One of the best diving and snorkeling sites in the world date back to around 250 million years ago. Bacuit Bay, which hosts three of the four El Nido Resorts in Northern Palawan, was then part of the Asian mainland.
Eventually, the Bacuit Bay reef and the rest of Palawan drifted on the Sunda Plate immersed in sea water. As the tectonic plate turned clockwise five million years ago, Palawan was hurled toward what we now know as the Philippine archipelago, which is 50 million years old.
This history is given by El Nido Resorts guides, citing Lee Goldman, the Coral Triangle expert and author.
“Bacuit Bay is a huge slab of ancient reef. This distinguishes it from other snorkeling and diving sites in the Philippine archipelago,” says Goldman. He leads customized tours for snorkeling enthusiasts from Northern America to the Coral Triangle.
The Triangle includes the Philippines and is known for the highest levels of marine biodiversity in the world.
According to Goldman, the guides of Miniloc, Lagen and Pangulasian in Bacuit Bay and those in Apulit, the fourth El Nido Resort in the Sulu Sea, are among the best trained in creating awareness and appreciation of the marine biodiversity in the Philippines. Having devoted long hours of study of the underwater habitat and with their passion, they can convince even nonswimmers to snorkel for the first time.
Snorkeling becomes more attractive because the bay is shallow and the marine habitat diverse. Snorkeling, which is highly encouraged and is part of the El Nido Resorts package, and diving can be done in a more leisurely manner than if one is constantly being tugged away by cross currents, or if one has to dive deeper to see the corals and fish.
There’s something new to observe every day. Each type of habitat nurtures a unique set of marine species, Goldman explains. Seagrass beds, for instance, are a great place to examine sea horses as they inhale tiny crustaceans through their long snouts and to observe a diversity of cardinalfishes, so called because their reddish hues are reminiscent of the hats worn by the princes of the Catholic Church.
Found in coral reefs are colorful damselfishes in large schools, large parrotfishes whose hues can range from dark blue to yellow to grey in eye-popping patterns.
As early as 2008 to 2010, travel magazine Condé Nast Traveller and National Geographic recognized snorkeling expeditions in Bacuit Bay as among the best tours in the world. Today, snorkeling is a must for those traveling to Bacuit Bay and to El Nido Resorts.