Discover the dramatic karst landscapes of El Nido, Palawan Philippines – a natural wonder and a must-visit travel destination.

Have you ever wondered where you can find some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world? Look no further than El Nido in Palawan, Philippines. This hidden gem is home to the dramatic karst landscapes that will leave you in awe. But what exactly are karst landscapes, and why are they so captivating? Let’s dive in and explore the wonders of El Nido’s karst formations.

Key Takeaways:

  • El Nido, Palawan in the Philippines boasts stunning karst landscapes that cover approximately 10% of the country’s land mass.
  • These landscapes are formed by the weathering of limestone rocks and create remarkable features such as cliffs, caves, and underground streams.
  • El Nido is famous for its karst lagoons, including the iconic Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, and Cadlao Lagoon.
  • Exploring El Nido’s karst landscapes offers opportunities for kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, and immersing oneself in the beauty of nature.
  • The best time to visit El Nido’s karst landscapes is during the dry season from November to May for optimal weather conditions.

The Significance of Karst Landscapes in El Nido

The karst landscapes of El Nido hold great significance both in terms of natural beauty and ecological importance. These unique formations provide habitat for diverse flora and fauna, making El Nido a haven for biodiversity.

The towering limestone cliffs and hidden lagoons create a surreal and picturesque landscape that captivates visitors. The scenic beauty of El Nido’s karst landscapes has earned it a well-deserved reputation as one of the most stunning travel destinations in the Philippines.

Preservation and conservation of these karst landscapes are crucial to ensure their long-term sustainability and enjoyment for future generations. The delicate balance between human activities and the preservation of the natural wonders of El Nido is key to maintaining the scenic beauty and ecological integrity of this remarkable place.

Exploring El Nido’s Karst Lagoons

El Nido is renowned for its captivating karst lagoons, offering a world of excitement and breathtaking experiences for visitors. From the iconic Big Lagoon with its majestic limestone cliffs to the hidden gems of the Small Lagoon and Secret Lagoon, each lagoon holds its own charm and allure, waiting to be explored.

The Big Lagoon: Situated in the heart of El Nido, the Big Lagoon is renowned for its towering limestone cliffs that embrace the crystal-clear emerald water. It’s an ideal playground for kayaking, allowing visitors to navigate through its tranquil waters and experience the sheer beauty of their surroundings.

The Small Lagoon: Adjacent to the Big Lagoon, the Small Lagoon is a hidden treasure accessible by swimming or kayaking through a narrow entrance between limestone rocks. Inside, a mini cave and lagoon await exploration, creating an intimate and mesmerizing experience.

The Secret Lagoon: Tucked away in the southern corner of Miniloc Island, the Secret Lagoon offers a unique adventure. To enter, visitors must crawl through a small hole, revealing a captivating private pool-like environment with chilly, bluish water. It’s a truly enchanting spot that leaves a lasting impression.

The Cadlao Lagoon: Often overlooked by tourists, the peaceful Cadlao Lagoon on Cadlao Island offers a serene escape. Paddling through the azure-clear water and immersing oneself in the picturesque surroundings is an experience of tranquility, providing a perfect opportunity for relaxation.

These karst lagoons present endless possibilities for engaging in exhilarating activities such as kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling. Discover the mesmerizing limestone formations, embrace the natural beauty, and create unforgettable memories in the enchanting karst lagoons of El Nido.

The Best Time to Visit El Nido’s Karst Landscapes

The best time to visit El Nido’s karst landscapes largely depends on the weather. El Nido experiences two distinct seasons – the dry season from November to May and the rainy season from June to October. The dry season, particularly the months of December to March, is considered the ideal time to visit as it offers comfortable temperatures and minimal rainfall.

During the dry season, visitors can fully enjoy outdoor activities and explore the karst landscapes without the interruption of heavy rains. However, it’s important to note that even during the dry season, there might still be occasional showers due to the country’s tropical climate.

Visitors who prefer a more balanced and serene experience with moderate crowds and pleasant weather can consider visiting in April-May or October-November. It’s advisable to check the weather forecast and plan accordingly to make the most of your visit to El Nido’s karst landscapes.

