Kayaking near Small Lagoon, Palawan last November felt like playing in paradise

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  1. Cannot recommend Palawan as a destination enough if you’re searching for a Nov-Dec destination. We went end of Nov last year as our first real travel trip to Asia and it was stunning. It was almost as if we were seeing the world in 1080p till that point and suddenly started seeing 4K. El Nido town itself was avoided by us, we split our time across a resort outside town (both Lio Villas and the Nest are great options) and Puerto Princesa. Outside of island hopping, seeing the underground river and chilling out at Nacpan beach were highlights.

    We mostly felt safe except when we saw 2 armed men without uniforms travelling in a jeep when we were leaving Nacpan beach. The people were genuinely nice and the north of Palawan is considered quite safe in the traveller community. We thought it was a dream honeymoon destination and sum up our highlights [on this post](https://beyondourhorizons.wordpress.com/2016/12/08/palawan-philippines-a-dream-honeymoon-destination/). Edit: added notes on how safe we felt.

      1. More like lucky to have chosen a resort outside the town limits. We are not party people so it worked out for the best.

    1. Going to Cebu in less than a month, we’re looking at Palawan for the next time. Manila is really the only place in the Philippines that I don’t feel 100% safe. We stayed a few days in Samal Island and it was beautiful and my filipina fiancee and I roamed around Davao for a few more days after.

      1. Look into Moalboal (sardines vortex and canyoning) and the small island of Bantayan (awesome beaches and not crowded) while exploring Cebu island. both were highlights!

      2. Went to Coron a couple years ago and I *highly* recommend it. Was absolutely gorgeous (we found what was to this day one of the best beaches I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world) and it was cheap as chips. Plus, being a small fishing village (essentially) it was actually super safe. And there is a small hotel that has it’s own island right off Coron itself (close enough you can see it from the harbor) that is very reasonably priced, if not exactly luxurious.

        Plus, the diving was decent, with a few reefs and a couple WWII wrecks, not to mention an inland lake that gets hotter the deeper you go down from the geothermal heat…which was really cool.

        Best trip to the Philippines by far.

      3. Went to Cebu recently and if you like adventure, I cannot recommend the canyoneering at kawasan falls enough! [link](https://youtu.be/QNh4Ea30RoE) it’s one of those bucket-list places. There’s also Oslob where you can go whale shark snorkelling. You can actually do both in one day. Have fun!

        1. We def have both of those in the list along with Tumalog falls. Glad to hear that both the whale sharks and Kawasan can be in the same day. If heard a couple of people say that they were so tired from swimming with the sharks that there was no way that you could do both, I was thinking “damn either that is some rough water out there or they are like 95 years old.” Any recommended food spots around Oslob?

          1. Nah you should be fine. My advice is go for the earliest slot for the whale sharks and then head to kawasan. Also take a GoPro along!
            As for eating places, the group that took us to kawasan took us to a beachside resort at the start of the kawasan leg that had good food. Don’t remember the name though.

      4. I’ve to be honest, Cebu City felt quite unsafe to us during our visit mostly because of the many armed and uniformed guards. We were thanking our stars that our AirBnb was in one of the luxury highrises near the Ayala Mall. We would love to visit more islands, the Filipino people are lucky in terms of the natural riches they have access to!

        Edit: We love Rico’s spicy lechon in Cebu City, do try it if you like roast pork (its probably our favourite variant of roast pork period)

        1. I’ll admit it may just be me with the safety thing, my fiancee worries when I’m out alone because she says I am too trusting and don’t think anyone is out to do evil or take advantage of others. Oh yeah I think she is more excited about going to Rico’s than anything else hahahaha. That was the first thing she mentioned when we were talking about Cebu. Did you happen to go by Ayala Museum, I have one day in Manila by myself before I fly back home and was wanting to do some art and history type stuff since she isn’t as interested in that as I am.

          1. Rico’s is worth the hype, give your fiance a virtual fistbump over the internet, we still dream about it back in the UK and are willing to fly back to Cebu City just to eat it again!!! No we did not see Ayala museum, we were in Manila at 3 different points of time but got a flat next to the airport each time before flying back out so have no MNL recommendations.

  2. I went to Palawan back in January. Truly one of the most beautiful places in the world! I didn’t go kayaking though, what’s that like?

    1. One of the best experiences we’ve ever had, our specific island-hopping tour had an optional kayaking stop at Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon (300 PHP per kayak). The small lagoon was superb, you have to enter it though a small entrance and the pools on the inside are calm, reflective and surrounded by the limestone cliffs on all sides. The water here was very shallow, big lagoon was a different experience altogether, much more open space and the area was gorge-like.

