Where in the world is San Vicente?

Where in the world is San Vicente?

You can say San Vicente is the Philippines’ last frontier’s last frontier. If this doesn’t sound right, this report will.

Palawan’s open secret might probably be the best thing to ever happen to local tourism, and it’s not hard to see why: sustainable tourism practices are at the heart of what drives the once sleepy fishing town of San Vicente.

The teeny spotlight lit on San Vicente’s two attractions: Long Beach and Port Barton. But the fact is there are more to the town than lounging around these breathtaking shores.

Cove hop on Boayan Island

Boayan Island, the largest island off the coast of San Vicente, boasts some of the most pristine beaches in the province. Most of the beaches on Boayan are within private property, but island hoppers can stop by it. Coves like Kalipay, Evergreen, and Kambingan are great if you want a beach to yourself.

Daplac Cove is for those who want to be away from the crowd. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Ask your boatman to bring you to Daplac Cove, one of the more pristine beaches on Boayan Island. It’s a 300-meter cove with powdery white sand that’s a host to a few sea turtles and if the conditions are right you may spot them in your visit.
Boayan Island is about 30 minutes by boat from the San Vicente Port. St. Vincent Travel and Tours has this in their tours.

Photo Op at Bato ni Ningning

Introducing Bato ni Ningning. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Bato ni Ningning, named after a drama series that aired on local TV in 2015, gives you a view of Erawan Beach as well as a near-360-degree view of the surrounding area.

Stand atop the rock and bust out your selfie stick to get Erawan Beach in the photo, or go down a bit from the top of the hill and have a cleaner shot of the beach.
Bato ni Ningning is a 45-minute drive from the airport, and best reached on a motorbike. Bike rental is around Php600 (USD12) per bike. Entrance to Bato ni Ningning is Php20 per person.

Bar hop in Port Barton

The crowd in San Vicente will always gravitate towards Port Barton. It’s the first area of San Vicente to be explored by tourists and a welcome alternative to those who have been to El Nido.

Two of the top bars in Port Barton are Moon Bar and Mojitos Restobar. Mojitos was once named as Palawan’s best resto-bar on TripAdvisor and is known for its nine variations on the classic mojito. Moon Bar alternately is a beachfront bar that serves smoothies, beer, wines, and cocktails with a view of San Vicente’s cotton candy-colored sunset. It’s hard to miss since it looks like a gigantic two-storey beach hut.
Drinks at Moon Bar start at Php200. Moon Bar is a five-minute walk from the center of Port Barton.

Chase waterfalls

It’s not as tall as other waterfalls in the country, but Pamoayan Falls is quite scenic. Photo by Harvey Tapan

To date, there are only two waterfalls known to people who have been to San Vicente: Bigaho and Pamoayan. Bigaho Falls, a 10-minute walk from the beach where your boat will dock, is pretty accessible and often the final stop on your Port Barton Island Hopping tour. It has a small pool at the bottom of the falls for taking a leisurely dip.

Pamoayan Falls, 10 minutes by motorbike on paved and dirt roads from Port Barton beach, calls the adventurous. From the entrance, it’s a five-minute trek including wading on a creek to get to the waterfall. Compared to Bigaho, Pamoayan is more majestic in terms of size and features. Its dipping pool is larger than Bigaho too.
Bigaho and Pamoayan both have a sari-sari store where you can buy snacks and drinks, and where there’s a donation box for those who wish to donate cash.

Spend the afternoon (or the night) at Inaladelan Island

It’s quite the experience staying at an island for a night. Photo by Harvey Tapan

It’s a tongue-twister of a name, but Inaladelan Island (or German Island) is one of the best islands to spend a night on in San Vicente. It has tents, a 300-meter white-sand beach on one side, a small bar that serves cocktails, and a small pavilion where you can have your lunch. You’ll love the trees giving you shelter when it’s a tad too sunny. Inaladelan is often a lunch stop for island hopping tours, but we recommend actually spending a night here for you to enjoy some peace and quiet.