Dry Season (November – May) Rainy Season (June – October)
  • Comfortable temperatures
  • Low rainfall
  • Opportunity for outdoor activities
  • Exploring karst landscapes
  • Potential for heavy rainfall
  • Higher humidity
  • Lush greenery
  • Less crowded

The Iconic Big Lagoon of El Nido

The Big Lagoon is one of the most iconic attractions in El Nido, located on Miniloc Island. Its towering karst cliffs and emerald-clear water create a breathtaking setting that mesmerizes visitors. To fully experience the beauty of the Big Lagoon, kayaking or swimming through its calm waters is highly recommended. This allows you to immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance and appreciate the remarkable karst formations surrounding the lagoon. For safety, remember to wear a life jacket when paddling or swimming in the lagoon. The Big Lagoon is a must-visit stop on island-hopping tours in El Nido, offering stunning beauty and a serene atmosphere that will leave you in awe.

The Enchanting Small Lagoon of El Nido

Adjacent to the Big Lagoon, the Small Lagoon is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Accessible by swimming or kayaking from a moored boat, the Small Lagoon offers a more intimate experience away from the crowds. Visitors can navigate through a narrow entry point between two limestone cliffs to enter the lagoon. Inside, they will be greeted by a mini cave and lagoon, both adorned with limestone formations. The water temperature in the Small Lagoon is colder compared to the Big Lagoon, creating a refreshing experience. It’s advisable to bring a camera to capture the fantastic backdrop and a waterproof bag to protect your belongings.

Exploring the Small Lagoon

Nestled on Miniloc Island, the Small Lagoon is an enchanting destination that showcases the beauty of El Nido’s karst cliffs. The entrance to the lagoon, with the dramatic limestone cliffs on either side, sets the stage for a truly memorable experience. Whether swimming through the turquoise waters or gliding in a kayak, visitors can immerse themselves in the tranquility and natural splendor of the Small Lagoon.

Highlights of the Small Lagoon

  • Intimate and secluded atmosphere
  • Breathtaking limestone formations
  • Crystal-clear waters for swimming and snorkeling
  • Opportunity to capture stunning photographs

Swimming in the Small Lagoon offers a unique perspective of El Nido’s natural beauty. The tranquil surroundings and stunning limestone cliffs create an otherworldly ambiance that will leave visitors in awe.

Tips for Exploring the Small Lagoon

Here are some useful tips to make the most of your visit to the Small Lagoon:

  1. Wear appropriate swimwear and water shoes for comfort and safety.
  2. Bring a waterproof camera or phone case to capture the picturesque scenery.
  3. Use a waterproof bag to protect your belongings from water splashes.
  4. Follow the instructions of your tour guide or boatman to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
  5. Respect the natural environment by not touching or removing any coral or marine life.

Make sure to add the Small Lagoon to your El Nido itinerary for a truly enchanting experience in one of the world’s most stunning destinations.

The Intriguing Secret Lagoon of El Nido

The Secret Lagoon, located in the southern corner of Miniloc Island, offers an intriguing experience for visitors. To access the lagoon, one must crawl through a small hole in the limestone cliffs. Once inside, a different environment awaits, resembling a natural private pool with cold, bluish water. It’s important to wear aqua shoes in the Secret Lagoon as there are sharp rocks around. Tour guides are present to assist visitors and ensure their safety, especially during high tides. The Secret Lagoon can get crowded during peak season, so it’s recommended to arrive early or visit during less busy times to fully appreciate its unique beauty.

The Serene Cadlao Lagoon of El Nido

The Cadlao Lagoon, located on Cadlao Island, is a hidden gem in El Nido that offers a serene and peaceful experience. With its tranquil waters and breathtaking scenery, the Cadlao Lagoon is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

To reach the Cadlao Lagoon, visitors can opt to kayak from Main El Nido Beach or join a group tour. This allows for a leisurely journey through the crystal-clear waters, surrounded by the stunning karst landscapes that El Nido is famous for. As you paddle your way towards the lagoon, take in the sights and sounds of nature, immersing yourself in the beauty that surrounds you.

Upon reaching the Cadlao Lagoon, you’ll be greeted by small limestone rock formations that dot the area. These formations provide a unique backdrop and can be explored, but it’s important to exercise caution as climbing can be hazardous due to the sharp rocks.

