Port Barton is a quieter, smaller, and more laid-back version of El Nido. The activities you can do here are very similar to those in El Nido (but for about half the price), including for example Tours lettered A through D, kayak rentals, etc.
Port Barton doesn't usually attract luxury seeking, status vacationers. Instead, it has become a popular choice for backpackers and other adventurous international travellers, who appreciate and enjoy the rural, relaxed atmosphere and natural beauty that this quiet and peaceful beachside village, on the edge of the rainforest, has to offer.
Fortunately, Port Barton is not as popular or progressively developed as Boracay or Puerto Galera. Therefore, it does not attract bus loads of domestic tourists. Also, due to its remote location Port Barton does not suffer from hordes of photo snapping, day trippers, as does the more accessible, touristic Sabang, or the more promoted El Nido with its airport. Much of the road to Port Barton has been paved now, and travel time from Puerto Princesa to Port Barton has been reduced to 2 and a half hours. Travel time to El Nido is around 3 and a half hours. There are now regular van services between Puerto Princesa and Port Barton. There is no regular jeepney service to Port Barton from Puerto Princesa.
Port Barton is comparatively unspoiled and somewhat unsophisticated, and that’s exactly what seems to make it an attractive destination. Only recently has construction of a paved, concreted road into Port Barton gotten priority, and the majority of the road construction work is complete. Public transport from Puerto Princesa and El Nido is provided by several van operators and 1 bus line. Ask at the Puerto Princesa terminal for SBE ( San Isidro ) who have 1 bus daily in the mornings, and multiple van trips, or for Recaro who have multiple van trips. There is a daily jeepney service to Roxas which leaves Port Barton in the morning and returns at lunchtime. (There is a road going to San Vicente, however it is only passable by 4 × 4 and motor bike. Major roadworks has started on this road at both ends, San Vicente and Port Barton.) The houses along the beach have turned into small resorts or restaurants but the interior of the village is still mostly untouched.
There is 24 hour electricity now and 2 ATM machines. There are no doctors or hospitals. There is a small medical centre.There are no five star hotels. Many places are now enticing tourist with free internet, air conditioning and hot showers.
The community was built on fishing and offshore pearl-farming, although tourism has gradually (since the early 1990s) taken over as the primary source of income. Increasingly, outsiders are moving into Port Barton to set up small businesses that can cater to tourists. Farmers can be seen walking their buffalos to their fields, children in school uniforms walking the 2-3 blocks to school, older teens playing in the basketball courts, and fishermen untangling their nets on the beach.
Coming from El Nido you can take a public van from the terminal direct Port Barton Terminal. The price in 2019 is ap P500 to P550 with luggage. Private vans are also available, with pickup from your hotel and drop to your hotel in Port Barton for P5000. These are the most convenient options.
Another traveler says an option is to take a bus or shuttle van to Roxas and catch the jeepney that departs from there at 12:00 or go until the junction 11km past Roxas and take the jeepney from Roxas (if you arrive in time) or hire a tricycle to take you the rest of the way to Port Barton. Cost for a tricycle is 250P (Oct 19).
There are now several direct vans going from Port Barton to El Nido each day, but only 1 going from El Nido to Port Barton. The number of trips increases in peak season to accommodate passenger numbers. Schedules in the Philippines are mere loose guides; buses and jeepneys can leave very early or very late, so best to be early rather than late.
There are now multiple companies running direct van services running back and forth between Puerto Princesa terminal and Port Barton terminal (Puerto -> PB ₱300, PB -> Puerto airport ₱500). There can sometimes be a 50P charge for large baggage. Pickup/dropoff is at the San Jose terminal about 7km north of Rizal Ave in Puerto Princesa proper. Multiple travel times each day for the 2 major companies. Expect 6, 8 and 10am 1pm and 4 or 5 pm. It takes about 2 hours 15 minutes now that the last section of road into Port Barton is almost completely paved. They are modern and fitted with air conditioning and can fit up to 12 passengers. Some are equipped with racks on the roof to handle large amounts of baggage, building supplies and goods for the restaurants.
