Here’s our latest budget travel blog about Port Barton in San Vicente, Palawan! In this travel guide, you’ll find sample itineraries, breakdown of expenses, and recommendations on hotels and tours. Please note that this covers only Barangay Port Barton. For San Vicente’s poblacion and Long Beach area, read this instead: San Vicente Travel Guide.
We landed in Part Barton that late afternoon and found the resort we booked on the far end of the stretch. On the way there, we crossed a wooden bridge straddling a creek that seemed to fade even before it could touch the sea. Fronting the resort was a highly uneven terrain with a singular boat in the middle, far from the water. “Weird,” I mumbled to myself, struggling to see why people are raving about this place. “Maybe the sun is to blame.” It was hiding like a thief behind a thick curtain of clouds, stealing the fun from the air, the vibrance from the sea, the sheen from the shore, and the energy from my soul. Because of the dreary atmosphere and my even drearier attitude, I spent the rest of the day in my room. I had been traveling across Palawan for days now and the exhaustion had begun creeping in.
The next morning, as soon as I emerged from my room, I was greeted by a gorgeous view. The tides had reclaimed much of the beachfront. The uneven shore that I saw the day before was unrecognizable. Its valleys were flooded, and its crest now a long, white sandbar. The boat that I previously thought was recklessly abandoned was now flirting with the gentle waves. The sun had returned, surrendering the light and the vibrance to what I was seeing now as a truly idyllic beach paradise.
Hello there, Port Barton. It’s nice to finally meet you.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
Port Barton: Essential Travel Information
Port Barton is just a small village along the western coast of northern Palawan. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT a town. It is simply one of the barangays of the municipality of San Vicente. The confusion probably stems from the fact that when locals say “San Vicente,” they usually refer to the town proper (near Long Beach). Because Port Barton is 3 hours away from the poblacion (town proper) by land, it is always mistaken as a separate municipality.
Port Barton spans not only a jagged coastline punctuated with pockets of small beaches but also a dozen islands dotting the Port Barton Bay including Albaguen Island, Cagnipa Island, Cagsalan Island, and Inoladoan Island (Inaladelan Island, German Island).
It’s a small, quiet village. It’s so tiny, you can walk from one end to another in a matter of minutes. Unlike its more famous neighbor El Nido, it is not that popular among tourists. There are no luxury hotels here. No fancy restaurants. No crowds. But that’s exactly why the few tourists it manages to attract come here in the first place, its precious silence. Although tourism is beginning to grow, it barely makes a beep compared to all the roars of the usual juggernauts like Boracay, El Nido or Cebu.
More info you need to know:
- Language: Tagalog is spoken by the majority. But English is widely understood and spoken.
- Currency: Philippine peso (PHP, ₱). PHP100 is around USD1.92, EUR 1.56, SGD2.52 (as of April 2018).
- Mode of payment: CASH!
- Money Exchange & ATM. There are no banks or ATMs in Port Barton, so make sure you’re stuffed with pesos before you arrive. Exchange while you’re in Puerto Princesa or Manila.
- Safety: Palawan in general has a very low crime rate. But common safety practices should be observed. Don’t leave your belongings just anywhere and make sure you lock your room doors especially if you’re leaving. There are also no hospitals here, only a small clinic, so please be very careful. The nearest major medical center is in Puerto Princesa. And no, there are no terrorists in Port Barton.
- Electricity Info: 220V, 60Hz. Socket Type A, mostly. Electricity supply in Port Barton is limited. Power runs only between around 5pm until midnight, unless your hotel/inn has their own generator.
Best Time to Visit Port Barton
December to April. These months are the driest and sunniest. Thanks to its location and isolation, mainland Palawan isn’t hit by typhoons as often as the other parts of the Philippines, but the rest of the year still catches a lot of rain especially in August and September.
Port Barton is not popular among domestic tourists, who mostly flock in El Nido and Puerto Princesa. The majority of visitors in Port Barton (and San Vicente in general) comes from other countries, mostly Europe. Hence, peak season here is from December to February, when foreign tourists from the north go on tropical vacation to escape the winter cold.
How to Get to Port Barton
The closest commercial airport is San Vicente Airport, located near the town’s poblacion. Starting October 28, Philippine Airlines will fly from Clark to San Vicente at 7am daily. Travel time is 1 hour 40 minutes.
