Explore a paradise you need to see for yourself with this Palawan itinerary. 

I’ll just jump in and say it: the Philippines is quite possibly the most beautiful country on Earth.

I know there are lots of other contenders for the title and there’s a good chance you’re yelling at your screen right now, but I’ve never been so blown away by the world around me as I was on our Palawan trip.

I mean, just look at it…

Palawan itinerary: Palawan tour of El Nido and Coron Philippines
You know you’re in the Philippines when you unexpectedly stumble across scenes like this.

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And, even though there are countless beautiful places in the Philippines, Palawan still takes the number one spot for me. 

If you’re thinking of visiting Palawan, first of all – great choice! It’s the kind of place that’s impossible to not love, and I know you’re going to have unforgettable trip. 

But, to make it even better, I’m going to cover everything you need to know in this Palawan itinerary. We’ll look at how long to spend in Palawan, how many days in Coron you will need, where else to go and how to make the most of your week in Palawan. 

I’ve also laid out my recommended Coron and El Nido itinerary, covering all my favourite spots in the region.

Ready to jump in? Let’s go!

Short on time? Pin this post for later:


Why visit Palawan?

Palawan has a strange sense of familiarity about it, most likely because it looks like one giant movie set. 

Fun fact: quite a few Hollywood films have used Palawan as a backdrop.

And, from its perfectly placed palms trees to the lush blue seas that splash against the thousands of islands, Palawan has all the perfect paradise vibes that you thought only existed in Hollywood films (and travel brochures – remember those?).

But Palawan is very, very real – even if the photos you take will look like they’ve been Photoshopped.

Despite all it has to offer our eyes and Instagram feeds, however, the Philippines is still relatively off the radar of most travellers.

Why? I have no idea. Who wouldn’t want to see this cluster of 7000+ islands for themselves? From surfing in Siargao to metropolitan Manila, the Philippines is full of unique travel experiences.

If you’re ready for some adventure, beaches and boats, it’s time to add the Philippines to your list – and there’s no better place to begin than in Palawan.


I’ve put together a downloadable packing list for the Philippines so you can make sure you don’t miss anything.

It’s interactive, too, so you can print it off or check it off on your laptop as you pack. 

Click here to download yours for free.

How many days to spend in Palawan

Palawan is one of the most popular areas of the Philippines for visitors, but don’t let that put you off.

The Philippines is still relatively untouched by tourists compared to most of the surrounding countries in South-East Asia, even if it’s beginning to grow.

My advice? Get in there now before the secret spreads and the Philippines becomes super popular!

And if you’ve never been to the Philippines before, Palawan is the perfect place to start. The question is: how long do you need in Palawan?

In all honesty, you could easily spend a month exploring Palawan. It’s not a small province, and there’s a lot to see and do.

It’s also a brilliant place to do nothing at all, so don’t rule out a few days of relaxation if you have time. 

For the sake of this itinerary, I’ve squeezed the best bits into a one week itinerary that can be adapted if you like.

Philippines beach el nido tour

Palawan destinations

Before we start talking about the best places to visit in Palawan, let’s clear up where Palawan is.

Destinations names in the Philippines can get a little confusing. Islands and provinces often share the same names – and that’s the case for Palawan.

Palawan can refer to the island of Palawan, or the wider province of Palawan in which Palawan island is located – confused yet? The islands of Palawan are located on the western side of the Philippines, close to the north of Malaysia.

If you only have 1-2 weeks in Palawan, you’ll probably want to spend most of that time in two main places: El Nido, on Palawan island, and Coron (or Coron island).

Palawan has no shortage of things to do and see.

From diving and snorkelling to kayaking into hidden lagoons, they’re all the kind of things that dreams are made of. However, most of them are accessible only by boat.

To make of most of your Palawan trip, I’d recommend booking on to one of the many boat tours. There are plenty of boats you can join.

But, if you’re travelling in a group – or don’t mind splashing a little more money – get a private tour.

A private boat with a local tour guide will make those memories even more special (and those ‘grams even more like-worthy).


Stay connected throughout your trip with SkyRoam pocket WiFi.

This handy little device will give you unlimited data so you’ll never be without maps, emails and a way to contact home.

