This is the most popular and well-known tour in El Nido, and probably the photographs of the entrance to the Big Lagoon are the ones that have put the focus of world tourist attention on the Philippines. The beaches are fine white sand; the rugged karstic peaks high and green, and the waters of intense turquoise color. These three combined elements confer a sensational beauty that only presents one drawback: more and more people know it.
HOW TO GET THERE
It can only be accessed by sea. We have two options:
- An organized tour. It is the most frequent and simplest. As in Coron, they are standardized, and with minimal differences, any agency will offer the same routes, and of course none changes the “A” route. They cost approximately 1200 PHP including lunch and last 7 hours.
- Hire a boat in the port privately. It has the great advantage that we can ask the crew to take us where we want when we want and avoid the bulk of the tourists, and the disadvantages that they do not include lunch and that the price depends on our negotiation skills. To be profitable it is very possible that we need to be at least 4 people in the bangka, since the prices are usually around 4000 PHP per boat per day, although we met people who got it by 2500.
Boats depart from the port of El Nido, at the western end of the town. Seven Commando Beach will be the first or last stop. Then we will go to Miniloc Island, which is several kilometers to the west. In its northern part are the Big and the Small Lagoon next to each other; Secret Lagoon is in the southern part, near the tiny Shimizu Island.
On Miniloc Island there is a hotel: El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island; rooms cost around € 500 a night in high season.
SEVEN COMMANDO BEACH
Located on the peninsula, west of El Nido Town, but can not be accessed by road, the only way to get there is by boat. An excellent beach, with its scarce 300 meters is the largest we will visit in today’s excursion. Sadly, being very close to El Nido is usually the first or last point to visit for organized excursions, and while at noon there are hardly any people, at first and last hour it is easy to gather more than 10 boats at a time with between 14 and 20 tourists each, to who we must add the people who spend the night in the only resort on the beach, the Vellago; for those who are interested, it also costs nothing less than around € 500 a night.
The one that should be renamed “not so secret” is a little lagoon only 40 or 50 meters in diameter accessed through a small natural tunnel in the rock. It would be very charming if you did not have to wait for a queue to enter and exit. It is so small that with so many people entering, you can not even take a quiet bath. I would say it’s just worth it to go on our own.
We should not confuse it with Secret Beach, a beach on Matinloc Island that is visited on tour “C”.
It is usually visited in the middle of the day because it is the place where tourist have lunch, since there is no beach to stop in the lagoons and the Seven Commando is visited first or last. It is a small beach, which can be narrow to accommodate too many tourists having lunch, but it is certainly spectacular, with sharp rocky pinnacles that reach the water and great views.
Despite its name, it is not an isolated lagoon, it is connected to the sea and its shape is similar to that of a fjord. The boats wait at the entrance, since there is a part too narrow to pass, where there are two rocks, one on each side, that seem to touch, while the tourists go swimming or kayaking. It is the area with more vertical cliffs and reminds quite the Twin Lagoons in Coron.
The star of the excursion and one of the most famous spots of El Nido is this second fjord. Larger than the previous one, there is no problem for the bangkas to enter and leave. Its shape is similar to a kind of letter “L”, with its straight lines the shallowest area (you can walk, the water barely reach the knee) and being the vertex the most rounded and deep, what would be the original lagoon that currently connects with the sea, leaving a large karstic peak in the foreground where the lagoon makes an elbow. This point is the most scenic, since the water looks more turquoise than in the rest because there is less depth. On a sunny day, its beauty is unparalleled. The only bad thing is not being able to enjoy all the time in the world here.