Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon again


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Asia » Philippines » Palawan » El Nido
November 25th 2016
Published: October 1st 2017
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Geo: 11.1804, 119.395

A great day – stormy at times and always overcast.

After brekkies, we joined the 8:30am tour of the Big and Small Lagoons. We took a speed boat through the Big Lagoon, which starts as a narrow passage through tall karst towers – very shallow – then opens into a wide lagoon, deep water, surrounded by tree-covered cliffs. One of the bare cliffs had what looked like were once stalagmites clinging to the walls, no longer growing, of course, because they are now exposed to the elements, but otherwise hard to explain. The only thing that sort of spoils the vibe are the kayak rental companies … but, because of bad weather off the Philippines, the crossings from El Nido were cancelled, meaning that we more or less had the lagoon to ourselves.

After leaving the Big Lagoon, we rounded the corner of Miniloc Island, out of the lee, and into some very heavy swells. The outrigger felt amazingly stable, first going bow-first into the swells, then turning to where the swells were abeam. One could see how these boats could cross oceans.

In the small lagoon, three couples (us and two more from California) got into the kayaks to paddle about. At first, we thought the "small lagoon" was just a cove … but then we came to a small hole in the karst rocks and passed through that into a small lagoon. Amazing and tranquil! We kayaked around, over the deep blue water, and even found a small cave, with tree roots dangling down.

After returning to the outrigger, so that the other people could use the kayaks, we went snorkeling. Well, I grabbed my goggles and dove into the water, then swam slowly to shore. It was very turned up – not surprising, given the weather outside of the cove. I landed on the beach, then decided to swim back out to the outrigger, knowing that, without fins or mitts, it would be a bit of a struggle. I was winded when I arrived but made it. Paul didn't snorkel much longer, given the conditions.

We then returned to the resort.

But the pull of the Big Lagoon was so strong that it wasn't long (after Paul had a very successful first time on the paddle board, including a very professional looking J-stroke) that we decided to take the double kayak out, around the point, and back into the big lagoon.

It was easy to get out of our cove, although we paused briefly to watch some large birds along the cliffs. Crossing the next bay to reach the entrance of the big lagoon was a bit more challenging. The swells started breaking on a reef, and we twice had to turn into the waves to keep from being capsized. But we were never in much danger. Reaching the narrow passage into the big lagoon, we had a hard upwind paddle, as the squall winds were howling against us, down the passage. Again, it wasn't that much of a struggle, but you certainly couldn't let up or would be pushed backwards very quickly.

Once inside the lagoon, the winds were calm. We could see it was howling up higher, given the movement of the trees … and twice we were drenched by rainwater in some quick-passing squalls. (No thunderstorms, however, which was very reassuring.) The fresh water actually felt very good on our salty skins. We kayaked throughout the lagoon, going into back passages when possible, passing slowly along the rock cliffs, looking for interesting birds (a kingfisher-like one was particularly attractive) or peering into the water at the various fish (quite a few parrotfish and trumpet fish). We landed once, in a mangrove … swamp is realy the best word for it … to see if we could cross the isthmus to the beach on the other side … but there was a fence in the way (very odd) and a small house, so we took it to be someone's retreat and went back to our kayak in the silt.

Going back down the passage to exit the Big Lagoon, we at least had the wind at our back … and crossing the outside bay, we were being pushed by the swells (although the wind was against us). We avoided the breakers this time. As we paddled along the rock cliffs, I wondered aloud at what point the resort would send someone to look for us … we had been gone only an hour, but I wondered if they worried because of the weather. At that point, we rounded the point to back into our cove, and we saw a speedboat coming out of the dock. The driver spotted us, slowed down, then turned around and returned to the resort. So, I guess that answers that question … we don't know for sure that he was coming to look for us, to make sure we weren't in trouble, but my guess is that he was … hard to know what else he might have been doing. Very reassuring.

The rest of the afternoon was fine. Because of the weather, all activities were cancelled, so we had lunch, then read for a long time. I napped for about 20 minutes. We read some more. We enjoyed happy hour. We had dinner. We really wanted to go for a walk, but up and down the pier was the best we could do. Then we went back to our room to read. And eventually go to sleep.


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