Personal Blog #13 | Our Own Experience in El Nido & Coron
El Nido and Coron were the 2 places we were highly anticipating to visit. After all, when someone mentions the Philippines El Nido & Coron are the places that come to mind (and of course besides Boracay).
We started off from El Nido which isn’t the easiest place to reach when on a budget. Our previous destination was Bohol and the cheapest way of getting to El Nido would consist of just about any transport imaginable. The route was Bohol-Cebu by ferry and we decided to stay for 2 nights in Cebu. From Cebu we could of flown directly to El Nido. This wasn’t to be since the flights were super expensive. So we bought our flight tickets to Puerta Princessa, the Capital of Palawan around 6 hours bus ride from El Nido. This definitely wasn’t the most convenient option, however worked out much cheaper. In the end we saved 100 Euros each and would go to something more useful.
Puerto Princessa to El Nido
If you forget about the 6 hour ride, getting from Puerto Princessa to El Nido is easy and also cheap. We had a choice, either by bus or minivan. Minivan is the fastest and most expensive option. Or by bus. Buses are cheaper but do take longer. We always go for the bus. Beside buses being cheaper, they are much more comfortable and spacious. Minivans are always crammed up, unless lucky and you get to sit near the driver.
I must say, the bus was the best. It was like the business class of buses. Big comfy seats, so big there was just 3 seats per row. 2 on one side and one on the other. And lots of leg room.
TIP: the bus terminal in Puerto Princessa has 2 sections. One for buses and another for minivans. Tricycles will most likely take you near the minivans. The bus area is just across the street.
Finally we got To El Nido
At 9 am we left the bus terminal in Puerto Princessa, half way through stopped for a short break and around 14:30 arrived in El Nido.
What we thought of El Nido? No doubt this place is amazing. There is a reason why some places around the world are so popular. And that is for they are simply stunning. However, there were still a few things we disliked, for instance the town proper. Town proper is where most tourists stay but I must say it is in quite a bad shape. Construction is around every other corner and is unorganized. And the fact most of the beautiful surrounding is closed off, eliminates that feeling of being in such a unique place.
I’m not saying this to put anyone off, it’s just the way things are. After all, most of the day everyone goes on tours so you’ll only be at, or near your accommodation during the evening. A place I could recommend is Las Cabanas beach. A few restaurants line the beach and a small shopping and food complex has just opened its doors. And accommodation is lined along this beautiful beach that offers some of the best sunsets. But, yep there is a “but”, this is one of the most expensive areas in El Nido. So just keep that in mind.
What we were up to....
El Nido is land of tours. We don’t usually go on tours but El Nido is an exception. There are 4 tours simply known as tours A, B, C and D. Tours A and C are the most popular which suggests they must be impressive. We only managed to do tour A and were supposed to do tour C but weather conditions weren’t ideal. For this reason we can’t give much insight on the other tours B, C and D.
We were happy we managed to do Tour A even though weather conditions weren’t that great. The choppy sea conditions would crash all into the boat which made tour that much more exciting. And I was amazed how one of the crew was managing to cook our lunch while sailing.
In the end we stayed 5 days in El Nido hoping that the weather would be better and we could do tour C. This wasn’t the case so we spent most days cruising around the Northern tip of Palawan and seeking out some great beaches.
El Nido to Coron Expedition
The Philippines offers loads of adventures and we had a few thing that still needed to be ticked off our list of things to do. One of the adventures was a 3 day 2 night expedition from El Nido to Coron.
We started by checking prices of the most popular expedition and we almost chocked when we were told the prices. The price for the best reviewed expeditions is between 400 to 500 euro. Definitely beyond our budget at the time so we checked elsewhere. Other expeditions were 275/300 euro which is reasonable.
The company we booked with only takes a maximum of 10 people which in a way is good. However what we didn’t know was that the boat would be small. A bigger boat would of been much better. So just keep that in mind unless you’re into getting soaked in some parts of the trip, which honestly isn’t that great.
But for the rest of the trip it was simply amazing. We slept in bungalows on isolated island beaches, swam in crystal clear turquoise waters and our guides prepared the best meals. And just before arriving in Coron we did a small farewell party while sailing aboard this little boat.
Coron is what I imagine El Nido was like a few years ago. Laid back and not too touristy but just as stunning. Again, similar to El Nido the things to do in Coron are mostly out in the sea on nearby islands. To be honest, after 3 days sailing in rough waters we just about had enough of being out at sea everyday. However, us and the group that was with us on the expedition met up and did one last tour together. Since there was 7 of us, we decided to book a private boat which turned out to be cheaper than going on an organized tour. Pretty much we did the popular spots like Barracuda Lake, Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoon and our captain stopped us at what we would consider the best snorkeling spot we have come across.
We stayed 3 nights in Coron. Beside that day when we were out on a tour, the other day we rented a scooter and cruised around. We went to a couple of beaches further North of town, however both had low tide. So we rode all the way back down to Cabo beach, about 20 minutes ride from town. Cabo beach is no doubt one of the best beaches around. The beach itself is great however what stands out is a backdrop of a mountainous island.