Note: As a precautionary measure in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, it is best to check with the authorities the updated travel requirements and possible restrictions that might affect your travel plan. Contact San Vicente, Palawan Tourism office at [email protected] or at +63 931 096 8877 to know the latest update.
Remember to always follow the health and safety protocols imposed from your travel origin to your destination. I wish you a safe trip ahead!
Traveling to San Vicente or Port Barton for the first time? This detailed DIY travel guide is exactly what you need. Scroll down and take note of the outlined information from sample itinerary and budget, best places to visit, top things to do, recommended tours and transports, budget-friendly accommodations, and other travel tips. Have a fun and enjoyable trip ahead!
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SAN VICENTE AT A GLANCE
As to why SAN VICENTE remains an unpopular tourist destination up to these days is way beyond me. I just think that this first-class community at the northwestern side of Palawan is too interesting to be missed out for travelers who seek for the raw beauty of a tropical paradise. For not only that it owns the impressive Long Beach – the longest beach in the Philippines which runs to an extent of 15 kilometers of soft, golden-flax sands – it also snugs down the sleepy fishing village of Port Barton which boasts of a rich marine park that is slowly making the rounds among backpackers in their list of must-see, off-the-beaten tracks.
Perhaps, it is due to the fact that San Vicente is between the more touristy Puerto Princesa and El Nido, or because its location is quite secluded and lacks the proper transport for easy access. Either way, San Vicente of Palawan is truly a must-visit, so while it is still on its naturally untouched, laid-back state and has not reached the hands of commercial tourism, go pack your bag and start hitting its road.
WHERE TO STAY IN SAN VICENTE (PORT BARTON)
Firstly, don’t miss out the fact that Port Barton is only a village in San Vicente, and what others refer to as “San Vicente” is Poblacion, the town proper. In booking your accommodation, make sure to take note of this detail as both places are two hours apart. You don’t want to end up going on a long drive or chartering an expensive boat after getting to the wrong location. Each place would ideally require a full day to tour around so choosing the right place to stay depends on your itinerary.
In San Vicente Poblacion, if you opt to stay near the beachfront, here are some of the top-rated properties that are a short distance from Long Beach.
- Turublien Long Beach Inn and Bar Rating: 8.0 | Price: P800 for a family room
- Acuario Beach Inn Rating: 8.3 | Price: P989 for a standard room
- Victoria Beach House Rating: 8.1 | Price: 1,400+ for a double room
- Club Agutaya (High-end Resort) Rating: 8.3 | Price: P4,000 for a standard twin room
In Port Barton, here are top-reviewed properties that are close in proximity to the beach and the bus terminal:
- Clyde’s Nest and ArtCafe Rating: 8.5 | Price: P600 for double room with balcony
- KNA Boybits Homestay Rating: 8.7 | Price: 808 for a standard double room
- Janoras Tourist Inn Rating: 9.3 | Price: 850 for a twin room
- Westpoint Inn Rating: 9.1 | Price: 945 for a double room
HOW TO GET TO SAN VICENTE (PORT BARTON)
As tourism is slowly building up around the area, San Vicente is now reachable by plane via its own airport which is exclusively serviced by Philippine Airlines with flights departing from Clark, AirJuan coming from Puerto Princesa and Busuanga, and Skyjet from Manila.
By land, you may take the shuttle service to get to Port Barton from Puerto Princesa or El Nido from Klook. Click the link for details
- via Puerto Princesa: Shared City Transfers between Puerto Princesa and Port Barton for only P400
- via El Nido: City Transfers between El Nido and Port Barton for only P550
Note: San Vicente proper and Port Barton are totally different destinations and are more than an hour apart so make sure you are riding on the right shuttle to avoid any inconvenience.
If you are coming from El Nido and mistakenly take a Port Barton shuttle instead of San Vicente just like what I did, you can tell the driver to drop off at Tabyak junction where you can take a top-down tricycle for P200 for 3 persons. From the junction, it will take around 40 minutes of ride on a well-paved road at the highlands to get to San Vicente town proper. In case no driver is around at the junction, contact Kuya Rodrigo (one of the drivers in the area) at +63 910 082 1003.
BEST TOURIST SPOTS IN SAN VICENTE
Here are the best places and top tourist spots around San Vicente Poblacion and Port Barton which can be covered in a full 3-day DIY itinerary, whether you are solo or traveling in a group.
