There’s always something refreshing in finding yourself in a place that not a lot of people know about. The last few months of wandering locally allowed me to meet a lot of foreigners who have been enchanted by Port Barton. And not one local that I’ve traveled with has mentioned it, let alone even been there before.
Port Barton. If you are truly special, then why have I only heard of you now?
I guess reading through the guides only lead you to the popular ones. Chances are, you’re going to miss Port Barton. But having different opportunities to converse with travelers would open up your eyes to the things that most people unconsciously ignore.
An unprecedented 2 weeks in Palawan seemed like a lot of time, flipping from a few days in Narra leading to its northernmost Coron. Days of embracing the flexibility of just trying to figure out when to leave and where to go to next.
Port Barton was supposed to be just a detour — a destination to pass by as I eventually make my way to El Nido.
And then it happened. This place happened. And I almost skipped a beat and didn’t leave.
Being acquainted with the white sand, tiny boats, calm water and the mystery behind a sunset.
Living in a local house, Leizel’s humble abode (Port Barton homestay) in a village past the resorts along the beachfront, staying with mostly backpackers who opted to stay for a few days.
Backpackers, who, just the same, later found it harder to leave upon getting a taste of the laid-back local life.
Being distant from the chaos of the city. Being isolated but not completely.
Oh, what solitude really is all about…
Seeing the gems of different islands and reefs…
Aquarium Reef, part of the Island Hopping Tour, Port Barton
Secret Paradise, part of the Island Hopping Tour, Port Barton
… And being showered by the rain before dusk came to conquer.
Acknowledging that from the wee hours of the morning until before sunset, the village has embraced the lack of electricity and guests alike were more than welcome to either indulge at the beach or succumb to being grounded with a book.
Or perhaps, play with their own thoughts, converse with their reflections, or even just be still and meditate with a beautiful view.
View from Port Barton Homestay
Or if they get lucky, be able to watch the butterflies dance and fall in love.
And be captivated by the heavens above.
An attempt to capture capture the stars
Living without inhibitions nor pretensions.
Savouring a local meal at an eatery with almost every backpacker in town.
Or taking a 45-minute walk at midday, past the other side of the town, passing by empty roads and local houses towards the almost empty and not-so-hidden white beach.
Engaging in small talks, evolving conversations, travel stories, and future destinations.
And subconsciously, acknowledging the fact that you may or may not see each other again.
Then having a beer or two while playing card games called bullshit or shithead or whatever those were called.
Cheers to new friends that have gathered, and to Liezel of Port Barton Homestay for making this small group feel at home, like family
A few days of being there made me quite attached, that the idea of leaving was a bit sad and confusing… to the point that I needed the encouragement of a new friend not to miss what I was intending to visit in the first place–El Nido.
They say Port Barton is a backpacker’s paradise.
And while the definition of that may be subjective, I believe that it actually is. Beyond its outer features, the culture it has adds to the definition of its beauty.
The people who go here, stay here, acknowledge that it’s a place beyond the superficial. It is where the people you find almost have the same intentions: to embrace the peacefulness of nature’s beauty, to practice its culture, to respect its totality, to just be there–to be present.
An escape from the complexity of the humble-bragging, tourism frenzy that the world is currently in.
Maybe… just maybe, those are some of the reasons why this gem has been kept as a low-key, trying to evade the mainstream to the best of its abilities, trying to preserve its genuine touch.
Devoid of the hustle and bustle, of the light pollution, of wild parties.
A detour that most people opt to skip for the more popular ones.
A detour that only those who are willing to accept what this place entails are able to find their way here.
A detour that is an open secret, which, probably won’t stay for long. A detour that could eventually be the main “tour” for the mainstream.
As much as I want to downplay its beauty, to hide the promise it has given so that I could help preserve what it truly is all about, I couldn’t. I could only hope that it will maintain the promise of solitude with the right amount of balance in tourism.
I could only hope that the people who go here can just be.
Perhaps it wasn’t just the town itself that made me fall in love with it. Perhaps it was the culture of what this town has to offer. Perhaps it was the life of trying to live locally. Perhaps it was the people that I’ve met, too — the people that I’ve been with it. Perhaps…
Good to know stuff:
How to go to Port Barton from Puerto Princesa (2.5 – 4 hour ride):
Van* (aircon, 2.5 hours) – Php 350
Bus* – Php 250
*from San Jose Terminal, Puerto Princesa
How to go to Port Barton from Roxas (1 – 1.5 hour ride):
a. Jeep (once a day, at 11 am) – Php 150
OR (in case you miss that),
b.1 take a tricycle from Roxas Terminal to San Jose junction (near the Cherry bus stopever) – Php 30
b.2 Wait for a van to Port Barton – Php 150
Leaving Port Barton for El Nido:
Via Roxas (4 – 5 hours, if you have more time to spare)
1. Ride the jeepney to Roxas Terminal (once a day, at 8:30 am) – Php 150 pesos
2. Ride a bus (regular, without aircon) to El Nido – Php 150
Via Direct Van (3 hours)
Van (aircon) – Php 600
Note: the fares listed here have been updated as of April 2016. Please let me know if the rates need to be updated 🙂
Personal recommendation on where to stay:
Port Barton Homestay (this is where I stayed).
Note: This is a hostel and you know how it goes… You must be a well-rounded person. 🙂
A lot of my reflections have been inspired by the moments, experiences, and the new friends I’ve gathered here. This humble abode welcomes guests who are open to living locally, blending in without pretensions.
If you have decided to stay here, please send my regards to our friend, Leizel. 🙂