Boat on Port Barton Beach blue and orange Philippines

WIT: Top Things to do in Port Barton

Port Barton is island hopping in Palawan without the crowds and the price tags of El Nido and Coron. Looking for laidback village vibes? Happy hour galore? We have the answer for you in Port Barton, Palawan’s sleepy getaway.

Whilst there is no denying that during the last few years this small fishing village has slowly but surely made its way onto the beaten path, it has remained relatively unaffected by mass tourism. This is sadly prevalent in other areas of Palawan (El Nido, we’re looking at you). With no ATM or even 24-hour electricity available, Port Barton is a welcome escape where it is completely acceptable to chill in a hammock with a novel all day until Happy Hour. And tomorrow. And the next day.

For anyone heading to Palawan, we’d strongly recommend making space for a few days in Port Barton on your island itinerary. Find out everything you need to know, including the top things to do in Port Barton, with this ultimate guide.

Getting There

AIR

There is no airport in Port Barton or the surrounding area. El Nido (ENI) or Puerto Princesa (PPS) are the closest options. There is also a small airport in San Vicente (SWL) but flight prices are higher arriving/departing from here as it only opened last year.

BUS

The best and most popular way to get to Port Barton is to take one of the minivans from either up north in El Nido (4 hours – P500) or south from Puerto Princesa (3 hours – P350). Don’t expect a comfortable journey – as with most minivans in the Philippines these are usually packed to capacity and road conditions can be pretty bumpy at times. There is also an option to get a jeepney from Puerto Princesa – this will take around 5-6 hours but this is not something we would recommend.

Be aware that when you arrive at the small bus ‘terminal’ you will be asked to pay a P50 environmental fee. This is a requirement for all visitors in Port Barton, so pay up and don’t argue. Keep the small card/receipt safe, as you will need it for any boat or island hopping trips that you arrange.

What to Do in Port Barton

Port Barton Island Hopping

As with most Filipino island destinations, one of the top things to do in Port Barton is go on an island hopping tour and discover the delights of the surrounding area. Good news is that it is much cheaper and less crowded than those on offer in Coron and El Nido, with full day tours coming in at around P700 ($13.50) per person. Common stop off points include Starfish Island, German Island, Exotic Island, Paradise Reef and Twin Reef.

To book an island hopping tour, simply head to one of the many resorts and operators along the beachfront. Most tours leave at 9am and will return around 4.30pm that day. Unfortunately we got rained out when we were in town.

Diving in Port Barton

One of the top things to do in Port Barton is discover the underwater world and if you’re lucky you’ll be in with the chance of some wild dugong spotting (Daniel was fortunate enough to swim with one at Toby and Thelma’s).

Aquaholics Dive School comes highly recommended and diving here is suitable for all from beginners to advanced.

Sunset Happy Hour

The perfect way to end a day of island hopping and one of the top things to do in Port Barton. The beach is home to a ‘strip’ of bars, perfect for sitting back, relaxing and watching the sunset over the water with a Happy Hour SML (expect to pay around P45). There’ll be bonfires on the beach not too long after.

Our particular favourites were Native’bo Reggae Bar & Happy Bar, where some deals even include a free rum and coke with your first purchased drink. Insane value!

Sunset over the ports at Port Barton Beach in Palawan Philippines
We weren’t that lucky with the weather so this was the best sunset we got in Port Barton!

Where to Stay

Toby & Thelma’s Palawan Camping our choice

Although not strictly located in Port Barton, Toby and Thelma’s Island Camping Adventure is worth the extra effort and the extra cash. Here you’ll find gorgeous glamping style accommodation located just 30 minutes by boat from Port Barton beach (they will pick you up). We stayed here over Christmas 2018 and it was one of our favourite experiences in the whole of the Philippines.

View from kayak of glamping accommodation at Toby and Thelma's Palawan Camping in the Philippines
The view of Palawan Camping that greets you from the boat transfer

Your stay at Toby & Thelma’s includes breakfast, lunch and a colossal buffet dinner with all the tea, coffee and water you can drink. There are also stand up paddle-boards, kayaks and snorkelling equipment all free to use. Since you’re in the Philippines, there are jungle hikes to waterfalls and caves to explore too.

