Planning your Palawan vacation: El Nido or Coron?
This article first appeared on Potpot Pinili's blog, Travel Trilogy.
Which should you visit in Palawan, Coron or El Nido?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to 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 and are actually among many beautiful places to see in Palawan. It only becomes a difficult decision when you are traveling on a budget or tight schedule.
Whatever you choose, you will for sure get the same lagoon or lake + white sand beaches + limestone karst combo. However, each destination varies in character and vibe, convenience and price.
Here are the things to consider about these two popular destinations. Check out which one tickles your fancy.
Coron is on the southeast part of a bigger island called Busuanga and 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 and is famous for its luxurious resorts and 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 affordable island-hopping packages. What most tour operators publish 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 a free 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 and depending on your add-on side-trips, this could go higher. You may also customize your tour and lunch package.
Tip: Take Tour A and C combo for about P1,600. This covers all the lagoons and beaches you need to see.
Coron is more accessible because it has direct commercial flights from Manila to Busuanga. Alternatively, 2Go Shipping sails between Manila and Coron via Mindoro.
The cheapest access to El Nido is only via Puerto Princesa. But this is way down south still and you need to take a transfer van to El Nido for about 6 hours. Alternatively, direct chartered flights from Manila are available but this means a whooping P8,000 per person!
It is possible to sail between Coron and El Nido on a slow boat (as slow as 8 hours sailing time) and there are regular voyages between the 2 islands.
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 has a BPI branch with an ATM, but that's pretty much it. Internet is also intermittent.
Coron doesn’t have too many options for hostels. Price range is usually between P1,200 to P5,000. There are backpacker guesthouses ranging from P400 to P650.
Best Find: Amphibiko Resort. Check out their backpacker room at P500 (good for 2 pax, clean, spacious and close to restaurants).
El Nido has a lot of hostel choices. Prices play at around P1,500 to P8,000 but there are also decent budget accommodations starting at P600.
Best Find: Sands Inn is beachfront and has dormitories at about P350 per person. It is also within the happening strip in El Nido.
Seriously, to me, this is what Coron lacks. There are a few good restaurants like Sugba sa Balay, Lolo Nonoys and 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 and 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.
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 and more options for other places to explore like Puerto Princesa City and Port Barton.
Come to Coron if you have limited travel time and if you prefer a more laid back ambience. Coron is also perfect for those who love more relaxed cruises, quiet beaches and excellent dive spots.
Palawan is a long and narrow island that stretches to Mindoro in the north and 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 wanderlust. – Rappler.com
Potpot has lived his life in polished suitcases and tattered backpacks. After having caught in a corporate blaze, he is now transitioning back into his flip-flop and beaded ankle journeys. He finds cultural festivals, indigenous art and quiet chats over coffee sensational. Potpot writes onTravel Trilogy and sometimes on in-flight magazines. Follow his adventures on Facebook and Instagram.