Port Barton is a small coastal village in Palawan, Philippines. Most tourists, who have visited Port Barton, consider it to be one of the highlights of their Philippines trip. Port Barton and its accompanying pristine islands, easily rank as one of their top five favorite destinations in the Philippines.
Port Barton attracts mostly non-luxury seeking, status anxiety free vacationers. It has in recent years become a popular choice for budget backpackers and other adventurous international travellers, who appreciate and enjoy the remote, rural, relaxed, friendly atmosphere and natural beauty that this quiet and peaceful beachside village, on the edge of the rainforest, has to offer.
Port Barton is not as popular or progressively developed as Boracay or Puerto Galera. Therefore, it does not attract busloads of domestic tourists. Also, due to its remote location (a blessing in disguise perhaps) Port Barton does not suffer from hordes of photo snapping, day trippers, as does the more accessible, touristic Sabang, or the more promoted and air ported El Nido.
Port Barton is still, so far, largely unspoiled, pleasantly unsophisticated and slightly primitive, and that’s exactly what seems to make it an attractive destination.
Electricity is now available 24-7. However, there are no banks or ATMs, hospitals, doctors or five-star hotels, and Internet access is limited.
From Puerto Princesa New Market bus station, there is a daily bus going to Port Barton (₱200). There are also several minivans ferrying tourists from Puerto Princesa to Port Barton leaving roughly every 2 hours and taking around 3 hours (₱350). Or you can rent a vehicle with driver from the airport. Travel time approx. 2½ hours, cost around ₱3000 (negotiable) for a vehicle that seats up to 7.
Coming from Sabang or El Nido you can take a bus to San Jose and either catch the bus from Puerto Princesa (if you arrive in time) or hire a motorcycle to take you the rest of the way to Port Barton. There are also 2 minivans departing El Nido for Port Barton at 8 A.M. and 1 P.M. (ca. ₱500)
From both El Nido and Sabang there are daily boats going to Port Barton and you can also hire your own boat. Especially in the rainy season it might be necessary to hire a boat, since there are not many travellers around at that time.
The village is so small that walking is the only feasible option. Going to the nearby islands you can hire a boat, rent a kayak or join organized trips.
The main attraction is the beautiful beach.
Nearby are numerous islands with spectacular beaches, rainforest and good snorkeling. Local boatmen will take you out "island hopping" for a day for ₱1200, although be sure to negotiate just how many islands constitute "hopping" before you pay up. Although dynamite-fishing has been a problem in the past, nowadays it is no longer practiced and the locals can find you unspoiled spots.
It is also possible to rent a kayak and visit the closer Islands independently.
There are 2 dive schools. One is called 'Sea Dog Diving' run by Keith Dudley, it is located at the right side of the beach and the other called 'easy dive' at the southern end of the beach run by Doris Hufnagel and assisted by the local diver named Benny. They run PADI courses and fun dives. For fun diving and PADI courses Port Barton is superb, with great coral and marine life, not to mention World War II wrecks, within easy striking distance.
There is also limited trekking in the rainforests around Port Barton. At the northern end of the beach there is a small path leading to a waterfall (about 3½ km each way) where you can swim in the cool water. There are also plenty of leeches in any standing water around there, so perhaps not for the faint hearted. Besides that, the trail is totally overgrown and you will probably need local assistance on the way to be able to find the waterfall. But hey; this means that once you've actually found it the reward is even bigger.
Surprising as this may sound, it is absolutely true that there are no banks or ATMs in Port Barton or San Vicente. There are only ATMs in Puerto Princesa and El Nido, so make sure you bring plenty of extra cash with you! Very few businesses accept credit card payments. It is very difficult to change money or obtain cash outside Puerto Princesa City.
There are a couple of basic restaurants on the beach, both offering almost identical menus of the basic backpacker fare. Expect banana pancakes and muesli. In the village you can find a few basic outlets offering Filipino food.
El Bulsero along the beach is a good economical option for breakfast.
For a more extensive menu including some Thai dishes and such delights as a full English breakfast or sausage, egg and chips check out the restaurant at Summer Homes Resort.
For a cup of great brewed coffee, home-made bread, some great floral tasting local honey, or a huge plate of authentic 'Jambalaya' visit Jambalaya Cafe on the beach. It's owned by a Scotsman and his Filipina wife. It's friendly and homey, the menu is super small and everything on it is excellent - fresh and home-made with local flare. It's right on the beach so the view is spectacular. It only has three tables, so you may want to make a reservation or arrive early to beat the other travelers. They also offer free internet to customers. Try to beat the local 'Jambalaya Chilling Champions' record, in the name of a Dutch couple who spent a record-breaking 8½ hours non-stop in the small Jambalaya café.
Port Barton a place to relax and do nothing, and is definitely not known for its nightlife. You can grab a beer in the few beach-side restaurants and some of them also offer liquor and wine.