Another airport you can use is the Puerto Princesa International Airport, which is located around 3.5 hours away. As a major tourist destination, the city is served by all major local airlines. But the cheapest flights are operated by AirAsia. AirAsia flies to Puerto Princesa from Manila, Cebu, Clark, and Davao.
Below is a quick random scan of Manila-Puerto Princesa flights on Traveloka.
San Vicente Airport to Port Barton
Because it’s not operational yet, we don’t know exactly how to get to Port Barton from the airport. But looking at its location, I’m guessing you can take a tricycle or motorcycle to the town proper then take a boat or jeepney from there.
San Vicente Town Proper to Port Barton
The easiest way to reach Port Barton from the poblacion of San Vicente (Long Beach) is by boat. There is a boat called Magdalena that ferries passengers to Port Barton. However, the schedule isn’t consistent so it would be best to consult the tourism office at least a day before your trip.
Travel time: 1 hour
Alternatively, you can charter a private boat good for up to 4 pax. Price is between P1500 and P2000.
You may also travel by land. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried it yet so I have absolutely no clue.
Puerto Princesa to Port Barton
Years ago, getting to Port Barton from Puerto Princesa can take as long as 5 hours on a mostly uneven dirt road cutting across the forest. We even experienced having to alight in the middle of the rain one time because the bus got bogged down. But that’s all in the past.
These days, the journey from the city to Port Barton is more like a treat than a torture. The road is now paved and wide, and the trip lasts only 3-4 hours, depending on whether you’re taking the bus or the van.
This is my preferred mode of transportation. The buses look old but, I dunno, I just enjoy buses more than compact vans. These buses are NOT air-conditioned, but it’s not a bad thing at all in Palawan. Enjoy the fresh air and the scenes of Palawan countryside. I have fond memories of it because on one of my trips, I became friends with other passengers.
To take the bus, you need to get to San Jose Terminal first. At the airport, walk to the gate of the airport, where the tricycles are stationed. Hire a driver and ask to be taken to San Jose Terminal. Fare is P120 per ride. Split the cost if you’re a group. Alternatively, you can take a trike+jeepney combo, which is cheaper. But since I’m guessing you have heavy bags in tow, just go straight to the San Jose Terminal.
At San Jose Terminal, board the bus bound for Port Barton. As far as I know, there is only one bus per day, scheduled to leave at 9am. I’m not sure if they have added more buses.
Travel time: around 4 hours
The faster option! The van can take you to Port Barton in only 3 hours, sometimes even 2.5 hours. (I noticed over the years that many drivers from Puerto Princesa drive ridiculously fast. It’s nerve-racking sometimes.)
Also, there are multiple van trips per day, so you can travel in the morning or in the afternoon. You also have a choice between going to San Jose Terminal and getting picked up at the airport (or your hotel) for an additional fee.
Two van operators ply the Puerto Princesa-Port Barton route: SBE and Recaro.
Departure times: 7:30am, 9am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm
Contact number: 09054858597, 09093513037
Departure times: 6:30am, 9:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, 4pm
Contact number: 09194455021, 09951629155
Travel time: 3 hours
Fare: P350 from San Jose Terminal, P500 from the airport
El Nido to Port Barton
If you’re coming from El Nido, the van is the only way you can reach Port Barton directly overland. There are two trips per day, scheduled to leave El Nido at 8am and 1pm.
Travel time: 4-5 hours
Another way is to ride the van to Roxas (3 hours) and then hop into a jeepney to Port Barton (2 hours). But here’s the catch, there is only one jeepney ride to Port Barton per day and it’s set to leave Roxas at 11am, so make sure you leave El Nido early.
Where to Stay in Port Barton
The biggest concentration of lodging options is in the main settlement of Port Barton, along Itaytay Beach (also known as Port Barton Beach). It is where bus, van, and jeepney trips terminate, and where restaurants are also located. Everything is within walking distance here.
Lodging options here range from homestays to inns to resorts, but again, none of these are luxurious. Only few offer air-conditioning, which is often unnecessary, and have generators. As mentioned above, electricity is only available from 5:30pm to 12 midnight. Rooms usually cost P500-P2000 per night.
Port Barton doesn’t get too crowded, so that’s one thing you don’t have to worry much about. But in the peak season, it’s still best to make sure you have reserved accommodations before your arrival because options are quite limited too. The problem is, many of these properties are not on your usual hotel comparison websites, so I’m providing the email addresses and Facebook pages instead.
