The tiny island of Coron off the north end of Palawan might seem quite remote and hard to get to. However for such a small and unassuming place the sheer beauty that can be found here means many flock to its turquoise waters and powder white sand beaches for a slice of paradise! However, depending on where you find yourself in either The Philippines or indeed the world there are a range of options available to you for getting here, some more adventurous that others! Here’s our El Nido to Coron ferry guide so you can experience this paradise island too and the Coron to El Nido ferry for the return trip!
Why you should head to Coron!?
Firstly, why even head over to this tiny island that seems a little out of the way to get to. Well, really what the question should be is why should you NOT come here. If you look the world “Paradise” up in the dictionary it should just say “Coron” next to it!! From the stunning white sand beaches lined with palm trees and little wooden shacks to the traditional little boats bobbing up and down on the most stunning turquoise water you’ve ever seen. There are hundreds of reasons to hop on that Coron to El Nido ferry!
Head over to the beautiful Kayangan Lake, owned by the indigenous people of this island and who still live here, and take in one of the most jaw dropping places in the world. Add to this the world class wreck diving and rainbow of corals and marine life just a few ft below the surface of the warm crystal clear water and you know you have to make the effort to take the Coron to El Nido boat or even fly direct from the mainland.
Check out our guide to Coron here: Things to do on the island paradise of Coron
How to get to Coron: Taking the ferry
El Nido to Coron ferry/ Coron to El Nido ferry:
The best way in our opinion is to take the El Nido to Coron ferry, this means you can lay back and relax and enjoy the stunning scenery on the way to Coron. From El Nido this is an easy to organise trip and relatively cheap too. There are also many option in the opposite direction too, the Coron to El Nido ferry can take you back too.
There are three options, the fast, the slow boat and the cargo ferry and each have a different price and time table, you also will have to pay 20 PHP (each) harbour tax when you leave.
Buying a ferry ticket in El Nido or Coron is easy as many of the tour operators can book you these. Be sure to ask for a discount if you book at the same time as an island hopping trip!
Check out our guide to El Nido here: Amazing island hopping in stunning El Nido
The regular/ slow ferry
(Our top pick of our How to get to Coron guide: El Nido to Coron ferry)
1400 PHP (£20.40 / $26.30)
Two boat companies: ‘Bunso’ and ‘MBCA Jessabel 2’ run them.
El Nido to Coron ferry:
Bunso leaves at 8:30 am every day of the week, Jessabel leaves at 7:30 am on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.
Coron to El Nido ferry:
Bunso leaves at 8:30 am every day of the week, Jessabel leaves at 7:30am on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.
This takes around 8 hours (They will tell you 5!)
The fast ferry:
1760 PHP (£25.60 / $33.00)
Ran by ‘Montenegro Lines’.
The ferry leaves at 6:30am everyday from El Nido to Coron and 12 noon from Coron to El Nido
This takes around 3.5 hours.
You can prebook your fast boat here:
The passenger cargo ship:
1150 PHP for air-conditioned seats / 1000 PHP for non air-conditioned
run by MV May Lillies (Atienza Shipping).
This only leaves on Wednesdays at 7:30am to Coron from El Nido and 7:00am on Monday from Coron to El Nido.
This takes around 8 hours.
Private boat and tour options:
Another option to consider is taking a boat trip tour between El Nido and Coron . This way you will be able to pay for a package where your transport is included and rather than having to book and organise boat trips once you arrive you can already be sure you won’t miss any of the incredible sights on Coron. These tours average at around four days and can be either standard or custom, some which include accommodation and food. One of the best option is also the private custom tours which is ideal if you want to enjoy this incredible place all to yourself. These tours also usually leave from Sibaltan on the other side of the peninsula which means they take a much more scenic and off the beaten track route. It’s something worth considering as an alternative option should you not feel comfortable taking the public ferries and if you also want to add something else to your trip.
The reality of taking the 8 hour El Nido to Coron ferry!
Now here comes the truth. It’s a long journey to be on one of those little wooden traditional boats, they’re not the most reliable (we broke down on the way back to El Nido!) and they do move around a bit in bad weather! The seating arrangement isn’t the best either. There are large plastic chairs in the middle and wooden benches at the sides. Usually it is quiet enough to spread out and use the life jackets as a pillow/ rest.
