The more Affordable Island Tour in Palawan

If you are in the Philippines, the one thing people always book, is the amazing island hopping tour with TAO. However, did you know there is a more affordable option?

One of the things I really wanted to do whilst on my trip in the Philippines, was to take an island hopping tour for 3  or 5 days. Departing from El Nido to Coron or the other way around, in Palawan.

The Tao Expedition

This is a tour that not all tour operators offer. The most famous one around is the TAO Expedition tour. (they are highly recommended by the Lonely PlanetTao have become extremely popular over the last year because of all the media attention they have been given. They have the biggest and most badass boat in Palawan and they are extremely well organised. BUT. (Yes, there is a but) they are very very expensive. For a 3 days, 2 nights tour, you will need to pay 25.000 peso’s per person. This is almost 500 euro’s! Besides this shocking fact, they are fully booked if you don’t book in advance. I did however check in with them to see what my options were but they were fully booked.

The more affordable option

I thought this tour wasn’t going to happen.. Until I walked through El Nido town and saw a sign outside of a tour operator saying: ” El Nido to Coron 3 days, 2 nights, leaving 25th of December” I walked in and learned that this tour was offered at only 11500 peso’s. Jackpot! Yes, that’s still about 250 euro’s but half the price then TAO’s tour. Tip » Be aware that they will ask you to pay in cash. This is normal in El Nido but if they offer credit card payments or paypal, you should take that option as you need your cash in Palawan due to the lack of ATM’s.

crew el nido to coron tour
The crew!

The ultimate tour, but more affordable

What to bring:

» Sun protection +30 or more
» Bikini/Swimwear
» Towel (one that dries quickly
» Mosquito repellent
» Sunglasses
» Hat (for sun protection)
» Something warm (it can cool down at night)
» Toiletries but minimal (toothbrush, face cream etc)
» Slippers or watershoes
» Sea sickness tablets
» Paracetamol (just in case)
» waterproof camera or case

Elnido to Coron tour
Day 1 from El Nido to Coron

Unlike some places in Asia, the coral is very much alive and full of colours.

Day 1

Departure was at 10 in the morning. Make sure you confirm the right time and double check this. Getting out of El Nido town is always a beautiful sight with islands and beaches surrounding you. After 2 hours we stopped for some snorkeling and it was one of the most beautiful coral reefs I have ever seen! After 30 minutes of snorkeling, we continued our way to a beach where we could relax and enjoy our first lunch. On the first day you will be at sea a lot so prepare yourself for a sore bum and perhaps some sea sickness. 

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Our tents at our first camping site

At around 4-5pm, we arrived at our first camping ground. A simple island with nothing special but big enough to walk around the beach for about 20 minutes. Dinner is always freshly prepared and really tasty! Vegetable curry, Shrimps, Chicken or Pork and fresh Watermelon. The men of the boat (crew of 4), set up all the tents and prepare your food so you can relax. We made a big campfire and enjoyed the full moon. After all, it was Christmas!

El nido to Coron island hopping tour

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Waking up like this..

Day 2

The sun rises about 6am and that’s a pretty special moment so if you’re awake, you should get up and watch it. After breakfast we headed to the Linapacan islands, which have some of the cleanest and clearest waters on earth. It’s a great place where to snorkel and relax on some of the most beautiful beaches in Palawan. You will also get to meet the Tagbuana, the local people of Linapacan, and discover their culture. Here you can buy bread, sweets and soft drinks if you want. You will also visit 2 more snorkeling spots and spent the night at an island where there is a small village and a change to wash yourself. (don’t expect much!) This is also the only island that has a toilet. After a full day of swimming and exploring, I was tired before 10pm so decided to call it a day.

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Bluest sea ever?

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Local children of Linapacan

Day 3

This is the last day and probably the most relaxing day of all. I was used to the sea by now and enjoyed flying fish and water splashing against my salty skin. We were heading up north and stopped for lunch at the most beautiful beach ever. Apart from the occasional resort guest, you and the baot crew have this island for yourselfs. Be sure to wear sun protection or a hat as there is no shade. The water is shallow and clear and we stopped here for 2 hours before arriving in Coron at around 6pm. From here you can choose to continue your way here or go back to El Nido. 

Don’t head back at night!

I decided to go back as I wanted to celebrate New Years in El Nido but Coron has a lot to offer so plan your trip wisely! We went back at night as it was full moon and bright enough to see but it took us 10 hours to get back because of the stormy weather. Nope, that’s something I wouldn’t do over again. Thank god, nothing happened! 

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Total Cost:

On the website it says 18.000 peso’s and on the leaflet in the tourist office (in El Nido) it says 11500 but if they are not fully booked, you should be able to get it at 11000 or less. Remember, it’s all a game. I paid 10500 in the end. Tour operator: El Nido Paradise The best period to do the El Nido to Coron Tour is between Dec – March when the typhoon season is gone.


» Breakfast, lunch, dinner
» Water, beer, rum
» Tents, sheet, small pillow (No mattress!)
» Snorkeling gear (No flippers)
» English speaking guide
» Eco Fee

Tip »

Be aware that there are no showers or toilets on the first island and that on the second island you have a barrel of rainwater that you need to wash yourself with. If you can’t handle that, this trip is not for you. It’s the perfect way to travel from El Nido to Coron although I do think the TAO tour offers the best experience. Is it worth 500 euro’s? I’m not sure but at least you have a few options. Another tour I heard of is the Native Exploration Tour. They only offer a 5 day tour though for 20.000 peso’s.

For more tips and recommendations in the Philippines check below!



