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.

Up a mountain and back: celebrities who hike

Up a mountain and back: celebrities who hike

The ever-unpredictable Philippine weather does not stop the brave of heart. And this is true even to celebrities whose IG feeds prove their love for the uplands.

Angel Locsin

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⛰👀

A post shared by Angel Locsin (@therealangellocsin) on

Here’s one lady who’s not afraid of heights. The star of ABS-CBN’s recently-concluded teleserye The General’s Daughter is a fan of adventure, and mountains are no exception.

Bubbles Paraiso

She swims, she bikes, she runs. And she also goes up a mountain every now and then. Bubbles Paraiso, everyone.

Erwan Heussaff

Bit of a cheat, this one (as an entry, not the actual person), but Erwan’s content on his IG and YouTube are filled with nearly every activity you could think of… including hikes.

Chrystalle Omaga

Yes, it’s her. She’s one of the country’s top female OCR athletes, and she’s just at home at the summit of a mountain as she is on a Spartan course.

Gideon Lasco

This man doesn’t have as big of a following as the artistas on this list, but he is one of the biggest names in the local mountaineering scene. Aftersll, Gideon Lasco is the dude that started pinoymountaineer.com.

If these people aren’t enough to convince you to hike up a mountain, then I don’t know what will.

Did we miss anyone? Hit us up in the comments below and we’ll expand this list!

Featured Photo by Nina Uhlíková from Pexels

One Breath: PH celebrities who freedive

One Breath: PH celebrities who freedive

In case you need even more inspiration to take that freediving class.

Most of us are content with swimming in pools or strapping on a life vest and goggles, but these celebs have taken these to an extent where they can enjoy the open sea without the need for scuba tanks. If the magical underwater world of the Philippines isn’t enough to entice you to freedive, maybe these local stars will:

Sam Pinto

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Ocean child 💙

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The former actress is a full-on child of the sea; so much so that she’s developed her own line of swimwear (@sirenaswimwearph) and now runs a resort in Baler (@LSirene_). As someone who loves the sea, it’s no surprise that she also freedives.

Drew Arellano

He’s a triathlete, a father of two, and has one of the most enviable jobs in existence: hosting a travel show. He’s quite comfortable with open water (it’s a requirement if you’re exploring the Philippines), and has added freediving to his skillset after learning the basics for an episode of Biyahe ni Drew.

Megan Sebastian

She’s a radio DJ for local radio station YesFM 101.1, and an events host. She’s also someone who’s fond of the ocean, which is apparent on her IG feed.

Rachel Anne Daquis

She’s a professional volleyball player, model, and businesswoman who’s best known for her time with the FEU Lady Tamaraws. She recently took up freediving with the help of @nofinsfreediverph, a group of avid freedivers who “aim to encourage anyone who’s willing to learn freediving, at the same time, help save the ocean.”

The basics
Introductory freediving classes are available with groups such as Freedive PH (freedive.ph) holding classes at Scuba Studio in San Juan (pool) or Batangas (open water).

Featured photo by Miles Hardacre from Pexels

Dare to skydive?

Dare to skydive?

If skydiving is on your bucket list, get started by reading this one-on-one talk with skydiving safety and training advisor Brad Vancina.

I started with a tandem skydive. As soon as my feet touched the ground I knew I was going to be a skydiver. That summer, I got my USPA (United States Parachute Association) license. I spent two years at the DZ I started at then was hired for a weekend camera position at Skydive Chicago.

Skydiving is a very physical sport. I take care of myself and have always maintained a good level of fitness. I ride my mountain bike a lot; I run on my treadmill a couple of days a week, and try and eat right. The gear we wear is heavy–24 kilos—plus the weight of our tandem passengers. We also deal with the heat, so drinking heaps of water and core strength are key to longevity in our trade.

If you’re getting into skydiving, don’t take chances. We belong to an organization called the United States Parachute Association where I am a safety and training advisor. We work and operate under a certain perimeter of rules. If you follow the rules and take the time and money to get certified at a USPA DZ, you will be a good and safe skydiver. If you can’t do that, don’t skydive.

