Kayangan Lake viewpoint overlooking aqua green bay in Coron Philippines

El Nido vs Coron, which is better?

There are many opinions about which one of these areas of Palawan is better and which one is not to be missed. This guide is based on my personnel experiences and which one I think is the better option if you had to choose one over the other. Comparing El Nido vs Coron and which one is better is not as cut and dry as you would think. They both have their Pros and Cons. In this article, I’ll go over the differences and give you my pick at the end of the article.

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Similarities between El Nido Vs Coron

Both El Nido and Coron have beautiful pristine waters, amazing lagoons, white-sand beaches, and limestone rock formations that peek out of the ocean. Both offer amazing group boat tours or private boat tours. They both have a good amount of options for restaurants and they also have small but similar nightlife options. Both El Nido and Coron are in the Province of Palawan, Philippines. With El Nido being toward the Northern tip of the main island of Palawan, and Coron is to the North off from the main island of Palawan.

Most people flying to the Philippines from another country will fly through Manila International Airport before reaching their first destination. Manila International is the largest and busiest airport in the Philippines followed by Cebu International Airport.

Round 1: Getting to Coron vs El Nido

Getting to Coron pros

  • More options to fly into Busanga Airport from multiple cities and carriers
  • Ability to take a Ferry boat from Manila if you prefer to travel by sea

Getting to Coron cons

  • Busanga Airport is 23kms away from Coron Town (40 min drive)

Getting to El Nido pros

  • El Nido’s Airport is only a couple of kilometers away from El Nido Town
  • Puerto Princesa Airport is around 5 hrs drive away allowing another airport to fly into.

Getting to El Nido cons

  • El Nido’s Airport only has one carrier Airswift with very limited flights and schedules
  • Puerto Princesa which has more flight options is a far drive away 5hrs
  • Limited options to get to El Nido by sea

The winner goes to Coron

 Coron simply has more options in both air and sea. While the nearest airport Busuanga is 23kms away, it still has more airline carrier options and flight schedules. This simply makes getting to and from Coron easier.

Another thing to note is that there are not any swimming beaches in El Nido Town or Coron Town. You will have to venture a little bit out of town proper to find a beach at either.

Round 2: Getting around Coron Town vs El Nido Town

Both Coron and El Nido are relatively small cities. Neither has a beach in the town propers that you are able to swim in. Think of each town as a base with boat ports as a starting point to take an island-hopping boat tour.

Scooter and Tricycle in El Nido near Outpost Hostel

Getting around Coron pros

  • Tricycles are abundant and a cheap way to get around town 50-150pesos ($1-3 USD)
  • Restaurants are abundant and a good variety of cuisines
  • Scooters are cheap to rent around 500pesos per day ($10 USD)
  • Walkable

Getting around Coron cons

  • Coron Town feels a little more spread out than El Nido Town
  • No beach you can swim in Coron Town proper, you have to venture outside of the city proper.

Getting around El Nido pros

  • Tricycles are abundant and a cheap way to get around town 50-150pesos ($1-3 USD)
  • Restaurants are abundant and a good variety of cuisines
  • El Nido Town feels a little denser and easier to travel by foot than Coron Town
  • Even though there is no beach inside El Nido Town Proper, the port area has nicer scenery with oceanfront restaurants and bars.
  • There are swimmable beaches closer to El Nido Town than Coron Town
  • Scooters are cheap to rent around 500pesos per day ($10 USD)
  • Walkable

Getting around El Nido cons

  • No beach you can swim in El Nido Town Proper, you have to venture a little outside of the city proper.

The winner goes to El Nido

Although Coron and El Nido are both similar in size and amenities, I have to give the El Nido the win in this section. Even though there are both easy to get around and both walkable, I felt El Nido edged out Coron just slightly in this category.

Round 3: Cost of Coron vs El Nido

Both Coron and El Nido are among the most popular travel destinations in the Philippines, and within the last five years tourism has increased significantly driving up prices. However, by Western standards, they are still relatively inexpensive travel destinations.

The winner goes to Both

For this, category I feel they are about the same. While the boat tours in my experience were a little more expensive in Coron than El Nido. This is because in Coron you have to pay an environmental fee for each island your visit because they were owned by different organizations, while in El Nido you just had to pay one environmental fee once even for different tours as long as you take the separate tours within a certain amount of time from each other. Yet In my experience, El Nido’s lodging accommodation was slightly higher. I feel like they average out about the same in my experience.

Round 4: Quality of boat tours Coron vs El Nido

Both Coron and El Nido have an amazing and abundant selection of boat tours each destination offers both private and group tours. In my opinion, they are both equally as beautiful in slightly different ways. While I have heard by many that Coron is less crowded and touristy than El Nido, I didn’t really have that experience. Or if I did it was not enough for me to notice the difference between the two.

Coron phillipines amazing view of clear ocean water on bangka boat
El Nido bay Philippines
El Nido Bay

The winner goes to El Nido

Even though very close in terms of quality and beauty of the tours, I personally felt the El Nido boat Tours were slightly better organized, in terms of environmental fee cost and in terms of ease to find boat tour operators. Also in my experience, I surprisingly found the boat tours a little cheaper in El Nido.

Round 5: Nightlife Coron vs El Nido

Both Coron and El Nido not too long ago were sleepy fishing towns at night. But in recent years they have experienced growth in tourism and that creates different opportunities for the local and foreign investors. Both cities are experiencing more businesses catering to tourists.

The winner goes to El Nido

This one was also hard for me to decide because I felt the nightlife options were very similar, and I experienced fun in both nightlife scenes. My reasoning for giving this one to El Nido is because I feel it is just a little more developed in terms of nightlife options but only slightly.

The conclusion which is better Coron or El Nido?

So you want a definitive answer, right? That’s why you came here and are still reading. Well, In my experience and opinion if you had to choose one, for me it would be El Nido. Of course, this is subjective, and you will find many other articles online that both agree and disagree with this opinion.

Final Thoughts

So if you are still on the fence on which one to choose. In my personal opinion, you can’t go wrong with choosing either one. If you have never been to either and you had to one, for me it would be El Nido, and that is with a very slight edge. With that being said you really can’t go wrong choosing one over the other. I personally would go back to both given the chance. And although I do not scuba dive, I have heard the scuba diving is actually better in Coron. Since they are so close in comparison, you may want to choose based on the cost of flights, and where else you might be going within the Philippines. I would say if you missed one over the other you would not be missing that much because I felt they were so similar. If you can do both even better. If you do decide to do both they are about a 4-hour ferry ride away from each other.

Have you been to Coron or El Nido? If so leave a comment below. I’d like to hear your opinion on which you liked better.

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