In my humble opinion, Port Barton is one of the best places to visit in the Philippines.
Mainly because it’s still so up and coming.
Compared to many other places in the Philippines, Port Barton gets relatively few tourists and you will find less crowded tours and beaches.
That being said, it is growing rapidly and new restaurants and homestays are cropping up each and every month.
Either way, it’s well worth a visit and is located just a few short hours from the popular destination of El Nido.
So, without further ado, let’s get stuck into the 15 best things to do in Port Barton ...
The easiest way to get to Port Barton is through minibus transfers from other popular places in Palawan.
We took the minibus transfer from El Nido which cost and took about 3 hours.
When we left, we took another minibus transfer to Puerto Princesa which took 3.5 hours.
It's possible to book transfers to Port Barton in person, however, as it's still very much up and coming, tickets can sell out ahead of time.
The best thing to do is book online; here's the best places to book:
It’s a pretty small town and most things to do in Port Barton can be reached by foot.
Even White Beach is reachable within around half an hour.
That being said, it is possible to hire some mopeds from local shops if you wish to explore a little further afield.
If you need to lug bags from the minibus drop-off point to your hotel, then you will find local tricycle drivers able to help you.
There are more and more homestays and hotels cropping up in Port Barton, so you should have plenty of choice.
We stayed at a homestay called Eashanti’s Place.
It was very nice, located just outside of the busy part of town, with clean rooms, half-decent air-con and very friendly staff.
If you’re interested, you can check it out on Booking.com here.
Aside from this, for best value accommodation in Port Barton, I recommend you use:
Here are a few other great value options for accommodation in Port Barton ...
The first few things on this list are usually best enjoyed as a part of a day long boat tour.
We took a tour with a local boat who helped us to visit all of the following, with swimming with the turtles being my highlight!
It seems that every day, the same group of turtles return to a shallow bay between two small islands.
Here, you can get out and swim down to them whilst they feed on the sandbeds below.
There are a few different points to swim with turtles in The Philippines, but this was by far my favorite point.
At the end of our tour, we stopped off at a large sand bar (a spit of sand sticking out in the ocean).
Here, you can get out and walk through the shallow waters where there’s an abundance of starfish living.
It’s a nice spot and a great way to end the day.
I also liked the sand bar as, compared to other sandbars in The Philippines, this one was much less crowded.
I imagine that might change in coming months and years as Port Barton gets busier, but hopefully not!
There are a number of places to snorkel around Port Barton, with all tours offering at least one or two chances.
From what we saw, the reefs aren’t as widespread and grandiose as those in El Nido or Coron, but they are certainly less crowded and more untouched.
One of the things I disliked about El Nido is how much the reefs had been destroyed by the local boats, whereas here they clearly take a lot more care with preserving their marine life.
After enjoying lunch and swimming with the turtles, our tour boat dropped us off at German Island, where they gave us almost two hours to chill and unwind.
Here, you’ll find deck chairs, tables and a bar.
It’s a great spot amidst the crystal blue waters, to relax and enjoy some drinks and to catch up on your tan.
Apparently, it’s called German Island because a number of years ago a German guy came out and loved it so much that he bought it!
Though a few years ago he gave the island back to the locals, as we were told there were disputes over who actually owned the island and whether it was even legal to sell it in the first place.
From all of the island hopping tours we did in The Philippines, one of the biggest highlights on every one was lunch!
They cook up a fresh Philippino BBQ there and then, offering up fresh fish, chicken, shrimp, rice, noodles and fruits.
The spread can differ depending on which tour you do, but I really did love every single one, with Port Barton being no exception!
Don't forget to book your island hopping tour (check prices here).
Palawan is famous for it's incredible beaches, and El Nido is even home to the most beautiful beach in Asia.
Well, Port Barton is also pretty darn impressive when it comes to beaches; in particular White Beach.
This is a long, you guessed it, white beach located about a 30 to 40 minute walk outside of the main port area.
