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 and one of them is to do the incredible Combination Tour where you can see all the highlights including Kayangan Lake.
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.
How to get to Coron: Taking the El Nido to Coron 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 options 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 or you can book online beforehand using 12GoAsia which takes the hassle out of the process and means you can book well in advance before you even arrive! Travelling in the Philippines does sometimes require a little bit more pre-planning due to its island nature so the ability to book online really helps with that.
Regular Option: The Slow Ride For the Coron to El Nido 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!)
Fast Ferry: Quick Option for the El Nido to Coron 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.
El Nido to Coron ferry: You Can Pre-Book Your Ferry Here:
Coron to El Nido Ferry: The Passenger Cargo Ship Options:
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.
Booking this option is a little harder and must be done locally.
Alternative Options: Private boat option and tours for the El Nido to Coron Ferry:
Another option to consider is taking a private boat 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, so this would for sure be our top pick for how to get to Coron and the best option for El Nido to Coron transport for the experience, view and cost!
Information for When You Arrive: Where to Stay On Coron:
Coron can be relatively expensive compared to The Philippines as a whole given how small it is. There is still a lot of different options available for different budgets but do be aware that it will be more expensive than El Nido and a lot more expensive than places like Puerto Princesa.
The Best Backpacker Option: Hop Hostel
For backpackers willing to pay a little more for a hostel the best on the island has to be Hop Hostel. With great facilities, a clean and modern design with curtains on each bunk it’s the perfect place to base yourself. It even had private rooms and a rooftop bar and for us one of the most important things: good lockers and a kitchen!
Best Budget Hotel: Ricardo Valley Inn
If you don’t fancy a hostel then the Ricardo Valley Inn on the slopes of Mt. Tapyas is a great budget option with double, twin rooms and family rooms available in a nice quiet area of the island.
Fancy a Treat Whilst Staying on Coron: Bacau Bay Resort Coron
Ok, so for most of us we can’t afford to be staying at resorts, but hey, maybe you’re on holiday or just want to take the chance to splash out and stay somewhere incredible rather than in a hostel once in a while during your backpacking adventures. Either way we all want some comfort and luxury every now and then and Coron is an ideal place to do that and our recommendation would be Bacau Bay Resort. With a pool, gym, spa, wellness centre, restaurant and incredibly laid out and comfortable rooms it’s probably the best place to stay on the entire island if your budget allows!
Book Your Accommodation For Coron Here:
Information for When You Arrive: Where to Stay In El Nido:
The Best Backpacker Option: Spin Designer Hostel/ Happiness Hostel
For backpackers visiting El Nido there are a lot of hostels to stay in and one of the best in the town is the Spin Designer Hostel. It is one of those fantastic hostels that is just so well designed and arranged with an amazing vibe. The hostel has BBQ nights, pub crawls, movie nights and most importantly comfortable beds and clean bathrooms! It’s also close to the beach and has private rooms too.
Another wonderful hostel is the Happiness Hostel is a lovely hippy vibe hostel with a traditional style with a modern twist.
Mega Cheap Hostel: Big Mike Hostel
For those on a proper backpacker budget the basic Big Mike Hostel is the best offering for the low end of the market in El Nido. Don’t expect anything fancy but it does offer breakfast, clean rooms and friendly staff at rock bottom prices. It is also ideally located and one of the best rated hostels in El Nido.
Best Budget Hotel: Neela Tourist Lodge
If you’re still on a budget but want a nice hotel for the price then the Neela Tourist Lodge offers a tidy, well kept and comfortable place right near the beach and close enough to town too. Many of the rooms also either have terraces or balconies which makes it a lovely place for couples.
Fancy a Treat Whilst Staying in El Nido: Playa Encantada Beach Resort
For those on a holiday or backpackers looking to splash out a little and treat themselves to a couple of nights somewhere incredible then the Playa Encantada Beach Resort offers luxury for a comparatively affordable price. The tranquil and serene setting is right on the beach and offers private traditional style bamboo cottages and bungalows.
Book Your Accommodation For El Nido Here:
Other Alternative Routes & Methods of Transport: From Puerto Princesa, Manila and Flying Options:
Taking the Bus or Ferry From Puerto Princesa to El Nido:
It is also possible to get the ferry from down in the capital of Palawan, Puerto Princesa. 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 11:59 pm and arrive at 3:00 pm the day after. Then on the way back ferries leave on Saturday and Wednesday at 6:00am arriving at 9:00pm the same day.
Instead we recommend taking a bus/ mini van 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 or Ferry Here:
Taking the Bus From Puerto Princesa to Port Barton before continuing on to El Nido:
Another alternative way to get down to El Nido from Puerto Princesa is to call in for a few days at the sleepy backpacker town of Port Barton. The Bus from Puerto Princesa to El Nido isn’t too bad as it’s only 5 hours but it’s always nice to be able to break journeys up and Port Barton is well worth a stop over for at least a day or two.
You Can Pre Book Your Bus Here:
Getting to Puerto Princesa from Manila:
Of course. If you are going to take this route from Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan down through Port Barton, El Nido and finally over to Coron you will have to get there first. The only practical way is to take an Air Asia flight which takes around 1 hr.
You Can Pre Book Your Flight Here:
Getting to Coron From Manila:
Taking a Ferry:
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 1:30 pm arriving at 4:30 am.
From Coron to Manila it leaves every Sunday and Thursday at 4:30 pm arriving at 7:30 am.
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
Flying from Manila to Coron:
You can fly with a couple of airlines from Manila to Coron, the one we recommend is Cebu Pacific. The flight takes about 1 hour and you will be on a propeller plane!!
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 decent 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 powerpoints 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!
Our Recommended Route: Travelling to and From Coron and El Nido:
So, which was is best to travel between Coron and El Nido? Do you take a ferry, fly or take a long tour stopping off along the way? Well it all depends on how much time and resources you have but this is our recommended plan:
Take a bus from Puerto Princesa to Port Barton > Hang out in this backpacker paradise for a few days, stay in a shack and live on the beach!
Take another bus from Port Barton to El Nido > Take the short trip over to El Nido. You will need a few days here to take all the amazing boat trips over to places like the Big Lagoon and CYC beach!
Take the ferry over to Coron > Spend a few hours watching the world go by on the beautiful ferry trip. Then take a good few days to explore all Coron has to offer including SCUBA diving and the many boat tours available.
Fly from Coron to Manila or Cebu > Carry on your adventure by heading over to Cebu or head somewhere else from the capital of Manila.
Of course, if you’re coming in the opposite direction then you can do the same but in reverse!
Book Your Flight or Ferries Here:
How to get to Coron on The El Nido to Coron Ferry: Did we Cover All Your Questions?
Which way did you find Easiest If You’ve taken the El Nido to Coron ferry?
Book Your Tours For El Nido and Coron Here:
El Nido Tours:
Hey, You’ve Got Your Travel Insurance Sorted Haven’t You?
Travelling and especially backpacking is a wild adventure, but make sure you are covered just incase something goes wrong, which if you’re living it up to the fullest it’s always a possibility!
Check travel insurance prices with World Nomads here!