Coron and El Nido both belong to “Palawan”, often regarded as one of the most beautiful areas of the Philippines, and honestly, I agree. When people visit Palawan on a time limit, they often ask which is better, Coron or El Nido? Well, to help you decide, I’ve put together this guide that breaks down Coron vs El Nido in terms of the sights, the ease of getting there, the accommodation and other general costs. Hopefully, this guide will help you decide where you should spend your time or maybe convince you to stay longer.
So, let’s get right to it…
Coron vs El Nido: the sights
There is no denying that both Coron and El Nido have amazing things to see, but both of their main attractions come in the form of island hopping. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great sites around El Nido Town and Coron Town, but they aren’t the real gems of the islands. All the places to visit in El Nido and Coron are stunning, but I will do my best to compare which is better, Coron or El Nido sights.
Big Lagoon: El Nido
You can access Big Lagoon in El Nido via Island hopping tour A. This is one of my favorite spots in El Nido and Palawan in general. When you arrive on your boat tour, you’ll be given the option to swim to and through the Big Lagoon, or you can rent yellow kayaks for 250 pesos. We opted for the kayaks because it made for an awesome drone shot and it was fun! The lagoon itself is stunning and a perfect place to swim. Truly some of the most transparent water I’ve ever witnessed.
Since you can only visit Big Lagoon on a tour, you’re going to be sharing it with other people, but we didn’t find it too overcrowded.
Kayangan Lake: Coron
Kayangan Lake in Coron is actually known as the cleanest lake in Asia, and it really is. It’s truly amazing. This again is the most popular stop on a Coron island hopping tour, but there is actually a way to see it without the crowds.
We stayed at Paolyn House Boat, which is the only accommodation on Coron Island (because it’s a floating structure), and since you’re so close to Kayangan Lake, you can be the very first people there. When we visited, there was no one else around, and we had the place to ourselves. This also works if you opt for a private tour of Coron Island. You can ask your driver to take you to this spot first and you’ll be amazed at the beauty and the peacefulness of it.
7 Commandos Beach: El Nido
This is another stunning spot accessed via tour A on El Nido. This place was amazing for swimming, snorkeling, and drinking rum. There’s a volleyball “court” and a little pop-up bar selling Filipino rum (which is truly delicious). You can make friends, have fun, and relax in this stunning spot.
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Twin Lagoon: Coron
Twin Lagoon is another stunning spot on Coron Island and it’s a great place to swim, relax and have fun. The fun thing about the Twin Lagoon is that you can access it via swimming through a hole under the water. Not my cup of tea, but lots of people were doing it. Again if you do a private tour in Coron, then you can make this one of your last spots and the crowds will be less to none.
Nacpan Beach: El Nido
This beach in El Nido doesn’t require any island hopping to access. You can simply rent a motorbike to visit or take advantage of the Nacpan beach shuttle that runs to and from El Nido Town a variety of times a day. Nacpan beach is regarded as the most beautiful beach in Asia, and it’s true!
It’s super scenic, clean, the water is fantastic to swim in, and there are a bunch of beautiful restaurants lined along the front. But what’s even better about Nacpan beach is that it’s so big, you can easily walk for a couple of hundred meters and you’ve got the whole beach to yourself. It’s an epic sunset spot.
The Coron Sign: Coron
This is one of the most random sights in Coron Town, and it’s not water-based. You’ll see the Coron sign from Coron Town and it’s basically like the Hollywood sign, but for Coron! It’s a nice walk and it’s a really lovely spot for either sunrise or sunset and you get a fantastic view over all of Coron Town and the coastline. Truly a beautiful place that’s free to visit.
Who wins? Coron or El Nido? For me, in terms of sights to see, I preferred Coron island, but only if you take a private tour. I think if it’s a group tour, then it will be a similar experience to El Nido. Don’t get me wrong, the island hopping sights on El Nido are plentiful and beautiful, but there was just something about being at the locations on Coron alone that made it extra special.
You can search for private or group tours in Coron or El Nido below. GetYourGuide is an international company that works with local tour operators offering unique experiences, listed on an easy and safe booking platform with customer service that can help you make the most of your trip. That said, you can find the best tours in Coron here and amazing tours in El Nido here.
Coron vs El Nido: getting there
Both islands are relatively easy to get to, and you can get to both either via airplane or boat. I’ll break it down below.
