Thursday, December 29, 2016

Visiting San Vicente Poblacion for Long Beach

Long Beach, a 14.7–kilometer stretch of fine, cream colored sand, said to be the longest beach in the Philippines, was the only reason I went to the Poblacion of San Vicente in Palawan. Will these photos be reason enough for you, too?

 
If it's a YES, then...

Go

From Puerto Princesa to San Vicente the journey takes 5–6 hours by bus (Php 200) or 3–3.5 hours by shuttle (van). Shuttle fare is Php300 (Php350 with pickup service). From San Jose Terminal in Puerto Princesa, these are the shuttle services that go direct to San Vicente:

  • Cathy Transport 0907 158 6178 / 0946 191 2528 / 0949 960 0814 / 0920 738 3152
    • Puerto Princesa to San Vicente 8AM / 2PM
    • San Vicente to Puerto Princesa 7AM / 2PM
  • Virus Shuttle 0998 577 5008
    • Puerto Princesa to San Vicente 4AM / 1PM / 5PM
    • San Vicente to Puerto Princesa 4AM / 1PM / 5PM
  • Savior - Sorry, I wasn't able to get the contact number and schedules for this company, but I added it here to let you know this is a third option!

From Port Barton, there are three ways to reach the Poblacion of San Vicente:
  • motorcycle or habalhabal through the mountains – 45 minutes, but not recommended during rainy season (June to November)
  • jeepney then shuttle van – from Port Barton take a jeepney to Roxas (Php 100, 1.5 hours, leaves Port Barton between 8AM to 9AM) then at Roxas terminal take a shuttle van to San Vicente (Php 120, 1 hour)
  • pumpboat – Php 1500 for up to 4 pax, 1 hour. Note: Long Beach can also be visited as part of an island hopping tour from Port Barton. Just negotiate with the boat operator for the price.

Stay
When I visited in November 2016, there were only three accommodations along the 14.7–kilometer stretch of Long Beach:
Turublien's rooms are actually across the river.
Just cross the river onboard their little boat and you will reach...

Turublien's beachfront (where the bar is)

Because I was traveling alone on a tight budget, I did not stay in any of the above. Instead, I stayed at Myrla's Garden and Cottages [0939 906 4256], a short 5-minute walk to (about 500 meters from) Long Beach. The rooms and cottages surround a garden behind the owner's house. I had booked a single fan room for Php 450, but the owner, Ma'am Myrna Laurente, put me in a very big room with two queen size beds and a private toilet and shower. I am guessing this is the air conditioned family room (I did not use the A/C, of course).

Half of my big room in Myrla's Garden and Cottages

When I arrived around noon, I was surprised that Ma'am Myrna had prepared lunch for me even though I did not ask her to. I did not expect it to be free, of course, but she assured me she won't charge too much. I ended up having my every meal there, and she only charged me Php 100 to 150 per meal (with servings that were huge, I could never finish my meals). 

Lunch! 

Do
There really isn't much to do in Long Beach but to:
  • take very long walks – it is, after all, the longest beach in the Philippines!
  • jog – you have 14 kilometers of compact sand to jog on
  • swim – but be careful, there are some areas that may be to dangerous for a swim so say the locals
  • read a book by the beach – watch out though, some areas may have sand fleas
  • have a picnic
  • watch the sunset
  • clear your mind and just sit, enjoy the breeze, and do nothing by the beach :-)

If you want to visit Long Beach while it's still uncrowded, the time is now. But if you can't take the long bus or van ride and the spartan amenities the current inns offer (except for the very expensive Agutaya Resort), please wait for the airport to open (probably sometime 2017) and the airlines to put up flights direct to San Vicente, and for new resorts to sprout along the beach (I have been told that many celebrities and investors have already bought Long Beach properties).


San Vicente Short:
Visiting San Vicente Poblacion for Long Beach (you're here!)

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