A Second Chance in San Vicente, Palawan (Part 2)

The pristine Imuruan Island
By now, you might have seen San Vicente in travel shows and magazines. This supposedly undiscovered paradise has now been gracing the limelight, gradually attracting tourists (mostly backpackers and a fraction of foreigners who feel El Nido is fast becoming crowded).

Two years ago, access to this town in northern Palawan was such a challenge--airport was still under construction; roads were muddy and rough; and public transport schedule was erratic. This year, on our return, the airport was still underway but the roads were now concrete, shortening the trip from five hours to three, on a private van that is.

We weren't able to explore the many islands in San Vicente last time because of the bad weather, so we made sure to come back during summer this time around. We originally dedicated two days for island hopping so we could explore the Imuruan Bay side as well as Port Barton side, thinking that we would consume a lot of time using the tourist pumpboat. However, we were lucky enough that one of us was able to borrow a speedboat. As if slicing the sea into halves while we cruised along the West Philippine Sea, we were able to finish both the Imuruan Bay and Port Barton sides in one day.

We were picked up from Picardal Lodge where we were staying and was brought to the private wharf where the speedboat was waiting for us. The wharf alone features fine white sand and clear waters! You can actually swim there!
At the wharf
Ang makulay na Team Snorkeling
From the wharf, we travelled an hour to reach our first destination--Imuruan Island. Privately owned, this idyllic island has the clearest waters and the whitest sand I've seen in San Vicente, albeit they say the beaches of Boayan Island where Daplac Cove (now owned by the Discovery Leisure Group) is are better. Imagine a narrower version of Calaguas Island when it was still "virgin" in that sense, that's how I see Imuruan Island.

On the way to Imuruan Island
Just a few meters away from Imuruan Island's shore is a beautiful coral reef perfect for easy snorkeling. The only catch is that there were a couple of jellyfish we encountered while swimming our way to the reef. It was jellyfish season, they said.
A long shoreline welcomed us
Imuruan Island's simple charm

Go ahead, take a dip

Our trip isn't complete without us having a glimpse of the underwater. Oh, and did we tell you we don't dive? And most of us do not know how to swim! But we love snorkeling to bits so here's a glimpse of San Vicente's underwater treasures:

San Vicente, Palawan from Matet Garcia Reyes on Vimeo.

Music: "SKGB's Alternate Adventures in Dubstepland" by SKGB (http://skgb.bandcamp.com/)

After snorkeling in Imuruan Island, we continued our journey towards the Port Barton side, passing through Irawan (where the local TV series, Ningning, was filmed) and the Long Beach, a 14-kilometer beach that is said to be the longest of its kind in the Philippines. The views were priceless as they pan from one cove to another!

Irawan Beach

Our next stop was at German Island. Compared to Imuruan Island, German Island is not so much of a stunner but definitely has its own charm, which, you will be able to see underwater. Before reaching German Island, we passed by Exotic Island, another famous destination in San Vicente. The two islands are almost similar--cream rocky shores, rich underwater. On both, majority of the tourists we saw were foreigners, which only shows that the town is attracting more and more foreign guests now just like how it was in El Nido from let's say five to 10 years ago.

Exotic Island

German Island from afar
German Island
We ate our packed lunch at German Island and while there were tables and cottages there, we opted to just stay in our boat. Package tours are usually inclusive of packed lunch but since we were on a "special" tour, we had to bring our own food. 

After lunch, we geared up again for another round of snorkeling. The reefs were shallow and so we were able to take a closer look at the corals and fishes. The current wasn't that strong so snorkeling was easy and effortless.

The sand bar at German Island
Since it was already 2:00 in the afternoon, we hopped back to the boat so we can continue our journey to the Twin Reef as well as the islands called Paradise and Tandan. The latter was where we got rescued two years ago.

Paradise Island
Team Snorkeling in action (again)
The reefs in Paradise Island are more vibrant and impressive than the one in German Island. Shallow and clear, it is a perfect spot for those who are new to snorkeling or are afraid to go further away from the shore. Beware of sea urchins though! While Paradise Island is the best bet for beginners, the Twin Reef appears otherwise. First, entry was not through the shore, so we had to jump off the boat (at least the speed boat has a ladder) and swim towards the reefs. Second, current was a bit strong, so flippers are a must. If you're not comfortable wearing flippers, then it might me hard for you to go back to the boat. Third, the reefs were too deep that it was hard to take photos, unless you are a diver.

Paradise Island

Our final destination was Tandan Island. Also a privately owned property, this island served as our refuge two years ago when bad weather and a series of other unfortunate events happened (read here) while we were on an island hopping trip. So this time around, we wanted to pay tribute and visit the island that saved our lives.

Approaching Tandan Island
Nothing much had changed

That ends our revisit to San Vicente. Within a short period of two years, there were visible growth on this side of the planet: roads built, tours standardized, and, well, more tourists. From what I know, there is an eco-friendly masterplan for this town and I'm just crossing my fingers that it will not take the Boracay, Puerto Galera, or even the El Nido route. Hope it remains pristine and unscathed in the years to come. 


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