To date, I have made over 22,400 jumps. I must have had around 4,500 jumps when I got my Tandem rating. It took me over 17,000 jumps to get my AFFI (freefall instructor) rating.

My dad inspired me to skydive. He wasn’t a skydiver but his love for aviation and flying became my inspiration. I was the kid in the family that marched to my own drum. Flying is nice but skydiving is just next level.

My most memorable jumps was when I was teaching and jumping with my children, and doing tandem jumps with my mom and dad.

We are a family run and operated skydive center that is current in the industry. Our methods are world recognized and our equipment is the best that money can buy. Here, you are training and jumping with professional and USPA-rated tandem and AFF instructors. As far as I know, we are the only professional skydiving center in the Philippines.

We only use the best skydiving gear. All of our tandem equipment are Micro Sigma, made by UPT (USA). We use 330-square-feet Icarus Tandem Canopies from New Zealand, Performance Designs Reserves (USA) and Vigil and Cypress AAD’s (Automatic Activation Devices). If you can’t afford what’s safe and modern both for gear and training, then you should probably take up a different sport.

My wife, Louise (an Ilongga and a surgical ICU nurse from Chicago), and I were already operating our own skydive center south of Chicago when we came to the Philippines. We saw there was nothing of the sort here and started to do the research into how we could make it work. After an email to Capt. Alvin Boyd Loreno, a commercial pilot and flight instructor from Mactan, I found a guy that was interested and understood the need to follow rules if there was going to be professional skydiving in the Philippines.

We all took a chance together and formed Skydive Greater Cebu. Boyd knew the ins and outs of airspace rules here with CAAP and plays an important role in government relations and our aircraft maintenance and safety. We started in Bantayan Island, Cebu in 2013 and it continues to be our flagship operation. That’s where we get our biggest numbers as well as all our USPA AFF certifications and licensing.

Because of how hard it was to travel here in the Philippines, we realized it would be good to open a location South of Cebu. Siquijor was a perfect choice.

My wife and I always had our eye on Palawan but it wasn’t until this year that we decided to do a trial run. We have been open in xx, Palawan but we are shutting down and reopening in November. I feel it will be our best location in two years.

Any USPA Skydive Center that follows the course to a T and has highly experienced instructors is good if you want to learn skydiving. If their instructor has less than 1,000 jumps, he/she has no business teaching someone how to skydive.

Skydiving is a progressive sport. It’s best to go to a progressive DZ to get a license and make your tandem skydive. Make sure their training methods are current and the equipment they use are made within the past six years.

Pick a DZ with instructors that have time to jump with you. Some instructors like to rush to the next student because that’s how they make their money. Pre and post-jump briefings are very important, and you can’t do those while running to the next student.

Skydiving is a pretty competitive industry so the costs are pretty fixed. Most tandem jumps with video are around USD400. AFF levels are usually around USD200 – 250 per level. Once licensed most DZ’s offer slots to altitude for USD25 – 45. If you see a real cheap skydiving center, you should be very concerned and ask a lot of questions.

Being a scuba diver, my wife and family often find ourselves in Malapascua Island, diving with our good friends at DiveLink Cebu. I am excited to open our skydiving center in xx, Palawan in <target date> because the diving and surfing there is awesome and not as crowded.

There are many good restaurants in Bantayan Island, Cebu. You can’t go wrong with most of the sugba-sugba (grilled seafood) places and I can never give a good lechon station a pass. A trip to Cebu is never complete without a bowl of spicy ramen from Hamakaze.

I grew up in the farmlands of Illinois. My dad always supported my love for motocross bikes and BMX vert riding. As I grew up, I raced XC and downhill mountain bikes, all while twisting throttles on motocross bikes.