Less than a kilometer from its shore is where you’ll find what people visit San Vicente for: sea turtles. There’s a huge patch of seagrass below the waves that sea turtles love to graze in, and they’re more than happy to let people snorkel or swim with them while they feed. Note: This phenomenon is year-round.
Overnight stays at Inaladelan are at Php2,500 per person (minimum of two) with roundtrip transfers from either Port Barton or San Vicente, a camping tent with foam bed and pillows, dinner, and breakfast. Book at Inaladelanisland.com

Explore Port Barton’s reefs

Port Barton is home to some of the more thriving coral reefs in Palawan. The islands in Port Barton Bay like Inaladelan and Exotic have some of the clearest waters, making them a playground for snorkelers.

Some of the more popular reefs are Twin Reef and Wide Reef. Twin Reef is a shallow dive (less than 15 feet) and home to large table corals and schools of fish. It’s a small area that’s easily explored even by those who don’t dare dive beneath the waves. Wide Reef is a wider reef area, hence the name, and deeper than Twin Reef, with similar coral formations and species of fish. If you’re looking for larger schools of fish, have your boatman take you to Small Lagoon Reef, located close to Exotic Island; for and to Fantastic Reef, close to Double Island, for a look-see of green corals.
Snorkeling in Port Barton Bay is a part of the tours provided by St. Vincent Travel and Tours.

Laze on Long Beach and forget time exists

This one you can do at any of the beaches you’ll visit, but Long Beach gives you the best opportunity to enjoy a legitimately long walk on the beach or do nothing at all.

This is only halfway. Let that sink in for a second. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Long Beach is a 14.7-kilometer, cream-colored sandy beach that has got one of the most colorful sunsets you’d evert see. There aren’t many establishments on Long Beach yet, which means a visit this early will give you a good chance of taking those beach photos without people and manmade structures in the background.
Put on loads of insect repellent before you and within your visit to keep you from being bit by sand flies.

Watch sea turtle hatchlings go to the sea

Another unique way of enjoying a stay in San Vicente joining the locals and taking part in releasing sea turtle hatchlings on Long Beach.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime shot. Photo from Club Agutaya/Dixie Mariñas

Backed by a municipal ordinance, the residents (especially school kids) and officials of the three barangays that share Long Beach walk on their portion of the beach either early in the morning or late in the afternoon to look for sea turtle nests. Tourists can join in on the fun by simply walking with them or visiting Club Agutaya, where they release hatchlings within 24 hours of finding them. Turtle hatching season is from October to April.
Register for free at Club Agutaya’s front desk when you visit San Vicente to join locals in looking for sea turtle nests.

Visit Dumaran Island

It’s not exactly on every tour operator’s itinerary and it’s not exactly in San Vicente, but Dumaran Island is the definition of an unknown tourist destination in Palawan. The island is three hours away from San Vicente and will have you take dirt roads and a boat ride to get to it. It’s not a touristy place, with no proper resorts, restaurants, and other tourist establishments but it does have spots you can check out like Isla Pugon, Encantasia Island, Renambacan Island, Maruyug-ruyog Island, Calampuan Island, and the Dumaran Spanish Fort.
Tours at Dumaran Island can be arranged with either the local tourism office or Isla Pugod Eco Resort (@DumaranPalawanDiscoveryOfficialPage on Facebook).

The basics
Get there: SkyJet Airlines flies direct from Manila to San Vicente four times weekly. Motorbikes are the preferred way of getting around San Vicente, with rentals priced around Php600 (USD12) per bike.

5 must-visit beaches in San Vicente, Palawan

5 must-visit beaches in San Vicente, Palawan

We went on a cove-hopping expedition in the country’s last frontier’s sleepy town, and these are what we’ve found .

San Vicente is looking like the next big thing for the coming holidays’ travel, with its 14.7-kilometer-long Long Beach and the backpacking haven that is Port Barton, notable for its laid-back hostels and array of seaside bars fringing its shoreline.

Truth be told, the town is a mirror of what Palawan’s got in its golden days when the crowds haven’t arrived. It has pristine beaches with powdery cream sand, unspoiled nature, hardly any construction. It’s a peaceful setting for a true away-from-it-all experience, which you can amp up by visiting these beaches:

Daplac Cove

Daplac Cove is for those who want to be away from the crowd.

