Taking it easy in El Nido (Palawan, Philippines). Despite being slagged off by the Lonely Planet it didn't seem so bad to me at all...
There's some discussion if the Bacuit Archipelago is more beautiful than Halong Bay in Vietnam, but I can't really judge as I didn't visit Halong Bay. I can only say that the Bacuit Archipelago is stunning. Lots of small islands that pop out from the sea with huge limestone cliffs, small lagoons inside where you're surrounded by vertical walls. It all looks like a movie set.
We arrived with a group of ten travellers from Sabang and basically hung out with them the whole time we were there. After a first night going all out in the karaoke place (Andy from San Francisco did a blues performance of 'Born on the Bayou' that left everybody in awe, I did my usual cheesy Bon Jovi stuff) we took the next day to get over our hangover, get organised and arrange a day of island hopping on a boat chartered for our group.
View from our cottage
"Small lagoon" was I suppose the most beautiful of the sights, a lagoon surrounded by 30 m cliffs with a small cave at the end. But basically it was all great, the beach in the small bay divided in two by a huge rock, the tiny swimming pool in the rock face you could only enter by a small hole in the side, the 'U-shaped' lagoon (forgot the name, remember the mosquitoes though who'd almost eat you alive as you crossed the small mangrove back to the sea), having lunch break on the beach in the shadow of an enormous cliff, great stuff to see and do.
El Nido on mainland Palawan (where we arranged the island hopping trips from) is completely slagged of by the good book, but for no reason as far as I could see. It's a great place to stay, and almost a 'bustling town' compared to Sabang.
Andy freestyling the blues with a live band after Mathias had forced him on stage.
At least there's a karaoke bar ;-), a rundown disco, some decent restaurants and nice places to stay along the beachfront. I stayed with Mathias in 'Tandikan', a nice bungalow with a seaside porch, a luxurious view for a budget price. Must say we had some long talks about the world and everything as we were nursing our hangovers on the porch, drinking coffee and taking in the view just once more. One of our nights out went a little pearshaped as 2 drunk locals had a fight in the disco, some people got a little nervous about it when some beer bottles were smashed but only one of the drunkards got one smashed on his head.