When you arrive at the beach you can allow a local fellow to tag on to you, escort you to the resort of his choice, one that pleases him.
Or you can simply leave your luggage at the Tourist Assistance Centre, while you comfortably wander around looking for somewhere to crash.
You can also choose to first go directly to the Jambalaya Café, where you can also safely dump your heavy luggage for a while.
Here is a list of some places to stay (with approx cost) in Port Barton, (in June 2019): prices are from.
- Russell Place - ₱300
- Gerbise Pension House - ₱300
- Café Sabang – ₱300
- Mamacitas Pizza place Inn - ₱335
- D Port Kitchen Inn - ₱350
- Dragon House Dorm - ₱350
- Eldorado Sunset Resort - ₱390
- Coco Rico Hostel - ₱390
- Stellbucks Eco Lodge - ₱400
- Judeth's Summer House - ₱500
- Casa Bievenida - ₱500
- Acuario Beach Inn - ₱500
There are also a few resorts on the nearby islands, Coconut Garden Island Resort and Blue Cove Island Resort.
High season is generally from December to May, it’s mostly very busy in January and February, during this time it is advisable to book a room in advance.
The quietest time to visit Port Barton would be July, August or September, you will find many discounted rooms available.
It is never advisable to leave your money or valuables in any unattended room, best to ask the management at reception about the safe keeping of valuables. If you want to ensure a good night's sleep, earplugs are a good idea!
On the beach there are about a dozen places to stay, all offering cottages of various quality and price. Just show up at the beach and pick one that pleases you.
- Aysan Cottages - basic huts for ₱350
- El Busero - basic rooms upstairs with a shared bathroom for ₱400. Extremely friendly staff and great Hungarian Goulash. Clean and simple, though without a generator for electricity between 11PM and 6AM.
- Ysobelle Resort - cottages from ₱700 upwards (formerly Swissipini Cottages)
- Summer Homes Beach resort - More upmarket with well maintained garden, from ₱850, accepts credit cards,reservations recommended in peak season.
- Elsa's Beach Resort - is known for their hospitality and great cottages. It was the first place to start a resort business in Port Barton. About ₱500 per night (room), or from ₱1000 (garden or beach cottage) and a restaurant is also located beach front.
- Secret Paradise Resort and Nature Reserve, Turtle Bay, ☏ . In a private, protected bay (Turtle Bay) with crystal clear blue waters, consisting of three white sandy beaches lined with coconut trees and a 3-km long coast-line frontage. Enjoy three beaches in 52-hectare nature reserve, "Sunset Beach", "Turtle Beach" and "Hideaway Beach" which are all accessible within a 15-minute walk of each other. Closest neighbours are 45 minutes walk over the hills. ₱700-3300.
- Le Cou De Tou Village Resort, Lapu-lapu Street, Port Barton, Palawan, The Philippines, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. ₱1000.
There is Wi-Fi available at Summer Homes, but it is thought by many to be painfully slow, definitely worth a try though, perhaps some days it's faster than others.
The Jambalaya Cajun Café claims to offer the fastest and cheapest Internet connection in Port Barton. The broadband Internet access using their PC is only available to guests who choose to eat there. Apparently, the more often you eat and drink there, the freer Internet you get! Jambalaya does not have Wi-Fi.
There is now also Internet available at the Ballesteros General Store, right next to the Tourist Information Centre, worth checking out for sure.
There are two mobile phone companies operating within the Port Barton area. Globe and Smart, you can buy a cheap sim card locally. Globe seems to be more popular, due to a stronger signal. Beware sometimes the phone signal can disappear for hours or even days! you can buy 2GB of Data for P90 with Globe. and P99 with Smart.
There are no regular, landline phones.
There are several minibuses that leave Port Barton everyday.
There are several departures to Puerto Princesa, starting at 6AM and costing about ₱350. There is also one local Bus departing about 8AM approx.
There are three daily minibus departures to El Nido taking roughly 3,5 hours. Alternatively if travelling on the cheap, get the jeepney that goes to Roxas, simply inform the driver you want to be dropped off for the El Nido bus, just before Roxas on the main highway, where the El Nido bound bus will pick you up sooner or later.
If you can afford the luxury, there are also boats mainly going to El Nido, and also to Sabang. Costs and times of travel vary, depending on how many passengers. It may seem expensive, but understandably fuel costs have risen here too.
Ask at the Greenviews Resort, or at the Port Barton Tourist Assistance Centre for more info. Beware of being over-charged, and make sure the boat is safe, not too loud, and properly licensed to travel to your intended destination. To avoid possible misunderstandings about costs, pay for your trip (not in advance), but when you arrive safely at your destination.
A local boat leaves Port Barton for San Vicente daily in the morning at about 8AM and costs only ₱150 (single trip) look for the Magdalena boat organized by an amazing and lovely boatwoman called Dahling, near El Busero.