This San Vicente Palawan Travel Guide focuses on the Poblacion and the area along Long Beach. If you intend to visit Port Barton (a barangay in San Vicente 3 hours away from Poblacion), we have a separate post for that here: Port Barton Travel Guide.
Touted by local tourism officials as the “longest white beach in the Philippines,” the Long Beach of San Vicente straddles 14 kilometers of undeveloped shoreline, more than three times longer than Boracay’s White Beach. It’s expected to give this quiet town in Palawan a massive boost in tourism, especially now that its airport has been newly inaugurated and travelers are actively looking for alternatives to Boracay. If you want to visit, do it now, before it becomes too popular.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
Understanding San Vicente, Palawan
Along with Taytay and Roxas, San Vicente is one of the municipalities sandwiched by El Nido and Puerto Princesa City. It is often overlooked, with most tourists skipping the town in favor of El Nido. According to the tourism office, in 2012 the municipality of San Vicente (including Brgy. Port Barton) had only 8,500 visitors, half of which were from Europe. That’s a tiny fraction compared to El Nido or Boracay. But that is about to change. The newly constructed airport will pave way to around 100,000 tourists that the government is anticipating next year.
There are two major settlements in the municipality: the Poblacion area and Port Barton. The Poblacion area lies on one end of Long Beach, which spans the coast of Barangays New Agutaya, San Isidro, and Alimangoan. If Long Beach is what you’re after, then this guide is for you.
The other major settlement is Port Barton, often mistaken as a separate town but is, in fact, just a barangay within 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). But Port Barton is 3 hours away from the poblacion by land. We’ll be discussing Port Barton in this post a little bit, but if it’s what you want to visit, we have a separate guide for it: Port Barton Travel Guide.
More info about San Vicente, Palawan:
- 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 June 2018).
- Mode of payment: CASH!
- Money Exchange & ATM. There are no banks or ATMs in San Vicente, 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 Roxas but there is a rural health unit in San Vicente, with 2 doctors. Terrorism is unheard of in San Vicente.
- Electricity Info: 220V, 60Hz. Socket Type A, mostly. In Poblacion and barangays along Long Beach, electricity supply is now 24/7. But in Port Barton, it’s still limited to between around 5pm until midnight, unless your hotel/inn has their own generator.
Best Time to Visit San Vicente
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.
San Vicente is not popular among domestic tourists, who mostly flock in El Nido and Puerto Princesa. The majority of visitors 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 San Vicente, Palawan
The San Vicente Aiport has been inaugurated just last May, and Philippine Airlines (PAL Express) has begun promoting their flights from Clark, which will begin operating on October 28. PAL’s schedule is 7am daily. Travel time is 1 hour 40 minutes.
Because it’s not operational yet, we don’t know exactly how to get from the airport to the town proper. But looking at its location on the map, it’s not very far. I’m guessing you can take a tricycle or motorcycle to the town proper.
Another way to reach San Vicente is via Puerto Princesa International Airport, which is located 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, which flies from Manila, Cebu, Clark, and Davao.
Puerto Princesa to San Vicente
Years ago, getting from Puerto Princesa to San Vicente can take as long as 5 hours on a mostly rough road cutting across the forest. It would get even more difficult in the rainy season because the dirt road turned into chocolate marshmallows. True story. Haha. The roads are better now.
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 San Vicente. There are two trips daily: one set to leave the terminal at 6am and the other at 1pm. Make sure you board the right bus. Don’t ride the bus going to Port Barton!!!
Travel time: 5-6 hours
The faster option! The van can take you to San Vicente in only 4 hours. Multiple vans ply this route from 4am until 5pm. Fare: P300.
Here are some van operators you can try:
Virus Shuttle Vans
Puerto Princesa to San Vicente: 4am, 1pm, 5pm
San Vicente to Puerto Princesa: 4am, 1pm, 5pm
Contact: 0998 577 5008
Cathy Transport Vans
Puerto Princesa to San Vicente: 8am, 2pm
San Vicente to Puerto Princesa: 7am, 2pm
Contact: 0946 191 2528
Puerto Princesa to San Vicente: 7am, 9am, 11am, 1pm
Contact: 0946 268 8877
Port Barton to San Vicente Poblacion
The easiest way to reach San Vicente town proper from Port Barton is by boat. There is a boat called Magdalena that ferries passengers to the poblacion from Port Barton at 9am. However, the schedule isn’t consistent so it would be best to consult the tourism staff at least a day before your trip.
Travel time: 1 hour
Alternatively, you can charter a private boat good for up to 3 pax. Price is around P1500-P2000.
You may also travel by land. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried it yet so I have absolutely no clue.
Where to Stay in San Vicente
The range of lodging options isn’t much, but it is expected that bigger resorts will be rising along Long Beach because investors have been scrambling to get a piece of it for the past several years.
Again, let me point out that there are two major settlements in San Vicente: one is the Poblacion and nearby barangays (close to Long Beach) and the other is Port Barton. They are 3 hours apart, so make sure you book a resort in the right location! If you want to visit Long Beach, check the address for words like Poblacion, New Agutaya, San Isidro, and Alimangoan (Alimanguan).