    1. My pleasure ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you’re visiting Puerto Princesa and like seafood, might I recommend the Badjao seafood restaurant. We also particularly enjoyed renting a scooter (300 PHP a day) and driving around the beautiful island.

      1. Thanks, but we are flying directly from Manila to El Nido and staying in the North the whole trip.
        We’ll definitely take kayaks out for an adventure and at least 1 of the A/B/C/D tours. Nacpan beach that you enjoyed is on our list too.
        The GF wants to rent a scooter, but I’m sure we’ll crash. That still up for debate…

        1. Good call on the direct flight, the 2-way commute saved money but in retrospect, time was more important. Enjoy your holiday!

          1. Agreed. The direct flight was pricey but worth the time it saves. I forget the name of the airline but itโ€™s terminal and planes were really nice.

          2. Riding in the top of the bus and seeing the countryside that way is pretty great, but it’s hot now, so it’s a good decision.

  3. Was there August 31 and it started storming when we left for Manila. We stayed at the Lagen Island Resort. It was amazing!

  4. Nice picture! We kayaked there too about a month the ago! We had an amazing time. Showing family and friends pictures does not do Palawan justice.

    1. Thanks for the appreciation /u/kennethx15 You’re right it doesn’t do it justice but I’ve piqued the interest of many friends / colleagues for PH travel with our pictures (thank you Instagram). Am chalking that as a win.

  5. I went in January. When we arrived at Small Lagoon it was crowded with kayaks and the tight entrance was a bottleneck. A few people were trying to swim through with snorkel gear and kept getting hit by the plastic armada. Total cluster. Looks like you timed it right.

    1. I know what you’re saying, it began to look like that just as we were leaving. Our timing there does seem to be just right. But we got shafted for our lunch stop, the normal island was so full we had to go to a different island where we needed to swim to the shore and we got cuts from the sharp rock (the lunch was undercooked to boot).

  6. Visited in April. Truly a gorgeous place. My buddies and I rented a private boat. So we got to choose which places we visited. We also managed to avoid all the bottle necks since our guy timed it so we avoided the rush. He also brought us to this sketchy mountain to climb that overlooked the islands. There was 4 of us on top of that mountain. It was great.

  7. We were there this January! A nice Asian holiday destination. We decided to swim in the small lagoon instead of kayaking. Swimming under people’s boats and popping up unexpectedly was some of the most enjoyable parts. But the fish did nibble a bit on our ankles at points :S

    1. Swimming in the waters looked super appealing to us as well except that we can’t swim ๐Ÿ™ The nibbling fish do exfoliate your skin so something good came out of that as well ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. We still had a really good time and nothing bonds a boat full of people like being pelted with rain during a monsoon. The Filipino guys were so cold that they wore trash bags.

      Palawan was amazing though. Scuba diving in Coron was definitely the highlight for me.

  8. Snorkeling on tours three (ABCD) was the coolest thing we’ve done. Kayaked this same area as well. We are younger but wife and I agreed retiring somewhere in Phillipines would be great. She’s Cambodian, born and raised and we’d be close enough to her country. Plus, as part of ASEAN visas are no problem for her. As an American, I like the English spoken there. Puerto Princesa was cool. Met a really cool local guy running our budget hotel place. Only downside, and a big one for us is the local food. It’s very lacking compared to every other SE Asian country. It’s lacking in general.

    As we are 25 years out from retirement, it’s going to be interesting to see how the world’s population affects all the places we dream of retiring to.

    1. Agree about the point on food, outside of Cebuano Lechon, seafood and fresh fruits, we were underwhelmed by the food. I too was surprised at the crisp American accent (esp in TV ads) but that is generally a by product of occupation. I still might retire in the Scottish Highlands, buy a big car and show people around this stunning country.

    2. We’re still 25-30 years out to retirement also, we are already talking about where we’d like to retire to also haha. I’m glad I found someone who wants to do some traveling and see what is out there in the world, my ex-wife never wanted to go outside our city. Have you been around to any of the other ASEAN countries yet, we are researching a Japan trip for next year, then she has always dreamed of going to Korea. She’s also mentioned Hong Kong and Thailand. Maybe we will venture out to either Europe or South America after we take a few trips in Asia.

