SAN VICENTE, THE NEXT BIG THING IN THE PHILIPPINES
On our last year’s flight back from the Philippines we said that we’ll be back for sure. And boy we were right. We started planning our trip in January and this time we decided on Palawan. Since the readers of Travel and Leisure Magazine voted this island “The best Island in the World” for the second time in a row we knew we had to see if it measures to its reputation. Spoiler alert: IT DOES!:) As July means rainy season we were a bit skeptic but as it turned out the weather was just perfect.
This year we took the Qatar flight from Zagreb (Croatia) via Doha to Kuala Lumpur which, through the years, became our base for further flights around South East Asia.
After a cold Tiger beer we were in our beds anxious for our early Air Asia flight to Manila. Four hours went bye fast and we landed at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
We had two more hours until Cebu Pacific flight to Puerto Princesa, capitol of Palawan and major hub to the Island.
In 2017 the new international Airport in San Vicente is set to be open and that will significantly shorten the time travel to El Nido on the north end of the island.
As soon as we were off the plane we had another three hour drive with minivan to our first destination – San Vicente.
Kids were real angels ever since we left our home so we stopped for some ice cream at first store on the way and a “few” bottles of Red Horse beer (the real stuff) :))
We arrived at Sunset Beach resort in San Vicente late in the evening. As soon as the minivan stopped we were greeted by Roberto, the owner of the resort. He instantly made us feel at home. If you are coming to San Vicente this is really the only place to be (TA review). Roberto is German national who has decided to follow his long lasted dream and moved to the Philippines years ago where he opened this lovely place called the Sunset Beach Resort.
We had few beers talking about what’s new in Europe and about our country while Nia and Svit miraculously rejuvenated despite the late hours and were running around and having fun with two resident dogs, Brownie and King.
The next 4 days we spent exploring all the beauties that San Vicente has to offer. You can do island hopping for half the price that you pay in El Nido, so we decided to do some snorkeling and to visit German Island. I have no idea why they call it that way, nevertheless, it’s one of the most popular islands closer to Port Barton. It’s privately owned with a white sand beach, a good number of hammocks suspended on coconut trees, barbecue stations used by tour operators for lunch and a lovely snorkeling site. It has a small entrance fee per boat, which is usually excluded from the tour fees but Roberto arranged that ours was included.
Most of the boatmen can be located under the Tourist Assistance Center at San Vicente Poblacion Port where you can also buy some food and drinks at the nearby stores. You can talk to them to arrange your island hopping tour.
* Don’t forget to bring snacks and water.
* Bring a hat or an umbrella so you can hide from the sun during transit.
* Bigger boats have a roof on the boats to shade guests which is a must if you’re traveling with kids.
It took us just under an hour from Poblacion Port to reach our snorkeling spot. The water was crystal clear with some great corals and abundance of fish. Svit started jumping from the boat and in no time Nia went in too. That was huge progress from last year when she mostly enjoyed the pool but not the sea. But this year was a completely different story.
We spend some time on the German Island just lazing around on the beach and doing nothing. All in all it was a great first day on Palawan.
The next day Roberto and Thelma took us to their favorite beach. After around 45 min ride with their pickup truck we reached this amazing place on the beach owned by a friend of theirs.
The beach is really stunning, long wide stretch of pure white sand and not a single soul around. Nia and Svit had a blast running in the water (which was slowly dropping and was perfect for the kids), playing with the ball and frisbee.
Roberto and Thelma also prepared a great BBQ lunch for us (fish, pork, eggplants, fruits and of course Red Horse). Nia was particularly fond of pork chops.
On the way back we stopped at Long Beach, San Vicente’s 14 kilometer long white sand beach. It is completely undeveloped and we were the only ones there. But that will change very soon since Roberto told us most of the lots are already sold and with the new Airport in San Vicente opening next year this place will be full of resorts and hotels very soon. It is sad because this beautiful and secluded place will turn into next Boracay in no time. Be aware however that even though the beach is stunning to say the least it is also full of sand flees but don’t let that discourage you from visiting it.
The next trip on our list was Papawyan Falls. After half an hour bangka boat ride we reached a village on the shore near Port Barton, from where we proceeded on foot.
Walking through the village we were greeted by the local kids yelling hello from every house. Nia and Svit were eager enough to reply to every hello so you can imagine the hello-ing. Filipinos are really one the friendliest people that we encountered on our trips around Asia. And of course if you are traveling with small kids that’s an extra bonus.
The road itself became not so “friendly” shortly after we came out of the village. It is kind of steep one and the 12 o’clock sun did not help either. It was time to put the kids on our backs and we were ready to proceed.
We reached the falls in around one hour (you can do it faster if you don’t have kids) and we were in the cold and refreshing water in no time.
Since we left Puerto Princesa this was the first time that we met other fellow travelers (mostly coming here on a motorbike from Port Barton).
On our return we’ve made a stop at Poblacion to have few drinks and something to eat. This ended up with kids having a great time with new friends and us adults enjoyed our drinks as the sun had settled down for the day.
On the fifth day the transfer, arranged by Roberto, came at 10 am and we were ready for around two hours’ drive to our next long awaited destination – El Nido. Needless to say we parted with Roberto and Thelma like family and we stayed in touch even now on our return to Slovenia.