Coron vs El Nido
Palawan has been rated one of the most beautiful destinations in the world and for good reason. Palawan offers some of the most amazing scenery, both above and below water, that you are sure to find in the world. For many years now when hearing about Palawan, you have probably heard people talk about El Nido. In recent years, Coron has been gaining popularity. Now when visiting Palawan one of the top questions is “should I visit El Nido or Coron”. We will break down the accessibility, accommodations and things to do in both places to give you a better idea of what both places have to offer.
How to get there?
Coron is the easier and cheaper option to get to. With airlines such as Cebu Pacific and Philippines Airline flying to Coron. These airlines also offer multiple direct flights per day from Manila and Cebu to Frances B Reyes airport (formally known as Busuanga Airport). The airport is a short 30min ride from the town of Coron where most of the hotels are located.
Until recently there were no flights going directly to El Nido. The only way to reach El Nido was by flying into Puerto Princesa and then taking a 5hr van ride to El Nido. This can add time and money to your travels. Still to this day there are no major commercial airlines that fly to El Nido. There is however, a small boutique airline called Air Swift that now offers two flights a day to El Nido. However, these flights do not come cheap.
The accommodations in Coron are definitely going to be cheaper then El Nido. With the lower cost of hotels in Coron, this does mean the majority of hotels tends to be more basic. There are only 3 luxury hotels in the area and there is less of a range from high to low. And we found there to be more low then high end hotels. Which for some can be good and for some can be bad. What we found was we would either be paying around $30-$150(US) per night for a pretty basic hotel or $350-$650(US) per night for a luxury hotel. There really wasn’t much in between.
In El Nido hotels tend to be more expensive. However, there is much more of a range when it comes to price and style of hotel. You can find anything from a cheap hostel, regular hotel, luxury hotel, to private villas and homes. If you want to keep it cheap you can and if you really want to splurge you can. We were much more happy with the selection of hotels in El Nido as it was much easier to find something to our liking without breaking the bank.
Things to do
Since Coron is the less busy of the two, the town it’s self is not nearly as built up as El Nido. Coron is less commercialized so you get a much more raw place. We are guessing Coron feels kind of like El Nido did 5-10yrs ago before it got so popular. On one hand Coron has less island hoping then El Nido, however, it is still not to be missed. Kayangan Lake was one of our favorite spots of the day. There are also a lot of little hidden lagoons to check out. While twin lagoon is very popular and highlight on a lot of peoples list, it was not our fave as it has become a hot spot and it was overran with tourists. If you could get there very early in the morning or maybe get there at the end of the day to hopefully miss the crowds, it would be something to not miss and pretty epic. Now Coron’s scuba diving and snorkeling is far superior to El Nido and is simply unbeatable! It’s the best we have ever seen in the world!! And is actually ranked one of the top places for scuba diving in the world. From the many different types of colorful corals, the abundance of colorful fishes, turtles and cool sunken ships, Coron’s underwater world is not to be missed!! For snorkeling, Coral gardens and Lusong gunboat are pretty amazing. For scuba diving make sure to check out Bugor Reef, 7 Islands Reef and Kalambuyan Reef. There are also a few other shipwrecks that are great for scuba diving in the area as well.
El Nido its self is more populated then Coron. The city has more to offer in terms of restaurants and nightlife. Also El Nido has pretty epic scenery wherever you go. The island hoping here is just amazing and some of the best we have ever done. From beautiful secluded islands with amazing beaches and stunning limestone formations, it’s beauty is unbeatable in our opinion. You could island hop for a week straight if you wanted to and never see the same island twice! The underwater life unfortunately is just not as impressive as in Coron. We did still see lots of cool fish and some pretty amazing turtles, however the coral in Coron is just unbeatable and the ships wreaks are also pretty cool!! El Nido also offers a lot of fun day trips via motorbikes to cool beaches and waterfalls. We did get a chance to motorbike up north is Napcan Beach and Lio Beach. This is something we would highly recommend doing.
All in all Coron and El Nido are not the be missed when visiting Palawan. They are both beautiful in their own ways. If you have the time we say visit both. If you only have time for one of these areas its all about your priorities. If snorkeling and scuba diving are your main focus then Coron is where you should go. Your dollar will also go father there, so if you are on a budget Coron is the better option of the two. If you are looking for a more luxury trip or island hoping and relaxing on beautiful beaches then El Nido hands down is where you need to go.