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.

Dashing spot: Pamoayan Falls in Port Barton

Dashing spot: Pamoayan Falls in Port Barton

A relaxing waterfall that feels like it’s tucked away, but actually isn’t.

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

Port Barton is more than just sand, sea, and sun. It also has its fair share of waterfalls that take you away from the beach, like Pamoayan Falls.

A 10-minute motorbike ride followed by a five-minute walk (yes, it’s a walk not a hike) from the center of Port Barton gives you access to this short yet scenic waterfall. The pool at the bottom of the falls is deep enough for you to jump into, though it’s not suggested that you do.

There’s a donation box in front of a shack that doubles as a sari-sari store where you can leave your motorbike. The path itself is easy enough to walk on to as there’s hardly any elevation change. It’s also beside a creek (which you’ll cross midway) that’s as photogenic as the waterfall itself.

Get there
SkyJet Airlines (Flyskyjetair.com) flies direct from to San Vicente from Manila four times weekly, and it increases to six times weekly beginning October 27, 2019.

Take an e-trike from the airport to the San Vicente port where you can ride a boat to Port Barton. Once there, you can rent a bike for around Php600, which you can then take to Pamoayan Falls.

To get to Pamoayan Falls, drive along Bonifacio St. and turn right on Reef Cafe. Follow the road to the highway and turn left. Follow the highway north until you see a fork in the road. Take the path on the right and follow it until you reach the shack where you’ll leave your bike and walk to Pamoayan Falls.

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

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.

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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