You could also rent a vehicle with driver from the airport.
Travel time from Puerto Princesa by standard bus is approx. 3 hours, and costs ₱200 (Oct 19) per person. Look for a standard size lime green bus in the San Isidro area. Ask anyone there for directions to the San isidro area. The bus (P200 option) has no air con and is a little bumpy though a great culture experience where as the vans are air con'ed, carry less people and stop less often. At the moment (Oct 19) the road from Roxas to Port Barton is 95% paved, and the construction is progressing well. The sections that are still under construction can be muddy during wet season.
From both El Nido and Sabang transport by boat is almost unheard of now (Oct 19) due to CoastGuard regulations and boat prices. Boats are available, but expect to pay at least 1500P per person with a minimum price of around 15,000P to hire a boat. Travel must always start in the mornings to avoid afternoon winds and heavy seas. 2.5 hours from travel time from Sabang and 4 to 4.5 hours to El Nido. It is my opinion that, in good weather, this is a very scenic option and a wonderful experience worth consideration.
The village is small so you can easily walk around. There are also few motorbike rentals for those prefering two wheels and longer trips. Going to the nearby islands you can hire a boat or in the high-season, join organized trips. Boat prices (as at Oct 19) are P1200 per person on a shared boat basis which includes lunch cooked on one of the islands. For guests requesting a private boat, the price is P1400 per person but will have a minimum charge. You will be greeted on the beach by boatment willing to take you on their boats. All boatmen are required to be licensed and the CoastGuard heavily regulates all boats and boatmen for safety.
The main attraction is the simple village of Port Barton, with its beautiful beach and amazing sunsets. Then, there are the many nearby islands with nice corals and snorkeling sites, the turtle area where you can swim with turtles, and several waterfalls all within easy reach of town.
Nearby are numerous islands with spectacular beaches, rainforest and very good snorkeling. You can arrange a boat with a local boatman but mostly he will price at the official tourist rate of ₱1200 per passenger for a day trip including a lunch with grilled fish or pork or chicken and rice with a salad. So you can deal straight with the boatman's association which has a booking on the beach beside the CoastGuard station.
There are 2 dive schools at the moment: Aquaholics (SSI) and Palawan Easy Dive (PADI). Aquaolics (SSI) run by Keith Dudley is located in the right of the beach next to summer homes. This Dive center has a diving instructor named Martyn. Palawan Easy Dive is a PADI dive center on the left side of the beach operated by Ronnie (PADI Dive Master), Ricky and Patrick who is PADI Staff instructor, SSI instructor and technical diver. Palawan Easy Dive offer all PADI range of training in English and French, from discovering scuba diving program to more than 10 PADI speciality’s included enriched air nitrox, wrek penetration, side-mount, gaz blender, etc. For going pro PADI dive master programs are available on request and PADI Assistant instructors courses are available too.
There is also limited trekking in the rainforests around Port Barton. At the northern end of the beach there is a small path leading to a Pamuayan waterfall (about 4.2km each way) where you can swim in the cool water. Begin your hike north of Greenview resort along the beach. (You will see a clear path going into the jungle starting a few meters beyond Greenview). You will quickly pass by a small graveyard, and later you will get to a junction: take the right path. (As a general rule, whenever you reach a fork, proceed along the right. ) After 15 minutes on this path, you will reach the junction going to Pamuayan village and Pamuayan waterfalls: just follow the signs for the final 50 minutes walk to the cool waterfalls. A simple shed near the waterfalls serves as a rest area with benches and a table.
If you fancy longer walk, or got a motorbike, there is another waterfall worth a visit. Bigaho Waterfall is located +/- 5 km away from Pamuayan waterfall. To get there, simply follow the way to Pamuayan waterfall, and take a left (instead of right) after you cross the stream. There should be sign saying San Vicente. Follow the way, till you reach big sign Bigaho waterfall on the right hand side, and turn right. You will find small donation box next to sari-sari store, where you can leave your motorbike and walk 15-20 mins to the falls. Bigaho waterfall is most of the time less crowdy and more scenic that Pamauayan. Bigaho falls are much easier to access by boat from Port Barton village, but an enjoyable walk from Nao Nao beach and Bud Bud beach closer to Pamoyan village.
