The most popular activity to do across Palawan is island-hopping tours. Some of the coastal towns are beautiful in their own right, but the true beauty of this region lies in the thousands of small islands that scatter across the bays, which you can’t see without a boat.
Port Barton is no exception. When in the town, you will see plenty of these tours advertised. Similar to El Nido, they are advertised as Tour A, Tour B, etc. These all include buffet lunches, life jackets, and mask & snorkels (depending on the locations).
We booked our group tour with our guesthouse, Sunset Colours, as we had read reviews stating theirs was excellent. Their tour takes just one route, which they believe showcases the best that Port Barton has to offer.
On the day, we got very lucky and discovered that it would just be the 2 of us on the tour. Essentially getting a private tour for the cost of a group one! This would be the first island-hopping tour of our trip, so we were ecstatic that it was off to such a good start.
After stepping through the water, avoiding numerous large rocks and climbing up onto the boat, we were on our way. We would get quite familiar with this feeling of being out on sea. Sailing past unbelievable natural beauty at every moment. To finally be doing it for our first time felt amazing and set the tone for what the rest of our trip would look like.
We hadn’t asked about our itinerary. So weren’t quite sure what we were going to be seeing on the day. This added a nice element of surprise to each destination.
Our first stop was at a coral reef for a brief stint of snorkelling. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much fish here (just lots of coral).
Next, we were on route to German Island. We were supposed to stop for more snorkelling just outside the island, but our guide said we should come back after lunch as there were a lot of boats in the area, and that the turtles and fish would be scared away.
We spent the next couple of hours on German Island. Part of the island has been turned into a resort where you can camp overnight. There is also a small bar where you can buy drinks. The beach and views here are beautiful, and we had a great time swimming and wandering around. However, it was soon overrun with other happy visitors ready to enjoy the small island.
Our boat crew prepared a delicious lunch for us including rice, grilled chicken, Filipino eggplant and salad. With the tastiest pineapple I’ve ever eaten for afterwards.
Next, it was off to enjoy the snorkelling while everyone else who came enjoyed their lunch. (The benefits of not being in a massive group!)
Our boat crew had the right idea beforehand, and we ended up having the area to ourselves. We were lucky enough to see this sea turtle casually swimming around. It’s certainly special seeing animals in their natural habitats!
As the name suggests, our next destination was famous for being two islands connected by a narrow stretch of sand. Here too, there was opportunity to camp overnight. Plenty of seating areas too. I suspect this is a popular place to come for lunch for other group tours if German Island is too busy.
The part that connects the islands was quite rocky. Shoes were needed. Nearby though, there was a beautiful stretch of sand just inches under water that was fun to walk out on and sit in.
We were fairly exhausted by the sun at this point in time, so enjoyed a break of saying nothing to each other and resting our eyes in one of the beach huts. Until our crew came over and let us know it was time for our last stop for the day.
Our luck for the day continued and we were the only ones here when we first arrived. On arrival, we weren’t quite sure what the fuss was all about. It just looked like a patch of sand in the middle of the ocean. ‘What were we meant to do here?’ we thought to ourselves as we jumped off the boat.
We soon realised that it extended out more than 100 metres (Wouldn’t be able tell you the exact amount as we turned back at a certain point.).
It’s quite a feeling to be able to keep walking out and feeling like you’re standing on top of the ocean. Being surrounded by such natural beauty with such beautiful, colourful tones of turquoise and emerald was the highlight of the day.
No one will regret doing an island hopping tour in Port Barton. Our only fault was not spending more time in this charming town and getting out on the boat for one more day.
We arrived in Port Barton after 2 delayed flights and a tightly-packed, cosy van ride from Puerto Princesa. After hopping out of the van we put on our backpacks and began what was a “10–15 minute walk” towards our guesthouse. Weary from our long journey and after having to pay a 50 peso environmental fee for entrance, we felt underwhelmed as we walked past the rather unattractive part of town surround the bus station into town.
This feeling turned swiftly to excitement as we hit the coastline. That feeling of finally arriving to the destination set in. We stumbled along the beach past very relaxed looking beachgoers, local beach touts and smiling, curious and welcoming school kids.
Also dogs. Lots of dogs roaming around and sleeping along the beach. We’d later see that this is part of the charm of beaches in the Philippines.
Our first night was naturally spent sipping on San Miguel’s on the beach whilst watching the sunset. Looking back, that sunset was a strong contender for top place during our trip.
Port Barton is a great place to people-watch. As we enjoyed our beers we watched groups of school children playing along the beach. A group of older boys taunted a pack of dogs by waving at them with an umbrella. They proudly declared “bye-bye!” as they ran off from the frustrated, barking dogs after successfully winding them up.
Every now and then a scooter would cruise by along the beach. The iconic pump boats, that I will forever associate with the Philippines, would pull up with Filipino boatmen hopping off. Finished for the day.
We finished an early night with a meal at Kusinero Del Barrio, an unpretentious little Filipino restaurant in the main town.
It was the perfect introduction to what would be 2 weeks of adventure in Palawan, the most beautiful of the Philippine Islands.
After an early morning dip in the water, we made our move to where we would be staying for the next 2 nights. Sunset Colours was located outside the main town and required a short boat ride to get to.
Upon arrival, we were treated to a chilled iced tea and showed to our rooms. The area was beautiful. Essentially, we were on a secluded beach. Sharing only with the guesthouse staff and other visitors.
Our day was spent lazing around the area, sorting out an island hopping trip for the next day and eating a couple of delicious meals at the on-site restaurant (there aren’t a lot of food options in such a secluded area.)
Power was only available during set times. 8 am — 11 am and 7 pm — 9 pm. So phones, laptops and cameras were to be charged during these hours only!
Each day as the sun would begin to set, the area transformed into a dreamy beach with glowing orange and blue hues across the landscape. Having this area to ourselves during this time of day was special.
I’ll take a moment here to talk about the beer options you’ll usually have. San Miguel, the famous Filipino brewery, offers a nice choice of beers that will become familiar with when you visit. San Miguel Light and Pale Pilsens are your standard fare, whilst Red Horses are more potent in terms of alcohol percentage. Occasionally, you’d see the Apple and Lemon flavoured variants of San Miguel Light too. 2 or 3 Red Horses did the trick for us most nights.
We had booked a group tour with our guesthouse for the following morning. We had read in the reviews that theirs were excellent. They offer only 1 route, which they believe offers the best that Port Barton has to offer.
We were very lucky and discovered that it would just be the 2 of us for that day. Essentially getting a private tour for the cost of a group one!
We lazed around and had lunch on a beautiful island. Snorkelled with turtles. Explored 2 islands joined by a thin stretch of sand. And walked a couple of hundred metres out into the sea on a sand bar, surrounded by picture-perfect beaches and islands.
Port Barton is a charming town to visit. The calmness and understated beauty of the area make it a great stop off point on the way to the more hectic destinations of Palawan, such as El Nido or Coron.