A taste of San Vicente

A taste of San Vicente

See the quaint town in Palawan, two hours south of its famous big sister El Nido, while the crowds haven’t arrived.

The creamy sandy beach stretching to 14km++, rightfully called Long Beach, is the piece ‘d resistance of San Vicente

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 there

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.

Touch down

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.

Stay

The rooms at Club Agutaya are on point: modern comfort meets local and green

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.

Guests are greeting by friendly staff and these refreshing lemongrass drink

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.

View from Dash editor Monica De Leon’s hotel room + homemade insect repellent + high speed WiFi + Filipino accents. What’s not to love?

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.

Simple pleasures

white sand beach with palm trees and the sea

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.

Verdict

Will I go back? In a heartbeat.

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By Monica De Leon

5 destinations that look like they’re not in the Philippines

5 destinations that look like they’re not in the Philippines

We tell you: You can go overseas without having to leave the country. Read how.

The Philippines may be a tiny archipelago but it’s so beautiful and blessed—thanks to its 7,000++ islands making it almost have a bit of or something similar to what another country has to offer.

Here are five places in the Philippines that transport you to places outside the Philippines.

The rolling hills of “New Zealand” (Batanes)

By Ferdz Decena

This one’s no secret. Every time we see someone post about one of the ultimate #travelgoals, it almost always involves a sense of awe.

The northernmost province of the country, Batanes, is home to rolling green hills dotted with livestock that resembles the home of the Kiwis. You may not see fluffy flocks of sheep, but you will see herds of cattle and/or cows grazing among all that beauty, a rare combination in the country. There’s also the clear skies that add to the whole “this shouldn’t be in the Philippines” vibe.

There’s a particularly good spot that will make you say “Am I REALLY in the Philippines?”: Rakuh-a-Payaman in Mahatao.

“African safari” (Calauit Safari Park in Palawan)

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Blending in. 🦓

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It’s safe to say you’re not really going to find wild zebras and giraffes running around in open fields ANYWHERE in the country; they’re usually seen in enclosures inside zoos. Not that we’re complaining, but we’d like to see them in their element, similar to their brothers and sisters in Africa.

Luckily, there is a place just like the African safari that’s within 35 minutes of Metro Manila: the Calauit Safari Park. It’s home to reticulated giraffes and Grévy’s zebra that get to run around and play alongside local species, some of which are endemic to the Calamianes Islands where the park resides.

Experience the rolling hills of Batanes by booking #DashHolidays!
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Time travel to “old Spain” (Vigan, Ilocos Sur)

Vigan itself looks like an old Spanish colonial town, but this street is what transports you to Spain. Photo by Ray in Manila

UNESCO calls it the “best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia,” and it’s not hard to see why.

Vigan, Ilocos Sur is a remarkably well-preserved Spanish colonial town thanks in large part to the people taking pride in their heritage. One street, in particular, gives this city that true “old Spanish town” feel: Calle Crisologo. This cobblestone street is at the heart of Vigan’s very best when it comes to preserving old Spanish architecture. That, coupled with local laws that prevent extensive modifications to heritage houses, make this sight unique to Vigan.

“Japanese Bamboo” Forest (Man-made forest in Bilar, Bohol)

It’s not bamboo, but it is just as quiet and as peaceful. Photo by R294

This is not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, but the way the Bilar Man-Made Forest looks really gives you that feeling of being inside the Sagano Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, Japan.

You won’t see a single bamboo tree standing here (nor will mahogany make the same soothing sound when they get hit by a breeze), but you have to admit that the tree tunnel it creates is eerily similar. It’s like going through a wormhole that will transport you to somewhere completely different.

Going “Dutch” with flowers (Sirao Flower Farm, Cebu)

You can’t grow tulips in the Philippines without a truckload of struggle. Does this mean Amsterdam’s flower gardens are a far-fetched dream reserved for those lucky enough to get a Schengen visa? No.

A trip to Cebu is all you need to see sights similar to those in Amsterdam. The Sirao Flower Farm started making rounds in social media before the 10,000 Roses Cafe was even a thing. It looks spectacularly like the flower gardens in Amsterdam even without the tulips thanks to a more Philippine-friendly flower that’s just as colorful: the celiosa flower or cock’s comb.

Do you know of other destinations that you feel are similar to those overseas? Let us know and we’ll do a second set!

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.

No, this isn’t even the full stretch of Long Beach in San Vicente, Palawan. Shutterstock

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.

Book your Dash Holiday now!
#DashHolidays is your all-in, hassle-free provider of travel packages that include roundtrip airfare, roundtrip airport transfers, tours, and room nights.
+63917 840 6853, +63917 627 6179
[email protected]
GF Solar Century Tower, 100 Tordesillas corner HV Dela Costa Streets, Salcedo Village, Makati City
Open from Mondays to Saturdays from 9am to 5pm

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