The next stop on our Philippines tour was the coastal village of Port Barton, Palawan. Many locals had told us that this was the El Nido of 20 years ago – the famous island-hopping tourist hub of Palawan Island. Our trip to Port Barton involved a nail-biting van ride, which hurtled round the snaking road at a ridiculous speed. Half way, we were dropped off at what would seem to be a Filipino service station – a thatched hut selling snacks. After waiting about an hour, we were bundled into another van, which seemed to be transporting household furniture on the roof. Somehow they got our two fairly sized suitcases on top too and we were away, more slowly this time.
Arriving in Port Barton, Palawan
During period of torrential rain, I casually asking if our bags had a cover on top. They did, but were suitably damp by the time we arrived. We found Port Barton to be a quiet village on the sea, lacking in electricity and surrounded by clouds of smoke from the local fires. Due to the internet being faulty in Sabang, we didn’t know whether our room reservation had been secured, and upon arrival is seemed that it wasn’t. Many places in Port Barton we found to be full and trundling along potholed filled roads with our wet suitcases was quite a challenge. We finally settled for a discounted room as there was a leak in the corner. “Hope it doesn’t rain tonight, so you can get some sleep” the assistant told us. As in Sabang, electricity was only available in the evening at most places that didn’t have their own generator, but we were getting used to this by now.
Although the town itself was primitive, on the beach front we found innovative accommodation options, such as the Ausan Beach Front Cottages which featured this towering treehouse room looking over the bay. The only fault being that it’s not ensuite!
Island hopping Port Barton, Palawan
Next morning we found Jensen, a friendly boat guide on the beach who offered to take us island-hopping later on in the afternoon. After waiting for a lunch that never arrived, we rushed off to meet him by his colourful bangka. After rushing to check that we’d paid our environmental permits, we set off toward the Twin Reefs. Quite far from any land, we plunged into the ocean where we found a whole host of colourful coral and marine life. We even saw a lion fish, and in the distance a turtle coming up for air.
The next stop was an island from which you can reach another at low tide. We walked over, even though it was pretty deep at this point.
We chilled for a while on various tropical islands before going full steam ahead to get back before dark. As we looked back the way we had come, the sky had turned a crimson colour.
On to Taytay…
Next stop, Taytay, a small town with an authentic Spanish fort. One of the few reminders of the colonial era we had found in the Philippines, apart from the odd Spanish word thrown into each sentence, despite their 300 year rule here. Inside the fort we found a humble chapel and a great scenic view of the surrounding area — obviously the main advantage of the fort.
If you’d like to find out more about what we get up to in the Philippines, check back here for updates on our ‘30 Days in the Philippines‘ tag.