Why go to San Vicente, Palawan? To see Long Beach, reputedly, the longest white sand beach in the Philippines!  When was still thinking about doing a 12-day trip to Palawan I initially only had 3 items on my list: Honda Bay, El Nido, and the Underground River.

While I could have been more than happy to have spent all my time in just these place, I wanted to know if there were other nice places to visit in the area. San Vicente’s Long Beach fit snugly into my plan since the town is located along the way between Puerto Princesa and El Nido.

I was so happy I made that decision because Long Beach did not disappoint. Long Beach was indeed freakin’ long, 14km as claimed by the townsfolk.

It was so surreal to see such a beautiful white sand beach seemingly stretching endlessly into the horizon yet devoid of any huge beach resorts, tourists, or loud bars.

San Vicente Long Beach all to MYSELF!

Unexpected ride to San Vicente, Palawan

After my arrival in Puerto Princesa, Palawan (via the Iloilo to Palawan RORO Ferry), I walked to Rizal St. and hopped on a “San Jose Terminal” jeepney (P12 fare) going to the city’s integrated transport terminal. I wanted to head straight to the town of El Nido on my first day. At 12:45NN, there weren’t any El Nido bound buses left so I went to the van terminal of “Fort Wally” to check out my other options.

San Jose New Market Terminal in Puerto Princesa City

Fort Wally Van Terminal

There were two (L300) shuttle vans stationed at Fort Wally, one headed for El Nido and the other for San Vicente.

The 1PM van going to El Nido was the last trip of the day but (as I’ve read online) there might be a chance that the driver might not pursue the trip if there aren’t enough passengers. Past 2PM, the El Nido van was still empty, which got me worried.

Meanwhile, the San Vicente van was already gearing up to leave. I made the quick decision to modify my itinerary and start my mainland Palawan adventure in the small town of San Vicente.

Enroute to San Vicente

The San Vicente van left at around 2:10PM and arrived in Roxas Terminal at 3:40PM. Roxas, a usual stopover point for passenger vans/buses, is located midway between Puerto Princesa and El Nido.

Lying on the west coast of Northern Palawan, San Vicente can be accessed by taking a left turn at Roxas. From Roxas, it’s another 1 hour and 30-minute ride to the poblacion of San Vicente.

Total travel time from Puerto Princesa City to San Vicente takes around 3 to 4 hours.

Entrance Gate of Roxas Terminal

Stopover in Roxas Terminal

Dirt road winding through the lush forested areas in San Vicente

Van ride from Roxas to San Vicente

San Vicente Town Proper

The van arrived in San Vicente in the late afternoon at around 5:30PM. After taking the drivers’ suggestion on the cheapest place to stay in town, I got a room for P200 per night at a certain “John Eric Lodge.”

The place doesn’t have any signage, which will make it hard to find (just ask the locals since a lot of them are familiar with John Eric).

The room was very basic. It had ample space, a bed for 1-2 persons, fan, and private bathroom.

John Eric Lodge

San Vicente spans a huge land area of 1,657 square kilometers with a population of only 25,218 people, which translates to only 15.2 people per square kilometer!

I have high suspicions that San Vicente is one of those towns that are classified as “first class municipalities” due to the technicality of its massive land area. The poblacion is hardly a testimony of any large scale industries/commercial activities in town.

It was very laidback in San Vicente with the basic modern conveniences.

San Vicente Church

San Vicente Poblacion street scene

San Vicente public Market

Picardal Lodge

San Vicente Bayside Promenade / Baywalk

Entrance to San Vicente Pier

San Vicente, Palawan is also known for Port Barton, a popular destination for backpackers. “Chamby,” a friendly local manning the municipal tourism office told me there weren’t any direct road access to Port Barton from San Vicente Town Proper.

I’d have to go back to Roxas and ride another jeep or rent a pumpboat for P1,200, which was pretty steep.

It seemed like a better idea to go to Port Barton on the way back to Puerto Princesa (from El Nido) rather than going there from San Vicente.

Since it was already too late to go to Long Beach, I spent the rest of the day strolling along San Vicente’s seaside park / pier area while witnessing the glorious sight of my first sunset in Palawan.

San Vicente Pier Platform

View of San Vicente’s southern coast

The Walk to Long Beach

It was a beautiful sunny morning the next day! Long Beach in Brgy. New Agutaya is only around 5 minutes by habal-habal from the town proper of San Vicente.

The weather was fine so I decided to go to Long Beach by foot. Nothing much to see along the road. Passed by the Barangay Hall of New Agutaya and a bridge.

The intersection at San Vicente. Head straight for Long Beach or turn right to go back to Roxas

Barangay Hall of New Agutaya, San Vicente

The narrow pathway to Long Beach from the road

San Vicente Long Beach

It took me around 40 minutes to reach this awesome super long almost deserted white sand beach.

