Coron Vs. El Nido

I had the chance to visit both Coron and El Nido this summer. Now, I'll do the difficult task of comparing Coron and El Nido. The amount of research, time, effort, statistics, food, and energy expended on this post put in by the committee of one has led to the stupendous, marvelous, grandiloquent, <insert more fancy words here> Coron Vs. El Nido face-off.


Case for Coron

Nature

Kayangan Lake
Coron is home to the cleanest lake in the Philippines, Kayangan Lake. The lake's clear waters is a mixture of fresh and saltwater. This odd mixture makes it easy to snorkel and dive into the water without hurting your eyes. The temperature of the water is also perfect because it is somewhere between cold and warm.


Twin Lagoon
Coron is home to some spectacular bodies of water surrounded by towering limestone formations. Two of my favorite spots in Coron are Kayangan Lake and Twin Lagoon.




Coron's beauty is not only revealed through its landscapes but also underwater. The beautiful corals and marine life are a visual spectacle as well.


Coron's beaches aren't too shabby either. The fine, white sand sucks your feet in and seeps between your toes in a good way. The clear, blue waters and the limestone formations create a picturesque backdrop to a perfect summer day.

Things to Do 

Aside from the usual island hopping, there are a lot of things to do in Coron. You can go up Mt. Tapyas and get an overlooking view of Coron Town, dip into Maquinit Hot Spring, go wreck diving in one of the many sunken warships, and scuba diving.

Accommodations

Coron has a healthy mix of backpacker to middle-tier hostels and hotels. The prices range from P380 to P3,000+++. It's not so hard to find affordable accommodations even if you just look for one the day you arrive, unless it's peak season (summer and Christmas). You can look at my list of accommodations to get contact information and price range.

Restaurants

There are plenty of restaurants in Coron town that offer delicious food. Seafood is aplenty in this port town. Food prices range from P50 to P250+++ (depending on where you choose to eat). For the budget traveler like me, you won't run out of affordable food choices. 

Accessibility

There are direct flights from Cebupacific and PAL to Coron. The tickets normally cost around P3,000 to P4,000 unless there is a promo where the ticket prices drop to around P1,000 round trip.

Case for El Nido

Nature


El Nido is one of those places you'd love to retire or live in. The rustic atmosphere, the laid back vibe, and the stunning landscape all add to its splendor.


El Nido is home to many lagoons surrunded by karst formations. I can't really pick a favorite amongst the different different lagoons that El Nido has to offer. They were all stunning.


The big difference between Coron and El Nido is the size and breadth of the limestone formations. If you think the limestone formations in Coron are huge, the ones in El Nido are larger.


El Nido's beaches are just as good as its lagoons. A long stretch of fine white sand and clear waters abound when you visit El Nido. Surrounded by coconut trees, white sand, and clear waters, El Nido is the perfect summer getaway.

Things to Do 

El Nido has a lot of beaches that you can easily get to without riding a boat. You can go to Las Cabanas, Corong-Corong Beach, and Marimegmeg Beach (P300 for a two-way trip via tricycle). Aside from beaches El Nido has other activities such as climbing Taraw Cliff to get a view of Bacuit Bay and other islands close to the town, go to Nacpan Beach, and explore Ille Caves.

Accommodations

If you think El Nido will cost an arm and a leg to stay in, think again! Unless you are staying in one of the resorts on Apulit Island, Lagen, and Miniloc, you don't have to give up an arm and a leg just to rest your tired body after a day of island hopping. There are backpacker rooms and tents for around P300/ night. I also made a list of accommodations that I found in El Nido.

Restaurants

There are a lot of restaurants by the shoreline. Bacuit Bay is home to bars, grills, and restaurants that serve different kinds of food. But most of the restaurants I found along Bacuit Bay offered expensive food at around more than P180 because they are more targeted to foreign tourists. There is the occasional restaurant that offers meals for P100 or less. For a cheaper alternative, go to the eateries near the church.