These are the properties I was able to try:
Besaga Beachfront Cottages
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Mobile Number: +639167408409
Room Rate: P1400 per night (room for 2)
Both of these properties lie on the northern end of the beach. Although Port Barton in general is quiet, it’s even more peaceful in this part of the village, detached from most establishments.
Here are other places where you can stay:
- Ferranco Tourist Inn. Check Rates & Availability.
- El Dorado Sunset Resort. +63 915 177 6023.
- Greenview Resort. +63 916 403 7788.
- Deep Moon Resort. +63 919 322 3054.
- Hashtag Tourist Inn. +63 921 358 5212.
- Ausan Cottages. +63 929 444 0582.
- Le Cou De Tou. +63 927 615 5739.
- JBR Tourist Inn. +63 939 596 2197.
You can also go camping! You can pitch tents in some parts of the beach. Or you can camp in Inaladelan Island Resort. Inaladelan Island, also called German Island, is a private resort that can be reached after a 15-20- minute boat ride. Here, you can camp out overnight. They provide the tents with foam bed, meals, kayak, and roundtrip boat transfers. They also have basic toilet facilities. Rate: P2500 per person (minimum of 2 pax).
Things to Do in Port Barton
To be honest, Port Barton does not have as many activities to offer as the other Palawan destinations like Coron, El Nido, or Puerto Princesa. Its main draw is its serenity, something that has been slowly slipping away from the others. Don’t go to Port Barton to party or to ride an ATV or to zipline or to see massive limestone cliffs. Go because you want the most relaxing getaway. Go because you want to get away from all the chaos. Go because you seek some peace of mind.
That said, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have anything to do here. You can still fill your day with exciting hours with nature.
Island Hopping Tours
The most popular activity here is going on a boat tour to some nearby islands and reefs. Tours are tagged from A to D, each with their own stops. They’re pretty similar to each other.
Standard rate: P700-800 per person
Lunch is included in all tours
Here are the stops per tour.
- Exotic Island
- German Island (Inaladelan Island)
- Twin Reef
- Fantastic Reef
- Paradise Island
- German Island (Inaladelan Island)
- Aquarium Reef
- Wide Reef
- Exotic Island
- German Island (Inaladelan Island)
- Paradise Island
- Fantastic Reef
- Exotic Island
- Marine Sanctuary
- Bigaho Waterfalls
If you want to mix them up, you can charter a private boat instead, which costs P3000-P4000 per boat. (Or you can talk to the boat captain.)
Note that Inaladelan Island (German Island), being a private resort, collects an additional P100 entrance fee per person. Speaking of Inaladelan Island…
Camping at Inaladelan Island (German Island)
This is my favorite beach in the entire Port Barton area. Locals call it German Island because it used to be owned by a German guy, according to our boatmen. But now, the new owners have converted it into a private resort and switched to its old name, Inaladelan.
Inaladelan Island can be visited as part of an island hopping tour, but if you want to stay longer, you can camp out too. There are no rooms or cottages here, but you can rent a tent with foam bed for a more comfortable stay.
Here are the rates and inclusions:
Rate: P1500 per person, minimum of 5 pax.
Includes: round trip boat transfers from Port Barton, entrance fee, light snack, and lunch.
Rate: P2500 per person, minimum of 2 pax.
Includes: round trip boat transfers from Port Barton, tents with foam bed, meals (lunch, breakfast), and kayak rental.
They also have basic toilet facilities.
Pamuayan Falls (Papawyan Falls)
This small cascade can be reached after a 1.5-hour trek through the forest and across some streams. But because this is off the beaten path, the trail isn’t conspicuous and can be confusing. It’s best to have a local guide for P300. Its cold water is perfect for a refreshing dip! If you decide to bring food, please take the trash back with you.
- Itaytay Beach. Although Port Barton’s main beach, called Itaytay Beach, pales in comparison to the sand strips cradled by the islands, it’s still a pretty good place to just laze around. My favorite part is the northern end with a sandbar sticking out to the sea.
