There’s a Coron & Palawan itinerary for everybody! Often the first port of call for visitors to this huge and sprawling archipelago, Palawan is sadly no hidden gem. Backpacker favourite El Nido is where it will all begin for many. Regretfully, for some it will also end in Palawan.
Those who choose to explore more of what Palawan has to offer will discover gorgeous beaches, perfect lagoons and outstanding scenery by adding Coron to their itinerary. It may be more difficult to find than before, but hidden paradise is still in Palawan and Coron: our Itinerary will help you find it.
Coron joined the party a little later than its island neighbour. Here you’ll also find island hopping and perfect white sand beaches, but it’s a haven for scuba diving too. Some of the world’s best wreck dives – mostly Japanese war ships – are sunk around Busuanga Island.
Despite their obvious attractions, many will argue that both Palawan and Coron have become victims of their own success. Boats can be crammed, streets are crowded and low-key infrastructure struggles to cope with the influx of visitors. Use our Palawan and Coron Itinerary & Budget to plan your trip, make the most of your time there and avoid the tourist traps.
Itinerary 1 – backpacker’s Coron and Palawan – is a typical budget trip. Travelling on a budget you’ll take an exhilarating road trip around Busuanga Island before heading to El Nido for a party and some of the country’s best island hopping. Although it remains a backpacker favourite, Palawan has recently become popular with holiday-makers as well. And it makes sense – you can see an awful lot in your two weeks here. That’s where Itinerary 2 – holiday-maker’s Palawan – helps you out. Choosing to holiday in Coron instead? Then Itinerary 3 – holiday-maker’s Coron – is the one for you.
- 1: Backpacker’s Coron and Palawan Itinerary
- 2: Holiday-maker’s Palawan
- 3: Holiday-maker’s Coron
- Typical Coron & Palawan Backpacker Budget Breakdown
1: Backpacker’s Coron and Palawan Itinerary
For those of us backpacking on a budget, this is the Coron and Palwan itinerary to stick by. After flying in to Busuanga Airport you can enjoy the island hopping all to yourself on a private tour. Then, after renting your bike, you’ll do a loop and explore the best of what the island has to offer.
Catch a mini-van from Busuanga Airport to Coron Town (P150). Check in to Happy Camper Hostel (dorm P400) and get talking to the other guests. Try and gather around 6 of you to organise private island hopping for tomorrow. Nobody in the hostel? Then grab some dinner at Levine’s (the spicy eggplant is delicious), before sipping back the rum and cokes (P50) in legendary No Name Bar and organising your posse there instead.
WEE TIP: private island hopping is 100% the way to see the islands around Coron. Your price for the private tour and captain won’t include your food, environmental fee or entrance fees. However, when you add it all up, it works out roughly the same price as the organised tours. You can choose where you want to go, spend as long as you want there and there will be far less people too. A stark contrast to the normal packed island hopping tours.
After your island hopping, you’ll probably stay out late with your new boat mates. Wake up late on Day 3 and sweat off the hangover at Maquinit Hot Springs (P150). Back in town, explore the local market and Mt. Tapyas for sunset. Organise your bike rental with Angel’s Bike Hire and confirm your extra night at Happy Camper Hostel on your return (so that you can leave your luggage). Tomorrow you’re hitting the road.
Semi-automatic checked, bags left and petrol filled? Aim for Concepcion where you’ll enjoy Concepcion Falls (P100), then check in to Busuanga Backpackers Hostel. Once Buddy’s calmed down, figure out prices for island hopping tomorrow. If you’d rather scuba dive, then head in to town and organise your diving with Simon at Pirate Divers for tomorrow instead. Read our Coron RAG to find out about Daniel’s unfortunate underwater experience…
After your scuba diving or island hopping on Day 5, grab some dinner at Bella Louise (spot the Scotland flag!). You’ll have great views of the spectacular sunset followed by a show from the bats. Get a good rest before more driving tomorrow.
Today you’re heading to little-visited Okam Okam beach and the freshest seafood lunch you can imagine. Snoozing on the hammocks you’ve a decision to make. Either spend the night in a treehouse on Okam Okam (P500) or brave the roads a little further north to stunning Atilo Beach (P200 tent pitch), where you can sleep below the stars. Regardless of where you wake up, take the scenic drive along Busuanga’s north coast to The Cheeki Diver Inn and spend the night there.
Go dugong diving and kayaking to deserted islands with Vicky. After an action packed few days, your road trip is over. Head back to Coron Town where you’ve got a reservation already at Happy Camper Hostel. Try not to enjoy too many happy-hour beers in town before your ferry to Palawan tomorrow.
WEE TIP: if you do one thing before your ferry to El Nido, buy anti-sickness pills (meclizine hydrochloride). A pack of 10 costs $1 from any pharmacy and they will save your life on this ferry. It has a bad reputation and is normally very choppy, so bear all of this in mind.
Once you’ve arrived in El Nido get checked in to your hostel and again, try organise island hopping with a private group for tomorrow. Bored of island hopping? Or is the budget really being stretched to do both? Worry not! Hire a bike and spend tomorrow enjoying Nacpan Beach instead, constantly voted one of the world’s best. On your last day in El Nido don’t worry about waking up early (you’re likely to have a sore head). Grab some falafel for lunch then spend the day at Las Cabañas beach and sunset at Corong Corong beach.
There are plenty more hidden coves to enjoy in the north of Palawan, but today you’re heading south to Port Barton. This is the perfect place for relaxing and, well, doing nothing. Catch up on your books, select your favourite hammock and spend a couple nights here re-calibrating. You’re almost at the end of this Palawan itinerary.