You are more than welcome to walk there, or a lot of people choose to get a boat from the harbour to take them over there.
There’s a small entrance fee to pay once you arrive at White Beach.
There are two popular sets of waterfalls near Port Barton, these are Pamuayan Falls and Bigaho Falls.
You can hike all the way to Pamuayan Falls and the journey takes about an hour each way.
The route is signposted, or you can find a guide in town if you would prefer.
Bigaho Falls can also be reached from the main town area of Port Barton; alternatively, you can visit them as a part of an organised day tour, which was offered as Tour C when we visited.
One of the few things that we struggled to find anywhere in The Philippines was decent coffee.
They really aren’t big coffee connoisseurs out there, and by the time we got to Port Barton we were really missing some great quality coffee.
Well, though it’s hard to believe, Milano Cafe in Port Barton is home to the best coffee we found anywhere in The Philippines!
Located on the main road into town, Milano Cafe was founded by an Italian couple who fell in love with the area and decided to move here and start a business.
Well, like true Italians they take great pride in their coffee, as well as offering some other great Italian classics, like gelato.
They even import cheese all the way from Italy, so it’s well worth a visit and it quickly one of my favourite things to do in Port Barton.
One of the best things to see in Port Barton are the wonderful sunsets.
The town is perfectly situated for incredible sunsets, another thing that makes Port Barton so increasingly popular.
Taytay Beach is the main beach in Port Barton, and is a great spot for sunsets.
There’s plenty of areas where you’ll find no restaurants or bars, just palm trees to chill in front of.
When the sun sets, it’s a popular place to pick up some great Instagram-worthy shots and to appreciate the colors changing over the sky ahead.
Despite being a relatively new tourist destination to visit in The Philippines, there are plenty of really great restaurants in Port Barton.
Every night we were there we chose a different restaurant, and were not disappointed once.
If you are a fan of seafood, like me, then you should try the crab while you are here.
It is freshly sourced and sooooo good!
Better yet, it costs a fraction of the price you would pay for it back in Europe, so make the most of it!
When strolling back along the beach after dinner, the best thing we did was stop off for massages in one of the beachside salons.
There are a number of them, all priced the same and offering the same variety of services.
For less than $10 you can have a great, hour long, full body massage right there on the beach!
A great way to finish the day and one of the best things to do in Port Barton at night.
Speaking of what to do in Port Barton at nighttime, why not get drunk!?
CocoRico seemed like the place to be if you are young and looking for a wild night.
Best of all, it is ridiculously cheap.
Well, if you’re there between 7 and 7:30, then drinks are free!
They also have their own hostel here, though if you plan on getting an early night at all, then it’s probably not the place to stay!
Finding CocoRico is easy, just head one road up from the main beach and follow the music.
One of the things I am gutted we didn't get a chance to do in Port Barton was to go camping!
From what we’ve read online and people we’ve spoken to, camping overnight on a nearby beach is an incredible experience, and gives you the chance to totally disconnect from the outside world.
It’s usually included as a part of 2 day long island hopping tours and you literally pitch up tents on a secluded beach and all spend the night there.
When we return to Port Barton, this is an experience that we will not miss out on again!
Like anywhere in Palawan, it’s possible to go on diving tours from Port Barton.
The best way to find out more information is to just head to the beach and speak to the guides who are always there.
The going rate seems to be about $70 for a day tour, and that includes everything, as well as lunch.
Stop rushing around and take it easy!
By far the best thing to do in Port Barton is to take time to unwind and chill, be that on the beach, in your room, by a waterfall, on a turtle, whatever!
Port Barton is a chilled out place, far more so than other popular Palawan destinations like Coron and El Nido.
So don’t pack your schedule too much or you won’t have enough time to enjoy the slow pace of this wonderful little town.
When planning your trip to Port Barton, here’s a few important things to know BEFORE you arrive!