How to get to Coron: you can fly to Coron from Manila for around $50 with Skyjet. We took this option when we went to Coron and it was only a 45-minute flight with epic views. Your other option is to take an overnight boat from Manila, but the ferries only leave on Fridays at 7 pm and arrive in Coron at 6 am the next morning. This option costs around $43, so there isn’t much difference in price, for the convenience of getting there quicker!
How to get to El Nido: you can also fly direct from Manila to El Nido for around $50 with AirSwift, and it takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. You can also get flights to other islands in The Philippines, such as Cebu, if you’re planning to continue your adventures in the Philippines.
Who wins, Coron or El Nido? They both do! They are both super easy to get to and from, so I can’t pick one over the other. Don’t forget that you can also travel from Coron to El Nido and vice-versa, just in case you decide that both are worth a visit.
You can find all the info about how to get from Coron to El Nido here on the 12Go Asia website. Actually, if you are traveling in the Philippines, 12Go Asia is the best site for searching and booking ferries and busses.
Coron vs El Nido: accommodation options
Best places to stay in Coron: Coron is split into “Coron Town” and “Coron Island”. In terms of accommodation, you can’t have any buildings on Coron Island (the exception being the House Boat I spoke about earlier – because it floats, it doesn’t break the rules). So all the accommodation for Coron is in Coron Town. I’ll be honest and say that accommodation isn’t of an exceptional standard yet, but Coron is indeed developing quickly. There is a lot of work and construction going on, so I imagine that choices in hostels and hotels will increase and standards will rise in the future.
Best places to stay in El Nido: there is accommodation all over El Nido Island, and there are some really cool glamping opportunities on Nacpan Beach. Most people tend to stay in El Nido Town as it’s the starting point for tours and it’s packed with great places to stay. There’s a lot more choice of accommodation on El Nido.
If you are looking for a unique and eco-experience packed in a private island in El Nido, then you should read Nat’s review about El Nido Resorts Pangulasian Island. It’s for sure one of the best places to stay in El Nido and in Palawan.
El Nido vs Coron, who wins for best accommodation options? El Nido! It has far more accommodation options that will suit and appeal to a range of budgets and travelers.
Coron or El Nido: travel costs
I think with regards to prices on both islands, they are quite similar on most things. However, the costs of tours in El Nido are ever so slightly cheaper than Coron. I think this is because El Nido is currently more popular than Coron, and as more people visit Coron, the prices will come down. Either way, they’re not expensive. Most island hopping tours come in at around $20-30 per person, and that always includes an epic Filipino bbq lunch! Accommodation in El Nido is cheaper than Coron, because there is more choice, and moped rental on both the islands is a similar price at around 300-350 pesos per day.
With regards to food, because El Nido has more dining options, there are more western options, which will be more expensive, but if you stick to delicious and local Filipino food, then prices will be similar on both islands.
El Nido or Coron, which one is cheaper? El Nido is slightly cheaper than Coron overall, but it’s easy to overspend in El Nido, especially on alcohol with the many many drink deals happening.
You can find more information about the costs of traveling in The Philippines by clicking here. It’s a guide about how much Nat & Rob spent on their trip to the Philippines, covering different destinations in the country.
Choosing between El Nido and Coron is truly a difficult choice, and if you’ve got the time, then both are worth visiting. However, because they are both on the Palawan stretch of the Philippines, regardless of which one you choose, you’re still going to be greeted with epic beaches, stunning water and lots of snorkeling opportunities.
But, basically, if you want to go diving, have the chance to see beautiful spots alone, and check out some nice hot springs, then Coron is for you. Or if you want the opportunity to do lots of different island hopping tours, and if you’re looking for a stronger backpacking vibe and refreshing waterfalls to discover, then opt for El Nido!
Looking for more travel tips? Read our guides to The Philippines here!
I hope this post has helped narrow your decision down for whether to choose Coron or El Nido and find out which one is the best destination for you. Either way, you’ll have an awesome time in this beautiful part of the Philippines. Trust me, you’ll want to return.
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Author: Cazzy Magennis
Cazzy is a type 1 diabetic with a taste for adventure. She runs her couple’s travel blog, Dream Big, Travel Far with her partner Brad, and together they’ve been to over 100 countries so far, with no plans to slow down. They love discovering new places and sharing them with the world. Whether it’s sleeping in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, or snorkeling in the blue waters of The Philippines. Check their Instagram and Facebook.