After a whirlwind 4 days of secluded beaches, island hoppingÂ and motorbike adventures in El Nido, we were off to our next stop: Port Barton.Â This is a quaint little town, and by ‘little’ I mean about 5 blocks long by 3 blocks wide, situated in a little bay geographically halfway between El Nido and Puerto Princessa. Getting there…….that’s another story. There is only one road in, no matter where you come from, unless you come by boat which will run at least 1500 peso per person from El Nido. I’m sure it was a pretty ride, but 4 hours on a little long boat seemed a bit sketchy. We opted for the bus transfer method which was about 350 pesos total. This basically means you need to hop a bus from El Nido (earlier the better!) and head down to a town called Roxas. There is a bus terminal there, and you can continue on to PP or get off and onto the Jeepney to Port Barton. BEWARE! There is only one Jeepney per day to Port Barton which leaves when its full, roughly 10am – 11am. I suggest you be there by 10am! This means leaving El Nido on the 6am bus. It sucks but the alternative is you miss theÂ JeepneyÂ andÂ burn a day in Roxas, which may not be bad for soaking up local culture, but you sure won’t find the tropical beaches your after.
The Jeepney ride was fun….and rough. It’s basically an open bus and with people hanging off the side and top flying down old dirt roads full of potholes. check out the picture below of the daily Roxas-Port Barton Jeepney.
After a 90 minute scenic windy jaunt we arrived. It’s truly a tranquil little town. There’s probably less than 100 tourists there at any given time, and walking down what few roads they have you keep running into the same people over and over again. Truly a small town feel. And if you lose someone, just walk around a bit and you’ll find them, seriously! It happened to us a few times.
We stayed at a little place on the edge of town (2 blocks from the beach) called Monkey Family. It was decent, cheap (300 peso/dorm), nice beds and even a little bar with live music some nights. Watch out for the monkeys though!
There were lots of other places too that seemed to have openings, but a reservation is always good as lodging there is a bit limited. Some restaurants will make room for travelers who can’t find lodging, at least that’s what a local named PaulÂ who ownsÂ “FRNDZ” bar told us. His place is right where the bus drops you off. Great cheap breakfast and he also offers a Thai-Swedish combo style massage. And yes, it’s as good as it sounds…..actually it’s better.Â It just happened to be Valentine’s Day so I treated my girlfriend and myself to an evening massage for about 100o peso each. I would have paid 5x that, best massage we’ve ever had. After the massage we went off to an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet on the beach featuring lobster, shrimp, tuna steak, calamari, crab, BBQ pig roast, and a host of sides all for a grand total of 350 pesos, or around $7.50 USD. Lots of other restaurants along the beach but as with most food in the Philippines, it leaves much to be desired.
We hired a private boat with a British couple we’d met on the Jeepney for a day outing. The nice thing about Port Barton island hopping compared to El Nido is the guides will take you wherever you want and you can stay for as long as you want. You can go toÂ 1 place and stay the day, or hop to 5 places and see it all, totally up to you! We snorkeled a few areas searching for giant sea turtles, came up empty handed but saw some babies at the turtle sanctuary later in the day. I doubt the SCUBA diving is any good, but snorkeling here was much better than inÂ El Nido.Â Our guide cooked us some amazing fresh red snapper for lunch on one of the bluest beaches I’ve ever seen. Local guides are on the beach and are not hard to find, actually they will find you.Â Once you meet one he will be your friend for as long as you stay. Seriously, they will find where you are staying and come ask each day if you want to go out in the boat or if they can arrange any transport or anything else for you. Extremely helpful and a tad annoying/creepy.
The next day we opted to keep it simple and take the 1 hour hike south through a few villages to White Beach. It was all hikeable in sandals, so we went back to FRNDZ for breakfast and had Paul cook us some pizza-to-go for our post-hike lunch. The area is beautiful and we only saw one other couple and some locals there, however it’s not ideal for swimming as there are lots of rocks and weeds. But if you want to get a reading day in with no one to bother you, it’s a great spot.
My biggest regret about Port Barton is that I didn’t have another day to stay. It’s much lower key than El Nido, and even though its a pain to get to, it can be quite rewarding if your looking for a more relaxed atmosphere. Think about a full moon party in Thailand, and this is the exact opposite of that, andÂ with better beaches.
After Port Barton, we were back off to our starting and ending point, Puerto Princessa, for a few days. Catch the next episode soon!