The coastal village of Port Barton, in the San Vicente area of Palawan, is currently a relatively undiscovered gem of the Philippines – but it won’t be for long. This laid back village is still free from masses of tourists, with no cash machine and most places not even able to offer 24-hour electricity. That’s all part of the charm though, and despite not being overdeveloped there are still plenty of accommodation and restaurant options. For anyone heading to Palawan, we’d strongly recommend adding Port Barton to your Philippines itinerary so you can get there before the crowds discover it! Find out everything you need to know before you visit with this Port Barton travel guide.
Make sure to check out our packing guide for the Philippines to make sure you have everything you need for your trip!
Table of Contents
How to get to Port Barton
To get to Port Barton you need to already be in the province of Palawan, in either El Nido or Puerto Princesa. Flights to both are available from a number of spots in the Philippines. Getting from El Nido or Puerto Princesa to Port Barton is relatively straight forward, as there are currently few options for doing so.
The easiest way to get to Port Barton is by minivan from El Nido or Puerto Princesa. A minivan from El Nido to Port Barton should cost around 500 pesos and takes around 4 hours – including a short stop on the way. From Puerto Princesa city to Port Barton you should expect to pay 350 pesos from San Jose terminal or 500 pesos from the airport. If you are travelling from the bus terminal though, be aware it’s around 5 kilometres from the city itself and so you’ll need to take a tricycle there which will cost around 100 pesos. The travel time from Puerto Princesa is around 3 hours.
You can book transport to Port Barton in advance online for peace of mind. Although it costs slightly more, it saves you the hassle of sorting it out later! Click here to book a minivan from El Nido to Port Barton or if you’re coming from Puerto Princesa then click here to book a minivan from Puerto Princesa to Port Barton!
It is possible to reach Port Barton by bus or jeepney, but neither option is particularly worthwhile in our opinion. Both options are more complicated to arrange, take longer, and don’t even save you too much money – probably 200 pesos at best. Considering the extra effort and longer travel time, we’d recommend just taking a minivan.
Port Barton Eco Fee – No matter how you choose to get to Port Barton, you’ll have to pay a 50 pesos eco tax before arriving into the village.
Getting around Port Barton
As it’s a tiny village, there’s no need for any transport to get around Port Barton itself. You can easily walk anywhere you need to within 10-15 minutes, with transport only being necessary when you want to go further afield.
Best time to visit Port Barton
Port Barton has both a dry and rainy season. During the dry season, Port Barton has less rain and fewer clouds in the sky – perfect for enjoying a day on the beach, snorkelling or island hopping. Despite it’s name, the rainy season will generally only see rain every two or three days for a few hours in the morning.
Port Barton Dry season – Late October-April
Port Barton Rainy season – May-Mid-October
The worst rain comes in July, August and September if possible it’s best to avoid this time of year, but the reality is you’re likely to get at least a fair share of dry weather too!
Peak tourist season in Port Barton runs from November-May. Fortunately, even in the busier season Port Barton is relatively quiet and laid back so you shouldn’t need to worry about it being too overcrowded!
One of the things we heard about Port Barton from a lot of people was that there’s no need for air conditioning, but we actually did find it a struggle with just a fan. We found the nights too warm and would recommend air conditioning if you can find accommodation that offers it – especially if you’ve got used to this luxury on your travels in Southeast Asia. Temperatures remain relatively constant at around 30 degrees celsius for most of the year.
Things to do in Port Barton
Island Hopping – The main thing to do in Port Barton is go on an island hopping tour to some of the nearby islands. These tours are much less busy than similar ones in El Nido and Coron, which is a nice change.
Some of the most popular stops on Part Barton island hopping tours are German Island, Starfish Island, Exotic Island, Twin reef, Fantastic reef and Aquarium reef.
Exotic Island is particularly good if you want to relax on the beach as it isn’t too busy and there’s plenty of space to get away from people if you wish. In contrast, German Island is supposed to be busier so our tour didn’t stop there. Starfish Island is a small sandbank where there are a number of starfish found around the island, although it doesn’t require a long stop to enjoy it!
There are also a number of great snorkelling spots around Port Barton with great marine life ranging from turtles to clownfish. Obviously what you see will depend on your luck, but we were fortunate enough to see 3 turtles and a sea snake.
Rates for island hopping tours in Port Barton start from around 700 pesos per person. This price includes lunch and entrance fees to all the stops. Alternatively a private boat should cost around 2500 pesos, so if there’s a group of you it may work out as a better deal this way. Generally lunch won’t be included in this price and neither will entrance fees, so you should account for this cost when booking a private boat.