BATO NI NINGNING
Bato Ni Ningning served as a location of a local television show which helped promote its unspoiled beauty. It is unique for having two big boulders at the top of a verdant hill that gives a 360-degree seascape view including the nearby Irawan beach. Sunrise and sunset can be seen over from Bato Ni Ningning, which is quite magnificent as you can observe the sun peeking through the mountains.
Bato Ni Ningning is around 45 minutes away from the town proper. To get there, you need to charter a tricycle for around P500 round trip fee. The price is somewhat costly due to its distance as it will take to pass through two barangays before you get to Bato Ni Ningning. Note: The first half of the road is well-paved but the rest of it is pretty rough so get a cover as it might get dusty on your way on a sunny day.
Like most of the tourist spots in San Vicente, there is not so many travelers that have known Irawan Beach which is good news for those who want an uncrowded place to chill out and relax.
Irawan beach is patched with creamy, soft but rugged dunes due to the constant contact with strong waves and winds around the area. To get there, you can include Irawan beach in your tricycle tour to Bato Ni Ningning as they are just in the same barangay and very close in proximity.
Long beach is the very flagship of San Vicente as far as tourism goes. As its name suggests, it is a long, cream-colored, soft sandy beachfront that is stretched out to an expanse of 8 miles passing through three villages in San Vicente. Because of its sheer size, Long Beach is recognized as the longest sand beach in the Philippines.
On its distance, Long beach is 2-kilometer away in average from any place around San Vicente Proper, though much closer from its airport. To get to Long Beach, you can charter a tricycle for a round trip fare of P250 for a maximum of 3 persons or motorbike for P100 per person.
In my visit, I opted to walk to the Long beach which took me about 30 minutes from Mamacita, the hostel where I stayed at the town proper. Walking was my way of discovering and getting a better feel of the community which was not tiring as I did it in the afternoon and the path was full of shades especially near the beach.
PORT BARTON MARINE PARK
More than its tranquil, laid-back atmosphere, what draws tourists to Port Barton is its marine park which safeguards a colorful reef and sanctuary that is teeming with marine wildlife around its 750-square kilometer area. Tourists would usually go island hopping on its top tourist spots which are divided into 4 tours; each is good for 1 day and costs around P750 per person for a joiner tour or P3,000 for a private boat tour good for 3 persons. The more popular attractions in Port Barton Marine park are the small islands of German, Paradise and Exotic, which are just a glance away from each other. An environmental fee of P50 is charged for each tourist by the Tourism Office.
Port Barton Marine Park strictly reinforces a No Fishing Policy and is heavily protected against illegal fishing and wildlife poaching.
There is no direct van trip from Port Barton to San Vicente Poblacion and vice versa. To get there from San Vicente, charter a motorbike or tricycle for a price of P500 to P700 or charter a boat good for 3 persons for P3,000. Boats are docked near San Vicente public market. If you are in Port Barton, you may arrange your island hopping tour with Kuya Bebs. Contact them at +63 927 808 6200.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN SAN VICENTE
Like in El Nido and Puerto Princesa, the top things to do and the more popular tourist activities around San Vicente are island hopping, beach bumming and snorkeling. Port Barton Marine Park and Island hopping can be arranged either in San Vicente proper or in Port Barton, which comes in 4 different tours covering its 12 islands as shown below:
- Twin reef
- Wide reef
- Exotic island
- German island
- Aquarium Reef
- Marine sanctuary
- Paradise island
- Double island reef
- Twin reef
- Capsalay reef
- Palawan camping
- Bigaho Waterfalls
- Middle rock
- Paradise cove
- Coconut garden
- Secret paradise resort
- Wild reef
SAN VICENTE RECOMMENDED TOURS
Due to transport availability, I recommend that you arrange a tour package when going around the tourist spots in San Vicente, Palawan. Klook offers tour services which are as follows. Click the link for itinerary details.
- San Vicente Land Tour for only P1,100+ per person
- Port Barton Island Hopping Tour from San Vicente (Join-In Tour) for only P1,100+ per person
SAN VICENTE SAMPLE ITINERARY & BUDGET
This sample San Vicente DIY itinerary generally targets two top-rated attractions: Long beach and Port Barton Marine Park, with one day allocation for each as they are more than an hour away from each other and going on an island hopping in marine park would take up a full day.
