This municipality on the western coast of Palawan was once an off-beat destination. Despite having the country's longest white sand shoreline, only the brave and the bold, mostly foreigners, dare explore its natural beauty. Things are taking a turn for this sleepy town with the opening of its own airport and the development of a more reliable road network. Yes... San Vicente in Palawan is excited and ready for the change that is coming.
Created in 1969, the municipality of San Vicente covers a total of 10 barangays on the northwestern side of Palawan. Its main industries are farming and fishing. However, with a local full service airport and the concreting of roads of the municipality, it has strengthened its connection to the world revealing its natural attractions that are definitely worth exploring. In due time, tourism will be another alternative livelihood for its locals.
On this first part of my San Vicente travel blog, we will be exploring local attractions that made a buzz among travelers. We hopped on the ever dependable habal-habal to explore the sights and sounds that make San Vicente a unique and upcoming Philippine destination.
Long Beach is San Vicente's prime tourist draw. With a 14.7-kilometer white sand shoreline, it is touted as the longest white sand shoreline in the country.
The stretch starts at Barangay Alimanguan, the northernmost part of the strip, and stretches down south to New Agutaya. A hill extending towards the shoreline blocks the view of Long Beach's full stretch. A small rocky strip in the same area is the only place where one can get a full panoramic view of the whole 14.7 kilometer beach stretch from end to end.
We also made a brief stop at the center of Long Beach, said to be a location of a local of franchise of "Survivor", and concluded our Long Beach tour at New Agutaya, the southern end of the beach. From this end, one can see the full length of the beach from the hill. One will be amazed at the beauty and length of Long Beach!
At this time, Long Beach remains vastly untouched by commercialism with only a few business establishments in the area. However, access to the beach is already limited because most of the beach front lots are fenced by its private owners. A strong indication of future developments in the area.
Bato ni Ning-Ning
This iconic rock formation atop the hill became famous after it was featured in a local tv series "Ningning". Bato ni Ningning is a rock formation atop a hill in Barangay Erawan that offers a sweeping view of the hills and the coasts of San Vicente.
The picturesque overlooking view of Erawan Beach (not Long Beach) and its blue waters is a perfect backdrop for that IG-worthy photo. The dramatic view of the land meeting the sea is so serene that you can't help but take the time to enjoy the view and the gentle breeze blowing in. The knoll also gives an amazing view of the nearby Umuruan Island.
The road to knoll is now being improved to make the view deck more accessible to guests of San Vicente.
Erawan Beach is often mistaken as part of Long Beach but it is not. This white sand beach strip is separated from Long Beach by a hill that extends out to the sea.
Despite being separated from San Vicente's famous beach stretch, the unspoiled beach of Erawan is an attraction in itself. It remains untouched by commercialism and you get to enjoy the beach for its raw beauty. The serene atmosphere complemented by the gentle crashing of the waves drown out your thoughts towards a relaxing beach chill. It was simply blissful!
We were pleasantly surprised to find small square pens by the beach. It turns out that the enclosure protects a nesting site of sea turtles. Apparently, Erawan Beach and Long Beach are popular nesting grounds for these sea creatures. It is something that needs to be considered with the forthcoming tourism development of San Vicente.
San Vicente Town Proper
At the heart of all the tourism buzz and flare is the town of San Vicente. This sleepy town center is the center for commerce, governance, and religion. It also serves as the main entry point of the municipality with its airport and seaport.
Both airport and seaport are functioning and it still being developed as of this writing. The airport connects San Vicente to the Philippines while its seaport connects it to the nearby towns like Port Barton. Concrete roads connect the town to the whole road network of Palawan. A road is now being constructed that will connect the town proper with Port Barton. Once done, it will reduce travel time between the two barangays significantly.
The tourism office of San Vicente is just a few meters away from seaport. You can get vital information from the office from boat and land tours to accomodations. There is also a small shop that displays OTOP products in the region.
The San Vicente de Ferrer Parish is the center of faith of the municipality. Located atop a hill, it provides a panoramic view of parts of the town. The parish exudes an atmosphere of simplicity from its exterior up to its interior. The high ceiling of the church with its simple altar design was a welcome breather from the adrenaline of exploring the town.
Located atop an adjacent hill, the San Vicente Municipal Hall serves as the center of governance of the municipality. The compound houses the government offices that provide basic services to the residents of San Vicente.
I reckon that, in a year's time, the landscape of the town proper will change dramatically. It will be more progressive and vibrant. But I am glad that I got to see, feel, and enjoy the very laid back town of San Vicente.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
Accessibility fosters development. The opening of the San Vicente airport and the development of a better road network gave San Vicente an equal chance to show the world what it has to offer. But with a new opportunity knocking, the worry is the possible mismanagement that can harm the natural resources and ecological balance of San Vicente. I hope that the LGU can push for a development plan with a strong framework focused on sustainability.
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.