      1. My wife & I are Indian by birth and passport so not ASEAN but close. Have been living in the west (US & UK) for almost a decade but seeing the world a bit more in the last 3 years. I’ve done an internship in South Korea and it was a happy 2 months, made it a point to see some non Seoul parts of the country during our internship (busan, mud festival) and would love to live there again if I can. Because of passports, we are inclined to visit easier entry countries like Indonesia, HK, etc. Let me know when you wanna visit Europe, I may have some helpful tips ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. I lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 13′ to start of 2017 with my wife, she’s from Cambodia. In that time we both were working but visited a few places. Thailand like 3 times, Philippines, Malaysia and then Korea and Japan this past winter. We could have easily went to Vietnam but kept exploring Thailand. I regret not seeing Myanmar, but we both were working mad hours and a lot of shorter holidays were spent traveling within Cambodia.

        Out of every place I’ve traveled in the world (places above plus Caribbean islands, Mexico, Belize)… Japan was by far my favorite and my wife’s favorite. We were there in winter too, but the beginning, so not freezing like Korea was. The people were beyond friendly and helpful, even if it was just because of cultural beliefs and not sincere desires to be kind, it was still great. They have a great drinking culture come nighttime. Food is great. Culture is great and old due to them keeping their country highly homogenous. Tokyo was everything I thought it would be and more. Osaka was great, I could live there. Kyoto was amazing but I hurt my ankle and spent a lot of time inside the hostel. It’s for sure way more expensive than what we were used to from SE Asia but as a tourist, no more expensive than exploring NYC or London etc… Living there would be really expensive because rent is crazy high.

        We want to go back in the spring time and see the cherry blossoms, warm weather and Mt Fuji etc. Korea wasn’t impressive to us. People not that friendly, culture obsessed with buying shit. Maybe it was me being gone from home for 4 years and traveled out, but yeah. Japan is legit.

        Cambodia is legit AF, people are amazing and giving. It’s cheap as fuck (cheaper than Thailand or Philippines Vietnam etc) I enjoyed my time there. Everyone should see Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. You should also learn about the Khmer Rouge. Rent a moto and explore every city. Kampot is cool.

        Most people do Bangkok to Chiang Mai, which is cool. But don’t pass up Khao Yai national forrest or Kanchanaburi province for The bridge over the river Kwai (WWII, Japan forces allied POW to build) erowan national park. Kayak down river.

        Luang Prabang in Laos is cool. Tubing in Vang Vieng is cool.

        1. Appreciate the response, I’d love to see the cherry blossoms. I used to have a few planted at my old house and they were beautiful when they bloomed. I’m not crazy about Korea, but since she’s always wanted to go I’ll take her, what I know about Thailand is from single buddies and don’t think she’d be interested in that hahaha. Mostly Soi Cowboy in Bangkok and about Pattaya type things is what I’ve heard about. I’ve read some about how bad the Khmer Rogue time in Cambodia was and learning and seeing more about it is something I’d be interested in, we might have to add that to the list. Maybe set up a trip that will allow us to hit Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam all in one trip.

          1. Yeah, Thailand has that reputation, but it’s dying because that industry/those places are dying. Prices are no longer cheap. Etc. t’s a great place to go diving or island hoping. Chiang Mai is great on street food. I’ve never bothered with Pattaya. It was too easy to bang backpacker chicks so I thought, why pay for some used up prostitute.

            Can’t go wrong with Thailand, Cambodia then onto Vietnam. While you are seeing it for the first time as a couple where I was solo my first time, be careful, Cambodia has a way of making you want to stay a lot longer than you planned. I was going back regardless of my now wife. Planned 3 nights in Siem Reap, stayed 2 weeks. I miss living there. Wish we were financially independent and we’d move back to right outside the city. Traffic sucks though lol.

            Let me know if you plan on going in the future. I’ll take the time to write out where to go and what to do. Restaurants and tips.

  9. Did El Nido for our honeymoon in 2010. Shit was fucking bomb. From island hopping, to kayaking into the big and small lagoon, to a dinner on our own private island. Would love to go back, but damn that shit got even more expensive.

  10. Man. My memory of Palawan was getting caught in a jellyfish bloom in my first swim after that long as drive to El Nido. I spent the next day and a half in agonizing pain as I got absolutely swarmed. Lol

    I never had been stung by a jellyfish before. They feel like burns.

    1. OUCH! So sorry to hear that, sounds super painful. Was it during an island hopping tour? Hope you had some explore time left after recovery.

      1. I had to look at a map of the Philippines and get a specific location.

        Las Cabaรฑas Beach

        11.144980, 119.393308 best as I can tell through the clouds

        As for the recovery. I did *okay*

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