Port Barton | Palawan’s Best Retreat Beach
If your kind of beach fete is tranquilly basking on supple white sand with a burrowed beer, breezily lying on a hammock with a book or composedly regaining your flow of energy through sunrise yoga, then you must come to Port Barton in San Vicente, Palawan.
Somewhere in between the frenzied El Nido in the north and the hustled Puerto Princesa in the south, is a rural beach town called Port Barton. It is a small sheltered fishing village on Pagdanan Bay, hemmed by a crescent-shaped sparkling white sandy shore and framed by a lush rainforest.
The Tagbanuas who were the early settlers of the place called it “Itaytay” or “unknown”. It was only in the early 20th century when it was renamed after Col. Burton, the English military commander who surveyed the place.
Unlike its ballyhooed neighboring towns, this tiny coastal village, about 150 kilometers from the capital city and an additional challenge of 22 kilometers of unpaved road going in, is largely missed by most travelers who come to Palawan.
This difficult accessibility delightfully wards off the beach from DSLR-toting day-trippers in inter-galactic hats. Electricity is rationed and only comes between 6PM-12 midnight. No ATMs or banks. No taxis or rickshaws. Internet is pleasantly intermittent.
Fortunately, these commercial inadequacies have given this town an antithetic sophistication from Coron, Sabang or El Nido. Port Barton leaves you with a quiet day in the beach listening to the mellifluous ripples of the sea, a good time to have real conversations or to cuddle without fidgeting your phone. Because your cash is precious, you can’t just binge on anything, including alcohol.
Parties here are simple. Backpackers gather around a bonfire for a night of dancing, a few bottles of beer or shots of rhum-coke. Before midnight everyone is tucked tight in bed.
With its tourism time-lapse, Port Barton has the moment to layout its town with breathing spaces. Beautifully designed guesthouses with cafes and bars are decked on the beachside while the interior alleys are mostly zoned for residential use. While it gathers mostly the backpackers, there are no tacky hostels here just to fit that dirt-cheap budget. Even non-luxury accommodations in the village are tastefully done, far from the rat houses in other places.
Across the mainland are pretty specks of islands edged by pearly sand beaches. Its underworld tickles your fancy for ethereal colors and swift animations. Trek through its verdant jungles or get a refreshing splash from its cascading waterfalls. All these for less than half the crowd you could imagine.
But this attraction of solitude and peaceful retreat may just be ephemeral as the looming developments are on its way to the beach. Concrete roads are taking shape, electrical posts positioned and rumors of foreign investors buying lands. All these are part of the inevitable progress and it is true everywhere.
Port Barton is my kind of beach—peaceful and restorative. Its healing.
The beauty of nature is fleeting. Come to Port Barton now while the gift of beautiful nothingness is still its magnificent attraction.
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Betwixt and between the arthritic 40 and a horrendous body mass index of positive 30, escapism and yummyeology are my real-life double post-graduate degrees conferred with the highest honors. I lived nearly half of my life in fancy suitcases, jetsetting between reality and fantasy... read more