Our first view of the Bacuit Archipelago is from the roadside. Looking west, we see islands and islets dotted all over the inner sea off the western coast of Palawan. We spend a few hours on Marimegmeg beach, better known as Cabanas Beach, with a small islet attached on the south side by a strip of sand. This is where we enjoy our first Bacuit sunset: an intensely red and orange sky with clouds, and the black silhouettes of islands at the horizon. We arrange for a private tour of the archipelago, hoping to beat the crowds - nearby El Nido is a very touristy place, and most visitors take organized tours of the archipelago. The next day, we rent a kayak to explore the coastline of the peninsula just west of El Nido. It turns out to be a great way to get a taste of the Bacuit: limestone formations rising steeply from the turquoise sea, white-sand beaches, shallow waters with corals, and great views of the archipelago. When we get back to the beach with our kayak, the sky above us is a deep red: the sunset is even more spectacular than the day before.
The next day, we are supposed to leave early, but we end up leaving almost an hour late, supposedly because the skipper needed permission to leave from the Coast Guard. A typhoon is on its way to Palawan and supposed to land the next day. Unfortunately, instead of doing Tour A and C, we are forced to do Tour A and B because of the conditions. When we arrive at Miniloc Island, we are still among the first bangkas to do so, and when we paddle into the Small Lagoon, it is almost empty. We are happy we opted for the kayak: the Small Lagoon is not that small, and we get a great view of the transparent waters, the corals below us, and it makes it easier to take pictures as well. When we see a kayak come out of the limestone wall, we go there to discover a small cave filled with water. We follow the limestone coastline, alternatively looking up at the limestone formations above us, or below into the green water. We are starting to appreciate the rare beauty of the Bacuit, and are keen to see much more during the rest of the day.
Close to the Small Lagoon, we arrive at the Big Lagoon, still with few other boats. We take a kayak again, and peddle along the jagged limestone coastline of the turquoise-water lagoon. We discover some narrow passageways in the limestone formations. Overall, the Big Lagoon is as spectacular as the small one. When we leave, one after the other tour boat is arriving, filling up the bay. Our next stop is the Secret Lagoon, where we have to squeeze through a hole in the cliffs to access a small lagoon surrounded by steep limestone cliffs. We make sure to leave last, which means the lagoon is empty. When we get to the other side of the small hole, there is a long line of people waiting to squeeze themselves in. Time to leave again: we stop at a small limestone island where we do some snorkelling, and have lunch after we get out. A short ride away is Snake Island: a small island linked to the mainland by a strip of sand, giving us the unique possibility to walk on the sea. From here, we make it to Cudugnon Cave, which can only be entered by squeezing ourselves through a small opening in the rocks. Our last stop is Pinagbuyutan Island, where we find a beautiful beach at the foot of steep rocky cliffs, and where we snorkel again, to the west side of the island, before heading back to our bangka. When we finally arrive at the bay where we started the day, the sky is red again, and turns purple while we wade through the low-tide waters to reach the beach. We have enjoyed some of the highlights of Bacuit Archipelago, even though a couple of days are not sufficient for this natural gem.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Bacuit archipelago (Philippines). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Bacuit archipelago. Read more about this site.