San Vicente, Palawan: Tropical Pulchritude of Port Barton
Turquoise waters, sapphire skies and fecund foliage all come together at Port Barton, Palawan.
Located between the tourist hotspots of Puerto Princesa and El Nido, Port Barton – a modest barangay (village) in the municipality of San Vicente – surprisingly receives only a trickle of tourists, catering mostly to backpackers looking for some solitude and relaxation. Even during the “super peak” season of Holy Week when I visited, there were barely any tourists and many rooms available. Supple sands hugged by jungle-clad mountains, turquoise waters and lovely coral gardens where turtles and reef fish cruise, framed by sapphire skies and honey-colored sunsets. An idyllic beach retreat could not get any better than this!
A green sea turtle cruises by Albaguen Island
Relax on the white sand shores of German Island
Free dive with a school of vigrate rabbitfish at Exotic Island
The tropical bliss doesn’t end at the mainland beach with its kowtowing coconuts and genteel villagers. Offshore, more white-sand abodes await such as German and Exotic Islands. One can hop across glassy waters and verdant isles the whole day to enjoy pockets of pristine beaches and snorkel at pretty coral gardens. I joined four Israeli tourists on a full-day of island-hopping. Having visit Boracay and El Nido, they were impressed with the tranquility of Port Barton. The bay is a refuge for a variety of marine life, including green sea turtles. We spotted two shy turtles at the snorkeling site at Albaguen Island. And I was dazzled by a big school of yellow rabbitfish, just off Exotic Island, while waiting for our lunch of chicken and fish to be cooked by our boatman.
Take a jungle walk to Pamuayan Falls for a refreshing dip!
Port Barton’s alluring natural beauty extends inland where rainforest cascade to the sea. An hour’s walk from the beach takes you to refreshing Pamuayan Falls, passing through a jungle trail lined with pitcher plants, wild orchids, ginger torch and bird of paradise flowers. Serendipitously, I ran into Israeli travelers I met on the island-hopping trip the day before on the trail. The trail to the falls was a leisurely, well-marked path, traversing some shallow streams and gully of boulders. Upon reaching the falls, a swim in its cool and clean waters was inevitable. We dog-paddled across the pool to the falls, sitting on the rocks to enjoy the splashing water of the cascade. Port Barton’s allure does not rely on luxury and grandeur, but in simplicity and languidness, in the effortless orchestration of tropical pleasures. While El Nido and Coron has its towering karsts and Puerto Princesa its underground river, Port Barton revels in a secret love affair between rainforest and reef, best enjoyed slow and steady at a sea turtle’s pace.
Ausan Cottages offers very affordable beachfront rooms, next to the tourism office.
HOW TO GET THERE: From San Jose terminal in Puerto Princesa, take the daily jeepney for Port Barton that leaves at 9:00 AM (PHP 250, 4 hours). Tip: Get there an hour earlier to get comfortable seats, as the jeepney can get really packed with people, livestock and produce. At Port Barton, island-hopping trips are PHP 1,500/boat or PHP 500/person (with lunch). Snorkel, mask and fins are rented out at PHP 200/day. Daniel (+63 9469944295) of the Tourism Office, located at the center of the main beach, can help group solo travelers and arrange trips. WHERE TO STAY: My stay in Port Barton was sponsored by Ausan Cottages, which offers affordable beachfront bungalows starting at only PHP 600 for two. For inquiries, contact Boel Baldon at +63 9296277522 or +63 9398900990. It’s right in the middle of the beach, next to the tourist assistance office. WHERE TO EAT: Beachfront restaurants are pricey (PHP 300 to 400 per plate). Find cheaper eats within Port Barton village at Gacayan Restaurant and Monkey Family Restaurant.
Welcome to my website! I’m travel writer, photographer and online influencer Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap from the Philippines. Join me as I hike, dive, fly, eat and do pretty much anything in between across 7,641 islands and beyond. Need to reach me? Please write me an email.