Coron vs El Nido: Which Is Better? All Differences Explained

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!

Coron vs El Nido Which Is Better
Coron vs El Nido – Which Is Better?

Getting There

• 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.

• Coron

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).

Drone picture of Matinloc island in El Nido Palawan
Matinloc Island in El Nido

Drone picture of Twin Lagoon in Coron Palawan
Twin Lagoon in Coron

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

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).

Drone picture of Entalula Beach in El Nido Palawan
Entalula Beach in El Nido

Boat lunch on the El Nido island hopping tour    Sandy beach at Helicopter Island

Kayangan lake viewpoint in Coron Palawan Philippines
Kayangan Viewpoint in Coron


• 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.

• Coron

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.

Frendz Hostel in El Nido

Aquilah Homestay 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

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.

Drone picture of Helicopter Island in El Nido
Helicopter Island in El Nido

Underwater picture of coral reef in Coron Palawan
Snorkeling in Coron
Turquoise water at Shimizu Island in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
Shimizu Island in El Nido

Drone picture of karst mountains in Coron
Karst limestone peaks in Coron


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.

Drone picture of Pinagbuyutan Island in El Nido Palawan
Pinagbuyutan Island in El Nido

Boat on turquoise water in El Nido Palawan    Kayakers in El Nido Palawan

Turquoise lagoon in Coron Palawan
A turquoise lagoon in Coron

What If I Want 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. A company called Montenegro Lines runs a fast ferry between El Nido and Coron twice a day, and you can book tickets online at Biyaheroes.

One way ferry tickets cost about 1,750 Peso (US $35) and the journey takes 3.5 hours. Our experience with this service was great! Very comfortable and safe.

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.

Happy travels!

Palm trees on Pinagbuyutan Island

Boat in the sunset at El Nido

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!


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