People always like to tag undeveloped beaches as the “Next Boracay,” and many have certainly done so with Long Beach. I’m not a big fan of that particular tag, I think Boracay has a character of its own that sets it apart from any other “Next Boracays.”

Boracay is not exactly what you could call as a model tourist destination either considering the ecological problems it is now facing. I’d rather prefer aspiring tourism destinations junk the idea of being “the next Boracay” and instead, learn from the successes and mistakes of Boracay and make a name for themselves.

I don’t know how accurate Google Earth is but I measured the length of Long Beach. From the satellite imagery and it was only an uninterrupted 8 kilometers, which is nearly half of its 14 kilometer popularized end to end measurements.

Still, it’s twice the length of Boracay’s White Beach and standing at the mid-point, I was amazed at how long it was.

The sand had an off-white to yellow color and fineness similar to Station 3 in Boracay.

To fully realize the tourism potential of Long Beach, an airport is currently being built in the town proper and roads are being developed. This place, in my opinion, has more potential than Boracay.

It could accommodate bigger developments since it’s located on the mainland and there’s ample space to build more and bigger hotels / resorts on a more sustainable level.

Resort structure under construction in Long Beach

After laying down a few kilometers worth of footprints. I decided to walk back to the town proper.

It started raining at one point so I decided to take shelter in a hut I passed by earlier. I shared the space with a local, who told me that there were still beaches past the northern end of Long Beach.

The sandy stretch right next to Long Beach was called “Tandol Beach”. I got curious, of course … it was only 10AM and I didn’t have anything else planned for the day.

San Vicente Long Beach Video

After the rain fizzled, I started walking back northwards and, after the advice of another local, went to the rocky cliffs at the northernmost end of Long Beach. It was low-tide at the time, which made it possible to walk the way over to “Tandol Beach.”

I was in the middle of the rock cliff area (already lost sight of Long beach) when it started to rain. To avoid getting drenched, I went in one of the cave openings. I had to share it with a colony of bats, though.

I didn’t particularly have a fear of those little critters so it didn’t bother me that much. I even thought it was kinda cool being out there all alone playing “explorer” … I know, I’m such a geek!

Taking shelter inside a cave 

The rain got only stronger and the reality of my situation finally dawned on me. What if I stayed there for too long? The high tide could catch up making it impossible to reach Tandol or even back to Long Beach.

I went out of the cave and braved the heavy rain to avoid the possibility of getting stuck. The coast got more irregular. There were parts where I had to wade through the water and do a bit of free form rock climbing.

Clear waters and corals at the rocky area

I finally managed to reach Tandol Beach, unfortunately, it still wasn’t the end of my misadventure. Tandol Beach was easily 3 kilometers long. It had an even more secluded feeling than Long Beach and the sand was a bit whiter and finer.

In the distance (past Tandol Beach), I could see another beach with a sizeable fishing community.

It was still raining. I couldn’t see any roads from where I was standing. Much of the inland parts were closed off by barbed wire fences. I really wanted to take a rest so I crossed a gap in the fence and took shelter in a small shed.

From there, I could spot a house nearby but I was having an uneasy feeling about the place (since I knew I was basically trespassing). I decided to hang around and think things through first.

When the rain got weaker, two guys went out of the house. Both of them were carrying a bolo/itak (cutting tool similar to the machete) on one hand. I was already panicking a bit having thoughts of horror suspense movies suddenly pop-up in my mind.

As they were coming closer but still a considerable distance away, I played the stupid tourist role (which was probably true) and asked them where the main road was.

At least, I’d get some sort of reaction to gauge whether they were hostile or not. Much to my relief, they weren’t hostile and explained that the road was further inland.

Less than five minutes of walking  inland, I was already feeling that I was getting myself even more lost. I headed back to the shore and started walking northwards again … to the direction of the village that I spotted earlier.

I passed by many scenic spots. I just loved the raw look of the beach after the rain.

The rock cliff area past Tandol Beach was shorter and much easier to cross. There were many houses, boats, and people when I got to this next beach where the village was.

Dirt road leading back to San Vicente poblacion

A road crossed through the village, which was great, and there was a habal-habal waiting at an intersection, which was even better. The driver told me I was already in Brgy. Alimanguan, San Vicente and charged me P100 for a ride back to town.

According to his speed-o-meter, I was 17 kilometers from San Vicente Town Proper.

I know I did a very “hearty” walk but I was shocked … 17kms?!?! I didn’t expect to have walked that far! It’s like walking along EDSA in Metro Manila from Mall of Asia (Pasay City) to Araneta Center (Cubao).

I was so exhausted, I immediately dozed off when I got back to my room.