Port Barton is a fishing village whose exotic islands off the western coast of Palawan are starting to attract attention from local and foreign tourists. This idyllic village is part of San Vicente, located between the more popular Puerto Princesa City and El Nido.
San Vicente has 22 unexploited islands and islets, endowed with pristine beaches, coral reefs, mangroves and rich biodiversity. Of these, 12 islands are under the protected area of Port Barton Marine Park. Given its rich marine resources, Port Barton island hopping is one of the best activities to do when in San Vicente, Palawan.
We were coming from the Long Beach, another must-see destination in San Vicente, when we took an island hopping tour. There is a designated boat tour booking office at Brgy. Poblacion. Either you take a private tour or join other groups if you want it to be less expensive. Since most of the islands are more easily accessible from Port Barton, island hopping from here can be less expensive, as compared to coming from the port in Brgy. Poblacion.
Because we were staying at the Long Beach on our first two days in San Vicente, we hopped on to Boayan Island on our first boat tour. This island is closer to the Long Beach than Port Barton so we went back to the Long Beach after that. The next day, we took another island hopping tour and this time asked our boatmen to drop us off at Port Barton village at the end of the tour.
If you are coming from Port Barton, you can ask for an island hopping boat rental from the Boatman’s Association Office.
Port Barton Island Hopping
Island hopping tours normally include picnic lunch, snorkeling gear and entrance fees to private resorts. Be kind to your boat captain and his assistant/s because aside from maneuvering the boat, they’ll also buy fresh catch for your lunch, cook your lunch and act as your guides. Find out more about island destinations and exciting activities you can do in a Port Barton island hopping tour.
The port in Poblacion, San Vicente
The port area is in the process of being reclaimed. Not sure if this area will be part of the reclamation. I hope not…
Boayan, the biggest island in San Vicente, can be easily accessed from the port in Brgy. Poblacion, San Vicente. We docked on the southern part of the island, named as Kalipay Beach, where the sand is white and fine. A small walk to the other end of the coast led us to a rocky shore with amazing stone formations.
While out boatmen happily cooked our lunch, we explored the beach and noticed a stream of water flowing towards the beach. Our boatmen confirmed its coming from a mountain spring (and not from a wastewater pipeline!) as there are no human inhabitants in that area. The spring water was perfect for washing off the saltwater in our body after we swam and snorkeled not far away from the shore.
Exotic Island and Maxima Island
These two islands are located close to each other, in that you can cross one island to the other by walking through the shallow water during low tides. Aside from the literal island hopping, the best activity to do in this paradise is to swim and go snorkeling to see patches of coral gardens.
Exotic Island on your right, Maxima Island to your left
The shallow way to Maxima Island
Say hello to Maxima Island
You will not find these island names in Google map. I believe, Exotic and Maxima (sounds like a title for a sexy film, don’t you think?) are just names baptized by the locals. You’ll find these as Cayoya and Albaguen Islands in Google map, instead.
Inaladelan Island Resort (German Island)
Inaladelan Island Resort is formerly known as German Island because a German apparently rented this island for 20 years. It’s a privately owned island with an entrance fee of Php 100. Ours was already included in our island hopping package.
The resort offers a gazebo, which makes it the best stop to enjoy lunch, skillfully and lovingly prepared by your boatmen. There are hammocks and swing planks to laze on but as there were a lot of boats stopping by for lunch, too, I preferred to explore the other end of the resort on foot. The sandy shores changed to a rocky landscape as I walked further.
The surrounding clear blue waters of the resort is best known for snorkeling, not just for colorful coral gardens and fishes, but most especially for spotting pawikans or sea turtles. Further southeast off the tip of the resort lies Double Island, about 200 meters away. This ridge is also known for beautiful underwater sceneries.
We went off shore the resort after lunch, but the waves unfortunately got stronger that time. Feeling disappointed that I might not be able to stop a single sea turtle, one of our boatman suddenly beckoned us as he saw one big pawikan. There’s a certain feeling of elation seeing the turtle in its natural environment. Well, one is better than none and I’m happy with that.
Sandy turned rocky at the other side of Inaladalen Resort
A popular snorkeling site, Twin Reef was named as such because the area is composed of two adjacent reefs. We snorkeled through one of the reefs and feasted our eyes on the diverse corals and colorful fishes beneath. The water above the reef is shallow, making close coral viewing a delightful activity.
However, some portions looked too shallow I can almost touch the corals. My body almost froze at these sections as I was afraid of two things. One, I might get in contact with the corals and damage them, and two, the branching corals might get into contact with me and scratch me.
Sandbar or Starfish Island
The Starfish Island is actually a sandbar near Port Barton beach. Submerged during high tide, Starfish Island is named so because….you guessed it right, starfishes are scattered around the sandbar. It was blazing hot when we reached the sandbar but its charm didn’t stop us from enjoying the place, nonetheless.
On a funny note, the locals also call it Luli Island from the words “lulubog lilitaw”. Lulubog is Filipino for “will be submerged” and lilitaw means “will emerge”, denoting how sandbars emerge depending on the tides.
It’s disturbing that our boat docked at this area with some corals
Walking our way to the “litaw” (non-submerged) portion of the sandbar
Well, everyone does it!
There are more pristine islands and teeming reefs to explore in a Port Barton island hopping exploration like the Fantastic Reef, Wide Reef and Paradise Island. If you want to wash away saltwater from a day of island hopping, you can also opt for Bigaho Falls as part of the island hopping tour.
Find out the best accommodation prices in San Vicente, Palawan in the search box below:
How to get to San Vicente, Palawan
From Puerto Princesa City
It takes 3-4 hours of land travel through public vans and buses to get to San Vicente from Puerto Princesa city proper. Catch buses and vans at the Puerto Princesa San Jose Terminal. If you want to go to the Long Beach, ride the van going to Poblacion, San Vicente. If you want to go straight to Port Barton, there are mini-buses and vans going to Port Barton, as well.
From Sabang, Puerto Princesa, there are motorized boats going to Port Barton. Travel time is about 3-4 hours.
From El Nido
There are vans from El Nido going to San Vicente. Travel takes 2-3 hours. Boats can also be hired to take you to Poblacion, San Vicente. Likewise, Port Barton may be reached from El Nido by renting a boat. Boat ride is about 5 hours.
San Vicente is not YET touristic, but it has a lot of potential natural treasures yet to be tapped. It is dubbed to be the next premier destination in Palawan. However the municipality’s Tourism Master Plan is progressing, let’s always be mindful of how we impact the environment as we travel. Be responsible, reduce waste at source and properly manage your wastes. Let’s contribute to keeping San Vicente in its unspoiled state. Click here to learn how.
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