This is one of the more pristine beaches on Boayan Island, which is home to other coves that will have, at most, one or two other people on them. It’s a small, 300-meter stretch of powdery white sand that’s a good pitstop for lunch. Sea turtles sometimes graze on the seagrass offshore so make sure you keep a sharp eye out for them (or ear, since your boatman will usually spot them first).

Daplac Cove is on Boayan Island, about 30 minutes by boat from Poblacion.

Exotic Island

Clear waters for swimming, white sand beach for bumming, and a sand bar that’s waist deep to get across to the other island.

The name is a massive cliché, but this island does it justice. It’s a small island with a white sand beach and crystal clear waters that will entice even non-swimmers to take a dip. It can get a bit crowded, but there’s a sandbar between this and Maxima Island in waist-deep water that you can use to “escape” that crowd.

Exotic Island is found within Port Barton Bay, a 15 to 20 minute boat ride from Poblacion.

Inaladelan Island

Spend a night here. It’ll be worth it.

We can’t talk about beaches in San Vicente without talking about Inaladelan Island, also known as turtle island. This private island resort has a 300-meter white-sand cove at its southeastern tip that’s populated by coconut trees and a couple of cabanas. Take a spot on a hammock between the coconut trees and enjoy the view, or book a tent for the night and have this island all to yourself. The highlight: turtles you can swim with just several meters off shore.

Know more about Inaladelan island here <Inaladelan article to be linked after publishing>.

White Beach

It’s a fairly quiet beach that’s away from the bustling backpacking paradise of Port Barton.

This one’s a bit tucked away (and also happens to be a private resort), but White Beach (or Esmeralda Villa as it is now known) is one of the better beaches in Port Barton. It’s not as crowded as Port Barton’s front beach so you’ll feel like you own the place. There is a Php50 entrance fee, but this beach is worth it.

Esmeralda Villa is a 15-minute drive from most inns in Port Barton. You can rent a motorbike to get there for about Php600/day.

Irawan Beach

Hardly a resort in this spot, and it ALWAYS gets confused for its longer neighbor.

The last one on our list has a bit of a reputation as the first photo you come across whenever you look for San Vicente or Long Beach. It has cream-colored sand and stretches looks quite long from the top of Bato ni Ningning, but Irawan Beach is more secluded than its longer neighbor. There are hardly any resorts within the area; this means the beach is about as empty as it gets. Perfect for those sunset selfies!

Irawan Beach is a 20-minute drive north of Poblacion in San Vicente, located in Brgy. Santo Niño.

The basics
SkyJet Airlines has direct flights from Manila to San Vicente 4 times weekly, which will increase to 6 times weekly beginning October 27, 2019.

Photos: Harvey Tapan

Dashing Spot: Mantigue Island

Dashing Spot: Mantigue Island

There’s more to Camiguin than its famous sandbar. Case in point: Mantigue Island.

Mantigue Island's white sand beach with a view of the mountains of Camiguin
It’s a marine sanctuary with a white sand beach. What more can you ask for? Photo by Daniel Soriano

When people hear Camiguin, the image that first pops out is usually that of White Island. The popular sandbar has always been one of its major tourist draws, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one.

In fact, there’s this four-hectare island off the coast of Mahinog that gives you the same white sand beach experience coupled with more things to do: Mantigue Island.

Mantigue has a bit more cover than White Island—thanks to the small beach huts on the southern part of the island. There’s coverage in the form of mangroves along its shores as well as vegetation in the middle part of the island, where you can find a restaurant, which doubles as the island’s tourism office. The waters surrounding Mantigue has been declared a marine sanctuary, making it perfect for snorkeling or diving. There’s also a small fishing community on the northern part of the island.

How to get there

SkyJet Airlines offers direct flights to Camiguin five times weekly. We suggest renting a motorbike (Php500 or about USD10 per day) and driving to get to Brgy. San Roque in Mahinog, which should take around 30 minutes. In San Roque, board a motorboat (Php600/boat, maximum of six people) to the island, where you can stay for four hours maximum. If you stay longer will set you back Php75 per hour per boat.

Things to do

There are a couple of things you can do in Mantigue Island, even if you’re only limited to for-hour stays.