If you enjoy island hopping, make sure to check out our guide to Siargao – another spot in the Philippines with great island hopping tours!
White Beach – The secluded white beach is a beautiful spot around 4 kilometres from Port Barton. It’s a lovely white sand beach, perfect for a day relaxing by the sea.
The beach is managed by the White Beach Annex property on site, so you will be asked to pay a small entrance fee – around 20 pesos. Alternatively, you can stay at the property but we’d recommend finding accommodation in Port Barton itself.
Diving – Port Barton offers some great diving opportunities if you want to explore the underwater world during your time in Palawan. If you want to go diving then your best bet is the Aquaholics Dive Centre or Secret Paradise Resort and Turtle Sanctuary. Dives with Aquaholics dive centre will give you the chance to see turtles, lionfish and more. The Secret Paradise Resort and Turtle Sanctuary also organise dive trips, and if you’re lucky you may spot manta rays, dugongs and more!
Waterfall – It’s possible to visit both Bigaho Falls and Papawyan Falls from Port Barton. Bigaho Falls is a short walk from Port Barton beach, whereas Papawyan Falls takes about 45-60 minutes to reach on foot. We considered visiting, but after looking up pictures and reviews we didn’t think it was worth it as we’d seen more impressive waterfalls in the Philippines during our time in Cebu.
Sunset on the beach – If you’re wondering what to do in Port Barton after a day of exploring, we recommend heading to the beach for sunset. The best sunset we saw in the whole of the Philippines was in Port Barton as the colours really just popped. With a bit of luck, you’ll be treated to a great sunset too!
Where to stay in Port Barton
Whether you’re looking at hostels or resorts, it’s worth nothing that most of the accommodation in Port Barton doesn’t have 24-hour electricity. Although it’s not an unknown place, Port Barton is one of the more undiscovered parts of Palawan and so there is currently a lack of development. This means there is less accommodation to choose from and even less with air conditioning and electricity all day long. To get the best accommodation you should book as far in advance as possible unless you want to risk just turning up and finding something on the day!
Although some travel blogs say you won’t need air con in Port Barton, we personally struggled without it. If you have the choice, we recommend booking somewhere with it just to be safe!
Ausan Beach Front Cottages
For a budget option right by Port Barton beach, we recommend Ausan Beach Front Cottages. All rooms are equipped with fans which can be needed on particularly hot days. Some rooms even have air conditioning although there is an extra cost to use this – if it’s hot enough though it’s worth the money! Electricity at the property runs for most of the day – from 7am until midnight – so it will only be off while you’re asleep.
Rooms are available from $18 USD (960 pesos) per night, with breakfast included in the price. Click here to see the latest offers at Ausan Beach Front Cottages for your trip to Port Barton.
Considering the electricity in Port Barton can be a bit unstable, it’s a good backup to have a swimming pool. Rubin Resort has a pool which is perfect for cooling off on a sunny day when the power is out! The property is also close to the beach and rooms are equipped with a fan to keep you cool overnight. The electricity here is out from 10am until 4pm every day, and so you should have power available 18 hours a day – which is better than most places can offer in Port Barton.
Rooms are available from $56 USD (3000 pesos) per night. Click here to find out the latest prices at Rubin Resort for your trip!
Santa Claus Hilltop
Santa Claus Hilltop is unsurprisingly located on a hill just a few minutes walk from the village of Port Barton. The location provides a lovely view of the area and makes it the perfect spot to watch sunset. Fortunately, it’s still only a short 5 minute walk to the beach and a number of restaurants – so you’re far from isolated! The owners are extremely friendly and will be more than happy to help you plan your activities during your stay. It’s worth noting that the electricity only runs from 4pm until 2am every day at Santa Claus Hilltop.
Rooms are available from $43 USD (2300 pesos) per night, with breakfast included in the price. Click here to find the latest offers at Santa Claus Hilltop for your stay.
Where to eat in Port Barton
Reef Café – Reef Café serves up some of the best food in Port Barton. The meals are great quality at a reasonable price and the burgers were the best we had in the Philippines. If you only try one restaurant in Port Barton, we’d recommend making it Reef Café.
Villa Marguerita – Located on the Port Barton beachfront, Villa Marguerita has a restaurant offering fresh seafood along with a number of other dishes. They also have cheap beers and margaritas available – so it’s the perfect spot for a sunset drink!
Mabuti – Mabuti is probably the best option for vegetarians in Port Barton. Most items on the menu are vegetarian dishes, and the meals are tasty and fresh!
Happy Bar – One of the many restaurants on the beach in Port Barton, Happy Bar offer great value meals. We wouldn’t say the food is anything to write home about but if you’re on a really tight budget then this could be the spot for you.
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