Coron vs El Nido: Which Is Better? All Differences Explained
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.
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).
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.
Overall, I think El Nido has the most things to do. 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 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 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.
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.
• 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.
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.
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.
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?
- My Philippines Travel Guide – Tips, Info & Photos
- El Nido Palawan Island Hopping Guide
- Coron Palawan Island Hopping Guide