Mantigue Island fees as of May 2019.
  • Stand-up paddle board
  • Diving
  • Glass boat rides
  • Kayaking
  • Beach bumming for the Gram
  • Talk to the island locals, and (maybe) buy fish from them (fresh or sundried)

Dashing Spot: Long Beach, San Vicente, Palawan

Dashing Spot: Long Beach, San Vicente, Palawan

There’s credence to why this beach is called Long Beach.

This is only the halfway point. Photo by Harvey Tapan

In case you think Boracay Island’s 4km long white-sand beach is the most breathtaking beauty of a shoreline there is in the country, wait until you see Long Beach in Port Barton, located an hour away from San Vicente, Palawan. It’s a 14-kilometer stretch of white sand beach, the longest in the Philippines and the second longest in the whole of Asia. It cuts through several villages, and splits into 6 coves and 3 barangays: New Agutaya, San Isidro, and Alimangoan. It’s also not as populated as neighboring El Nido because San Vicente remains to be a hidden gem of the Philippines Last Frontier.

The sand is about as white and as fine as you’ll find in El Nido or Boracay, with shallow waters just off the coast that you can swim or snorkel in.

Things to do
San Vicente is more of a quiet fishing village, so don’t expect malls or places to party. You can, however, do the following while in this small fishing village:

  • Island hopping. Most tourists, especially backpackers, start at Port Barton and visit nearby islands from there.
  • Snorkeling and diving. The waters off of San Vicente are relatively shallow, perfect for snorkeling. Some of the islands during the island hopping tour double as snorkeling/diving spots. Ask your boatman for spots where it’s okay to take a plunge to make island hopping tours more worthwhile.
  • Cove hopping from one part of Long Beach to another. Erawan/Irawan Beach is one of the more popular beaches to visit. It’s in Barangay Sto. Niño, about 45 minutes away from Poblacion by motorbike.
  • Visit Pamuayan Falls or Bigaho Falls. The two waterfall in Port Barton offer distinct ways of enjoying a cascade: Pamuayan comes with a one-hour hike through a forest trail, while Bigaho offers something a bit more chill as it’s an easy, 20-minute walk from the beach.

Get there
Skyjet Airlines (Flyskyjetair.com) flies direct from Manila to San Vicente, Palawan four times weekly beginning July 16, 2019. From the airport, take a tricycle to your hotel on Long Beach. Fares are usually between Php60 to Php75 (USD1.20 to USD1.50) per person.

Where to stay
Sunset Beach Resort (Php3,000 per night for 2 guests, Php500 or USD10 for an extra bed, Sunsetbeach-palawan.com) in Macatumbalen is one of the recommended places to stay in San Vicente, especially if you enjoy peace, quiet, and good old German standards (one of the owners is German). They have the beach right in front of the resort and are within three minutes of town proper, which locals refer to as simply San Vicente or Poblacion.

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24 hours in Camiguin

24 hours in Camiguin

Heading to this Mindanaoan island province and exploring it stat is now possible with SkyJet’s direct Manila to Camiguin flights.

Commanding Mt Hibok-Hibok at the backdrop of White Island sandbar in Camiguin is pure WOW. By Jj Alvarico

The buzz is true. If before you spend a whole day to get to Camiguin off Mindanao, blessed with white sandy beaches and marvelous diving, now it’s a mere over-an-hour’s flight—made possible with SkyJet Airlines’ launch of direct Manila to Camiguin flights on May 6, 2019.

Colleagues can now take a quick escape Camiguin. SkyJet’s flight time from Manila to the province island’s practically the same as when you drive down south to Tagaytay

And so we’ve surmised we’ve found for you your new Tagaytay, where you can escape the urban jungle on a Saturday, and be back the next day in time for you to get your @$s ready for work on Monday. Not that you cannot stay for three or so days.

Here’s a guide to enjoying the “Island Borne Off Fire” in 24 hours.

Day 1, 9:40am

Fly SkyJet Airlines from Manila to Camiguin. Take off from the Manila International Airport Terminal 4 at 9:40am. You’ll touch down at Camiguin Airport at about 11am. SkyJet flies directly from Manila to Camiguin five times daily except on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

12 noon

Grab lunch at the institution located right across the airport: La Dolce Vita, an authentic Italian restaurant, which has been around for over a decade. Its brick oven churns out delectable pizzas; and here you can have wonderful traditional carbonara. After lunch, linger for a cup of cappuccino.

