EL NIDO & CORON
9.8349° N, 118.7384° E
(photo: Top of Kayangan Lake – Coron)
Reasons why you should visit
- Diving – you can get a super affordable diving license here(PADI), known for having some of the most beautiful ocean creatures to see here
- Beautiful soft sand beaches, and (when its not raining) beautiful weather and tropical sun
- Experience island life and boat tours, plenty of water activities and beautiful resorts
- English is a commonly spoken language here
- Filipino mangoes <3
(photo: entry to secret lagoon, El Nido)
Important items for you to pack before going
Island hopping means you will be around the sea and sun ALOT, please do remember to bring these items with you on tours and to Palawan in general – you will thank me later:
- Waterproof sunscreen of over 50+ from the strong tropical sun if you don’t want to be peeling. Being in the water also makes you feel the heat less but actually enhances the sun rays on your skin, remember to apply every four hours.
- Bring a waterproof phonepouch for your phone. Even if you say you won’t bring a your phone into the water, it will still get flooded by sea water on the boat – waterproof phones ARE NOT SEAWATER PROOF. Once seawater goes in byebye phone! You can buy these around the island.
- Water shoes – it is very cheap to buy a pair in the local shops but if you want may want to buy some in your own country before hand as you are guaranteed to be using them if you go island hopping. These shoes should protect you from jelly fish and stepping on the sharp rocks and objects in the sea when snorkelling, going inside caves, sharp rocks beached etc. Without these you are very very likely to cut your foot, and walking in the sea in flip-flops is an uncomfortable challenge.
- Wet bag – this comes in handy to keep all your belongings dry on the boat! Including your towels and change of clothes, phones and cameras can go in here too. If you bring a backpack or an open beach bag it will just get soaked!
- Try travelling light if possible – bringing a large suitcase travelling from island to island, where the boats arrive you still have to drag it across the beach, it packs on the beach. You may also want to try wearing flipflops and shorts / shorter dresses when travelling on these boats if you don’t want to get your trousers / maxi skirts and trainers soaked.
- Pro-Biotics – if you have a weak stomach, or generally to strengthen you’re immune system. I got severe food poisoning during my time in El Nido which meant I couldn’t go to a tour!
Best time to visit
We went in June, and the weather unfortunately wasn’t very good, raining almost every day, we rarely saw a sunset except the first 2 nights. It was classed as rainy season and we were told January (winter months) are actually better months. To me the weather DOES affect the time here because during thunderstorms there is no point going out to sea, and you also can’t lye on the beach sunbathing. Not to say during heavy rain periods there’s really not much to do in general on a beach island. However there were still the odd days where we managed to go visit the some islands in the grey sky and no rain! Which is why most of my photos are so grey 🙁
Generally July and western summer months are peak periods so the prices are high, if you are able to go between November to March your skin and wallet will be much happier!
How to get there
El Nido – Fly to Puerto Princesa International Airport (Main airport on the island), take a bus or private car operated by your hotel to El Nido – it takes about 5 hours. If you want a quicker journey you can take a (much more pricey) propeller flight to El Nido Airport.
Puerto Princesa is the main city in Palawan with many activities and cute restaurants, be sure to stay a night here to explore and stock up on necessary (and cheap) products from convenience stores! The hotels here are also very cheap compared to El Nido.
Coron – Coron Airport (Francisco B. Reyes Airport) can be reached via transiting at Manila International Airport.
From El-Nido to Coron (photo above) – Different boats operate daily. There are some large boats leaving the port at 6am which have air-con and take about 3 hours are much more expensive, these are booked online. There are local boats which take about 6 hours which don’t have air-con but are much cheaper, and can be booked by local tour shops around the island.
El Nido or Coron?
The best thing is to visit both islands, a 6 hour boat away from each other (slower, cheaper, no air-con) or 3 hour by fast expensive boat that must be booked in advance online. If you only have time to visit one then read below:
El Nido Island
El Nido itself has more activities to do, more tourists, more bars and more restaurants – generally more life. It has become a very popular tourist spot, and is more famous than Coron. However what I didn’t enjoy was all the hard selling and tourist traps. If you like to be around lively and convenience, El Nido Island would suit you more.
Generally there is only a handfull of 5 star resorts on El Nido island itself, they are also quite small. If you want a luxury resort in El Nido they have their own private islands.
The 5 voted best private resorts in El Nido, on their own island by Trip Advisor are as below (in order of highest price to lowest):
(Photo: Big lagoon, El Nido)
Coron has little life at night – we couldn’t even find any restaurants where we stay (2 Seasons Bayside, Coron) so we ate inside the hotel everyday. Despite this, there was MUCH less tourists, each tour had less than half the people and the island and beaches were less spoilt by tourists, and had pretty much no tourist traps. If you prefer an affordable, peaceful and a less touristy island, Coron is your place. All the ‘touristy’ shops were also much much cheaper – for example we bought boat shoes selling at 10usd in El Nido for 3USD in Coron.
There are less tours to choose from at Coron but equally beautiful as El Nido, in my opinion. You can also hike their Coron sign (similar to the Hollywood Sign) and see a beautiful view of Coron.
Kayangan Lake is definately worth checking out, as there is such an amazing view from the top. You can swim in this lake and this is probably one of the spotlights at Coron. (photo below)
If you do stay at Coron, I highly recommend the 4 star hotel Two Seasons Bayside Hotel, right next to Coron pier. It has panoramic rooms of the sea, port, and infinity pool. The rooms are super affordable, and the bathtub view is simply amazing. This is also probably the best hotel in Coron Island that I saw and stayed at myself, I’d highly recommend it! It does book out pretty fast so try to book in advance!
(Photo: Panoramic view room at Two Seasons Bayside Hotel Coron)
Salamat for now! Phillipines has over a 7000 islands to hop around in, so for sure we’ll be back to visit another.
(photo: Coron – sun is finally out, on the way back home after the day tour)
Click HERE to book this hotel
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