During our lovely visit to Coron last month, I really couldn’t help but compare the island with its famously known sister, El Nido! To several aspects, these two Palawan hotspots obviously do have their similarities — popular destinations with pretty island hopping opportunities and various other island life trimmings. But if you are on the fence on where to hit up your next tropical paradise between these two, I thought I’d share my two cents on the matter! (Also, small disclaimer: all my opinions are based on my own first-hand experiences only! Others might have completely different thoughts on this.)
Both El Nido and Coron, being part of the same Palawan landscape, feature natural wonders do have a good number of commonalities. You’d see a lot of the limestone rock formations that Palawan is well-known for and various lakes and lagoons in their near vicinity. Because of this, it’s difficult to find a favorite of the two. But if I had to choose, I’d pick Coron as the category winner based on the diversity of its natural wonders. Its attractions vary from calm and pristine beaches to clear water lakes and very interesting rock formations. The feel of each attraction is very distinct and different from the last, which kept the day exciting. El Nido’s natural attractions were all well and picturesque too, but I felt that after a whole day of hopping from one pretty island to another, it felt all the same at the end of the day.
If we’re talking strictly about activities on island hopping tours in El Nido and Coron, I’d hand this torch to Coron too. Their tours did have a few more active attractions that I did enjoy thoroughly such as seeing shipwrecks underwater and going through an actual coral garden that was filled with all kinds of sea life!
But if we’re incorporating other activities outside of island hopping, El Nido has got an edge of its own! During our visit last 2016, we were able to ride a zipline across the sea, go on an hike up to Taraw Cliff and enjoy (basically) our own private beach!
Surprisingly, this category is actually the most opposing one between El Nido and Coron. What played a big factor to this is the fact that El Nido is part of the main Palawan island, while Coron (Busuanga) is on an island of its own. This meant that supplies from bigger cities would be more challenging to deliver to Coron, making common items more costly and scarce. As an overall result as well, Coron town is less developed than in El Nido. Where in El Nido, you are able to find some restaurants with international menus and a growing number of nice hostels; in Coron, restaurants serve mostly local cuisine and seafood (this not necessarily a bad thing though!) and there are only a handful of good hotels in the area. Though I personally don’t have any problems with staying in smaller towns like Coron, it’s still definitely something to take account for if you are particular about it!
As I’ve touched on already above, Coron prices may be higher due to its remote location. But a trip to El Nido does incur an additional expense for the land transfer to and from Puerto Princesa (which is usually P500-700 per way), so that does tip the scales a bit. Now, obviously, since both spots are very popular Philippine destinations, costs of accommodations and meals are higher as well. A good thing about these Palawan centers is that the cost of island hopping tours is usually uniformed across all the different travel agencies (which could range from P1000-2000 depending on which tour you choose). Given all that, I don’t think there is a stark difference in costs between El Nido and Coron from my experience!
Now for the decision on which Palawan hotspot reigns supreme… *drum roll please*
It depends! (I know that’s such a cop-out answer, but really it does!)
Depending on what type of travel experience you are trying to find, I would recommend either! If you are looking for a more relaxed, slow-paced, lounging-around-on-the-beach type of getaway, then I highly recommend El Nido on your itinerary! With a great number of world-class resorts and simple, calming spaces to catch a breather, a visit to El Nido could be only thing you needed!
If you have restless feet (like me) and prefer to have your itineraries jam-packed, Coron has a lot to offer as well! Various diving sites and hidden lagoons will surely keep you busy and wanting for more!
My actual overall recommendation is actually this:
get your little butt to Palawan ASAP!
My El Nido and Coron trips were both really enjoyable but each in their own different and interesting way. Mostly because each town really had its own unique vibe, but also because I, myself, was in completely different states of being during these two trips 😂 Truly goes to show how you can never really objectively compare two places against each other, but rather compare your own experiences of your time there! Still, I hope this post nudged you to book that ticket to Palawan! Let me know what you think of these lovely destinations, too! I’d love to hear from you 🙂
I visited El Nido, Palawan in the Philippines in July 2016 and visited Coron, Palawan in the Philippines in January 2018.