Commune with nature in San Vicente, Palawan. The town is located on the northwestern side of Palawan island and features one of the longest beach fronts on the island. Unlike the popular beaches of El Nido, San Vicente offers a more laid-back and less crowded beach vacation. Unspoiled beaches and everything the sea has to offer, awaits you. Read on to find out about the 12 best things to do in San Vicente, Philippines.
1. Under the sea at Port Barton
Port Barton is one of the villages in San Vicente town. However, the main attraction in this part of town is underwater, as Port Barton is an established marine park that covers 750 square kilometers (290 square miles) that is protected by law. There is a no fishing policy around the park and the reefs are also protected against reef poaching.
The best way to explore Port Barton is to hire a boat and a guide for the day so that you can go snorkeling in several pristine sites namely Aquarium 1, Aquarium 2, Wide Reef, Twin Reef and Sanctuary. Since these sites are not yet frequented by many people, snorkelling can be a totally relaxing experience. In between your undersea explorations, you can stop at any of the small islands around the park - German Island, Paradise Island and Exotic Island are the more popular ones.
Port Barton Marine Park
Address: Port Barton, San Vicente, Palawan
Price: An environmental fee of 1 USD charged by the Tourist Assistance Center
Duration: 1 day for snorkelling and island hopping.
Access: From Manila, fly to Puerto Princesa City. One or two van trips from Puerto Princesa City to Port Barton leave daily, usually in the morning. Travel time is approximately 4 to 5 hours. There is also one public jeepney that travels this route.
Contact: +63909-151 1769 (Port Barton Tourist Assistance Center)
2. Chill or take a long walk at Long Beach
Long Beach, in San Vicente, is so named because it’s 14 kilometre (8.7 mile) long beach front is one of the longest white sand beaches in the Philippines. Some say that it is three times longer than the beach in Boracay. It actually straddles three villages in San Vicente. Here you can literally have the beach all to yourself.
You can choose to hire a motorcycle and drive from one end of the beach to the other. Or if you prefer to take it slow, just walk along the beach. If you get tired, sit on the fine white sand and if you get hot, take a quick dip. There are limited facilities nearby so it is best you stay here for a few hours and head on to your next destination.
Address: Long Beach, San Vicente, Palawan
Price: A motorcycle tour can be arranged from San Vicente town proper or Port Barton. A day tour for two people costs around 8 USD.
Duration: around 3 hours required.
Access: Hire a motorcycle to take you from the town, proper, to Long Beach.
3.Take a cool dip at Bigaho Falls
Bigaho Falls is found in Sitio Bigaho, in Port Barton. It can be reached by taking a 20-minute boat ride from Port Barton to the white sand beach of Bigaho. From the beachfront, a 10 to 15-minute hike up the mountains will bring you to the waterfalls. The waterfalls have a total of 14 levels, where water cascades down rock formations. However, only two levels are accessible to the public and these are the ones that are most photographed.
After the trek, you will be tempted to take a dip in the lagoon at the foot of the falls and let the cool mountain spring water cool you down. Be mindful of your garbage, though, and it is recommended you bring your own food and drink as there are no stores nearby.
Address: Sitio Bigaho, Port Barton, San Vicente, Palawan
Price: No admission fee
Duration: Around 3 hours required.
Access: Ask the Tourist Assistance Center at Port Barton on how to arrange a trip to the falls.
4. Try local food: sea grapes
San Vicente, because of its clean seawater, is known as a source of sea grapes, a type of seaweed that resembles small, tiny grapes. Locally called lato, it grows wild and is not farmed. It can be found in the muddy areas of the sea so harvesting them can be quite a feat. Locals, however, have mastered the technique. They sell the seaweed for 50 PHP or about 1 USD a kilo to local resorts and eateries. The more enterprising locals sell it to buyers who process the seaweed for export. You can order a salad made of lato, diced tomatoes and onions, flavored with vinegar, calamansi, salt and pepper, at your resort.
5. Try exotic local food: tamilok
If you are able to pull this off, it’s going to be one for the books. Tamilok, as it is locally known, is actually the naval shipworm, a mollusk that looks like a worm. It is found in the trunks of dead mangrove trees, which are usually submerged in seawater. It is technically a type of seafood, but quite exotic. Ask your resort to serve up some tamilok for you. Locals prefer eating it raw, but you can also dip it in a spicy vinegar. It best followed with beer or any liquor. Most of those who have tried it say that it tastes like oysters.
6. Try beach camping with Thelma And Toby's Island Camping Adventure
If you want to try beach camping but do not want to carry your own camping equipment, you can do some ‘glamping’ instead. With Thelma and Toby’s Island Camping Adventure, you can sleep in large tents on the beach equipped with a double bed, carpeted floor, a couch, easy chairs and extra mattresses and bedding for additional people. Each tent is also protected by a native bamboo hut and is located right on the beach.
The camp offers sea kayaking, badminton and volleyball activities, while island hopping and snorkeling trips can also be arranged. The campsite is located on Thelma and Toby’s Island, a 25-minute boat ride from the center of Port Barton.
Thelma and Toby's Island Camping Adventure
Address: Thelma and Toby’s Island, Port Barton, San Vicente, Palawan
Price: From 32 USD per person per night, inclusive of three meals and access to all sports facilities
Access: From Port Barton, take a motorized boat to bring you to the island.
