bag or case to protect your valuables. 5. Cash and Facilities: It’s a good idea to bring enough cash with you as ATMs and card payment options may be limited in the area. There are basic facilities available near the Big Lagoon, such as restrooms and small food stalls, but it’s advisable to bring your own water and snacks. 6. Photography: Capture the beauty of the Big Lagoon with your camera or smartphone, but be mindful of your surroundings. Avoid disturbing wildlife or corals for the sake of a photo and respect the privacy of other visitors. 7. Timing: Consider visiting the Big Lagoon early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid crowds and make the most of your experience. These times often offer better lighting for photography and a more peaceful atmosphere. 8. Weather Considerations: Keep an eye on the weather forecast before your visit. In case of inclement weather, such as heavy rain or strong winds, boat tours to the Big Lagoon may be canceled or rescheduled. It’s always a good idea to have alternative plans in case of unexpected changes. 9. Tour Arrangements: To ensure a hassle-free experience, book your tour or boat trip to the Big Lagoon in advance. This will help you secure your preferred date and time, especially during the peak season. Research reputable tour operators and read reviews to make an informed decision. 10. Respect other Visitors: Be mindful of other visitors and maintain a peaceful and respectful atmosphere. Allow everyone to enjoy the beauty of the Big Lagoon by avoiding excessive noise and adhering to designated swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking areas.

By keeping these practical tips in mind, you can make the most of your visit to the Big Lagoon and ensure that it is a memorable and enjoyable experience. Soak in the beauty, connect with nature, and appreciate the wonders that El Nido, Palawan has to offer.



The Big Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan is a hidden paradise that captivates visitors with its breathtaking beauty and serene atmosphere. This enchanting lagoon, surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and crystal-clear turquoise waters, offers a truly unforgettable experience.


Whether you choose to kayak through its calm waters, snorkel among vibrant marine life, or simply bask in the tranquility of its surroundings, the Big Lagoon provides a unique opportunity to connect with nature’s wonders. From the moment you enter the narrow channel and witness the stunning scenery, you’ll be transported to a world of serenity and natural beauty.


As you explore the Big Lagoon, be prepared to encounter diverse wildlife, from colorful fish to gentle sea turtles. The lagoon is teeming with marine life, showcasing the importance of preserving this delicate ecosystem. Remember to practice responsible tourism, respecting the environment and the creatures that call the lagoon home.


Whether you visit during the peak season to enjoy optimal weather or choose the off-peak season for a quieter experience, the Big Lagoon will leave you in awe with its magnificence. Take in the panoramic views, immerse yourself in the serenity, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


El Nido, Palawan is a treasure trove of natural wonders, and the Big Lagoon is just the beginning of the adventure. Explore the surrounding islands, discover hidden beaches, and uncover more of the area’s breathtaking landscapes.


As you plan your visit to the Big Lagoon, keep in mind the practical information and tips provided to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. From permits to safety precautions, being prepared will allow you to make the most of your time in this stunning destination.


Prepare to be captivated by the beauty of the Big Lagoon, where nature’s masterpiece unfolds before your eyes. Whether you’re seeking adventure or a tranquil escape, the Big Lagoon promises an experience that will stay with you long after you’ve left its shores.