Here are some of the top-rated properties on Traveloka (as ranked by TripAdvisor reviews):
- Jurisu Resort, New Agutaya. Check Rates & Availability.
- Victoria Beach House, Alimanguan. Check Rates & Availability.
- Basio’s Place, Brgy. Sampaguita. Check Rates & Availability.
- Club Agutaya, Brgy. San Isidro. Check Rates & Availability.
Things to Do in San Vicente
The main attraction in this side of San Vicente is Long Beach, a 14.7-km stretch of sand that is touted by local tourism officials as the “longest white beach in the Philippines.” But to manage your expectations, the truth is, it is not that white, more like beige or light brown. It is also not one looooong beach, more like a series of six strips, interrupted by rocky cliffs that jut out into the sea, breaking what could have been a continuous expanse of supple paradise.
It’s best explored by motorcycle (habal-habal), which can accommodate up to two passengers at once (plus the driver). From Poblacion, the fares vary depending on which part of the beach you want to visit: from P25 (New Agutaya) to P100 (Alimanguan).
You can also arrange a motorcycle tour and go beach hopping for half a day! The rates are P350 if you’re alone or P250/person if you’re a party of two.
Erawan Beach (Irawan Beach)
This is my favorite beach in San Vicente. It’s located in Barangay Sto. Nino, much farther from Long Beach. The sand here isn’t flat and compact. The waves and the winds mold it constantly to create soft but rugged dunes that roll inland smoothly. A small hill stands on its northern end, and at its foot snakes a small, stagnant estuary where the tides overflow to.
Islands and Beaches
San Vicente has 22 islands off its coast, which is laced with dozens of beaches. Many of these islands and coves are easily accessible from Poblacion. If your eyes are fixed on just one of them, you can charter a pumpboat from Poblacion. Here are the one-way boat rates:
- Port Barton: P1500
- German Island (Inaladelan Island): P1500
- Double Island: P1500
- Blue Cove: P1500
- Daplac Cove: P1500
- Exotic Island: P1500
- Boayan Island: P1500
- Velasco Island: P2000
Travel time is 45 minutes to 1 hour, except Velasco island, which takes 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Each boat is good for 3 passengers. P500 per additional person.
You can also just arrange an island hopping tour, which will save you money. A full-day island hopping tour costs around P3000 per boat.
We’re contacting the municipal tourism for updated rates and if there are already group tours in place, so please check back in the future.
Sample San Vicente Palawan Itinerary
Here’s a sample overnight 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 P1000 per night. Divide that by 2 pax so prepare to shell out P500 per night.
- You’re coming from Puerto Princesa Airport and traveling by bus to San Vicente on your first day.
Anyway, here it is.
07:20 am – Arrival at Puerto Princesa Airport
07:30 am – Ride tricycle to San Jose Terminal, P60 (P120/2pax)
08:00 am – Board van to San Vicente, P300
12:00 pm – Arrival in San Vicente (walk or trike to hotel)
12:20 pm – Hotel check-in, P500 (P1000/2pax)
01:00 pm – Lunch, P100
02:00 pm – Long Beach Motorcycle Tour, P250 (P500/2pax)
04:00 pm – Erawan Beach (included)
06:00 pm – Back in Poblacion
07:00 pm – Dinner, P100
What to do the next is up to you. You may do any of the following:
- Stay in San Vicente Poblacion and go on an island hopping tour the next day. Add P3000 per boat (good for 3-4 people). If you leave San Vicente and return to Puerto Princesa right after the tour, prepare a total of P3400 per person.
- Move to Port Barton and stay there for at least a night. You can try to catch the Magdalena boat (P150) and then join a group tour from Port Barton instead (P800 per person). If you spend a night in Port Barton with a P1000/night budget, this plan will set you back a total of P3600 per person. For more info about Port Barton, read: Port Barton Travel Guide.
- Move to El Nido and stay longer there. Many travelers who stop in San Vicente continue their Palawan adventure to El Nido. More info about that here: El Nido Travel Guide
- Skip Erawan Beach and make your way back to poblacion before 5pm to catch the last bus to Puerto Princesa. This means you’ll just be visiting San Vicente as a day trip. It’s a good option too, albeit very tiring. Once back in the capital, you can fill your itinerary with Puerto Princesa attractions. More about that here: Puerto Princesa Travel Guide.
You can still bring down the cost by staying in a cheaper inn or homestay or being part of a larger group. Boat tours get the biggest chunk of the budget and boats in San Vicente can accommodate up to 4 pax, so it will be cheapest if you’re a group of four.
Other Tips for the Poor Traveler
- Bring insect repellent lotion. Some parts of the beach have sandflies, which can be really nasty. I have friends who unfortunately had to deal with sandfly bites. They’re not pretty. Watch out for mosquitoes 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.
- If you choose to stay in Port Barton, know that electricity is available only from 5:30pm to 12 midnight. 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! If you’re staying in Poblacion or Long Beach the entire time, no need to worry about power interruptions.
- Puerto Princesa Airport collects a P200 terminal fee. Make sure you don’t spend every single peso you have before your flight out.