Accessibility

El Nido is sort of secluded because of the 6-hour land travel just to get to this beautiful haven. The payment for the van ride is between P600 to P700. The zigzagging road, and unpaved segments make the ride quite an adventure. There is a much more expensive alternative via air.

Verdict

Nature: El Nido's landscape is by far the best I've seen, but Coron's landscape is very similar and comes really close. I must admit that Coron's underwater landscape is better but since I'm not a diver El Nido wins this match-up by a hair.

Things to Do: There are plenty of things to do in both Coron and El Nido, so for me it's a tie.

Accommodations: There are plenty of budget options in both places and mid-tier hotels at a reasonable price. It's another tie.

Restaurants: Coron wins this one because there are more cheaper alternatives in town based on my experience.

Accessibility: Coron wins this one by a mile since there are direct flights to this island which are cheaper compared to booking a direct flight to El Nido.

Based on my vote count Coron wins this battle but I would visit or even consider living in one of these places. Hopefully, these places are not overdeveloped. I like how both Coron and El Nido managed to create an environment where locals and foreigners meet. These two places remind me of Thailand and Cambodia because there are places in both countries where cultures collide. Businesses thrive because of healthy competition between the locals and foreign-run businesses. On a small scale, Coron and El Nido is a convergence of different cultures in one place that is one attribute of a thriving economy.

37 comments

37 Comments


  1. Thanks for sharing both these great places in Palawan. I would love to visit either one of them when given the chance. I am with you in hoping that these places will not be exploited or as you say overdeveloped to preserve its natural beauty and grandeur.

  2. Palawan is definitely one of my dream places!! I love all your photos and how I wish I could visit this paradise one day! Thanks for all the info-- they're very helpful.

  3. I've been to Coron but not yet in El Nido and thanks for giving me an idea on what to expect in El Nido.

  4. I would love to visit those two places :-) It does not matter which one :-) I would love to bring my family and explore the Philippines more with them someday when my husband will retire :-)

  5. I should say BOTH! I will not choose from that 2 paradise! Palawan is on my TOP LIST- this province simply define the Philippines as beautiful! :)

  6. You're lucky to have visited both places!!! I hope to be sharing my own experiences when I get my chance!!! .. and thanks for the heads up!

  7. i can live in either place... both for me is like heaven here on earth. thanks for taking time in describing your experiences to both places... appreciated. Yahweh bless.

  8. You are very lucky to visit that two awesome place. I wish I will have the opportunity to check Coron or El Nido too!

  9. Coron or El Nido? I will go both! haha. Love both places and I will be very happy if I can visit both (or any) of them.

  10. Great report. I will be in Palawan in June and plan on hitting El Nido for a couple of days. I will save Coron for the next go round.

  11. I've been to El Nido and I love it. I want to go to Coron to dive.. :)

  12. Well organized itinerary. I'm going to El Nido this June 9 and will use this post as my reference! Such a savior :-)

  13. Nice place to go. I really enjoy watching the pics in the article.



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    northern outfitters

  14. Yeah its really a close fight. I too have been lucky to visit this place in two years time and its truly amazing that we are blessed by God of our natural treasures that we have to care of it.

    Its hard to say which one is the best because the two are distinctively unique of their of own class. Even Puerto Princesa I could say is really a forest within the city, their alone your could enjoy nature's best.

  15. I went to El nido in Oct 2012.Fantastic place,Truely stunning island hoping.Im going back to the philippines in Oct 2013 and im looking at going to Coron,MMMMMmmmmm.Love it

  16. Great post!

    Thank you so much ;)

  17. Thanks for this. I have been tossing up between the two places and I think I have decided to just go with Coron. Mostly because I am only in Palawan for 2 nights and don't want to spend most of it traveling.

