CHECK OUT THE PHILIPPINE COASTGUARDS
While you are in town check out the marvelous office of the Philippine Coastguard, who are situated by the beach just down from the Petron Station. They have a marvelous building which is a few meters of the ground overlooking the bay. You may check with them regarding the safety of trips going north or south to El Nido or Sabang. In any case they will not permit boats to leave if the weather or seas are too bad.
The duty of the coastguard is to ensure marine safety, search and rescue when necessary, protect the environment and help with disaster relief and community service.
Although island hopping is not so popular here as it is in El Nido and Honda Bay quite a few places are offering trips including a place we saw just after crossing the bridge at the north end of Port Barton on the way abck to the village. It seems that there are 4 tours on offer, and although i have been on a boat many times to various islands and experienced some great snorkeling out at sea i have never actually been on an organised island hopping tour, but believe me there is some great snorkeling out there. I would be tempted to take the island hopping tour that drops by Cacnipa island as there is a Swiss guy who owns Coconut Garden Resort on that island. The beach is good and there was some snorkeling from the beach.
- Diving and Snorkeling
ENJOY A BEER DURING SUNSET
If you cross the bridge that leads to the north end of the beach you will see a few tables on the sand. An American guy serves drinks from late afternoon until around 8 pm while you enjoy watching the sun go down. You cannot miss this place as there seem to be many signs on the beach.
MASSAGE AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE
As in El Nido and Sabang massage shacks have sprung up everywhere offering all types of massage. Most of the guest houses offer this service too, but it is always best if you can find another tourist who has experienced the massage as many people have just had basic training or none at all.
REMEMBER YOUR CAMERA
The trip across the island for the last 22 kms is particularly beautiful as the track passes through beautiful forested areas where you can find some very large trees.. About 3 kms before you reach Port Barton you will catch your first view of the Philippine Sea (previously known as the South China Sea).
camp on a secluded beach
On my recent trip to Port Barton i came across the attached sign for camping on this beach. Toby, the Canadian who owns the beach and comes here for 6 months every winter lives in simple accommodation on the beach and spends a lot of his time fishing. I am not sure that you can camp there all year round or just when he is here, but just email him to find out. The beach is a few kms north of Port Barton, and supposed to be one of the best on the island.
Just contacted the owner and have been informed that the price is 1000 pesos a night which includes 3 meals, and accommodation in a large tent with beds. Drinks are extra.
hire a bangka and go snorkelling
I have been snorkelling many times in the past but mainly from Cacnipa Island on the boat from Coconut Garden Resort, but it is possible to rent a bangka (outrigger) for a day trip . Just inquire at your guest house or talk to some boatmen on the beach and arrange a price. There are a couple of place that you can rent mask and fins from. enjoy!
There is a beautiful waterfall which you can trek to, about 90 minutes walk. You must go to the northern end of the beach and follow the small path , which will lead you past the cemetery, then you will turn right and follow the path. It is quite difficult so you should ask some locals the way or hire the services of a student for a small fee. The last few 100m you have to walk in the river or by the river until you reach the falls. Really nice on a hot day as the ice cold water will freshen you up. Take drinking water with you! Sorry no photo at this time, must take it from my video when i figure out the process.
Just relax and have fun at Coconut Garden Resort
Though swimming and snorkeling are allowed, we didn't see much great fishes and corals within the area so we instead relaxed and just chilled out for about 1.5 hours when we stayed there.
You could even just borrow and read a good book while relaxing in a hammock.
Complimentary sports activities also include darts, chess, volleyball and badminton.
And don't forget to buy a postcard of the resort which is cheaper compared to other viewcards!
Check out the turtle sanctuary at Blue Cove Resort
Swimming wasn't advisable in the area when we went there because jellyfishes were just everywhere! So instead, we just checked out where they take care of baby sea turtles and just hang out at the beach with my son while my friends had their time spent at the bar/restaurant area by the beach.
And by the way, they charge an entrance fee of P50-/pax for those who are on day tour only.
Island Hopping with Snorkeling!
