As an archipelago, the Philippines contain many lagoons, some of them noteworthy enough as tourist attractions. A few have already been earmarked by many travel sites as international tourist attractions whose beauty and spectacle is on the same level as other lagoons in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
But first, let’s have a little geography lesson. A lagoon is a shallow body of water separated from a larger body of water by barrier islands or reefs. The two types of lagoons are coastal lagoons and atoll lagoons. The Philippines has none of the latter, a more common type in Pacific Ocean island chains. This is why when you search for beaches in the Philippines, only coastal beaches, reef beaches, bay beaches, and island beaches will come out. Lagoons are a different entity that you need to search separately.
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Lagoons are almost magical, like something out of a Lord of the Rings movie. As you move from the beach with waves and wind flowing, you suddenly enter a quiet world of still waters and chirping birds. The water is often glassy and smooth but is still salty. Most lagoons in the Philippines are surrounded by cliffs and forests.
Twin Lagoon, Coron, Palawan
This shouldn’t be a surprise since Palawan is a provincial island surrounded by fierce ocean on its western side and the sea on its eastern side. They’re called ‘Twin’ because they are actually two lagoons separated by karst walls. The smaller lagoon is hidden and can only be reached by a small crevice underneath the rock during low tide. At high tide it is accessible by ladder through an opening on the rock wall. The bigger lagoon is where the outrigger boats can access. Its waters are deeper and darker.
How to get there – Take a local flight to Coron, and from the airport, take a shuttle to Coron town (45 minutes). Take a tricycle to the boat jump-off point where boats are available for island hopping. You can also arrange for one of the tours that includes Coron Island from licensed tour agencies.
Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon, El Nido, Palawan
And since you’re already in Palawan, take a gander at two lagoons adjacent to each other. Big Lagoon has the entrance wide enough for outrigger boats to get through and the lagoon is really big. The karst cliffs around tower massively like giants looking down on the lagoon. The best time to enter Big Lagoon is at high tide since the deep waters turn emerald. An opening between two rocks will lead you inside Small Lagoon that can be explored by swimming or kayak. The waters here are crystal-clear and the lagoon is surrounded by jagged limestone cliffs dotted with trees. For a “small” lagoon, it is actually large, and you may spend some time exploring the entire stretch and its quiet corners walled off by rocks, with a cave at the end of the lagoon.
How to get there – Take a local flight to Puerto Princesa, and from the airport, take a tricycle to the bus and van terminal. A bus or van ride to El Nido takes 5-6 hours, and then take a tricycle to town. Arrange for an island hopping tour for both lagoons with licensed tour agencies.
Homoron Blue Lagoon, Mahatao, Batanes
In a rim province at the Northern end of the country, amid raging waves that crash into cliffs, this lagoon is a quiet sanctuary of deep blue green. The rocky trail slopes down to lead you to its clear waters that are best enjoyed during the summer months since on other months this rim province suffers from rough weather that blows from the open Pacific Ocean.
How to get there – Take a local flight to Basco, Batanes. Get a tricycle to the lagoon or join a South Batan tour arranged by licensed tour agencies.
Sohoton Blue Lagoon and Tojoman Lagoon, Socorro, Surigao del Norte
Sohoton is part of Bucas Grande Island. It is a maze of forest-covered islets and caves as well as aquamarine waters. It can be accessed only through a cave and only during low tide. The waters are truly blue, thus the name, and is walled around by limestone cliffs and tall trees. The caves are worthy of exploration. Tojoman is even quieter and can only be reached by paddle boats that you transfer to from the outrigger boats. The water teams with stingless jellyfish that peak in numbers during the summer months.
How to get there – Take a local flight to Surigao City and then take a tricycle ride to Surigao Pier. Board a passenger boat for the 3-hour trip to Socorro. Or from Surigao City, take a one-hour bus ride to Hayanggabon Port and then hire a boat to Sohoton.
Blue Lagoon, Cantilan, Surigao del Sur
If you’re not squeamish about stingless jelly fish, they can also be found in lesser numbers in this beautiful lagoon in Cantilan. The clear waters are surrounded by rock formations with rich greenery. The waters are so clear it looks blue or green as it reflects the clear sky or tree colors. A strip of rock divides the lagoon into two areas; one has cottages and a ten-foot tall diving board, while the quieter area is surrounded by greenery. The lagoon is part of General Island on the coast of Cantilan.
How to get there – Take a local flight to Surigao City and from the bus and van terminal in the city, take a two-hour ride to Tandag and get off at Cantilan. From Cantilan terminal take a tricycle to Consuelo Port and hire an outrigger boat to the Lagoon.