Port Barton is a lively but laid back town, about 4-5 hours drive from Puerto Princessa , with friendly locals, cute kids, happy cats, a few bearded pigs, and mangy dogs marking their territory on any object within reach of their genitals, and a beautifully serene white sand beach with a sea which is lake like in its stillness. It is not yet served by a decent road (currently under construction), which is one of the reasons, that for the moment, it is relatively untouched by the tourism industry in Palawan.
Port Barton is billed as the next El Nido. I can picture it in 10 years time, with fully paved roads, a distinct tourist trade and a reduction in non cash related interactions with locals. It happens everywhere that has something going for it, and the building of a decent road and a local airport is most probably the beginning for Port Barton. So you just have to come here soon if you want to see it as it is.
There isn’t that much to do in Port Barton and I spent a lot of time here walking up and down the beach, listening to music (until I lost my headphones after a few evening shandys). A lot of tourists go island hopping, but I decided to spend my limited time enjoying the town instead. I did however, rent out a canoe and row to Starfish island, which is one of the stops on most of the island hopping tours.
It takes about 30mins to get to and is a slither of sand just out of sight from the shore, absolutely teaming with starfish…………apparently – when I got there there wasn’t a starfish in sight. I wondered if I went to the right place, but there weren’t any other islands within rowing distance, it seemed to fit the description and there was nobody around to ask. I just gathered that people had mistranslated seaweed as starfish, but found out later that I went at the wrong time of day. One tip for follicular deficient people (AKA bald bastards) like me is either cream up or wear a hat, as the sun is relentless.
Other things to see in Port Barton include a waterfall, which is about an hour trek out of town, or a 7 minute ride on a motorbike – I chose the latter. It is not spectacular, and I actually enjoyed the walk through the jungle to get there more than the waterfall itself. It’s a nice little trip, but not worth planning to spend your whole day there. I met a few locals and chatted to them for a bit, had a swim, took a few photos and went back to PB.
The food in Port Barton was pretty good and it’s also possible to get by on fairly little cash – budget travellers seem more accomodated for than in other resorts that I visited in Palawan. I had my own double room for 400 pesos per night and meals cost anything between 50 – 200 pesos. One of the best meals I had was the Chicken curry at Clabereen/El Dorado Sunset Resort, which is located on the beach front and is also a good place to meet other travellers.
One of the greatest pleasures of travelling with a camera in a place like Port Barton, is that you can walk around and chat to people using the camera as an ice breaker and more often than not I am surprised at how willing people are to get involved. Most of the photos on this page are from walks around town around dusk, when the heat is less intense and people come out and play games or just hang around and chat. About half the time I ask people if I can take their photo but there are occasions when there is a particular composition that would be ruined if it were posed or if I interrupted, so I try to have my camera ready to shoot when I walk around, as every so often a scene will present itself and disappear as quickly as it came.
Of all the places that I visited in Palawan, Port Barton would rank as my favourite (Coron not far behind). The place is beautiful, without doubt the best beach I stepped foot on in Palawan. The people are warm and friendly and the days go by like minutes unfortunately. It’s a place where you start to envy the simplicity of the lives the people lead and start to wonder how much longer you could stay if you quit your job and lived off of your savings. It was hard to tear myself away, but I knew I’d be back someday.