To break it down simply, ALL tour operators in El Nido offer 4 island hopping tours: Tour A, Tour B, Tour C and Tour D. We visited the celebrated Small Lagoon as our third destination on Tour A.
Just after our morning beach stop at Seven Commandos Beach and our fantabulous lunch at Shimizu Island, our guide greeted us with the words: “Are you ready for some adventure now?” As you probably already guessed, the answer was a unanimous “YES!” from everyone on the boat. We were then informed about our next itinerary stop – the infamous Small Lagoon!
The air was heavy with excitement even before our Bangka reached the entrance of the Small Lagoon. The water was choppy and there were already quite a few Bangkas there already (we had lost precious yards owing to choosing to stay back a while at Shimizu Island), which meant that we had to anchor at quite a bit of distance from the entrance of the Small Lagoon. Positive take from it though? We saw our first sea turtle in the Philippines!
Since we were quite a distance away from the entrance, the waves were choppy and the current was strong, half of us opted to rent kayaks to explore the Small Lagoon whilst the other half (the confident swimmers) set off with broad strokes towards the Lagoon. After a 5 minute wait for the kayaks to arrive, we set off on our individual exploration trips.
A little bit of Trivia here for you: The movie “The Bourne Legacy” was shot in both the Small Lagoon and also in the Big Lagoon. Also, apparently (as per local folklore), these lagoons were actually caves once. The roofs of these caves must have collapsed and left us with the stunning natural architecture of the Lagoons that we witness today.
We have to kayak through a small opening before entering the small lagoon itself and our friends quickly followed suit. Once inside…well, once inside, it was a different scenario altogether.
It was eerily silent inside, with the occasional hushed whisper from kayakers (the Small Lagoon seemed to have that effect on people) or the occasional splish-splash of swimmers and snorkelers.
The water was crystal clear. The snorkelers kept resurfacing to reassure us that the underwater life was equally enticing. We were specially awed by the fact that a few brave parents had also brought their toddlers with them, who also seemed happy and quiet in this surreal wonderland. Bravo – parenting goals indeed!
We spent close to an hour at this gorgeous destination. Leaving it was bittersweet, but by then own arms were screaming for some relief after all the kayaking (even though we did have help from one of our tour crew members). PRO Tip: Ask your guide to allow a crew member to accompany you on the kayak – this has two advantages: firstly, they will know all the best spots to check out and will point out things that you may miss out on; secondly, you will actually need help with rowing that kayak, trust me! And also, please don’t forget to tip your crew member adequately afterwards!
Once back at the Bangka, our guide gleefully informed us that our next destination was a ‘bigger’ surprise, i.e. the Big Lagoon. No shit, Sherlock!
Did I love the Small Lagoon? Yes!
Do I recommend it? ABSO-defi-LUTELY!
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