The 3-day San Vicente Poblacion and Port Barton travel itinerary assumes a party of two and would set back an estimated budget of P3,225+ per person which includes expenses for food, transportation, and tour fees. It does not cover cost for airfare, accommodation, souvenir items and other incidentals.
|Arrive at Puerto Princesa Airport||7:00AM||–|
|To San Jose Bus Terminal||7:30AM||P50|
|Stop over to eat||11:00AM||P150|
|Arrive at San Vicente||12:00PM||P400|
|Charter Trike to Long Beach||3:00PM||P125|
|Stroll and Sunset||6:00PM||–|
|Back to Hostel||7:00PM||–|
|To Bato Ni Ningning for sunrise||7:00AM||P250|
|Back to Hostel||11:00AM||–|
|Lunch and Check-out||12:00PM||P150|
|Charter Motorbike to Port Barton||2:00PM||P500|
|Arrive at Port Barton and Check in||4:00PM||–|
|End of Island Hopping||4:00PM||–|
|Check out and take a van to Puerto||5:00PM||P350|
Things to note for this sample itinerary:
- The start and end of the itinerary is at Puerto Princesa Airport.
- Make sure to arrange a round trip tour when getting to Long Beach as public transportation is limited in the area especially at night.
- Tourism in San Vicente is not yet regulated so it is best to agree the price before going on a tour to avoid getting ripped off.
- Contact Kuya Ryan at +63 948 407 1273 if you are looking for a motorbike driver that can service from San Vicente proper to Port Barton.
TIPS WHEN TRAVELING TO SAN VICENTE
Here are helpful tips when touring around San Vicente, including Port Barton.
- San Vicente can be enjoyed by just chilling out on its tranquil and uncrowded beaches, but it pays for a good experience if you also try out other tourist attractions like Bigaho and Papawyan (or Pamuayan) falls, and the whole of Port Barton Marine Park.
- The best time to visit San Vicente including Port Barton is during dry season from late January to early June when it’s perfect time to go island hopping and embark on a land tour.
- Globe has a good data and network connectivity in San Vicente proper, while Smart is a bit patchy. In Port Barton, internet is limited for all networks. Most accommodations around San Vicente offer free wireless internet but with slow connection.
- Transactions in San Vicente is on a cash basis. Bring enough cash with you as ATM is not available in Port Barton. In San Vicente proper however, there is one near the port. If it does not work, you may go to the Caltex station as they exchange money with your debit or credit card using a POS machine. There is a 6% charge for each exchange.
- Like in all places in the Philippines, electric socket is type A. Electricity is available 24 hours in San Vicente proper but limited around 10:00AM to 5:00AM in Port Barton so make sure to bring an extra battery and powerbank for your gadgets.
- Major hospitals are not available (only small clinics and rural health center) in San Vicente. The nearest major medical center is in Roxas which is an hour drive away.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT SAN VICENTE
- San Vicente, Palawan which is named after Saint Vincent Ferrer, occupies a land area of 146,294 hectares that holds a population of around 32,000 residents. Clearly, it’s one that has a few number of populace against its geographical territory.
- San Vicente is composed of 22 chartered islands and is politically divided into 10 barangays, including Port Barton.
- As San Vicente is still a relatively unpopular tourist destination, it never gets crowded even during the summer months of April to June which are considerably its peak season.
- The life in San Vicente is slow and totally constraint to simple living. For most of the people, livelihood consists only of fishing and farming.
Like in any parts of the Philippines, the locals can speak English in San Vicente, Palawan. However, here are some good phrases that might prove useful when you find yourself endearing with them.
English to Tagalog (the most prevalent language among the locals in San Vicente)
Thank you – Salamat
Good morning – Magandang umaga
Good afternoon – Magandang hapon
Good evening – Magandang gabi
How much is… – Magkano ang…
Where is… – Saan ang…
MY TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS IN SAN VICENTE
What I like?
San Vicente was only a side trip when I decided to travel around the top destinations in Palawan. After going to Balabac where I was showed out to some of the finest sandbars in the Philippines, I really didn’t expect much of other places. However, San Vicente stood out for its rural and tranquil environment. It was the place I never thought I needed to redeem my energy after a long, exhausting land trip from Balabac to Puerto Princesa.
On a very personal note, San Vicente was memorable because it’s where I met a new friend from the Netherlands, who is such a wonderful spirit. We were the only tourists in the area as I observed, but it was not after the fact that I was forced to interact with her since I rarely talk when I travel, but it’s a rare opportunity when you meet someone who you can easily be comfortable with right at the first conversation. Long story short, we have the same set of interests, and I guess at the same wavelength; also both an old school so we clicked easily.
What I don’t like?
Access to cash and transport were a primary concern when I traveled to San Vicente, but as tourism is slowly building up, I feel this would no longer be a problem in the near future.
EXTEND YOUR TRIP
Go to other major tourist destinations in Palawan:
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