Once you’ve anchored your kayak or boat, the azure-clear water of the Cadlao Lagoon invites you to take a refreshing dip. Whether you choose to swim or snorkel, the lagoon offers the perfect opportunity to cool off and discover the diverse marine life that calls this place home. Keep your eyes peeled, as lucky visitors may even spot turtles gracefully swimming through the water.

As you soak in the serene ambiance of the Cadlao Lagoon, take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you. The towering limestone cliffs, lush greenery, and vibrant marine ecosystem create an enchanting atmosphere that is hard to forget.

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an adventure-filled day on the water, the Cadlao Lagoon in El Nido offers it all. From kayaking and swimming to snorkeling and exploring the limestone formations, this hidden gem will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.

Activities Details
Kayaking Paddle your way through the calm waters and explore the Cadlao Lagoon at your own pace.
Swimming Take a refreshing dip in the azure-clear waters of the lagoon.
Snorkeling Discover the vibrant marine life that thrives in the Cadlao Lagoon.

Maximizing the El Nido Experience with Big Dream Boatman’s Boat Trip from Coron to El Nido

For a unique and unforgettable experience in El Nido, consider joining Big Dream Boatman’s Boat Trip from Coron to El Nido. Big Dream Boatman Expeditions is a renowned expedition trip operator in El Nido that offers personalized Filipino service and eco-friendly practices. Their boat trip from Coron to El Nido allows you to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations, experience the beauty of the karst landscapes, and connect with fellow travelers and locals in a smaller group setting.

With spacious boats, comfortable campsites, delicious meals, and well-maintained equipment, Big Dream Boatman ensures a memorable and enjoyable journey. Their personalized service caters to your needs and preferences, providing a truly immersive and authentic experience of El Nido.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations

Big Dream Boatman’s boat trip takes you beyond the usual tourist spots, allowing you to discover hidden gems and lesser-known locations in El Nido. Venture into secluded lagoons, secret beaches, and untouched islands that showcase the untouched natural beauty of the region. This off-the-beaten-path experience offers a sense of exclusivity and tranquility, away from the crowds.

Exploring the Karst Landscapes

Embark on a journey through the stunning karst landscapes of El Nido, surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and crystal-clear waters. Explore hidden caves, navigate through limestone formations, and marvel at the breathtaking beauty of the natural surroundings. Big Dream Boatman’s boat trip ensures that you have ample time to fully appreciate and immerse yourself in the karst landscapes of El Nido.

Small Group Setting

Traveling in a smaller group allows for a more intimate and immersive experience. You’ll have the opportunity to connect with like-minded travelers, share stories, and create lasting memories together. The personalized attention and service from Big Dream Boatman’s experienced crew and guides ensure that your needs are met and your journey is memorable.

Seats for the boat trip from Coron to El Nido with Big Dream Boatman Expeditions are limited, so it’s recommended to book in advance to secure your spot. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to redefine your Palawan experience with this exceptional boat trip.

Information about El Nido Lagoons

When planning a visit to the picturesque lagoons of El Nido, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with relevant information and guidelines to ensure a memorable and responsible experience. Here’s what you need to know:

Tour Itineraries

El Nido offers four main tour itineraries: Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, and Tour D. Each tour showcases different attractions and experiences, allowing visitors to explore the diverse beauty of the lagoons. The Big Lagoon and Secret Lagoon are included in Tour A, while the Small Lagoon and Cadlao Lagoon are part of Tour D. Consider choosing a tour that aligns with your preferences and interests.

Lagoon Fees

Visiting the Big and Small Lagoons requires an additional lagoon fee. This fee contributes to the ongoing preservation efforts and maintenance of these natural wonders. Additionally, each tour itself has separate fees that cover boat transportation and guides. Make sure to budget accordingly and inquire about the fees before embarking on your lagoon adventure.

Etiquette and Guidelines

Responsible tourism is crucial to preserve the beauty of El Nido’s lagoons. Here are some etiquette and guidelines to follow:

  • Wear a life jacket during boat travel for your safety.
  • Avoid stepping on or touching corals and marine animals to protect the fragile ecosystem.
  • Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints – littering is strictly prohibited.
  • Bring reusable items such as waterproof bags and tumblers to minimize waste.
  • Support local vendors by purchasing coconuts and other products from them.
  • Respect the tranquility of the lagoons and follow any additional instructions from tour guides.

