Palawan island has become famous for its tropical scenery and island hopping, but in a head-to-head comparison of Coron vs El Nido which is better?
Both of these places are amazing, and it’s possible to do both (I’d recommend it!), but if you’re limited on time you may have to choose one or the other since the two provinces are separated in the Philippines by 100 kilometers of sea.
El Nido is more popular and more developed than Coron, but that’s not always a good thing. Coron is quieter and has better snorkeling and diving. Both El Nido and Coron have amazing islands and beaches to explore.
In this travel guide I’ll give a complete breakdown of all the differences, and hopefully it’ll help you decide between Coron or El Nido which is better!
• El Nido
El Nido town can be reached by air, van, bus, or ferry.
The easiest, fastest, and most expensive (but recommended) way to get to El Nido Palawan is one of the direct flights sold by AirSWIFT.
The El Nido island airport (ENI) is not served internationally, so this means you will first need to fly to one of the big cities in the Philippines — Manila or Cebu — and then fly to ENI from there.
You can shop for flights to El Nido or Coron at Skyscanner.
Flights to the Coron airport (USU) are a bit cheaper than El Nido because there are more airline options, including Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines.
If you plan to visit both El Nido and Coron, then the most popular way to do that is by taking the fast ferry between the two places.
You can also join a 4-day Palawan sailing expedition from Coron to El Nido (or vice versa) and see some of the amazing secluded islands along the way (I’ll explain more on that later).
Things To Do
• El Nido
El Nido is island hopping heaven, with perfect turquoise lagoons, karst mountains, and the best white sand beaches in Palawan.
If you have time, spend your first few days knocking out all 4 of the El Nido island hopping day tours (A, B, C, and D). Next, experience the sunset at Marimegmeg Beach and then explore mainland sights like Nacpan Beach and Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfall.
Overall, I think El Nido is the area with the most things to do in Palawan. You could easily spend a week on just the boat tours!
Coron has an Ultimate Island Tour that takes you to a giant Twin Lagoon and the famous Kayangan viewpoint, along with some coral reefs and other hidden spots.
Other tours like the Island Escapade let you walk across the ocean on a sandbar and visit a bunch of other amazing white sand beaches, complete with hammocks, fresh coconuts, and everything else you need to relax!
Coron has the best snorkeling and scuba diving in Palawan. The coral reefs, exotic fish, and sunken shipwrecks you’ll see in Coron blow El Nido out of the water (no pun).
• El Nido
El Nido has a wide variety of budget and luxury hotels, although it tends to be a bit more pricey compared to other places in Southeast Asia. You get less value for your money compared to Bali, for example.
I’m sure that will change. I think tourist demand in El Nido has outpaced development, so it’s just a matter of waiting for more hotels to be built to accommodate the huge influx of island hoppers coming to Palawan now.
Accommodation in Coron is a little cheaper and better value than El Nido, although it’s mostly budget hotels with only a few luxury options.
We were on a tight budget last time we visited Coron, so we stayed at the Coron Visitors Hotel, where we got a clean double room with cold A/C. The location was close to some great restaurants.
With a bigger travel budget, you can easily find some nice places to stay in Coron.
• El Nido
There’s no competition here. El Nido has a way better selection of restaurants, street food, and nightlife than Coron. There are tons of good places to eat.
Just for some examples, you can find cheap Asian food at places like CB Cafe, pizza at Altrove, fruit smoothie bowls at The Vegan Cafe, and top notch international and western food at El Nido Boutique Artcafe.
Coron lags behind El Nido in places to eat, but the number of restaurants is growing quickly. Our favorites were Om’s Thai and Levine’s Eatery.
These were great and the prices were very reasonable. Overall, you won’t have a hard time finding good food in Coron, but it can’t stand up to El Nido in this area.
So… Coron Or El Nido? Which Is Better?
Overall, it’s a tough pick because both of these places are amazing.
El Nido has the best hotels and restaurants, and arguably the best island hopping, but Coron also has phenomenal island tours and much better snorkeling.
If you have time, definitely try to visit both places! See my tips below on how to do that.
How To See Both Places
In the old days, there was no easy way to travel between Coron and El Nido. They weren’t linked to each other by flights or fast ferries, so you had to fly out to Manila or Cebu, and then fly back in to Palawan, which was an expensive hassle.
Thankfully, that’s all changed now. There are multiple companies running a direct ferry between El Nido and Coron, and you can book tickets online at Biyaheroes or Bookaway.
Better yet, if you want to see some of the more secluded and amazing islands between El Nido and Coron, consider doing a sailing expedition with Big Dream Boat Man. They have some expeditions lasting up to 4 days and 3 nights, taking you all the way from Coron to El Nido, or vice versa.
This can be a great way to go island hopping in paradise without the crowds and time constraints of a simple day tour, and you get to see a lot of nice new islands that are off the beaten path and not included on the main day tours.
More Palawan Travel Tips
I hope this comparison of Coron vs El Nido was helpful.
Looking for more travel tips on Palawan and the Philippines? Need more island hopping info for Coron or El Nido before you visit?
Check out my full El Nido Travel Guide and Coron Travel Guide with free tips, info, and loads of photos!
Best Palawan Tour Packages
If you want to explore the islands of El Nido or Coron with a tour package, there are lots of great online options available.
GetYourGuide has Palawan tours that include island hopping, scenic beaches, caves, water sports, and more.
We’ve used this company for lots of tours and activities around the world, and they’re great. Highly recommended!
- El Nido Palawan Island Hopping Guide
- Coron Palawan Island Hopping Guide
- Coron vs El Nido - Which Is Better?
- My Philippines Travel Guide – Tips, Info & Photos
What is the power and internet situation in both el nido & coron?
I was in el nido last time 2014 & brown outs were daily from 6am til 4pm. Was not good unless establishments had gensets or solar.
Hi Dew. The electricity situation has definitely improved in both El Nido and Coron. There are still daily brownouts but they were quite short in our experience. WiFi is still not great in either place, so the best solution for that is a local SIM card to use as a hotspot. We had great speeds with Globe.
Awesome post. Just wondering if you had suggestions on how to split time between both. We have 6 nights, but only 5 full days to do it from Manila. 2 in Coron 3 in El Nido? Any thoughts on which to do first?
Thanks a lot!
Hi Kev. In that case, yes I think I’d do 2 days in Coron and 3 in El Nido. We normally start in El Nido and end in Coron, but either way is fine. Enjoy!
We have visited both islands last month. As per our experience it’s better to stay in Coron for hopping tours because we were less people in the boat (max 7-10 people) and the places we visited was less crowd, El Nido tours are always more crowded (20-25 people). But Coron has no beach in main island, El Nido has such amazing options such as Las Cabanas, Lio, Nacpan. I hope it will be useful for those reading this ♥
That sums it up pretty well too! Thanks!