- Secret Paradise Resort & Turtle Sanctuary. This eco-tourism destination takes pride in being “the only turtle sanctuary in the Philippines endorsed by WWF-Philippines”. I’m not sure if they’re open to day-trippers, but confirmed guests (those with room reservation) can access this 77-hectare nature reserve and its four beaches. Some green sea turtles, hawksbill turtles, and Olive Ridley turtles are also known to lay eggs at the site from October-March, the turtle season.
- Bigaho Falls. Another waterfall, but much farther north.
- Sunset watching. Port Barton faces west, which makes it a front row for watching spectacular sunsets! Nothing is more soothing!
- Long Beach. You can also visit Long Beach, the longest stretch of sand in Palawan, located near the poblacion of San Vicente, which is 1 hour away by boat. There are no regular boat trips, but you can charter a private boat for P2000 one-way or P4000 for a tour. If you’re backpacking alone, try to find other travelers to join you and split the cost. Another way to do it is to catch the Magdalena boat that usually sails to San Vicente at around 8am. Fare is around P150. However, since Magdalena only travels once a day, you will need to arrange a private boat to ferry you back to Port Barton.
Sample Port Barton Itinerary
Here’s a sample weekend itinerary. Feel free to adjust to match your preferences. Also included is the breakdown of expenses.
This itinerary assumes the following:
- You’re a party of 2, splitting some expenses.
- Your hotel budget is P1200 per night. Divide that by 2 pax so prepare to shell out P600 per night.
- You’re coming from Puerto Princesa Airport and traveling by bus to Port Barton on your first day.
- You’ll be paying the standard rates of tours. You can haggle, of course. But if you can afford it, don’t. Port Barton isn’t a touristy place, so locals don’t have much to earn money from.
Anyway, here it is.
Day 1: PUERTO PRINCESA TO PORT BARTON
07:20 am – Arrival at Puerto Princesa Airport
08:00 am – Ride tricycle to San Jose Terminal, P60 (P120/2pax)
08:30 am – Buy food for the road, P120
09:00 am – Board Bus to Port Barton, P250
01:00 pm – Arrival in Port Barton
01:10 pm – Pay environmental fee at tourism booth, P50
01:40 pm – Hotel check-in
02:30 pm – Merienda, P100
04:00 pm – Walk along the beach, book tours
05:30 pm – Watch the sunset
06:30 pm – Dinner, P200
08:30 pm – Back to Hotel, chill
09:00 pm – Good night!
Day 2: ISLAND HOPPING
07:30 am – Wake up call
09:00 am – Start Island Hopping Tour, P800
05:00 pm – Change clothes, rest
06:00 pm – Dinner, P200
08:00 pm – Back to hotel
09:00 pm – Good night!
Day 3: PAMUAYAN FALLS
05:30 am – Wake up
06:00 am – Start trek to Pamuayan Falls, P150 (P300/2pax)
07:30 am – Enjoy the waterfall!
09:30 am – Trek back to the village
11:00 am – Back to hotel, freshen up
12:00 pm – Check out
12:30 pm – Lunch, P200
01:30 pm – Bus to Puerto Princesa, P250
05:30 pm – Trike to Airport, P60 (P120/2pax)
06:00 pm – Airport Check-in, Terminal Fee: P200
07:40 pm – Fly back to Manila
This itinerary will set you back around PhP3900 (USD75, EUR60, SGD100), excluding airfare.
You can still bring down the cost by staying in a cheaper inn or homestay and slashing a bit from your food budget.
Port Barton Tips for the Poor Traveler
- Pay the P50 environmental fee, good for 10 days. You need to register and pay this at the tourism center. Don’t lose the slip/card that will be given to you. Sometimes, before island hopping tours, guests are checked whether or not they have settled payment for this.
- Bring insect repellent lotion, especially if you plan to go trekking or island hopping. Protect yourself from mosquitoes. Watch out for sand flies too.
- Bring your own reusable water bottle, so you don’t need to buy bottled water over and over again. Just have the bottle refilled at your hotel or at your lunch/dinner stops. Not only will you save money, you also get to reduce waste.
- Electricity is available only from 5:30pm to 12 midnight. If we haven’t highlighted that enough, here we are reminding you again. If you plan on taking work with you and you need power, choose a hotel with generator. Bring power banks (mobile batteries) for your phone!
- Puerto Princesa Airport collects a P200 terminal fee. Make sure you don’t spend every single peso you have before your flight out.
Drone Photos by: Vins Carlos