Popularly known as Helicopter Island, Dilumacad is one of my favourite islands in Bacuit Bay. With its powder-white sandy beach and colourful house reef, it’s a great place to soak up the sun then cool down in the water as you look for Nemo and his friends. But the main reason I love this island is hidden in the sand… Baby sea turtles! Dilumacad is a favourite nesting place of the Endangered sea turtles of Palawan. For this reason, a land guard is present on the island to watch over the precious eggs. If supremely lucky, you might be able to see the Environmental Officers of El Nido Resorts release these adorable creatures into the sea. It’s an experience you’ll never ever forget.
Hawksbill sea turtle hatchlings at Helicopter Island find their way into the sea.
Big and Small Lagoon
Located in Miniloc Island, the Big and Small Lagoon are the must-see sights of Bacuit Bay. The Big Lagoon is best seen early in the morning, before the rest of the world arrives. Prepare to be in awe of the 250 million year old towering limestones, which used to be a cave. Keep a look out for wildlife such as cheeky long-tailed macaques, vibrant stork-billed kingfishers, and graceful baby white-tipped reef sharks.
El Nido’s Bacuit Bay is an absolutely stunning sight, but to see the real treasures of “Heaven on Earth,” you’ll have to tap into your inner merperson and explore the underwater world. El Nido has at least 800 species of fish, 45 genera of hard corals, 5 species of sea turtles, 5 species of marine mammals, and several (maybe hundreds!) types of marine invertebrates. Bacuit Bay has relatively shallow waters (maximum depth of 40 metres), so you don’t have to be a scuba diver to have an adventure. Snorklers will have a whale of a time (pun intended) looking at colourful hard corals and fish in waters less than 10 metres deep. But for those who are licensed divers or would like to be, El Nido will spoil you with at least twenty dive sites. My favourite sites are West Entalula, Popolcan, Abdeens, South Miniloc, Twin Rocks, and Paglugaban.
A critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtle — my heart skips a beat whenever I see these magnificent creatures while diving.
My favourite sea invertebrates — nudibranchs! Also known as sea slugs, this particular species is called, Hypselodoris bullockii.
If you’re looking for a long stretch of beach with crystal blue waters and no crowds, then Nacpan Beach is where you should go. Nacpan is about 1.5 hours away from El Nido town. To get there, either rent a motorbike or hire a tricycle. Prepare yourself for a bumpy ride. Reward yourself with fresh “buko juice” (young coconut) and a cool swim in the sea.
Unplug from the world and unwind in paradise.
They say that “variety is the spice of life,” and I totally agree! So when you’re in El Nido, set aside a day or two to explore what it has to offer above sea level. If you’re an adventurous soul like myself, then you’ll love the hike up El Nido’s highest limestone cliff, or “Taraw” in Filipino. Of course, love has many challenges, therefore I don’t recommend this hike for the faint of heart. I have done hikes in the USA, Australia, and New Zealand, but the El Nido limestone hike was by far the hardest. With no discernible trail and no ropes, hikers must go through razor sharp rocks to reach the top. But don’t despair! Once you’re there — the uncertainty, fear, and exhaustion you just experienced will melt away with the fresh, cool breeze and magnificent view of Bacuit Bay.
You can arrange a guided hike up the Taraw through your accommodation (P500 per hike). Don’t forget to wear hiking shoes or a good pair of runners. Just because your guide is wearing “tsinelas” (flip-flops), doesn’t mean that you should too! These guys have been going up and down the Taraw several maybe hundreds of times — their toe to tsinelas grip are phenomenal! Also bring drinking water and apply insect repellant before going up.
The “easy part” of the hike. Can you spot me in my green shorts? 🙂
Words and Photos by: Kitsie Torres