There are 3 beautiful beaches you might want to check.
Pamuayan beach is a good stop if you are on the way to Paumayan or Bigaho waterfalls. Take the road going to Pamuayan waterfall, turn left on the first junction (the road is going down) and pass Pamuayan village. Beach is very quiet and perfect for lazy chilling. There is small resort/guesthouse on the beach, where you can buy drinks or rent kayaks.
Tourists beloved White Beach is opposite direction. To get there head south at Bonifacio Street (the one with Gacayan Restaurant), pass Recaro Van Terminal on the left hand side and go all the way straight. The beach is around 4 km away from Port Barton, road is going thru the jungle and it's pretty rough so keep in mind to ride carefully if you decide to take motorbike. On the way you can enjoy scenic views of Port barton bay. White Beach is managed by White Beach Annex resort, you will be asked to pay 50 peso to get in.
Nao Nao beach is located close to Bigaho falls around a 30 minute walk on the back road and a little longer coming back around the headland, which cannot be done during high tide. Gilligans resort is located at Nao Nao, with several new resorts open nearby at Bud Bud, all still in Port Barton.
If you make some friends in Port Barton, you can either check out real filipino karaoke place (called "7170") up the road or take a 5 km walk to Jungle Bar, located in the middle of the jungle, 500m away from White Beach. Red Horse fueled karaoke at 7170 lasts normally until early morning. Jungle Bar is offering many late night parties with live music, drinks and nice bbq food. Come early to enjoy unique views! Most popular live music bar is Native Bo with its Reggae band playing until 11pm when the noise curfew begins.
San Vicente is a 45 minute bost trip away from Port Barton. There are no scheduled trips between Port Barton and San Vicente.
Port Barton has very limited shopping options, although a couple of souvenir shops have popped up.
Even compared to El Nido, bottled water is expensive (40P for 1.5L, 110P for 6L). So is laundry (100P per kilo!).
There are no banks, but Port Barton now has two ATMs, one by the Petron Station and one in front of Gorgonzola's. There are of course ATMs in Puerto Princesa and El Nido, so it may also be wise to bring extra cash with you. Very few businesses accept credit card payments.
In addition to the ATMs, it is possible to send yourself money online and pick it up locally in Palawan Pawnshop which is located in Port Barton. (Their link is currently under repair, until December 2019).
The Petron gas station near the sea in Roxas will give cash against a credit card - 6% service charge.
Many restaurants (including resorts) along the tourist strip of the beach offer great food for ₱150-300. Most places offer English breakfasts as well, such as pancakes. Some restaurants have begun to specialize, e.g. Japanese dishes at Deep Gold resort, Cajun dishes at Jambalaya.
In the village you can find a few basic outlets offering Filipino food.
For cheap ₱15 instant coffee (e.g. Kopiko brown), try Bamboo House or any of the other small "sari sari" stores in the village.
Port Barton is a place to relax and do nothing, and is definitely not known for its nightlife. You can grab a beer in the few beach-side restaurants and some of them also offer liquor and wine. Kusinero del barrio restobar has a happy hour every day.
If you make friends with locals, they can take you to a karaoke bar located a couple of hundred meters up the street leading out of the village. The bar continues to run on a generator after the power cuts off at midnight—as long as people keep on ordering drinks.
Note: When you arrive in Port Barton, expect to be approached by touts, who may try to recommend a place they know. They get paid a commission by the resort/hotel, which may discreetly pass this expense over to you by bumping up your daily rent.