I still ride mountain bikes a couple of days a week. I found a great group of Filipinos here on Bantayan Island. We ride Enduro Motocross and trail rides from Bogo to Cebu. My greatest passion of all is surfing. It’s the only thing that still scares me.

I like beaches. Where the beach is doesn’t really matter as long as there are nice wave coming in. I’m not too good at just relaxing. One of the best times of my life were the years I spent living in Australia. It was the perfect mix of jumping all day and running to the beach with my board every afternoon.

We are quite happy here in the Philippines. There are a few things that drive me crazy with the way things get done, but for the most part you can’t beat the heart and warmth of the Filipino.ho is Brad Vancina?

Who is Brad Vancina?
Brad is the man behind the only USPA-affiliated skydiving centers in the Philippines: Skydive Greater, which now has two branches—it’s original location in Bantayan Island, Cebu; and Siquijor. Visit Skydivecebu.com

5 scenic motorbike rides in the South

5 scenic motorbike rides in the South

Riding a motorbike is one of life’s greatest joys (or, at least, it should be), and here’s where you should do it.

Since it’s not as wet in the South as it is here in the North, and since motorbiking is life, giving you an adulterated freedom to see and experience sights at your own pace, cheating city and inner town traffic, here are five destinations you can fly to and enjoy the sights of, after renting a motorbike. Bloggers Kara Santos and Louie Pacardo curate.

Siquijor

Islands like Siquijor are often best explored on two wheels. Photo by Kara Santos

The island province of Siquijor is a scenic island worth exploring on a day motorbike tour. Often associated with stories of witchcraft and mysticism, Siquijor offers enchanting beaches, beautiful waterfalls, and other architectural gems. The most interesting spots are scattered around the island—a bit difficult to access by public transportation but best if via a motorbike.

Glan, Sarangani Province

Sarangani is about as far south as some people would like. These open roads give you a view of Sarangani Bay, as shown here by Louie Pacardo. Photo by Louie Pacardo

The road going to the beach town of Glan is already a destination.  The coastal road along the edges of Sarangani Bay offers scenic views of the mangrove-rich and white sand beach strips. Glan is best known for its white sand beaches and heritage sites. Biker-friendly resorts include Kamari Resort and Hotel which offers a spacious and guarded parking area.

Glan is about one hour’s ride away from General Santos City in Mindanao

Alamada, North Cotabato

Head for Alamada in North Cotabato if you’re looking for something that’s definitively off the beaten path. Photo by Louie Pacardo

Alamada is among the lesser known riding destinations in Mindanao with unique landscapes and roadside views.  The 120-meter wide Asik-asik Falls is the top destination going to this silent town in North Cotabato. Another emerging must-stopover is Daday Falls, a tall drop settled in a Jurassic period-like landscape sandwiched by steep gorges in Barangay Dado.

Alamada is about three and a half hours’ ride away from Davao City

Lebak, Sultan Kudarat

This is the view that awaits any avid rider after taking on the hundred motorcycle bankings. Photo by Louie Pacardo

This coastal town facing the Celebes Sea in southwest Mindanao is best known among riders because of its twisting roads. You’ll do about a hundred motorcycle bankings going in and out of this sleepy town in Maguindanao Province. Lebak is best known for its tasty crabs and seafoods and its many waterfalls like Tres Andanas Falls.

Precaution: Mindanao is generally peaceful. However, just like when traveling in any part of the country or even the world, it is still best to check the present security situation in particular areas with previous peace and order issues.

Siargao

What better way to explore the country’s top surfing destination than on two wheels? Photo by Daniel Soriano

For beach-lovers and surfers, the island of Siargao is one of the best places where to ride. Aside from the main surfing area of Gen. Luna, the island conceals beautiful uncrowded spots like Malinao, Magpupungko Tidal Pools, and Pacifico, that you can easily ride to. There’s a variety of motorbikes for rent, including ones outfitted with surf racks—well, for packing your surfboard—and gorgeous bespoke bikes handcrafted by 3B Customs, a bike builder from Surigao City.

Words: Ferdz Decena

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