Bacuit Bay Archipelago

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Last updated on March 04, 2023

Palawan is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines, but above this is the archipelago of Bacuit, considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Dozens of islands and islets, lagoons with turquoise waters, all surrounded by huge karst peaks… That is the picture perfect scenery you will discover during a boat trip to the famous Bacuit Bay.


The story goes that in 1979, a team of divers were forced to anchor their boat in the middle of the night. Apparently, a line used by tuna fishermen had blocked the propeller from their boat. Without even knowing where they were, they woke up the next morning surrounded by high limestone cliffs. The scenery was absolutely fabulous: lush forests, white sand beaches, turquoise water, and deserted islands. Four years later, the first dive station was established on the beautiful island of Miniloc, setting a path for tourism in El Nido, the closest inland town to the archipelago of Bacuit.

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The mesmerizing islands and islets of the Bacuit archipelago have become the playground for explorers and adventurers, who go from one island to another in search of the most beautiful beach. These trips made by bangka, a local boat, or by speedboat, are known locally as “island hopping tours” and allow tourists to discover the whole archipelago.

El Nido based travel agencies offer several tours (A, B, C, and D), each one focusing on an area of ​​the bay. Departures are daily and trips usually last all day (9 am to 5 pm), including a lunch break and snorkeling time to experience the underwater life of Bacuit Bay. This is a must if you want to truly experience this exceptional natural setting.


All the islands and beaches of the bay are extraordinarily beautiful, but some are particularly stunning and we recommend that you not leave El Nido without having seen them with your own eyes!

  • The Big Lagoon is a must see. The warm and peaceful waters of this lagoon provide the perfect setting for a relaxing swim.
  • The incredibly beautiful Small Lagoon also allows you to swim up to a small lagoon hidden behind the cliffs. An experience not to be missed!
  • The largest island of Bacuit Bay is the island of Cadlao where you’ll also be able to see the highest peak of the archipelago, reaching 640 meters above the sea level. The island is known for its white sandy beaches, its hidden lagoons, and its abundant marine life, offering one of the best snorkeling spots in the bay.
  • Those who are looking for a bit of privacy will appreciate the island of Matinloc and its private beach, only accessible through an underwater tunnel.

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With more than 30 dive spots and ideal weather, the Bacuit archipelago is one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world. On any given dive, you are likely to see dugongs, manta rays, sea turtles, and a very large number of fish species, some of which are endemic to the Philippines.

To protect this biodiversity, the Philippine government decided to create the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area in 1998. This reserve, which is the largest marine sanctuary in the Philippines, includes a 360-square-kilometer aquatic area, including Bacuit Bay, its islands and islets, the land area around El Nido, and an area near Taytay.


These dreamy islands not only attract adventurers and divers, but all kinds of travelers, as there are other things to do in El Nido. It is also the perfect place to enjoy the beautiful beaches and simply read a book under a palm tree while drinking a nice cocktail…

matinloc island


To help you plan your trip to Bacuit archipelago, we recommend this company.