If you’re lucky (and the staff get the time off) you can also take part in a home vs away beach volleyball tournament with the other guests. Daniel got awfully excited snorkelling with the resident dugong and we both loved the kayak to nearby Bigaho Falls (P20 donation entry). Ask Tony to draw you one of his handy maps in the sand!

A game of beach volleyball at Palawan Camping in Port Barton in the Philippines
Friendly game of beach volleyball on Christmas Day

This place honestly feels like you’re on a paradise island in an incredibly comfortable and beautiful space. There’s no Wi-Fi, limited electricity and no public transport, but none of that really matters. True value for money in Palawan, and absolutely one of the top things to do in Port Barton.

P2000 ($38) per person per night (boat transfer P350 per person per way)

Nellie’s Tourist Inn

Cheap, cheerful and clean, this no-frills guesthouse is a great base for your stay in Port Barton. Although it is not beachfront, in Port Barton that’s not really an issue (it’s tiny) and you can reach the beach in a short 5-minute stroll. Great choice if you’re looking for an affordable private room.

Private double from P800 ($15)

Deep Moon Resort

This is the backpacker accommodation of choice and for good reason. The closest you’ll get to a hostel atmosphere in Port Barton, it’s is a great place to meet a group to go island hopping with. Friendly staff and plenty of beach front hammocks.

Deep Moon Resort on Port Barton beach with cloudy sky
Deep Moon Resort in Port Barton

Where to Eat

REEF CAFÉ

One of the most popular places to eat in Port Barton, Reef Café serves up a range of tasty burgers at reasonable prices. A good option if you’re craving some Western food!

MABUTI. EAT & CHILL

The healthy choice for brunch and vegetarian/vegan options in Port Barton. Mabuti has some questionable reviews online, but when we visited we never had any issues with the service. The granola was particularly tasty and a nice change from hotsilog for breakfast!

GORGONZOLA PIZZA

We heard great things about this Italian eatery, a ‘must try’ in Port Barton with authentic wood-fired pizzas and vegetarian dishes. To be honest, the pizza we got at Gorgonzola didn’t live up to expectations and was pretty pricy for what you got.

Port Barton Summary

Example Plan:

Day 1

  • Check in and head down to the beach
  • Lunch at Mabuti
  • Watch the sunset over a Happy Hour beer

Day 2

  • Head to Toby and Thelma’s for the night
  • Enjoy the free water sports on offer: kayaking & SUP or join one of their afternoon boat trips

Day 3

  • Spend the morning relaxing at Toby & Thelma’s
  • Boat back to Port Barton town proper
  • Dinner at Reef Café

Day 4

  • Island hopping/diving
  • Head to your next destination
Accommodation:
  • Toby & Thelma’s/Palawan Camping
  • Nellie’s Tourist Inn
  • Deep Moon Resort
Restaurants & Bars:
  • Reef Café
  • Mabuti. Eat and Chill
  • Gorgonzola Pizza
  • Native’bo Reggae Bar
  • Happy Bar

Port Barton Budget Breakdown

Getting There:
  • Minivan: El Nido to Port Barton
  • 5.5 hours, P450 per person

Total: P900 ($17)

Accommodation:
  • Nellie’s Guesthouse. Budget double: P800 per night (1 night)
  • Toby & Thelma’s/Palawan Camping. P4000 per night (2 nights)
  • Boat transfer P1400

Total: P10200 ($197)

Attractions:
  • Waterfall entrance: P20 donation per person
  • Island Hopping: P700 per person
  • Port Barton Environmental Fee: P50 per person

Total: P1540 ($30)

Moving On:
  • Minivan: Port Barton to Puerto Princesa
  • 3 hours, P350 per person

Total: P700 ($13.50)

Total for 4D/3N: P13,340 ($257.50)

The above budget is for x2 people. Food and drink is not included.

This budget breakdown isn’t meant to be an exact record of what we spent, but should give you a rough idea of what you’re likely to spend.

*all currencies accurate at the time of writing

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