See the quaint town in Palawan, two hours south of its famous big sister El Nido, while the crowds haven’t arrived.
San Vicente, Palawan is still relatively unknown—or at least compared to the big towns and cities that have helped put Palawan on the map. It’s tucked in between El Nido in Northern Palawan, and Puerto Princesa City, world-famous because of its Subterranean River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So if you’re looking for that spot in Palawan where you want an idyllic seaside experience—pretty much how Palawan was before its heyday—then it’s the place to be.
Getting to San Vicente is less than an hour’s flight direct from Manila onboard SkyJet Airlines. So yes, it’s off track. But no; it’s not at all difficult to get to—thanks to SkyJet’s five-times-a- week flights to the sleepy town.
From the airport, resorts within the area are minutes away, and getting to each one is a breeze. Island traffic is something still unfamiliar here. Best to have a pre-arranged pick up from the resort you’re staying at because while there are multicabs around, they’re scarce.
It’s not beach weather when we visited but I’ve gotten a feel of the island vibe, luxe style—thanks to Club Agutaya, the only five-star hotel and one of the most established properties in town.
Club Agutaya checks all the things a responsible and conscientious traveler would look for. You’d be welcomed into a grand hall, themed Filipino, along with staff who’d offer you cold towels and blue flower-infused lemongrass refreshment. Check-in is fast—and organized. You’d be given a bag tag so you can leave your luggage behind for the resort staff to take to your room. Once you’re settled in your room, somebody comes knocking at the door to offer you WiFi access codes and homemade insect repellent, which you could replenish at any time. Talk about service deluxe. Plus they’re big on sustainable practices.
My seaview hotel room at the third floor is bright and airy, with two queen size bed, large bath room with hot and cold rainshower. Loved the Filipino accents all around. The closet door is finished in native weaving.
The club has a pool and its own patch of beach. The dining hall is like a museum at night, while the bar at the center is a place you can get lost in chit chatting with your friend, favorite cocktail on hand.
A 15-minute drive will take you to the aptly named Long Beach and I’d tell you why. Long Beach is indeed the longest uninterrupted beach in the Philippines at over 14km. It’s like Boracay’s White Beach three times in length. It’s easy to fall in love with Long Beach and these are the reasons: creamy beige sand that are nice to walk on to; clean waters lapping its shores; almost zero crowd most of the time; and the absence of modern structures, enabling it to flaunt its unadulterated beauty.
The Department of Tourism along with the local government and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) hosted our seaside lunch, and it was heaven on earth: fresh steamed crabs, grilled fish and squid, mussels bigger than your hand, locally made rice cakes puto and biko. And we devoured everything while taking turns in the karaoke.
Will I go back? In a heartbeat.
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By Monica De Leon