When you arrive, you can simply leave your luggage at the Tourist Assistance Centre, while you comfortably wander around looking for somewhere to crash. But they will charge you a "Eco tax" of 50PHP... (You can also choose to go to Jambalaya Café, which has a dedicated space for "free backpack storage". They offer an unbiased ‘Accommodation Guide’ and other tips, although the guide may not always be up to date. The food there may be on the expensive side but, graciously, the cafe does not oblige you to dine there.)
On the beach there are about a dozen places to stay, all offering cottages of various quality and price. Just show up at the beach and pick one that pleases you.
There are also a few resorts on other nearby islands, Secret Paradise Resort, Coconut Garden Island Resort and Blue Cove Island Resort. There is basic back-packer level camping available on German Island (now called Inaladelan).
The price of boat rides, for Island Hopping snorkelling tours or to access resorts, have increased again in 2019, so factor that in to your budget, whether to add it to the overnight cost, or discount it as unnecessary if your chosen accommodation precludes the need for a reef tour.
High season is generally from December to May, it’s mostly very busy in January and February, during this time it is advisable to book a room in advance.
The quietest time to visit Port Barton would be July, August or September, you will find many discounted rooms available.
It is never advisable to leave your money or valuables in any unattended room, best to ask the management at reception about the safe keeping of valuables etc.
If you want to ensure a good night's sleep, earplugs are a good idea! Street dogs may keep you awake at night, and roosters may wake you up really early!
It's good to ask for a discount if you plan to stay for a week or longer.
If you are staying in the Philippines for a little longer, consider buying a prepaid 3G SIM with unlimited data. It is usually your most reliable access to the Internet—especially in Port Barton. There are two mobile phone companies operating within the Port Barton area, Globe and Smart. You can buy a cheap SIM card there. Globe seems more popular due to a stronger signal, but the phone signal can disappear for hours!
Most hotels and their restaurants now offer Wi-Fi (through a 3G router) as long as they have electricity. Check with your hotel if they do, and if they have a generator.
There is a good Internet/Gaming cafe next to the elementary school, where the road to Roxas begins. ₱50/hr.
Plenty of other places offer Wi-Fi as well, such as the Ballesteros General Store (right next to the Tourist Information Center). Aquaholics dive centre has free Wi-Fi for divers.
Port Barton has no land-line phones.
There are one or two daily van trips that go direct to Puerto Princesa (₱350) or El Nido. The van leaves at 8 am and 1 pm for El Nido. Abigail charges 500 p for foreigners and 300 p for Filipinos. There are two rest stops built into the trip and it will pick up other passengers. It takes 5 hours.
For cheaper options, there are two Jeepneys that leave Port Barton everyday.
One goes south to Puerto Princesa, it leaves at 9am approx, the journey takes about 5 hours and costs ₱200, you may be expected to pay a little more if you have large luggage. Sometimes the Jeepney stops halfway for a C.R. toilet break at a rather basic canteen on the highway.
The other Jeepney goes northbound to Roxas (pronounced Roh-Hass) it leaves at c. 08:00, takes about 1.5 to 2 hours and costs ₱150 to Roxas, possibly extra if you have heavy luggage.
There is no direct Bus or Jeepney to El Nido. Get the Jeepney that goes to Roxas, simply inform the driver you want to be dropped off for the El Nido bus, just before Roxas on the main highway, where the El Nido bound bus will pick you up sooner or later. It is probably more straightforward to get dropped off at the Roxas terminal where buses (both air-con and non air-con) depart for El Nido regularly. The AC bus from Roxas to El Nido costs ₱180.
If you can afford the luxury, there are also boats mainly going to El Nido, and also to Sabang. Costs and times of travel vary, depending on how many passengers etc. It may seem expensive, but understandably fuel costs have risen here too.
Ask at the Greenviews Resort, or at the Port Barton Tourist Assistance Centre for more info. Beware of being over-charged, and make sure the boat is safe, not too loud, and properly licensed to travel to your intended destination. To avoid possible misunderstandings about costs, etc, it's always advantageous to pay for your trip (not in advance), but when you arrive safely at your destination.