We only stayed in El Nido for 3 nights but it was a highlight for us. The scenery is stunning, we found great value accommodation at the silverise pension (700php per night in a new modern room with a proper bathroom), and everyone was friendly. We spent the two days island-hopping on an organised tour, visiting destinations such as “secret beach” and “hidden lagoon” which were stunning and beautiful. The snorkeling on these trips was OK, but not amazing – although a great highlight was seeing a huge 50cm long cuttlefish (we have only seen the small 10-15cm variety before). There was, unfortunately, coral bleaching and lots of dead coral in some of the places – contrasting with Coron which had much healthier waters. But in El Nido the above-water scenery is even more impressive – and we definitely would have liked to have spent longer there to explore more of the islands and coastline.
But we only had a couple of days before our 21 day visa stamp expired, so we had to get the bus to Puerto Princesa to fly back to Manila for our connection to Hong Kong. The “express” bus was a long 6 hour ride, about a third of it unsurfaced, so it wasn’t particularly comfortable – and the “express” part meant it was something like doing a dirt track rally race in a minivan – until something mechanical broke and we crawled the rest of the way at 20mph with regular clunking noises from underneath the vehicle. So we were happy just to get to the airport in time for our flight.
We spent one night in Manila just out of necessity then flew to Hong Kong to get our chinese visas sorted out.