It’s one of the lesser known islands in the Bacuit archipelago off El Nido in northern Palawan. It also happens to be the most remote island destination of any tour package from El Nido town and its name is not even mentioned in most posts promoting the Bacuit archipelago tours. When we got to Tapiutan Island, however, we were delighted to learn that it was no less beautiful and just as endowed with a rich variety of marine life as the other better-known destinations of El Nido.
Coming from Helicopter Island, the first stop of our Tour C package, we thought we were headed for Star Beach. At least that was the place indicated in the itinerary prepared for us by our resort. During the ride to Tapiutan however, our boat crew announced that we would be heading instead to Talisay Beach. They didn’t exactly say why and it seemed none in our 20-person group minded anyway. Both beaches are in Tapiutan Island so there probably wasn’t that much of a difference.
As our boat gradually approached the shores of Talisay Beach, a by-now familiar sight emerged: a white sand beach fringed by varying shades of emerald and turquoise waters and dominated by towering karst formations. There were just three boats on the beach when we came so we thought we would have more privacy than usual on this island.
Talisay Beach was our stopover for lunch but we had arrived well before noon and our boat crew had just started to grill our lunch at the back of the boat. They suggested we explore the beach and snorkel in its waters while waiting for lunch to cook. One look at the water here and it was obvious there was plenty to see. There is a coral reef located very close to shore and in shallow, crystal-clear water. Even without masks and snorkels we spied schools of fish swarming in the water between the reef and the waterline and they weren’t shy at all.
Our boat group was soon snorkeling in the area around the boats and were rather surprised by the variety of marine life here. Besides the colorful corals and sea anemones with their luminous tentacles, we observed blue starfish, different kinds of clownfish (including the yellowtail clownfish and common clownfish – popularly known as Nemo), butterflyfish, angelfish, parrotfish, a rare triggerfish and many more. Even the presence of sea urchins in some areas failed to deter us from enjoying the underwater spectacle. We later learned that this is also an area favored by divers.
We were so engrossed by snorkeling at this underwater paradise that we failed to detect the arrival of several boats on the beach. Talisay Beach is not very long and pretty soon the whole beach was crowded with outriggers disgorging passengers for snorkeling and lunch. Soon our boat crew was serving lunch right there on the beach, using the shade of the colossal limestone cliffs for protection against the hot noonday sun.
Despite this late arrival of fellow visitors, we were able to enjoy a relaxing time at the beach. A hearty lunch consisting of a wide variety of seafood, grilled chicken, fresh salad and fruits helped us to find peace and serenity on a remote beach. After further exploring the extremities of the beach area we were back in our boats and headed to nearby Matinloc Island for the second half of our tour.