El Nido or Coron | Choose Your Paradise
This is one of the most frequently asked questions in choosing which paradise to pick when traveling to the island province of Palawan. Honestly, the answer could also be the hardest as these two oases are both equally stunning. It only becomes a difficult decision when you are traveling on a budget or tight schedule.
Whether you choose El Nido or Coron, you will for sure get the same lagoon or lake + white sand beaches + limestone karst combo. However, each destination varies in character & vibe, convenience & price.
El Nido or Coron: The Paradise Battle
Coron is on the southeast part of a bigger island called Busuanga & it serves as the jump-off point to wonderful getaways in the Calamian Group of Islands. It is popular for the following attractions:
El Nido is on the northwestern most tip of mainland Palawan & is famous for its luxurious resorts & prized birds’ nest soup. But whether you stay in the budget side of town or on its exclusive islands, you would most likely be sharing these activities:
Coron has more fair & cheaper island-hopping packages. What most tour operators banner is P650 but this is a trap because you need to pay P100 more for each island you visit (except for the free ones like CWC Beach). Nice in Paradise Tour is most recommended at P950, all-inclusive with free outrageously delicious lunch.
Tip: Tour A must include Kayangan Lake + Twin Peak Lagoons.
Since there are more tourists in El Nido, it comes to a default that prices for island tours are jacked up. It starts at P1,200 & depending on your add-on side-trips, this could rake higher. You may also customize your tour & lunch package.
Tip: Take Tour A & C combo for about P1,600. This covers all the lagoons & beaches you need to see.
Touching down straight on El Nido or Coron is possible. El Nido is only serviced by AirSwift, a boutique airline. This is quite expensive but it saves you from the hassle of traveling 6 hours on a cramped van from Puerto Princesa.
Coron has more flight options where commercial planes like Cebu Pacific & Skyjet fly direct from Manila. Alternatively, 2Go Shipping Lines sail from Batangas Port to Coron.
Between El Nido and Coron, your only choice to sail on a slow boat for 8 hours & be ready for a humpy ride.
Coron has banks with international ATMs. Here, you can spend comfortably without having to scrimp on your cash. Internet access is more stable although not widely available.
El Nido have banks & ATMs too. But these machines are reported to be always offline. Credit cards are not widely accepted. This means you have to bring loads of cash at all times. Internet is also intermittent.
Coron doesn’t have many options for hostels. Price range is usually between P1,200-P5,000. There are backpacker guesthouses ranging from P400-P650. But if you like starred resorts, then there are really good ones on the island.
Best Find: Amphibiko Resort. Check out their backpacker room at P500 (good for 2 pax, clean, spacious & close to restaurants).
El Nido has a lot of hostel choices. Prices play around P1,500-P8,000 but there are also decent budget accommodations starting at P600. But if you want to play with luxury then some of the best island resorts are here. Check out El Nido Resorts.
Best Find: Sands Inn is beachfront & has dormitories at about P350 per person. It is also within the happening strip in El Nido.
Seriously, this is what Coron lacks. There are a few good restaurants like Sugba sa Balay, Lolo Nonoys & The Bistro but that’s all it. The rest are either too far or just mediocre for its price.
If you like to go on a food hunt, then it’s in El Nido. From grilled seafood by the beach or Italian pizzerias, you won’t go hungry in this place. Popular spots are Altrove & Art Café.
Coron is more laid back compared to El Nido. Even with a few good bars decked along the National Highway, still the town sleeps early. Nightlife here is more on the chill side and you’ll hardly find organized parties.
If you want to party, then come to El Nido. It is not as wild as Boracay (thank God), but this small town by the bay offers a few good spots to let your hair down. There are also firedancing on the beach along its long shore.
By now your issues whether to choose El Nido or Coron have subsided. But here are my personal takes on these rival destinations.
If you have at least a week, El Nido is a good choice because it requires extra travel time. Since it is within the main island, you’ll have plenty of activities to do & more options for other places to explore like Puerto Princesa City & Port Barton.
Come to Coron if you have limited travel time & if you prefer a more laid back ambience. Coron is also perfect for those who love more relaxed cruises, quiet beaches & excellent dive spots.
Palawan is a long & narrow island that stretches to Mindoro in the north & close to Borneo on its southern most tip. Whether you come for a day, a week or longer, there are always attractions that would delight your wanderlusts. So choose your paradise, El Nido or Coron?