Must see islands/resorts during island hopping:
- Coconut Garden Island Resort at Cacnipa Island
- Blue Cove Island Resort
- German Island
- Exotic Island
- Twin Reef
Go on a Mangrove Trip
It was Charles' birthday so we decided to do something different, having already been island hopping, trekking through the jungle to find a waterfall and sunbathing, we thought we would go on a Mangrove trip! We were up early, although the boatman clearly hadn't set his alarm so was an hour late, but that was fine as it was nice to sit on the beach at 7am! The trip lasted about 2 hours in total and we were the only ones out there so the water was lovely and calm and the mangrove itself was eerily quiet save for the birds. We saw a couple of vipers sleeping in the trees and a beautiful Kingfisher as well as tiny tiny red crabs! There were mosquitos too and lots of little flying insects so make sure you have covered yourself from top to toe in repellent beforehand!
Some info for you on Mangroves:
A mangrove is a plant and mangal is a plant community and habitat where mangroves thrive. They are found in tropical and sub-tropical tidal areas, and as such have a high degree of salinity. Areas where mangals occur include estuaries and marine shorelines. Once established, roots of mangrove plants provide a habitat for oysters and help to impede water flow, thereby enhancing the deposition of sediment in areas where it is already occurring.
Mangroves protect the coast from erosion, surge storms (especially during hurricanes), and tsunamis. Their massive root system is efficient at dissipating wave energy. Likewise, they slow down tidal water enough that its sediment is deposited as the tide comes in and is not re-suspended when the tide leaves, except for fine particles. As a result, mangroves build their own environment.
Mangroves support unique ecosystems, especially on their intricate root systems. The mesh of mangrove roots produces a quiet marine region for many young organisms. In areas where roots are permanently submerged, they may host a wide variety of organisms, including algae, barnacles, oysters, sponges, and bryozoans, which all require a hard substratum for anchoring while they filter feed. Shrimps and mud lobsters use the muddy bottom as their home. Mangrove crabs improve the nutritional quality of the mangal muds for other bottom feeders by mulching the mangrove leaves.
Find THE waterfall! (Pamuayan Waterfall)
We were told it would be easy to find, that there were signposts along the way, "don't worry", they said, "lots of signposts!"...and yet, from the word go, we saw absolutely none! Did we go the wrong way? Most certainly! Were there many different paths to take? Absolutely! Yet every time we saw someone and asked the way, they all pointed us in the same direction! So how come we didn't find THE famous waterfall of Port Barton? I have no idea...sorry!
My best advice to you is hire a guy who will take you there!!! We thought after taking three 'wrong' turnings and finding no waterfalls that we would just turn back, but then we heard the trickling noise of a stream and that's where the last photo of the ones I have posted was. So I took a photo of the place you could find the waterfall, only to figure out when we got back that this was no where NEAR the same waterfall I had seen a photo of before our trek! Turns out Port Barton has several waterfalls...we just never made it to the big one!
Island Hopping - of course!
You don't come to Port Barton just to lie on the beach! You could do that anywhere! You come here to relax and take boat trips out to various islands nearby to enjoy the crystal clear waters they have to offer! Port Barton beach itself although quite nice is nothing very spectacular, so a trip out to the islands will be a huge treat to your eyes!
We only did one day of island hopping and went to three of them. The boatmen have certain trips you can choose from although they seemed perfectly happy to swap and change according to the places we wanted to see. We visited Exotic Island, Paradise Island and Double Island. Exotic Island was definitely our favourite and that's where the boys had a coconut opening competition. At Paradise Island the boatman suggested we each pay P50 as a contribution to the upkeep of the island. A family lived there and they gave us free coffee when we arrived! Double Island is being turned into a resort, so one day soon, this place is going to become a lot busier!
The cost of the day trip was P1000 for 1-2 people and P1200 for 3-4 people. We also gave the boatman a tip as he was really very good and had lots of stories to tell us.
The Marine life
Port Barton is a protected area. As such, the marine life is abundant. The thrill of seeing tortoises and mantas that swim just a few feet away from the boat beneath the clear seawater adds to the enjoyment.
We saw 4 tortoises in a span of 1 hour just going around the bay. The corals are beautiful and plentiful. The water is very clear that you can see what's underneath several meters below.
You need a snorkel and diving mask or scuba gear to get really close. The best place to snorkel if you don't really swim well is a place where the water is shallow and where rocks and seaweed are aplenty. Such islands are found nearby. To rent a boat, you'll just have to ask either the pension house's staff or the locals.