The laidback and serene vibe of the beach seeps into one's spirit as one enjoys the unspoiled long stretch of white sand shoreline. Here I was in the middle of the country's longest white sand beach enjoying the feel of the sand and sea breeze on my skin. I could already imagine how the landscape will change a few years from now but, for now, I would just like to enjoy the raw beauty of San Vicente.
The 14.7-kilometer white sand shoreline of Long Beach is San Vicente's tourism icon. The beach, dubbed as the longest in the country, placed the municipality in the maps of travelers. But its raw beauty goes beyond what we see above the waters. There is more to explore beyond the shores of San Vicente.
Like most Philippine destinations, exploring what lies under and beyond San Vicente's Long Beach would mean hopping on a motorized banca for a day or two of discovering the islands in the area.
Exotic and Maxima Islands
About 45 minutes away from San Vicente seaport are two islands that has a unique connection - Exotic Island and Maxima Island. The two islands are connected by a sandbar that reveals itself during low tide. So getting across the two island is possible with the right timing.
Unfortunately, that was not the case during our visit. Our boat docked at Exotic Island and, from there, you can view Maxima Island on the other side. I did try to check out the land bridge that connects the two but the water was still deep to walk across the other side.
Exotic Island is raw and unspoiled. Its shorelines are a combination of white sand and rocky shore lines. Its shorelines provide an amazing view of Maxima Island while thebisland provides a relaxing beach vibe.
Inalandelan Island is the most developed island in the area. The island offers camping facilities complete with a mess hall, shower facilities, and recreational facilities.
The white sand beachfront offers a panoramic view of the sea and Port Barton. You can choose to enjoy the sun under one of its beach huts or enjoy the vibe on a hammock. You can also choose to enjoy a round of beach volleyball or opt to explore the island by foot.
Laidback and rustic, one of the main attraction of Inalandelan is its white sandbar on the far end of the island. The sandbar extends itself towards the sea during low tide.
San Vicente's coastlines are nesting spot of sea turtles. In fact, it is one of the interesting activities that tourists enjoy during its season. It is not a surprise that there are spots in the area where one can enjoy a moment with sea turtles.
Turtle Site is an off-shore spot where one can enjoy swimming with the turtles. Our boatman was quick to find these gentle creatures at sea to guide us where we could swim and observe the turtles. It takes a lot of stamina to catch up with sea turtles but it is an exhilerating experience swimming with them.
Twin Reef is another off shore spot where one can catch a glimpse of the beauty under the waters of San Vicente. Just a few minutes away from the Turtle Site, one can enjoy snorkeling in its waters and admiring the beauty of San Vicente's seabed.
The flourishing flora and fauna of Twin Reef is just a glimpse of the rich bounty in its waters. It was fun swimming in its waters to enjoy the burst of colors of its coral reefs as a variety of school of fish weave through them.
This small sandbar, off the coast of Port Barton, got its name because of the presence of starfish in the area. The sandbar fully reveals itself and is best enjoyed during low tide.
Since timing is key to enjoy the sandbar, you can also expect that most island hopping tours will be in the area during low tide. So getting the perfect picture, without the crowd, may take time. There is nothing much to do in the area except to get sun-soaked while enjoying the panoramic view of Port Barton.
Another popular spot in San Vicente, Port Barton is a laidback barangay in the area that attracts off-beat travelers and foreign tourists. The rustic ambiance of the place is a major draw for tourists who are looking for a different kind of adventure. Its vibe and its natural attractions are perfect for any type of traveler.
Port Barton beach, a cream-colored sand shoreline, is at the heart of all the tourism activities. This is where you will find most of the action - from resorts to restaurants to tourism activities to acoustic and reggae bars. But despite the activity buzz of the area, it has maintained its laidback beach vibe. One can still enjoy basking in the sun or enjoying an afternoon nap by the beach without the usual crowd.
This unassuming beach spot in Port Barton is the jump-off point to Bigaho Falls. The beach, which remains untouched despite traces of development, provides an easy beach escape from the usual crowd. With the exception of a few locals and the usual guests heading off to the falls, one can enjoy the solemn atmosphere of the beach while enjoying its pristine beauty.
The long stretch of cream-colored sand was a perfect spot to rest after the short hike from Bigaho Falls. We enjoyed our brief stop with fresh coconut in tow while enjoying the sand and the sea breeze. It was at that point that we noticed the untouched beauty of this beach spot in San Vicente. The pristine beauty of the place perfectly matched by its rustic ambiance make Bigaho Beach our perfect secret beach spot... for now.
The cool waters cascading down the rock surface was definitely a sight to enjoy after a full day of beach bumming. Bigaho Falls is one of the three waterfalls in Port Barton that are popular among tourists. It can be accessed via boat through Bigaho Beach or by motorcycle. In both cases, one needs to hike about 15 minutes to get to the base of the falls.
The rocky base of the falls was a perfect viewing deck of Bigaho Falls. The large boulders offer an amazing full view of the falls and also serve as good backdrops for photos. The cool waters cascade down on the rock face down into a small basin. The basin is deep enough for a quick dip.
The place is serene and peaceful and it is best enjoyed without the crowd. The place is a bit small and can get a bit crowded with the influx of tourists. We can also expect the place to get a facelift once the paved road connection between San Vicente town proper and Port Barton gets completed.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
San Vicente is slowly coming out of the shadows of other popular Palawan tourist destinations to become an attraction in itself. Its 14.7-kilometer white sand shoreline, its prime tourist draw, is now complemented by other San Vicente tourist spots that showcase the municipality's beauty. San Vicente is no longer just another off-beat spot to explore. It is bent on becoming another prime Palawan destination.
As development slowly pours into this once sleepy town, one can expect a boost in opportunities for its local communities. Opportunities that, if handled correctly, can give locals a better life. It is an opportunity to provide the basics and more if sustained ecologically and economically.
Getting There: Philippine Airlines flies direct to San Vicente via Clark and Skyjet flies direct from Manila. One can also take a flight to Puerto Princesa and take a three-hour land trip to San Vicente.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.