The Ultimate Palawan Itinerary

Let’s get on to the good stuff, shall we? Here’s how to spend your time in Palawan!

I’ve created this Palawan itinerary based on a 7-day trip to the region, but you could of course spend longer there.

I know I could happily spend several months there, soaking up the sun and enjoying the ‘laid-back with a side of adventure’ lifestyle.

If you do end up spending longer than one or two weeks in Palawan, you can fill the extra days with more of the boat tours or exploring the mainland beaches and viewpoints.

But these are the ones I’d recommend no matter how long your Palawan trip lasts.

This Palawan itinerary begins in Coron and moves on to the El Nido itinerary afterwards. But, you could easily do things the other way around.

There’s no real advantage or disadvantage to either, so check the flights and take your pick!

child in coron philippines - palawan trip

A Coron itinerary for days 1-3

If you’re wondering how many days to spend in Coron vs how many days to spend on Palawan island, I would say you want about the same in each.

If I had to choose between the two, I would spend slightly longer in El Nido, but both need at least a couple of days to enjoy.

This part of the Palawan itinerary will make sure you maximise your time in Coron.

Day 1: Arrive in Coron 

The easiest way to get to Coron is to fly in from Manila. The flight takes just over an hour in total and there are several flights every day.

Plus, you’ll get to go on one of those super fun propeller planes.

As an increasingly popular destination, there are quite a few hotels in Coron and it’s likely that more will soon.

We checked into the Corto del Mar and had zero complaints. It’ll set you back more than a hostel, but you’ll get a very large room to unwind in, a beautiful pool to cool down in and the breakfast is second to none.

TRAVEL TIP: try the tapsilog, a dish consisting of marinated beef strips, fried egg and rice. It doesn’t sound like breakfast but it sure makes a good one!

Day 2: Hop on a Coron boat tour 

It’s time to get out onto the water! Since a lot of this Palawan trip is water-based, we may as well get out on the sea as soon as possible, right?

Even though there’s not as much to explore by boat as there will be in El Nido (we’re getting there soon, don’t worry!), there’s enough to see in Coron to fill an entire day.

And a little word of warning: it’s going to be a long one.

Just make sure you come prepared for this part of trip. I put together this free Philippines packing list to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Palawan itinerary- island hopping boat trip in el nido Philippines

If you can organise a private boat tour, set off bright and early to beat the crowds. Ask your crew to take you to the following spots:

Kayangan Lake: A beautiful lake that you’ll just want to jump into! You’ll also get a pretty amazing view on the short climb up to it.

The Twin Lagoons: Remember that photo at the top of this post? That was taken at twin lagoons. the twin lagoons are best seen by kayak, so try to hop on a boat tour that includes one.

Calachuchi Beach: We stopped here for lunch and almost had it entirely to ourselves. Let’s just say there are worse places to enjoy a boat BBQ!

The Japanese Shipwreck: Just what it sounds like – a shipwrecked boat that you can dive down to or see from the top of the water with a snorkel mask.

Coral Garden: If you’re into snorkelling, you’ll be pleased to know that your Palawan trip can include as much snorkelling as you like. There are heaps of snorkelling spots around Palawan, but we all agreed that this one was our favourite. It’s absolutely breath-taking, so don’t miss a stop at the Coral Garden.

TRAVEL TIP: There’s lot of snorkelling to enjoy in the Philippines. Just make sure you have adequate travel insurance to cover water-based activities. I use and recommend World Nomads– you can read more about why in this post.

Coron Tours

If you’d rather book onto an organised tour in advance, these Coron island hopping tours cover all or most of my recommended places:

Coron Ultimate Tour: For a little bit of everything

Coron Tour D: If you want to spend more time above and below – rather that on – the water

Coron Tour B: If you want to spend as much time swimming as possible

Day 3: Explore Coron by land 

As tempting as it is, don’t limit your time in Coron to island hopping.

Even though the focus of any Palawan trip will always be water-based, Coron has some drier sights worth visiting too.

Start your day with a walk up to to Mount Tapyas, where the big ‘Coron’ sign sits. You’ll want to set off early to avoid making the same mistake as us and getting caught in the scorching mid-day heat!

After a 700-step climb, you’ll get to enjoy what is probably the best view of Coron. Make sure you leave some time to enjoy it (and take a break after the climb!).