7. Take a mangrove river cruise on the Inandeng River
San Vicente is also endowed with rich mangroves, which are an important part of the marine ecosystem. Mangroves are protective breeding grounds for fish, enabling them to propagate and ensuring better fish supplies for the community. For a closer look at the mangroves, you can take a mangrove river tour on the Inandeng River. This river is found near Long Beach, so you can include this in your itinerary.
Go to the village of New Agutaya where you can take small boats or rent kayaks to go through the river. Guests are advised to wear long-sleeved shirts or rash guards to protect themselves from the sandflies. As you go through the river, marvel at the thick mangrove forests and the sound of wildlife around you.
Inandeng River Mangrove Cruise
Address: New Agutaya, San Vicente, Palawan
Price: From 15 USD for a small boat, good for two persons
Duration: Around 2-3 hours required.
Access: Go to New Agutaya village near Long Beach. Or inquire at the San Vicente Municipal Tourism office.
8. Snorkelling at Manta Ray Reef
Manta Ray Reef is one of the areas in Port Barton. However, the reef deserves a separate mention because it is the largest area of coral reef in San Vicente, covering an area of 150 hectares (371 acres). The nearest island to the reef is Capsalay Island, so you can either use this as a jump-off point for the reef or you can arrange for a boat to take you to the reef from anywhere in Port Barton. You can spend a good two to three hours just exploring the reef.
Manta Ray Reef
Address: Near Capsalay Island, Port Barton, San Vicente, Palawan
Price: Can be included in an island hopping or snorkeling day trip of Port Barton
Duration: Around 3 hours required.
Access: Take a motorized boat to bring you to Manta Ray Reef.
9. Spend a day on Boayan Island
Boayan Island is closer to the center of San Vicente, so it’s easier to hire a boat from the town, proper, to Boayan. Ask your boatman to dock at the north side of the island where the beaches are more sandy than rocky. The island was part of a project which involved major rehabilitation of the coral reefs around the area. It is actually part of the Boayan Island Daplac Marine Reserve.
Sometime after 2012, the area was closed off to visitors so that the rehabilitation could be done. That closing off paid off, as Boayan is now back to being one of the most spectacular island environments in Palawan.
Boayan Island Daplac Marine Reserve
Address: Boayan Island, San Vicente, Palawan
Price: From 30 USD for hiring a boat for a day, from San Vicente pier.
Access: Ask the San Vicente Tourism Office about visiting the area, as it is a marine reserve. The boat ride from San Vicente is 20 to 40 minutes, only.
Website: Boayan Island Daplac Marine Reserve
10. Fill up with unlimited breakfast at Ausan Beach Front Cottages
At one of the more popular resorts in Port Barton, you can partake in a breakfast buffet. This is unusual practice for resorts in the area, as most provide plated breakfasts. Guests of the resort can enjoy breakfast buffet but the resort also welcomes walk-ins to their restaurant. So, if you want to fill up before a day of outdoor activities, Ausan Beach Front Cottages is the place to go.
Ausan Beach Front Cottages
Address: Ballesteros Street, Port Barton, San Vicente, Palawan
Contact: +63 929 4440 582
11. Experience the best sunset sessions at Barton Bistro
Imagine having your favorite drink and chilling by the beachside lounge – waiting for the sunset while listening to the soft sound of crashing waves. Is there a better way to end your day? This is exactly what you can expect when you visit Barton Bistro in San Vicente. Located right on the beach front area, it offers the best sunset view in the area. They also serve food and other drinks, so you can choose which ones you prefer. After a day that’s full of adventure, this is the best place to cool down and catch up with your friends. Don’t worry if you’re alone, the locals are very friendly people, so don’t be afraid to talk to them if you need help or simple conversation! After that, it’s time to find your seat and wait for the breathtaking sunset!
This place is located right at the beachfront of Port Barton. Just walk around and you cannot miss this little cozy nook!
Address: Beach Front, Port Barton, San Vicente, Palawan Island 5300, Philippines
Website: Barton Bistro
12. Enjoy a staycation and swim with sea turtles in Inaladelan Island Resort
San Vicente is what you would call a hidden gem in the island of Palawan. And among the resorts that you can visit is the Inaladelan Island Resort. Have you ever wished to swim with turtles? This is the best spot to do it since they are already swimming in shallow waters in the area. The beach area will give you great views of the sea and can you already imagine spending your day lounging there with the sound of waves as your lullaby? The resort offers overnight stays for guests and they also have the camping option inclusive of tents, foam and pillows, dinner and breakfast meals, and roundtrip boat transfers. For those who prefer to stay for the day, they also have a day tour package that can be availed which already includes snacks, roundtrip boat transfers and a hearty lunch.
This island can be included in the list of places to visit when you go island hopping from Port Barton, and it has the perfect ambience for having the label of a tropical paradise. It’s a good place to visit for those who may want to veer away from the usual tourist areas of Palawan. Who knows? This island may just become your new favorite place!
Inaladelan Island Resort
Address: Inaladelan Island, Port Barton, San Vicente, Palawan
Price: from 47 USD for overnight camping, and from 28 USD for day tour package
Website: Inaladelan Island Resort
Life is a beach in San Vicente
San Vicente is not your usual beach destination, but if you prefer a calm and relaxing vacation, away from the distractions of modern life, this is the ideal place for you. It is best for couples or families who want to reconnect while communing with nature.
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