I've been to quite a few beach holidays, ranging from Bermuda to Sipadan Islands. However, nothing beats the magnificent Palawan, Philippines. Many people heard of the gorgeous beaches and sunsets of Palawan, but can't decide which part of Palawan to visit. The two main options are El Nido and Coron. In the past year, I was blessed to visit both parts of the island on two separate occasions. Today, I will talk about some of my favorite activities, beaches, and foods from both islands and reveal which I liked more - El Nido or Coron?
During Christmas 2016, I booked a holiday to El Nido with my beautiful and amazing cousin Daphne. We are one year apart and super close. We were roommates at NYU and now we work for the same bank! We decided to take our 10 day "block" leave together and booked a 3 week trip to El Nido, Bali, and Gili Islands. We spent a total of 7 days in El Nido and it was more than enough time to see this tiny island. We stayed at a fun and clean hostel called Spin Hostel. The lounge in the hostel was a nice open area, perfect to meet likewise travelers. We booked our rooms late so the 4 persons mixed dorms were only available - which was fine because we had some hilarious stories after.
Since we were staying in El Nido for a week, we decided to get our advanced PADI certifcation here. The difference between Advance and Open water is essentially, you can night dive and dive up to 30 meters with an Advance license. After walking around and negiotating some prices with scuba shops, we settled with Aqua Divers because of the big comfortable boat, their friendly staff, and each diver gets a dive computer to use in each dive. This occupied two of the days in El NIdo, and it was so beautiful to see the lively marine life around El Nido islands. On the other days, we did tour A,B, and C. They were around the same price for each tour - 25 USD. It started at 9 AM and typically ends around 3PM. The two most commonly recommended tour is A and C. It's okay to book the day before at your hotel or hostel. There's so many tour companies that operate these tours.
My favorite tour was C because it was the more "adventure" tour. We got to swim through a cave in the ocean to find a hidden beach. Beware of plankton, they kept bitting me and it got pretty itchy after. Also, remember to bring water shoes! On one of the tours, you have to climb inside a cave. Another great attraction in El Nido is zip lining. We aimed for sunset and it was magnificiant!
My favorite restaurant was called Angel's Wish in El Nido. My cousin and I met a nice filipino family at our hostel who told us about this place with cheap seafood. We had a seafood feast and spent only 15$ USD each. Loved the garlic shrimp and the clams with cheese and garlic.I think we went back 3 times.
For my boyfriend's 28th birthday celebration, we booked a trip to Coron in May. It was the perfect time to go in May as the weather was pristine and sea visibility was 15-20 meters. My boyfriend signed up for his Advance PADI courses at Fun and Sun Dive Center. Highly recommend this company because of the friendly staff, the nice boat, and the great lunch they provided on the boat.
Coron was my favorite place that I've dived to date because of the beautiful corals, wide array of fishes, and most importantly, the World War 2 ship wrecks. My boyfriend was doing his PADI Advance certification but I was able to fun dive with him. We did a total of 6 dives in two days. It was seriously breathtaking.
Coron is definitely less touristy than El Nido because its more difficult to access. It is because there are super cheap flights to Puerto Princessa everyday which takes you to El Nido (with the dreaded 7 hour bus ride to El Nido after). We stayed at the Two Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel and got the suite with the seaside view. It was in a really good location and the breakfast was MY FAVORITE! They had my favorite station - a congee station, along with an omelette station, cereal bar, and all your favorite western and philippino options.
We signed up for one group and one private tour for island hopping. On our last day, we had to catch a 3PM flight back to Manila so we arranged a private tour. This was the best idea because we started at an earlier time (7AM) and got to each island before anyone else. We were the ONLY people on each island and it was magnificent for photo taking. Our guide was also an expert photographer luckily and took some of my favorite photos to date.
Regarding food, we went to a few local places and my favorite was Lobster King. Make sure to make reservations because it's quite busy. SUPER fresh and affordable seafood from lobster to garlic shrimps. We had an entire plate of lobster for 20 USD. In every restaurant, I always had to order a coconut shake. They're so refreshing!
Coron also has a beautiful hike up to the top of the island where the Coron sign - its a perfect spot to watch the sunset. It's great to check out one night if you're up for 700 steps.
The beaches in Coron were not as nice as El Nido, but it was still one of the bluest waters I've seen !
Thanks for reading up to here guys! So if I had to compare the two places, I would say Coron has better diving and is less touristy. El Nido has better food, beaches, kayaking, and snorkeling. If I had to pick one, I would chose Coron because I love the scuba diving and the town is better since it's less touristy.
Hotel: Spin Hostel
Food/Drinks: Angel's Wish - my favorite seafood spot
Art Cafe - best cakes and western classics
Trattoria Altrove - Best Pizza and Italian
Kalabar and Pukka - Reggae music
Gusto's - Best Coffee
Sun Bar - best beach bar to watch sunset
L'assiette - Best Ice cream V and V Bagel - Best bagels
Coco Lush - Best Froyo
Things to do:
Tour A and C
Ziplining at Las Cabasa Beach
Two Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel
Food/Drinks: Lobster King - Best seafood
Winnie's Restaurant - Good Local find with combination of asian and european dishes