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El Nido Island

Merr Watson


Behind the Shot

Less than a mile off the coast of Manlag, in Bacuit Bay off the west coast of El Nido in the Philippines, is the island nicknamed Inabuyatan by the locals. Inabuyatan, meaning “the Enchanted Island” is better known internationally as Pinagbuyutan Island. “Enchanted” understates the tiny island accented by 1,000-foot-tall limestone cliffs, intimate tree-shaded beaches, and world-class snorkeling. Visitors who island-hop between the tiny islands in Bacuit Bay are drawn to the picturesque shoreline.

Merr made special arrangements to capture the late-afternoon beauty. “This photo was taken just before sunset. Our boats were the last boats there, and we stayed back and waited to get the sunset. The golden hour helped emphasize the saturation of the tropical colors.”

Merr visited this island three separate times on her trip there. “I was blown over by the otherworldly views of one of the most surreal islands on Earth. The sheer beauty of this one-of a kind, fantasy-like island, will forever leave me in awe. The cliffs, the palm trees, the vibrant blue waters, drew me here and made it difficult to leave.”