In our 4th year of annual vacationing, we did not intend to go to Palawan (again) as we went to El Nido in 2017. But, unavoidable circumstances redirected us to Palawan. And in a span of only 2 weeks preparation of flight and hotel rebookings, we were all set for San Vicente, Palawan. We have bookmarked San Vicente in our bucket list to visit but not this soon. However, the group is excited and happy to venture into San Vicente.
San Vicente is located at the north west of the island of Palawan. It is 186 kilometers away from the capital of Palawan – Puerto Princesa. On June 21, 1969, the municipality of San Vicente was created by virtue of Republic Act 5821. It is politically divided into 10 barangays – Binga, New Canipo, Sto. Nino, Alimanguan, San Isidro, New Agutaya, Poblacion (San Vicente), New Villa Fria (Kemdeng), Port Barton, and Caruray.
We took the Manila to El Nido flight through AirSwift as direct flights to San Vicente are not yet available. Then a van took us to San Vicente. It was previously contacted through the resort where we will be staying. It takes 2-3 hours from El Nido to San Vicente. Direct flights will soon be available in the second half of 2019.
We stayed at Club Agutaya. The resort morphs with nature. It is an environment conscious green resort where they use state of the art Sewage Treatment System (STS) to convert toilet waste to reusable water and solar and LED lights combined with solar and wind power to generate a significant amount of power for the resort. One thing noticeable during our stay is that, the foundation of the resort is built with solid concrete, which makes it ideal for structures constructed near the shoreline.
The room where we stayed gave a lasting impression. The bed runner is newly washed. One could still smell the detergent used. The beddings are crisp and clean – a very delightful sign that every guest gets a first use in their stay. This is important for me to write because of some unfavourable experiences from other starred resort stays.
Another remarkable experience is the menu at Café Lily, the resort’s restaurant. CEO and Chef Propriétaire, Maria, created the menu and personally prepares the food. The menu gave a good selection of Filipino and some international dishes. Homemade bread is freshly baked and served as appetizer during lunch and dinner. Dip them in melted butter – it made my day every time. Dining at the café is always a surprise to the palate. Simple and fresh flavours. On all our meals, we picked personal favourites to reorder on our last meal. Chef Maria would go around the tables to chat with the guests and ask how the food was. One late night, an hour before the café will close, tired but fulfilled with our day’s activities, we were clueless of what to have for dinner, Chef Maria suggested an off the menu dishes – mussels in broth with an aioli dip, and tinapa. It was exquisite. If there is something to improve, it is their breakfast buffet variety and to hire a good barista. Accompanied by friends who know their coffee, we were not as enthralled as compared with the experience of the sumptuous meals we had. But, these 2 things for improvement are minute for us because of the overall excellent service. They make you feel comfortable and at home; and they constantly ask if you are happy every after a trip or experience.
Kuya Mark, the driver, tour guide, and arranger of our trips, was not only all of those but he gave us meaningful trivia of the life around San Vicente and life in general. Aside from his endless jokes that made us laugh (or not), it was the educational experience we had with him that made the trip also memorable. Among those he shared that made an impact to my endless quest for learning are these: (1) Every captain of the boat for island hopping in San Vicente undergoes the yearly 1 mile certification swim. (2) The boatman feels the temperature of the waters first before letting the tourists go for snorkelling or swimming. This is to ensure that there are no deadly jellyfishes lurking around. If the water is hot, they are likely to be present. This is a very important reminder for tourists to always follow the instructions of their boatman as unlikely incidents have already happened.
Previously, San Vicente is most visited by Europeans rather than by Filipinos, but, is now becoming more popular and visited. With the new airport about to open, it will be more accessible. I am not sure if I should be happy or sad or both about it. The dreadful thought of it as becoming the next Boracay terrifies me. The current state of downtown El Nido devastates me. There is an urgent call for responsible tourism. Hopefully, the master plan of Palafox Associates preserves its beauty.
San Vicente is lovely. Beautiful is an understatement.
Vacations give us time to relax and refresh, but it can also be enlightening if we deeply ponder and listen closely to the people and the environment. One of my realization in this trip is that, do not go cheap with your tips, especially if they really give good service. It provides dignity to work. It boosts the morale of the locals. In fact, the experience gained through their good service is priceless. So, be extra generous and kind.
San Vicente, you are love that gets better. Keep being beautiful.
We had 2 island hopping tours and below are the places we have visited.
Photos with “summer buddies” inscription are from the random shots of my friends in this vacation.
Inaladelan Island (lunch and farther in between the islands is swimming with the turtles)
Sunset at Port Barton
Barangay Sto. Nino (overlooking the 14 kilometers long beach of San Vicente)
Bato ni Ningning
Lazuli Kitchen for brick oven pizza
Village Island (lunch and swimming)
Unscathed. Picturesque. With no other tourists, simply perfect. This is where I swam to my heart’s content. What is not to love with our islands?
New Agutaya River (Kayaking for 2 kilometers)
© rooks 2019