The other main attraction in Coron is the Maquinit hot springs. Here, you can relax in the natural baths before cooling down with a drink.

They’re a little way out of town, so hire a scooter to explore, hop in a taxi or flag down a trike to drive you out there.

If you want to keep things as low-stress as possible, you can also hop on this super affordable tour which covers all of the above and more.

Spend the evening exploring the streets of Coron town, checking out the local food market and meeting the cutest kids in the world.

child in coron philippines

Days 4-7: Palawan El Nido itinerary

Now you’ve seen the best of Coron, it’s time to head to my favourite spot of all: El Nido. 

This El Nido itinerary assumes you have 3-4 days to enjoy this part of Palawan. However, if you have more time, you could easily fill your days here.

Day 4: Transfer to El Nido 

Take the Montenegro fast boat from Coron to El Nido. A one-way trip costs 1,848 Filipino pesos, which is roughly £26 ($34 USD), and can be booked on the Travel Palawan website.

Ferries need to be booked in advance and can fill up quickly. It’s best to book as soon as you know your travel plans.

Once you arrive in El Nido, the main area is just a  few minutes’ walk from the harbour. Check into Shipwreck Pension, one of the friendliest places I’ve ever stayed.

It’s on the main street, one row back from the water’s edge, so you’re perfectly located for exploring El  Nido.

On the same street, you’ll also find some restaurants to rival those in Siargao. Head to Little Italy for some seriously satisfying pizza or LC’s Burrito Bar for – you guessed it – burritos and other Mexican delights.

Day 5: Island Hopping in El Nido – Tour C 

There are four main boat tours that you can take from El Nido: the imaginatively named Tour A, Tour B, Tour C and Tour D.

Begin with Tour C to make sure you get to see the best of Palawan’s islands and beaches. It includes Helicopter Beach, Matinloc Shrine – where you’ll stop for a fresh seafood lunch – Secret Beach and Hidden Beach.

There will plenty of chance to swim, snorkel and sunbathe, so make sure you bring a bikini and a towel. Book your tour in advance here.

Palawan Philippines el nideo island hopping
Philippines beach el nido tour palawan

Day 6: El Nido land tour 

Just like Coron, El Nido has plenty of places to explore on land too.

One of the best places to visit in El Nido is the Nagkalit Kalit waterfall. It’s a short trek in (around 30-45 minutes, depending on your speed) so it’s best to start early again.

After visiting the waterfalls, reward yourself with an afternoon at the beach. El Nido has some of the best beaches in Palawan. Make sure you check out the unbelievable NacPan Beach and Corong Corong Beach.

As everything’s a little out of the way, you’ll need to hire a scooter or (better yet) a driver for the day – especially if you plan to enjoy a rum coconut or two.

Day 7: Island Hopping in El Nido – Tour A

We’ve made it to the final day of the Palawan itinerary! Even though that’s a little bit sad, don’t worry – it’s going to end on a high.

El Nido’s Tour A is the one that most people book onto first (probably for obvious reasons). I say save this one until last so that you leave with fresh memories of the bluest lagoons and beautiful beaches.

Tour A has the most photogenic stops of all. With three stunning lagoons, a stop at 7 Commando Island and a beach you won’t want to leave, it’s a real treat.

It’s the perfect way to end your Palawan trip and one that you won’t want to miss during your time in the Philippines. Book your tour in advance here.

This Palawan itinerary has, of course, just scraped the surface.

If you have a little more time in Palawan, take a few days to enjoy the beaches and meet the local people. There’s plenty more to explore in the areas around El Nido and Coron.

Yes, many people visit Palawan for the island hopping tours and move on to the next spot as soon as they’re done. But, there’s SO much more to Palawan than its boats and beaches (as incredible as they are!).

If you want more inspiration for your trip and to see this Palawan itinerary in action, check out my Philippines playlists on YouTube. Warning: you might end up booking a flight!

Alajode UK travel blog and vlog by a female digital nomad
Jodie Marie Dewberry

Jodie has been travelling the world full time since 2017, sharing the most unique places in the world along with tips for living as a digital nomad. She is a passionate wildlife photographer and has worked with a number of prominent travel brands, including airlines, tourism boards, hotels and tour operators.

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