The journey on the El Nido to Coron ferry wasn’t too bad all things considered. The landscape we passed through was continually stunning and we were always in sight of land which both made for amazing views and also a sense of additional safety on this rickety craft! We did actually manage to get some decent sleep too and the benches on the sides are actually more comfortable than they look. A simple lunch was provided along with some fruit and water, though the vegetarian option was just plain rice! We did however stock up on snacks so we were prepared for the long haul! There is nothing for sale on the boat so bring supplies!
Overall it was an interesting journey. The boat was occupied by either fellow frugal backpackers or locals who couldn’t afford the more expensive and faster Coron to El Nido option. It meant a real look into the locals lives, for better or for worse… there was a live cockerel in a bag on the return journey… But it was an experience and quite an adventure, this would be our top pick for how to get to Coron and the best option for El Nido to Coron transport!
Accommodation in Coron:
Once you’ve taken the El Nido to Coron ferry you might find that accommodation on the small island is booked up fast and is more expensive than El Nido or other areas of The Philippines. You are best advised to book tour Coron accommodation as well in advance as you can to make sure you get an affordable room. We ended up having to stay in a non air conditioned room when it was pushing 40c and humid! Not something we’re keen on doing again!
Book your accommodation here:
From Puerto Princesa:
It is also possible to get the ferry from down in the capital of Palawan, Puerto Princesa though we recommend getting the bus to El Nido first which takes around 5 hours and spending some time there first before taking the El Nido to Coron ferry. You can then fly to the mainland from Coron or take the Coron to El Nido ferry back and the bus back down to Puerto Princesa.
You can pre book your bus here:
This is a long ferry taking around 15 hours as it has to essentially sail the whole length of Palawan. There are ferries on Saturday and Wednesday that run Puerto Princesa to Coron that leave at 11:59pm and arrive at 3:00pm the day after. Then on the way back ferries leave on Saturday and Wednesday at 6:00am arriving at 9:00pm the same day.
It is possible to take the boat over from Manila to Coron, however this is a long and tiring journey as it takes around 15 hours! 2Go operate this service on a much larger ferry rather than one of the smaller boats at least. It goes every Tuesday and Friday from Manila to Coron at 1:30pm arriving at 4:30am. From Coron to Manila it leaves every Sunday and Thursday at 4:30pm arriving at 7:30am. This is probably bottom of our How to get to Coron guide as you can fly over in less than an hour for a similar price and it’s much less scenic than the El Nido to Coron ferry!
For more info on the timetables of these ferries check this website out: www.thepinaysolobackpacker.com
You can book your ferry or flight from Manila to Coron here:
How to get to Coron: Flying in
Yes, it is possible to fly into this tiny island. However, if you are not a keen flyer you will want to be aware that the flights over here are small propeller planes! Cebu Pacific are the only operator that flies here and you can connect to Manila and Cebu easily and cheaply, however be sure to book in advance. If you are in any other areas of The Philippines than Palawan itself then it makes the most sense to fly over to Coron, even if you have to connect. You are sure to get great views either way!
Find your flight to Coron here:
Tips for the El Nido to Coron ferry
* Book the ferry as early as you can as they sell out!
* Book your accommodation in Coron as soon as you can too as it is much more limited and expensive than El Nido.
* Get to the port early. Even if you have a ticket there will be a lot of people queuing and it takes a while as bags are often searches by sniffer dogs and port fees need to be paid. You also want to get a good seat on the sides of the boar rather than in the middle.
* Take food and drink. There is lunch provided on board but if you are veggies like us then it ends up just being plain rice, a banana and some water. For the 8 hours on the Coron to El Nido ferry you’ll probably want something more! There is also nothing for sale on the boat either if you run out!
* Bring along a book or a movie or your kindle as the journey is long!
* Bring a travel pillow so you can get comfy and get some rest
* Bring a power pack for your phone as there are no power points on board.
* Wear sun cream! You can sit out of the sides or on top of the boat but be sure to wear sun cream, often when the wind is in your hair you don’t feel yourself burning!!
* You will likely be ok but its best to bring along a dry bag for your valuables incase it gets a bit choppy as the waves do sometimes come over the side!
How to get to Coron, which way did you find easiest and have you taken the El Nido to Coron ferry?
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