Remember, by following these guidelines, you contribute to the conservation and sustainability of El Nido’s lagoons, ensuring their preservation for future generations to enjoy.

Ecotourism Developmental Fee (ETDF)

Prior to visiting El Nido’s lagoons, make sure to obtain the Ecotourism Developmental Fee (ETDF). This fee helps fund community development projects, environmental initiatives, and the maintenance of tourism facilities. Keep your ETDF receipt safe as it may be requested at various entry points and during your lagoon tours.

Immerse yourself in the enchanting beauty of El Nido’s lagoons, and let the awe-inspiring landscapes captivate your senses. By adhering to these guidelines and embracing responsible tourism practices, you can ensure a truly remarkable and sustainable experience.


The dramatic karst landscapes and enchanting lagoons of El Nido, Palawan offer visitors a truly unforgettable experience. From the iconic Big Lagoon to the hidden treasures of the Small Lagoon and Secret Lagoon, each lagoon provides a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the beauty of nature. Exploring these karst landscapes through kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling allows visitors to appreciate the scenic beauty and ecological significance of El Nido.

When planning your visit to El Nido, it’s important to choose the best time of the year to make the most of your experience. Being mindful of tour itineraries and fees will ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. Responsible tourism practices, such as avoiding stepping on corals and marine animals, and supporting local vendors, contribute to the long-term preservation of these natural wonders.

Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or simply looking for a picturesque travel destination, El Nido’s karst landscapes and lagoons are sure to captivate your senses and create lasting memories. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to explore the breathtaking beauty of El Nido’s natural wonders.


What are karst landscapes?

Karst landscapes are formed by the weathering of limestone rocks and are characterized by unique topographical features such as cliffs, caves, and underground streams.

Where is El Nido located?

El Nido is located in Palawan, Philippines.

What are some of the popular karst landscapes in El Nido?

Some popular karst landscapes in El Nido include the Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, and Cadlao Lagoon.

Why are the karst landscapes of El Nido significant?

The karst landscapes of El Nido not only offer natural beauty but also provide habitat for diverse flora and fauna, making them ecologically important.

What activities can I do in El Nido’s karst lagoons?

Visitors can engage in activities such as kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, and exploring the mesmerizing limestone formations.

When is the best time to visit El Nido’s karst landscapes?

The best time to visit El Nido’s karst landscapes is during the dry season, particularly from December to March, to ensure comfortable temperatures and minimal rainfall.

What is the Big Lagoon?

The Big Lagoon is an iconic attraction in El Nido, known for its towering karst cliffs and crystal-clear emerald water.

How can I access the Small Lagoon?

The Small Lagoon can be accessed by swimming or kayaking through a narrow entry point between limestone cliffs.

How do I enter the Secret Lagoon?

To enter the Secret Lagoon, visitors must crawl through a small hole in the limestone cliffs.

Where is the Cadlao Lagoon located?

The Cadlao Lagoon is located on Cadlao Island in El Nido.

What is the Big Dream Boatman’s Boat Trip?

The Big Dream Boatman’s Boat Trip is an expedition trip from Coron to El Nido offered by Big Dream Boatman Expeditions, known for personalized service and eco-friendly practices.

What information should I know about El Nido’s lagoons?

Visitors should be familiar with tour itineraries, fees, etiquette, and guidelines, including wearing life jackets, avoiding coral and marine animal contact, and refraining from littering.

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Hello! I'm Wise, a Filipina with a deep love for my country and a passion for sharing its beauty with the world. As a writer, blogger, and videographer, I capture the essence of the Philippines through my eyes, hoping to give foreign visitors a true taste of what makes these islands so special.

From the vibrant streets of Manila to the tranquil beaches of Palawan, my journey is about uncovering the hidden gems and everyday wonders that define the Filipino spirit. My articles and blogs are not just travel guides; they are invitations to explore, to feel, and to fall in love with the Philippines, just as I have.

Through my videos, I strive to bring the sights, sounds, and stories of my homeland to life. Whether it's the local cuisine, the colorful festivals, or the warm smiles of the people, I aim to prepare visitors for an authentic experience.

For those seeking more than just a vacation, the Philippines can be a place of discovery and, perhaps, even love. My goal is to be your guide, not just to the places you'll visit, but to the experiences and connections that await in this beautiful corner of the world. Welcome to the Philippines, through my eyes. Let's explore together!

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