Getting to and from Port Barton on the island of Palawan requires time on a terrible road or forking over a fair amount of cash for a boat. The road into town is under construction and will, almost certainly, increase tourist numbers when complete. But for now, Port Barton is a tranquil respite from the crowds of Puerto Princesa’s Underground River and El Nido. For me, it was nothing short of paradise.


A stretch of beach meets clear water (apparently jellyfish can be a problem but I didn’t see any right off shore when I went for a dip) and the town is easily walkable. Guesthouses and restaurants line the beach and even though most guesthouses were fully booked when I was there, it never felt crowded. Island hopping tours are more reasonably priced and far less busy than in tourist-heavy El Nido. In Port Barton, I paid only 500 Pesos (around $11.25) for a full day of snorkeling, island relaxing, and lunch on a beach. There were only four of us on the boat I joined and although we shared the first snorkeling stop and our lunch spot with other groups, it wasn’t overwhelmingly crowded. In El Nido, I paid more than double that to be herded around with twelve others on a boat that literally bumped into other tour boats everywhere we went.

German Island: one of many stops on Tour A
One of the two islands used for tour lunches with lovely snorkeling plus sunny and shady spots to relax







Food in the Philippines is tough for a vegetarian – or anyone who doesn’t eat pork – if you want to eat local food. Western food options are plentiful but often overly sweet and the bread is typical of SE Asia: sweet and spongy. But in Port Barton, multiple guesthouses and restaurants make their own bread. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t get much better than that. In addition, I found an excellent chocolate mango pancake, fresh hummus, and plenty of local veggie dishes made without pork.

Jambalaya – one of my favorite restaurants in the Philippines

The snorkeling is decent although too much of the coral is damaged or dead to make it all that exciting. I had a cold, couldn’t equalize, and skipped the diving so I have no idea if it’s any good. If it is, then this place truly is paradise. I also didn’t make it to a waterfall as I spent time resting in order to keep my cold in check so I could dive in the days ahead. As I’ll get around to in a future post, that was a wise decision: diving in Coron was nothing short of amazing.


Port Barton is a lazy place, the kind where it’s easy to find days have slipped by without having done much. Town electricity is turned on between 6 and 11pm although many places have generators they run for a few hours during the day. Regardless, getting a cold beer isn’t a problem, even when island hopping where enterprising locals pull up with a cooler full of ice cold drinks. With friendly, relaxed people, great food, and the calm of a remote location, Port Barton is the closest place I’ve found to paradise.

The question is, when I return to the Philippines someday, do I return to Port Barton or leave the memory intact?

4 thoughts on “Paradise Found: Port Barton

  • February 18, 2015 at 10:19 am

    Holy Hotness Swimsuit Photo! Lookin fiiiiine! Miss you tons and tons! Hope you are well (you obviously look it!) and are enjoying the heck out of your travels!

    • February 24, 2015 at 8:03 pm

      Thanks, Rob! Yes, I’m well and more than enjoying the heck out of traveling. 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you in Boston in late April!

  • February 18, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    Ha! What Rob said! All true! Xoxo

    • February 24, 2015 at 8:06 pm

      Thanks, Megan. And just like Rob, I’m looking forward to seeing you in just over 2 months, too!

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