Port Barton & Around
Essentially a one-road town where the jungle drops precipitously into the bay, Port Barton offers simple pleasures. It’s the kind of place where, after just a few strolls down the beach, you don’t want to share the tranquillity with outsiders. Several islands with good beaches and snorkelling aren’t far offshore, as are rows and rows of buoys, the sign of working pearl farms.
The crystalline waters of Bacuit Bay are a fantasyscape of jagged limestone islands, mesmerising from any vantage point, whether from under water, from the air or lying on a beach. Easily the rival of southern Thailand or Halong Bay in Vietnam, the islands hide so many white-sand beaches, lagoons and coves that you’ll be overwhelmed.
Other Islands & Beaches
Every island in the archipelago has secret spots that await the adventurous explorer. Pangalusian Island has some first-class snorkelling. Tiny Pinasil Island holds Cathedral Cave, an aptly named cavern with soaring limestone columns and wall-climbing monitor lizards, which call to mind the gargoyles of an actual cathedral.
Taytay & Around
Formerly the capital of Palawan, today Taytay (tye-tye), a sleepy coastal town and primarily a way station for travellers, is distinguished by an impressive relic of the area’s colonial history. Built on the very edge of town, the thick walls of Santa Isabel Fort (Kutang Santa Isabel) guarded against attacks from Moro pirates.
Miniloc Island is perhaps the most interesting of the islands of the archipelago. The real attractions here are Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon, two of the more photographed sights in all of Palawan. Big Lagoon is entered by an extremely shallow channel (you may have to swim into the lagoon and leave the boat outside).
Cadlao Island is like a mini-Tahiti miraculously relocated to the Bacuit Archipelago. In addition to being a wonderful piece of eye candy for those staying on the beach in El Nido, it’s also home to lovely Cadlao Lagoon (also known as Ubugun Cove). This lagoon offers some good snorkelling in the shallow coral gardens that lie off the beach at the head of the bay.
Matinloc & Tapiutan Islands
Like the back of a half-submerged stegosaurus, Matinloc Island snakes some 8km along the western edge of the Bacuit Archipelago. Along with neighbouring Tapiutan Island, it forms narrow Tapiutan Strait, the walls of which offer some of the best snorkelling in the archipelago. Likewise, there is some excellent snorkelling and some good beaches on the eastern side of Matinloc.