1. There are no ATMs in Port Barton! (***Update March 2020*** - Apparently, there are 3 ATM's there now: "one next to the petrol station, one next to the White House Inn and the 3rd one next to the Dutch Kitchen restaurant". This is based off a recent comment below. If you’ve been and used an ATM in Port Barton, please drop me a comment below, and I can update this). - Still, I recommend getting plenty of cash out before you head to Port Barton, as they could still quickly run out of cash or have issues due to electricity.
2. WiFi and electricity can be very spotty - Yes, WiFi in the Philippines is already famously bad, but in Port Barton it is even worse. They only just got 24 hour electricity at the end of 2018 and I imagine their internet infrastructure isn’t really up to speed yet for the number of tourists visiting. Also, you may find power cuts occur frequently during your stay, it’s just one of those things.
3. At times, it’s not possible to swim in the water because of jellyfish - Our friends visited Port Barton less than a week before we arrived and for their whole stay weren’t able to swim in the waters by the main beach. This is because great shoals of jellyfish come by! I spoke to a local and apparently it depends on the day, some days they are there, some days they aren’t.
4. You’ll need to pay an Environment Tax once you arrive - When you arrive in Port Barton, there will be someone there asking you to pay an Environment Tax. For us this was 50PHP and lasted for 10 days. It’s important to keep this on you when doing any days tours by boat.
5. There’s a limited number of mopeds to rent - We tried, and failed, to rent a moped during our stay in Port Barton. This is because there are very few companies offering them and so there’s a limited amount. In the end, I’m not sure we really needed one anyway, but it certainly would be useful if you plan on doing any bigger day trips around San Vicente.
6. Minibus transfers leave on a first-come, first-served basis - What does this mean? Well, if you are one of the last ones to arrive at the “terminal” that the minibuses leave from, then you could just miss a space and be left waiting a while. As you’ll soon realise, Philipinos are pretty laid back and have almost zero haste to them. So, if you booked a bus at 11am but it’s already left, another one might not be along for a while. This happened to us and we were left waiting for at least half an hour, with no one there able to give us a straight answer.
You can now actually book your transfers online, which gives you a better chance of getting a seat at the right time. All transfers are in minibuses regardless of whether you pay online or wait and pay in person.
Yesterday, so what are you waiting for?!
No seriously, typically speaking, the best time to visit Palawan is during the dry season, so you avoid any major storms coming through.
The dry season runs from October to May, with February and March are usually very popular as it’s not yet reached the hottest months.
We were there in May and found it to be very pleasant, albeit pretty darn hot.
Whilst there, we had one bad storm that ripped through around sunset so we stayed in our room, but other than that we had clear skies all the time.
Of course, you’re more than able to visit during the wet months (June to September) you just have to be prepared for some potentially very strong winds and rain. Or even worse ...
To do everything discussed above, I’d recommend staying in Port Barton for at least 3 nights.
If you want to really chill out, drink, party, whatever, then maybe 4 or 5 nights would be more suitable.
It all depends on whether you have a tight schedule ahead of you.
Not sure where to visit after Port Barton, well here’s the 4 week Philippines itinerary that we followed.
As a heads up, you will need to pay a local tourism fee once you arrive.
It isn’t much, just 50PHP for us when we visited; it may well have gone up slightly since then, but I wouldn’t have thought by a lot.
It’s valid for 10 days, and it’s important you have it with you when you go on any island tours.
Even with this, you can easily get by in Port Barton on roughly $20-$25 a day.
If you plan on chilling and spending more than a few days here, then on average you’ll spend even less a day.
Especially if you then decide to stay in a cheaper hostel.
Prices are pretty typical of elsewhere in The Philippines, so you shouldn’t get ripped off at all.
We’ve put together in-depth guides covering most of our time in The Philippines, so for help planning the rest of your stay beyond Port Barton, these will come in useful.
For the rest of your trip through The Philippines, here's some other guides that will come in useful ...
Well, that’s all folks!
If you have any more questions about what to do in Port Barton, or can offer up any other suggestions just leave me a comment below ...