Considered the beach capital of Asia, the Philippines is home to the popular and beautiful beaches of Boracay, El Nido, and Panglao. And then there are lesser-known and underrated but equally wonderful beaches waiting to be discovered. I’ve visited one of such places: the small, peaceful, and relaxing town of Port Barton.
If you’re looking for a place where you can be intimate with the sea and contemplate about life, Port Barton is just perfect! A haven for foreign and local beach bums, Port Barton is an island in Palawan province with different unspoiled beaches that are rich in marine life. So if you’ll go there for island hopping and snorkelling, it’s best to gear up with your underwater photography equipment to document your underwater adventures.
Haven’t heard of the place yet? Here are the essential things you need to know before you visit Port Barton:
Going to the Hidden Paradise
Since the Philippines is a tropical country with only two seasons (wet and dry), it’s best to experience Port Barton in the dry summer months from March to May. The place isn’t flocked by many tourists yet; that’s why when I went there in May this year, there were not as many beachgoers as the Palawan’s more popular islands El Nido and Coron.
Unfortunately, there are no direct flights to Port Barton. To get there, you’ll have to fly to Manila and from there, book a flight to Puerto Princesa, the capital city of Palawan.
When you get to Puerto Princesa City, it’ll be easy to find transfers there that go almost every day to Port Barton. Just go to San Jose Terminal, and you can find buses, vans, and shuttles bound to Port Barton. It’ll cost you around PHP250 (US$6) for a bus ride, while rates for van and shuttle transfers start at PHP350 (US$8).
If you want to be picked up from the Puerto Princesa Airport, the rate is PHP500 (US$11). Beware of airport transfers that ask higher rates because they often charge foreigners higher than locals. It’ll always depend on your haggling skills. Wherever your feet will take you, always be street-smart.
A trip to Port Barton takes around 3 to 4 hours. Make sure to bring only the essentials for your beach vacation because you’ll be uncomfortable if you bring a large bag that takes up a lot of room in the van.
On my way to Port Barton, I got stuck in mud because it rained! Make sure you wear comfortable clothes when you travel, especially if you’re riding buses because they don’t have air-conditioning. Buses only have open windows for ventilation.
The road to Port Barton is currently in the works, so prepare for a bumpy ride. There’s not much of cellular signal, too, so don’t bother about surfing the internet while traveling.
Where to Stay
When you arrive at the bus and van terminal, ride a tricycle going to the accommodation you’ve booked. You don’t have to worry about giving directions because tricycle drivers often know the location of different resorts and cottages in the area. When I came to Port Barton, I checked in at Ausan Beach Front Cottages for PHP1,300 (US$29) per night. I was welcomed not only by its friendly staff but also the stunning view of the sea with mountains as the backdrop.
If you can, book a resort or cottage that offers a beachfront view because Port Barton’s shoreline is not crowded with small boats, unlike in El Nido and Coron. Hammocks are also set up by the shore, so you can enjoy the remarkable sunrise and sunset in Port Barton. In Ausan, there are tree cottages that customers can use for free to chill or eat their meals.
If you have limited budget, you can also find cheaper accommodations like pension houses, hostels, and inns that range from PHP300 (US$7) to PHP800 (US$18). Although these budget accommodations aren’t in the beachfront, the beach is just two to three minutes away.
Port Barton is in a remote area, so expect fewer night parties and almost non-existent ATMs. But if you run out of cash, you can remit money to yourself and claim it from the nearest remittance center. Most activities like island hopping, snorkeling, playing beach volleyball, swimming with the turtles, and fishing are done in the morning.
You can choose from four sets of tours: A, B, C, and D. The tour cost per person is PHP700 (US$16), which is way cheaper than the tours in El Nido and Coron. All tours start at 9:00 a.m., giving you ample time to experience a one-of-a-kind adventure that will leave your heart in awe. Try taking cool underwater photos because the seawater is crystal clear! I went for Tour A and was able to visit a couple of islands like the German Island, Exotic Island, and Lui Lui Island.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to visit the Starfish Island that appears only on low tide. You’ll see the entire island covered up with starfish, big and small, and even their cute eggs! By the end of your chosen tour, ask your tour guide if you can possibly drop by the island.
If you arrive late in Port Barton, pay a visit to the turtle sanctuary in Blue Cove Resort. For just PHP50 (US$1), you can view and take pictures with the cute turtles for one day! Sadly, you can’t swim in some areas because of swarming jellyfishes.
You can also go trekking and find the hidden Pamuayan Waterfalls. Hire a tour guide who will help you get there because many people have been lost in the area and weren’t able to find the famous falls in Port Barton.
Port Barton is on its way to becoming the next El Nido and Coron of Palawan, Philippines, so visit the place before it gets crowded with tourists. If you want a secret place that’s quiet and relaxing, Port Barton is the perfect place to reconnect with nature and be a carefree beach bum!