We’ve been going back and forth Palawan for more than a decade now, and every time we go back, we visit a new destination. This year, I went on a solo trip for a change and headed to Port Barton in Palawan. A beach town that’s only starting to get known little by little this year, it’s not too far to visit from Puerto Princesa International Airport. It’s right smacked in the middle of Puerto Princesa and El Nido.
A quaint beach town described as the locals as “where Filipinos are the foreigners in their own country.”
More foreigners travel to this part of Palawan compared to Filipinos. I guess that’s about to change with Boracay closed for rehabilitation and crowded El Nido, Puerto Princesa and Coron these days. So here’s my little adventure this summer…. (See below for the budget breakdown)
A good four days and three nights is well spent in this laidback part of one of the world’s most popular beaches in the Philippines. Port Barton rivals the mesmerizing sunsets of El Nido, it’s a dog haven and has the most beaches in Palawan. So never miss the sunsets!
The best way to go to Port Barton is to take a Cebu Pacific or AirAsia flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa. Ride the Recaro or SBE vans which have schedules everyday. Best to have a reservation directly or via your resort, as both are public transportation but it’s easy either way. The roadtrip from the city to the mountain then downhill before reaching the final beach destination only takes between two to four hours. Some vans make a short stopover in Roxas City for bathroom breaks or quick lunch/breakfast.
I stayed at one of the oldest and quirky designed beachfront resort, Ausan Beachfront Resort. It’s at the heart of the quaint town, a perfect starting point at the Port Barton beach. It’s not yet too expensive to stay here unlike in Puerto Princesa, Coron and El Nido.
I booked the Triplex Cottage (1,850 per night) with hot and cold shower, breakfast and aircon. The room has a vintage Filipino feel to it, it’s either you hate it or you love it. But I found it quite cool in person, way better than the photos found online. If you want a different experience, sleep in the Tree House or the UFO room for fun! Best when travelling with another person though.
Don’t expect a luxurious escapade though as Port Barton only has electricity from 6pm until 12 midnight. But most resorts like Ausan have generators, they have electricity except from 12 midnight until 7am. There are a couple resorts also that are solar-powered but usually only have fan rooms.
Look for Ate Baby, one of the sweetest ladies at Ausan, who took care of me and urged me to comeback with a special someone next time I visit Port Barton. Ariel, the general manager is also good at coordinating online during booking. I managed to meet him briefly as he was on leave the day I arrived.
I always have their Tree House reserved for breakfast for a great view of the beach! Sometimes one of the local dogs will even accompany you and lightly tap you on the feet for food. So adorable!
So it’s the start to a new adventure. Tours start at 9am and usually ends between 4pm to 5pm. One of the best things about Port Barton? The island hopping tour rates are way cheaper with Php700 for Tour A, B, C or D! Imagine for a price of two island hopping tour that’s only one in other Palawan Islands! I hope this doesn’t change so much. More tips for the friendly boatmen!
Just book upon arrival either at the hotel or resorts, tour groups like Santacools along the beach or the Tourism “office” upon entering Port Barton to sign up for foreigners. There’s an Eco-Card (Php50). I got mine during the tour itself and it’s valid for 10 days. I booked Tour A directly at Ausan. They have their own boat and I highly recommend their boatmen who took care of us that day.
Price has increased after my trip so just check to confirm. A whole day tour starts from 9am to 4pm. If you love snorkeling this is the tour package for you as you’ll do turtle watching near Inaladalen Island (formerly German Island), snorkeling with the fishes at Twin Reef and Wide Reef and visit Maxima Island Sand Bar for Star Fish watching. Lunch includes fresh salad, grilled fish, pork and chicken, rice and sweet fruits with bottled water. Inclusion: Picnic lunch, complimentary water, boat transportation, license boat captain and tour guide/crew, entrance fees and Eco-card.
At night, I decided to eat with a new friend from the tour at Besaga Beachfront Bed & Breakfast, which serves good Filipino food. The prices are mid-range around Php 200 and above. It’s a Filipino bamboo style beachside restaurant and resort that’s bathe under the warm glow of Capiz lights. It has a romantic ambiance, perfect for dates or a chill dinner with family.
Afterwards, we hopped to the only Reggae bar along the shore, Native’Bo, where we met two siblings who relocated from Manila to Palawan. We were impressed with one of them who was such a beautiful singer at the bar. It was cool hipster spot perfect for beach vibes, good conversations and cool music. No other perfect way to end your night at the beach!
I was planning to just have a laidback day at Port Barton Beach but Ate Baby told me not to swim with the jellyfish and instead join another tour. So I joined Tour C instead. It’s more laidback than Tour A as it’s a mix of chilling at the islands and snorkeling. I met different travellers from US, Europe, Samoa and Spain. Pretty much reminded me of my AIESEC days!
It includes the Fantastic Reef, Paradise Island and a private island owned by our boatman’s aunt. I guess this is a special island since you’ll have to get the same boatman, which is affiliated with Ausan. Since tours share snorkeling spots, you’ll end up revisiting Maxima Island’s starfish sandbar and Turtle Watching near Inaladalen Island.
At night, I decided to go to the town itself, which you can walk around safely since it’s quite small yet charming. I went to San Isidro Labrador Chapel, souvenir store, check out the Sunday barter; eat at Mabuti. Eat.Chill cafe and see the giant pizzas of Gorgonzola.
The local life is vibrant with friendly smiles and mishmash of tourism and everyday business of townfolks. I love how you can just pop in and out different establishments, greeted by the warm smiles of Filipinos. It’s a town where solo travelling for locals find it a bit different to wrap their heads around the idea. I love Mabuti cafe for its sustainability, using steel straws and serving good healthy food for midrange prices (starts at Php200 and above).
There aren’t any tricycles or other transportation, except if you book a motorcycle. It’s easy to ask the friendly locals for directions so you won’t get lost. I doubt you will with how small it is! You’ll still see some old houses, wherein a few were converted to either hostels, cafe or restaurants.
You always wish you can stay longer in paradise but sadly you have to go back to reality. My last day was having a relaxing last breakfast at Ausan before taking a roadtrip back to Puerto Princesa. My flight was in the afternoon but I left at 8am onboard SBE van. The driver was friendly and I met another Filipino from Puerto Princesa. We stopped midway for a short break at Roxas City.
We arrived after three hours at Puerto Princesa International Airport, which has a new building, a far cry from the old one I was used to landing in. It’s high ceilings, glass windows certainly is a breath of fresh air from the smaller one before. Although it has more souvenir stores than restaurants so I hope they add more in the future.
I’ll certainly we back with family next time as I still have to see the longest beach, San Vicente, and bring them to the islands at Port Barton. Hopefully, the prices won’t surge when we do in the future. Palawan has always been good to me, it’s where I’ve met new friends, whom I’m still in touch with until now. Definitely it still has its charm luring me back every now and then.
4 DAYS 3 NIGHTS Budget
Cebu Pacific – Php4,856 roundtrip
Ausan Beachfront Cottage & Restaurant – Php1,665/night x 3
SBE Van – Php 300 (van terminal to resort/Php400 (Ausan resort to Puerto Princesa airport)
Tour w/ Eco-Card – Php700 x 2 + Php 50
Food – Between Php150 – Php300 per meal
*Between Php15,000 – Php18,000 budget for a solo travel (not backpacking)
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