  18. I'm afraid I will prefer El Nido to Coron, but maybe I'm not objective at all ;-)

  19. thanks for the comparison, i've been contemplating between coron and el nido, base in your comparison i would choose coron coz its more accessible, i've been to puerto princesa this year i would say i fell in love with palawan, thats why im itching to go back there next year but that would be in coron for sure.

  20. Thank you for this interesting comparison. I loved El Nido very much and it convinced me to visit Coron also.

  21. This is very helpful. My friend and I just booked our flights to El Nido and thinking of going to Coron as well. Thanks for posting

  22. This post with those stunning photos makes you ask, where summer has gone? Galing ng shots.

  23. Great post! Having been to both places too, I'd give Coron the win pound for pound, ok lol. Mainly because of the huge difference in the underwater scene, the best snorkeling part of El Nido, Shimizu and Pinagbuyutan Island would be no match to the diversity of Coral Garden and Siete Pecados. But El Nido boasts of a happier nightlife and a ratio of about 8:2 foreign to local tourists. Hard to choose but I were given a chance to retire in one of them, it would be Coron. Plus they have round the clock power supply and ATM machines, something that El Nido hasn't done yet.

  24. Thanks for this excellent post! I'm going in January, and this is super helpful info!

  25. I would give a fair verdict. Bot showcase stunning wonders. El Nido may have an edge over Coron but the case is true otherwise.

  26. I had such a difficult time deciding between the 2 places, but you helped me make the decision! Thanks!!!

  27. Great comparison. Was deciding whether I'll do a solo trip to Coron or El Nido. :D Thanks.

  28. Thank you very much for your information. I am planning on going to coron this 1st/2nd week of December 2014. Will it be cheaper to travel there without availing airfare/hotel/tour package? Or is it best that I will avail a package?

  29. Thank you very much for your information! Will it be cheaper to travel in Coron without the airfaire/hotel/tour/wreck diving package? Planning to travel in December 2014

  30. @ogie: you don't need to book a tour packages from Manila, but the least you can do is reserve a hotel so you have more options once you get to your destination :D

  31. I've been to El NIDO palawan, and also had a chance to explore underground puerto princessa.. Loved the place, yeah i agree, if you want to retire, this is the best place. No wonder, it is the best place in ASIA when it comes to beaches.... the landscapes are breathtaking! i can't imagine, there's a place like this in the Philippines! I love Philippines! love your own... AND THE BEST PART, you're with your 3 close friends.4 people traveling to palawan is the best... my next itinerary: CORON! -AISA M

  32. I've been to EL NIDO palawan and also had a chance to go to undergound river in puerto princessa.... I must say, I love the beaches, it's breathtaking, by far the best beach in ASIA, and i am privilage to travel with my 3 close friends and explore the beauty of EL nido! ziplines are also my favorite! I love Philippines! just be sure to bring lots of money and bring action cam! you do not want to miss the adventure! hehe.. NEXT INTINERARY; CORON!!!!- Zarynne M

  33. Thank you for this post... My friends and I are enlighten on which island is our first priority to explore.

  34. hello,

    i am traveling to the Philippines for the first time in january. would you happen to know if new years day is a holiday or not? would it be hard to get activities booked for that day?
    Also, would combing koron and el nido into 5 days be possible or would you suggest choosing koron just for that time period. I am looking to mainly scuba and tour the lagoons. Not sure if the traveling between koron and el nido is possible time wise. as you have to wait 24 hours to fly....
    any advice would be appreciated regarding how to travel and itinerary

    thank you!

  35. @Magda; hi, glad you chose the Philippines, don't listen to what you see on the news all the time haha, anyway, new year's falls on a sunday so its a weekend, even on holidays it won't be difficult to book tours, you can do it on the same day. theres a boat that travels between coron and el nido but it isnt daily so you have to check the schedules once there. but for 5 days better to choose between coron or el nido so you get to enjoy the place more. coron's more ideal for diving and lagoons but its a sleepy town at night, not much going on. you can like my page on the right side and send me a message there so I can reply faster and you'd receive the answers sooner

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