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
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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.

• 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 (more on that later).

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

Drone picture of Twin Lagoon in Coron Palawan
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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 a few days knocking out all 4 of the El Nido island hopping tours (A, B, C, and D) and then explore mainland sights like Nacpan Beach and Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfall.

Overall, I think El Nido has the most things to do. 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 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
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Entalula Beach in El Nido

Boat lunch on the El Nido island hopping tour
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Sandy beach at Helicopter Island
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Kayangan lake viewpoint in Coron Palawan Philippines
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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 way 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 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.

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Frendz Hostel in El Nido

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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.

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.

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

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

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


So… Coron Or El Nido? Which Is Better?

Overall, it’s a tough pick because they’re both amazing.

El Nido has the best beaches 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! See my tips below on how to do that.

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

Boat on turquoise water in El Nido Palawan
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Kayakers in El Nido Palawan
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Turquoise lagoon in Coron Palawan
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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, 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 tickets cost 1,750 Pesos (US $35) and the journey takes 3.5 hours.

Our experience with this service was great! Very comfortable and safe.

Happy travels!

Palm trees on Pinagbuyutan Island
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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!

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