A Second Chance in San Vicente, Palawan (Part 1)

A view of New Canipo
NO, this is not about Popoy and Basha of the hit Filipino romance movie, but yes, this about a reunion of friends and another chance to see one of the Philippines' rising tourism stars.

It was back in 2013 when we first attempted to explore the pristine islands of San Vicente, a quaint municipality in northwestern Palawan (click here for the series of our stories). That was sometime in September, when the southwest monsoon was at its peak and in fact, there was a typhoon in extreme northern Philippines. We didn't realize that a typhoon further up in Batanes could tremendously affect the West Philippine Sea that borders San Vicente. We thought the typhoon was too far, but then, we were wrong. Our four-day trip that was supposedly full of island hopping and snorkeling activities turned out to be a huge disaster--from the muddy roads to being rescued on an island, to being stuck in a plane that had vacuumed a bird in its propeller. So then we vowed to go back and two years after, we're here again! Hurray!

To manage expectations, please bear in mind that San Vicente is not in any way comparable to El Nido or Boracay in many sense. For one, most parts of the town are still undeveloped, which, the soft-heeled tourists may find boring and uninteresting. However, the roads are getting better one after another and in no time, tourists and locals will have easier access to any point of San Vicente. Second, there are only a limited number of public shuttle vans and ordinary buses that can bring you from Puerto Princesa to San Vicente and vice versa. Third, while tours are now being regulated by the municipal tourism office, there are many islands that are not part of the standard packages being offered, and thus require a special arrangement. Special arrangements may be a bit costly and are better shared with a group to cut costs. Last, while there are a few bars in town, do not expect one helluvah nightlife while in San Vicente. It's a quiet, tranquil place far from being a loud, party cradle like Boracay, Calaguas, Puerto Galera, or even El Nido.

A cove in Northern Palawan
We took the first flight to Puerto Princesa and arrived surprisingly on time at around 7:00 am. Kuya Ramil, the van driver who also took us to San Vicente two years ago, was already waiting for us. From Puerto Princesa City, we traveled for about three hours to San Vicente. This was so much shorter compared to the five to six hours travel time we had during our first visit. The concrete roads of Itabiak made the trip faster. This part used to be all muddy two years ago and it took us forever to get through it.

We stayed at Picardal Lodge where we also stayed last time. Sir Francis was there to welcome us back again just like how he welcomed us before. It still feels as homey as it was two years ago, the same feeling that you get when you go home to your grandmother's home in the province.

Picardal Lodge has a number of reasonably-priced  fan-cooled and air-conditioned rooms.Unlike in 2013, electricity is now 24 hours. The lodge is nestled right in front of the public market, so food and other necessities are conveniently within reach. Picardal Lodge used to serve food but due to lack of manpower (their former cook now has his own eatery), they stopped serving food even breakfast but no need to worry as there are canteens just across the street.
Our fan room in Picardal Lodge
The rooms are perched on a hillside, and we were billeted in one of the rooms at the highest part of compound. It requires a bit of an effort to climb the stairs every now and then, but the view from our veranda was worth the short climb.

View from our room
Upon settling down and having lunch at the public market, we started our tour towards the famous landmark of San Vicente--the 14-kilometer long beach, which is said to be the longest in the Philippines. The roads to our destination were paved and concrete like Itabiak, a development that made touring around town easier and less challenging. Before going to the Long Beach, we headed further away to the hilly part of Irawan, where we were able to capture a nice view of New Canipo Beach and Imuruan Island. We could actually go to New Camipo (where they say Derek Ramsay has a beach house) but we did not since it was already late and we figured we wanted to spend more time at the Long Beach.

The New Canipo Beach

Imuruan Island
After taking some photos, we went down to Irawan Beach where the television series, Ningning, was filmed. It's a small strip of fishing village that features fine white shoreline--even whiter than that of the Long Beach. You can actually have a dip there but  just be cautious as the seabed drops at a steep angle not too far from the shoreline. We don't have lifevests with us so we did not swim. No entrance fee here.

Irawan Beach 


Finally, we arrived at the 14-kilometer Long Beach. Nothing much has changed. It is still as bare as it was except for some nipa huts we saw far from the shore. The waves were calmer now, although, not steady still. It is still an ideal place to camp or just beach bum. Again, to manage expectations, the sand is not as glistening white as Boracay contrary to what you would read on the internet. It is not white to begin with, but it's fine and soft, the type that would invite you to walk barefoot.

The Long Beach

From the plane, make sure to get an F seat for you to have a glimpse of the Long Beach from an altitude of thousands of feet. It will be impossible for you not to notice the long strip of sand fringed by azure waters.

Long Beach






That rounds up our first day in San Vicente. Our second day was dedicated to island hopping, which, I will write about next.


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Comments

  1. Really great and informative post, thank you for this. May I know if one-night stay in San Vicente is worth the trip? We have planned to stop over at San Vicente before heading to El Nido however, our flight to Puerto Princesa will arrive at 2PM. Would you recommend that we still push through with our San Vicente trip in June?

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  2. Not even finer and whiter compare to that in the long beach ( referring to irawan beach) the sand in irawan is nearly like a finishing sand for construction.

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