Getting to Port Barton from San Vicente
We left El Nido at 530am headed for San Vicente where we would then take a boat to Port Barton. We had already taken a jeepney from the San Jose intersection so we thought we would take a different route this time. We had been told it would be 4 hours from El Nido to Itabiak (the intersection to go to San Vicente), then a short ride to San Vicente port and then a 1 hour boat ride to Port Barton...this didn't sound bad at all, so we did it! The bus from El Nido was the Eulen Joy company and we had taken them before so knew what to expect. It didn't have any windows however so we were so dusty and dirty by the end of the 4 hours! It also stopped for about half an hour a couple of hours into the trip for people to grab some breakfast, we didn't eat anything but it was a nice time to stretch the old legs. When we got to Itabiak we were doing really well with time, but then we had to wait an hour before a really packed to the brim mini-van came along and let us get in! Not sure how we managed that...there were 23 people in it eventually, for what in my mind was a vehicle for about 9 people! It was fun!!! This is what travelling is all about! So far so good! This journey to the port was much like the bumpy road from San Jose to Port Barton and it took about an hour.
Unique Suggestions: When we arrived at the port, a boatman came running up to us asking if we wanted a boat to Port Barton and that it would be P1500!!! We couldn't believe it! We had been quoted P100 per person by others and now this guy was saying 15 times that price! It turns out that the 'special P100 boat' was only in operation during the rainy months when the road to Port Barton is inaccessible! But no-one had told us that!!! Hhhmmm..we were stuck...this was the only boatman there and we had no other option. We tried to get the price down (but after one hour of talking and telling the boatman how nonsensical a hour boat trip priced at P1500 was when you could go island hopping for a DAY for P1200!), but he didn't care!
Fun Alternatives: This really made us mad that this was a set price and we had no alternative. The boat manager told us that he knew the price was inflated and that no Filipino would pay that price, but that's what had been decided on by the committee but that he would bring it up at the next meeting as he didn't think it was fair either! We took the boat and then the engine wouldn't start and we ended up waiting another hour while the boatman found a friend to take us, so after the hour journey, the entire trip had cost us more and taken us more time than if we had gone to San Jose again and taken a jeepney to Port Barton as we did the first time! It happened, we were annoyed, but rounding the corner and seeing Port Barton again was pure heaven and we soon forgot about our troubles!
I would suggest you go to San Jose from El Nido, unless it is the rainy season and then in that case the P100 boat will be in service. Double check everything first!
Mini van to Port Barton from Puerto Princesa
There are some mini vans who will tell you that you have already missed the bus to Port Barton and that you need to take their van to Roxas / San Jose / San Vicente (wherever they choose that day!) and then catch the jeepney from there. At first I was a little confused with jeepneys, buses, vans, mini-vans and from everything I had researched beforehand was trying to figure out where I was supposed to take which vehicle! Finally, it was something this mini-van driver said that triggered something in my brain and it was then I realised he was a 'black' mini-van driver! I soon got away from that situation!
Unique Suggestions: IF however you do get mixed up with all the automobile jargon (it's easy to do so!), just ask prices and when they quote you something absolutely way over P300 (the max it should be to get to San Jose intersection per person by mini-van), then you know you're talking to the wrong person! We spoke to another mini-van guy who quoted us the P300 and he was very informative about where he would be dropping us off, what jeepney we then needed to catch etc..and it became obvious that this guy was the real deal! If you still don't realise you're being duped, just laugh it off after wards and enjoy the rest of your holiday!
Fun Alternatives: In the 12 days we were travelling, there was only one time that we got ripped off because we were foreigners and that was when we took the boat from San Vicente to Port Barton (please read the tip!) and we had no choice. So we took the expensive boat trip, and just forgot about it soon after when we found a hammock on a secluded part of the beach and sipped on a mango and rum shake!