If you live in the Philippines and you only have 1 place to visit this year, San Vicente in Palawan should be at the top of your list. If you live elsewhere and you are headed to our beautiful country in 2019, you might want to add this in your itinerary! Let me give you 11 reasons why…
Why 11? Aside from the fact that I’m a fan of Eleven (can’t wait for Stranger Things Season 3 to come out in Netflix), 5, 10, 15 or 20 are so conventional haha. I initially wanted to make it 13 Reasons Why but I was really disappointed in the Season 2 of that series. Therefore, expect my posts to be mostly 11. You might want to read my previous post listing down my 11 favorite Asian cities here.
Sorry, enough of long introduction, let me give you 11 reasons why you should go. If you don’t have time to read, just skip to the last part and there’s a short video that might convince you to do so. 🙂
1. IT IS NOW MORE ACCESSIBLE TO TOURISTS
Philippine Airlines (PAL) started offering flights to San Vicente (via Clark) on October 28th last year. San Vicente airport became operational to commercial flights in May 2018 and previously catered to chartered flights only (c/o Air Juan).
San Vicente is envisioned to be a gateway to El Nido (just 2 hrs. away from the airport compared to 5 to 6 hrs. coming from Puerto Princesa or a more expensive flight via AirSwift if you fly directly to Lio Airport in El Nido). In fact, half of the passengers in our flight went straight to El Nido (they didn’t plan on staying in San Vicente and I think they made the wrong choice haha). Since there’s no Manila-San Vicente flight yet and if Clark is not a good option for you, you can still fly to Puerto Princesa and take the shuttle to San Vicente which is about 2 to 3 hrs. away.
2. IT IS NOW MORE CONNECTED TO THE “OUTSIDE” WORLD
I had a good LTE connection (I use Globe Telecoms) and in fact even faster than some spots in Manila and even Sun Cellular has a pretty good cellular service too even in other islands in our island hopping tour.
For a remote town, it has mostly paved roads going to Puerto Princesa and El Nido and we only experienced rough road going up to Bato ni Ningning.
If you will stay in Port Barton because they offer more accommodation option compared to the San Vicente town proper or near the long beach (yes it is still part of San Vicente but it will take you 2 hrs. to get there by land or only 1 hr. by boat), you no longer need to worry about limited electricity. I crossed out Port Barton because the reviews say electricity only runs at night but I’ve heard there are some areas that now offer 24-hour electricity (must be a luxury in this place).
3. IT IS NOT YET CROWDED
What a better alternative to Boracay even after its rehabilitation or Siargao (I feel it’s now getting crowded too) is a place that can offer the same experience (white beach, island hopping, snorkling, fresh food etc.) but with a lot less crowd. We went December before Christmas and I thought there would be a lot of tourists but there’s only a few people which is really a good thing.
4. IT HAS THE “LONGEST” WHITE BEACH IN THE PHILIPPINES
I don’t know if this is 100% accurate but Long Beach in San Vicente is the longest beach (at 14 kms. long or more than 3 times the length of Boracay’s white beach) in the Philippines accessible to tourists. When I tried to walk away from our resort, it feels like I was stranded alone in an island.
Yes, the beach is not really white but the sand is very fine and it’s very conducive for swimming (a lot better than Panglao in my opinion). Just make sure to apply some insect repellant because of sand flies or known locally as “niknik”. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you! 🙂
5. YOU HAVE A GOOD CHANCE IN SWIMMING AT THE FALLS ALL TO YOURSELF
If you choose to stay in Port Barton, there are many falls near town or some that might need a long trek but there’s one that’s very accessible and is part of Tour C in our island hopping tour. On our last stop, we docked in a local beach and then only walked for 10 mins. to be in Bigaho Falls. It’s pretty and while small, we were lucky because no other groups are in there. Let me tell you frankly that I had a better experience here compared to Kawasan in Cebu or the one in Iligan (forgot the name) because famous falls = very crowded for sure.
6. THERE ARE NOW MORE PLACES TO STAY
I’ve mentioned earlier that there are many basic resorts in Port Barton but San Vicente town proper and Long Beach are slowly catching up. With a new direct flight, I’m sure there would be more resorts (there are a lot of budget accommodation for like 1,000 to 2,000 pesos per night right now) that will become available. If you choose to visit this year and you are not budget-conscious, you might want to stay in Club Agutaya. It has mixed reviews for its price but I feel it’s worth it. I love just hanging around at the pool or of course at the beach.
7. ISLAND HOPPING IS A MUST AND IT’S RELATIVELY CHEAPER
I was surprised with the cost of Island Hopping in Siargao (yes, it’s expensive although somehow justified because of the distance) but in San Vicente, you can go on an island hopping tour for as low as Php1,200 inclusive of lunch and snorkling gears. This is a lot cheaper even compared to Coron, El Nido or Puerto Princesa.
You should never miss Inaladelan Island Resort (also known as German island among the locals). It feels like a small paradise. The resort also offers overnight camping adventure.
8. SUNSET VIEW TO DIE FOR
I’ve mentioned this in my IG post so I’ll just repeat it here. Our group upgraded the tour to add 3 more destinations so we ran out of fuel in the middle of the sea on our way back to Poblacion. While waiting for help (it took 40 mins.), we were rewarded by this view. Indeed, sunsets are always a beautiful ending!
9. IT HAS ONE OF THE BEST ISLAND PANORAMIC VIEWS
We’ve asked the hotel driver to bring us to Bato ni Ningning (named after a daytime ABS-CBN teleserye – they’ve used San Vicente as their shooting location). It took us 45 mins. to get there (with half of the van ride on a rough road) then a trek for about 15 to 20 mins.
We woke up at 5AM, left the hotel 5:30AM to try to catch the sunrise but it rained prior and the driver was initially hesitant to go because it might not be safe. We’re glad the driver took the risk and what a rewarding view it is!
10. THIS MIGHT JUST BE THE WELL-DESERVED BREAK YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR
I’m really sad I only have 3 days to squeeze in because if if I have the time, I can easily spend at least 1 week here. It’s very calm and relaxing. So if you want to take a break (even a quick one) from the hustle and bustle of city living, San Vicente is the right place for you.
11. BECAUSE YOU’LL BE ONE OF THE 1ST FEW TOURISTS TO DO SO
Not a lot of tourists (even those who live in the Philippines) heard about San Vicente. Palawan yes and when you mention the island, they will remember El Nido, Coron or Puerto Princesa. It’s now time that they remember San Vicente.
After my visit or after posting some pictures in IG, I have several friends who reached out to me asking about the place; the usual how was it and we might want to go there someday too. It’s really hard to describe and you really have to see it for yourself but for all my friends asking, this blog post is for you.
Eleven reasons might not be enough to convince you to go but 2019 is not the year for excuses (I don’t have the time, I don’t time have the money) so if I can only give you one tip for this new year: JUST GO! …and you’ll never regret it!