There isn’t much to do in Puerto Princesa itself. Catch your mini-van to town, and head straight to the airport for your flight to the next destination.
Of course, you can pack your itinerary Palawan and Coron itinerary with plenty more. If you’re managing to stretch your budget a little further, then see what else you can do with Itinerary 2 and Itinerary 3.
2: Holiday-maker’s Palawan Itinerary
If you’re only enjoying your two-week break from work then don’t panic! There is plenty to keep you busy on Palawan Island alone and this holiday-maker itinerary will keep you right.
Chances are you’ll be flying in to Puerto Princesa, the budget-carrier destination. There isn’t much to see in town itself, so check out the Underground River on your first full day in town (Day 2). Thereafter, head to Honda Bay, enjoying some time on remote islands and relaxing on beautiful beaches. There’s loads to see in the surrounding area.
Catch a transfer heading north to Port Barton. We highly, highly recommend staying at the hidden paradise of Toby & Thelma’s; a thirty-minute boat ride north. Spend 3 nights here enjoying the beautifully isolated beach, kayaking to unknown waterfalls, hiking, dugong snorkelling and island hopping with Toby himself. This is as good as it gets on Palawan Island.
Now it’s time to head north to El Nido for three nights. Organise a private island-hopping tour and enjoy visiting the best destinations with far fewer people there. Scuba diver? Then you’re spoilt for choice here too. Make sure to leave time for glorious Nacpan Beach as well.
Now for the real gem of your time in Palawan – you’re heading for the 3D/2N ‘cruise’ to Coron. This action-packed adventure is three days of the best of what the Philippines can offer. Enjoy sleeping on deserted islands, hog roasts by the bonfire, some of the country’s most unspoilt and outstanding beaches and all of it deserted, save you and your boatmates.
It’s time to fly home! Catch a flight from Busuanga Airport back to Manila, then onwards to your final destination.
3: Holiday-maker’s Coron Itinerary
Is Palawan sounding like a little too much to cover? Too crowded? Prefer something a little more low-key? Then this 2-week itinerary for Coron is the one for you.
Fly in to Busuanga Airport and head to your accommodation in Coron Town. Spend three nights here enjoying the lively atmosphere (No Name Bar is a must). On both of your full days in Coron Town you’re going island hopping. Enjoy a private tour to some of the Coron’s best islands, lagoons and beaches on the first day. The following day, take the tour to faraway Bulog Dos Island, Banana Island and Malcapuya Island.
On Day 4 rent your bike from Angel’s Bike Rental, because you’re doing the road trip which taxis and private transfers can’t help you out with. Head to Concepcion and check in to the luxurious Al Faro Resort. Enjoy the infinity pool and nearby Concepcion Falls (P100).
Tomorrow, go island hopping (including Calumbuyan Island and Pamalican Island) and enjoy a much quieter day on the sea. On Day 6, try out some of the best wreck diving in the world – without the two-hour transfers. Tomorrow, you’re heading even further north.
Find your spot on Okam Okam Beach, check in to your treehouse and relax. Order lunch early (it’s as fresh as can be) and relax on the beach today. Tomorrow you’ll spend the day on mysterious Black Island. On Day 9, head to gorgeous Atilio Beach for some lunch and a quick swim, on route to either Cashew Grove or The Cheeki Diver Inn.
Vicky at The Cheeki Diver Inn knows what she’s doing – so trust her when she recommends day trips to deserted coves, scuba diving with dugongs and kayaking. After a couple of nights here, your time in Coron is almost up.
If you have time, then enjoy the 3D/2N boat to Palawan in reverse order. After landing in El Nido, catch a flight back to Manila and sadly, it’ll be time to head home.
And that’s a wrap! We’ve put together a choice of three itineraries for all of Palawan and Coron that we think is worth seeing. Bear in mind that the costs can add up quick in the priciest islands in the Philippines. Backpackers will have to keep this in mind with their Palawan itinerary.
Leave a comment below if you have any additions to our itineraries or any other thoughts. Once you’ve planned your route, be sure to check out our WIT articles for the Busuanga Island Road Trip, Guide to Coron and Port Barton.
A Typical Backpacker Budget Breakdown
If you’re anything like us and you’re travelling long-term, then your daily budget is important. We’ve outlined our budgets below for our time in Palawan and Coron – what we personally spent and where. While this isn’t written with 100% accuracy, it’s not too far from it and should give you an idea on what you’ll spend on transport, attractions and accommodation.
Budget Breakdown (Itinerary 1):
Flight Manila – Busuanga: P8,200 ($157)
Accommodation: P10,550 ($200)
Attractions: P11,760 ($225)
Environmental Fee: P100 ($2) – Port Barton
Local Transport: P3,470 ($66)
Domestic Transport: P5,120 ($98)
Moving On (flight to Cebu): P6,500 ($124)
Total for 14D/13N: 45,700 ($875)
- P4,600pp Concepcion scuba diving,
- P1400pp island hopping Coron (you may be cheaper going private) including everything (environmental fee, guide, food, park entries)
- Petrol for scooter hire in Busuanga and El Nido
- The Cheeki Diver Inn tours (scuba diving etc)
- El Nido island hopping/scuba diving
This example budget is for two people. Food and drink is not included. The currency exchange rate was accurate at the time of writing (Jan ’19).
To see the budget breakdown for each individual destination, you can find them at the ‘Budget Breakdown’ section of our WIT articles for Busuanga Island Road Trip, Guide to Coron & Top Things to do in Port Barton.
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