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  • Kimmie
    Posted at 13:41h, 05 April Reply

    Love it, this has officially been added to the bucket list!

  • Alexa Meisler
    Posted at 16:55h, 06 April Reply

    That looks amazing! Did they supply the tents? I visited Philippines last year, but only Cebu. Would love to head back for another visit and the island hopping sounds like so much fun.

    • Wander-lust
      Posted at 23:42h, 06 April Reply

      Hi Alexa, Yes they provided the tents but no mattresses so be aware that you’ll need to sleep on the sand (which is harder than you might think!)

  • Cristal
    Posted at 18:00h, 07 April Reply

    Wow! It looks so beautiful! I will definitely have to visit one day. Thank you for sharing!

    • Wander-lust
      Posted at 10:21h, 08 April Reply

      Glad to hear it! You will love it!

  • Saskia
    Posted at 10:38h, 04 August Reply

    Hi! I did the Tao trip, and although it is indeed expensive but instead of the 3 days you mention it is 5 days/4 nights for that price so different story! And worth every cent 🙂 Best trip I ever made, Ofcourse I can imagine other companies give you the same experience, same beautiful islands and water, but had to response after reading 🙂 aaaargh want to go back to Palawan, now!

    • Wander-lust
      Posted at 11:08h, 04 August Reply

      Yes, I hear this from several people but the TAO tour was fully booked. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Elle O'Keefe
    Posted at 14:03h, 15 November Reply


    Thank you so much for this insightful post.

    The only thing I am worried about is my luggage as i am continuing on my journey in Coron.

    Am i able to take my backpack? It may weigh about 15kg


    • Wander-lust
      Posted at 11:24h, 16 November Reply

      Hi Elle,

      Yes, you can take your bags on the boat. They will put it in the lower deck. You might want to add a plastic bag around it because it might get wet!

      • Trianna
        Posted at 05:41h, 16 January Reply

        Are the bags safe on the boat? I will have my computer that I use for work with me and I am worried about it getting stolen.

  • Andrea
    Posted at 08:31h, 01 February Reply


    this sounds great! We are going to do the same tour in April.
    Do you think if taking the Ultimate 3D/2N tour, then would 1 and a half day in El Nido be enough? Or should we still consider 2 or 3 days?


    • Wander-lust
      Posted at 11:50h, 01 February Reply

      We started the tour from El Nido to Coron and had our hotel in El Nido so I was there for much longer. We didn’t managed to see much of Coron unfortunately. It’s worth staying in El Nido a bit longer I think.

  • Nikky
    Posted at 07:33h, 10 February Reply

    Yes, you convinced me! Going to book for next week. I’m wondering though… no matress, like for real? Should I bring something or will it be fine as it is?

  • Maikel
    Posted at 06:19h, 06 March Reply

    Hi there! Sounds awesome! Do you know the name of the agency and do they over the other way around as well? (Coron -> El Nido) thanks!

  • Dian
    Posted at 10:47h, 24 September Reply

    Nice post! How is the company? Are they professional? I heard somewhere that the boat people from this company blasted music until 10 pm and sometimes even the entire night. My boyfriend and I are very conscious people and like to relax, not party all the time (which is why we avoid Tao). Did you experience anything like this during this tour? Thank you in advance! X

    • Wander-lust
      Posted at 21:47h, 25 September Reply

      They were not very professional but it was a small group and no loud music whatsoever. The tour and crew was great, just make sure you make clear agreements!

      • Jose
        Posted at 23:38h, 20 July Reply

        Great post! How many were on your group?

        • Wander-lust
          Posted at 20:22h, 22 July Reply

          We were with a small group of 6 people! 🙂

  • Edwin Camarao
    Posted at 04:59h, 28 April Reply

    Is there a one overnight tour to Coron?

    • Wander-lust
      Posted at 12:10h, 30 April Reply

      Yes many, but the one I did was also going to Coron and we stayed at several islands along the way. It’s around 8 to 10 hours with the boat if you want to do it in one night. You will have to check online to see which boats are going. Hope this helps!

  • liveaboard philippines
    Posted at 13:11h, 24 June Reply

    great points altogether, you just gained a logo new reader.
    What could you recommend in regards to your submit that you just made some
    days ago? Any sure?

  • Tonkin-Travel Vietnam
    Posted at 06:49h, 12 July Reply

    Thanks so much for your sharing! I intend to use my 5-day off to travel in the Philippines, but now I don’t know to choose between Palawan and Coron. Which one is more beautiful and convenient to reach?

  • Carly
    Posted at 11:34h, 20 November Reply

    Hi Elke,

    I met you in the Philippines in January of 2016 in Port Barton!! We walked together to the seculded island and took photos with the lone yellow canoe! Do you remember? Anyway. I am planning a trip back to the Philippines and I just realised this was your blog, when I saw your name signed at the end!!!!

    What a wonderful blog! I hope you and your husband are well.

    LOTS OF LOVE! xox

    • Wander-lust
      Posted at 13:25h, 20 November Reply

      Hiii Carly! Of course I remember! 🙂
      We have a (almost) 2 year old baby now, so traveling is a little less adventurous, but we still do lot’s of it! So nice that you will visit The Phillipines again, I also want to go back and see more! How are you?


  • James Henson
    Posted at 09:28h, 14 June Reply

    I dont know if anyone has heard of the Green Gecko Expedition. They do a 2 day expedition from Coron to El Nido and visa versa and the nice thing about them is if you have good weather and want to extend you can just stay on the island for $20 usd a day and that includes food.

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