2pm


Check-in at your hotel of choice. If you’re a group of friends or a small family with kids in tow looking for for-sharing villas or an apartment-style place for the night, you won’t go wrong with Paraiso Resort & Apartelle. It checks all the basics. Clean; with kitchen where you can shop and cook and dine in if you feel like staying in; has a waterpark for some night swimming; and features an open air restaurant-bar open until 11pm—handy to those who come looking for a night cap. Best of all, it’s centrally located—five minutes’ ride from the airport, and it’s jump off point to Camiguin’s many unique attractions.
Top tier option, fronting White Island: Paras Beach Resort.

3pm

Smother your skin with sunblock and get things rolling. First stop is White Island, a pristine permanently-exposed sandbar that’s as gorgeous in person as it is on anyone’s IG feed. It’s serpentine shape changes depending on the tide, but this is not why it’s amazing. Its claim to fame are its shallow waters that are so clear they glisten in the sunlight, and the picturesque Mt Hibok-Hibok as its backdrop. I say make this your first stop because once you wade into the water, you’d surely stay for a while.
Get there. A 10-minute habal-halab (local motorcycle) ride from the airport to Yumbing jetty where there are boats that will take you across to the sandbar in less than five minutes.

4pm


Eleven minutes’ ride and you’re at the view deck of the Old Volcano, officially, Mt. Vulcan. The massive land form’s nickname does not literally translate for it’s more like an offspring of Mt Hibok-Hibok, says our tour guide. There’s probably nothing significant in the stop—but I had my photo taken anyhow—until you actually hike up the steps of the walkway. As your heart pound, and your knees weaken, you get awestruck by white life-size figures depicting the Stations of the Cross.

After a few snaps, a short ride will lead you to the Old Spanish Church Ruins. What’s left of the church is nothing but walls enveloping the ground, and old trees creating a canopy. The Guiob Church was built in the 16th century and over a hundred years later a massive earthquake cueing Mt. Vulcan’s eruption shook the island and knocked the sanctuary down. It makes for a pleasant stop for Catholic devotees who can light a candle and say a prayer.

5pm

The Sunken Cemetery is another casualty of Mt. Vulcan’s eruption in the 1870s but it has ironically turned into a remarkable Camiguin landmark, luring travelers from all over the globe to catch sight of it. It’s best viewed at sunset—and while there’s that feeling of loneliness crossing over eeriness when you visit especially at this time of the day—it will be a shame to leave the island without having set foot at the place. Small boats can take you to the giant cross and hang out for a while at its deck. The more adventurous take the plunge to see the gravestones underwater up close.

5:30pm


Ardent Hot Springs’ warm waters are the perfect ender to a long day out in the sun what with its tiers of 35- and 40-degree Celcius waters. The four cascades filled with naturally heated waters are a balm to sore muscles, and a calming way to cap your active day.

Day 2, 8am

Breakfasts are simple a la carte meals at Paraiso Resort. A must are local fruits for they’re typically sweet, and if the ber months have commenced, never miss out on the lanzones, cluster of small yellow fruits with juicy translucent meat on the inside. The best kind of lanzones grows in Camiguin. In October, the streets of the main highway get filled with peddlers selling the tropical fruit.  

Once your bags are packed and you’re ready to go, stop by Vjandep Bakeshop on Plaridel Street en route to the airport to buy Camiguin’s coveted pasalubong: Vjandep’s Pastel, a brand of locally made buns filled with yema (sweet soft custard). Any which way you eat it—as a snack or dessert—will make you forget you have a plane to catch. If you miss the stopover, the airport has a stall selling these goodies. Only the bakery though sells different flavored Pastels.

9am


Check-in at Camiguin Airport, in time for SkyJet’s 11am flight bound for Manila.

The basics

Book direct flights between Manila and Camiguin five times weekly with Skyjet Airlines (SkyJetAirlines.com).

Words & photos by Monica De Leon

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