One of the places that I always wanted to check out is the town of San Vicente in northwestern side of the island of Palawan. It is posed to become the next big destination because of its 14-km long beach.

Classified as a first class municipality, San Vicente is bounded by the South China Sea in the West, the municipality of Taytay in the north, Roxas in the East and City of Puerto Princesa in the Southwest. (Source)

We we’re coming from El Nido so we took a bus bound for Puerto Princesa. Roro buses have regular schedules of every 2 hours coming from both directions. In between Puerto Princesa and El Nido are two towns, or what you would call stop-overs: one in Roxas and another in Taytay.

Taytay, Palawan

Roro bus schedules from El Nido look like this:

4:00 AM*
6:00 AM – airconditioned
8:00 AM
10:00 AM – airconditioned
12:00 PM*
2:00 PM – airconditioned
4:00 PM
6:00 PM – airconditioned
10:00 PM – airconditioned

*As of writing, these airconditioned trips have been cancelled.

Fares are Php 483 for airconditioned and Php350 for non-aircon buses.

Each town is also two hours apart. So the buses that leave El Nido and Roxas at the same time ideally get to Taytay at the same time; and the buses that leave Puerto Princesa and Taytay at the same time get to Roxas at the same time. We had our first stop-over at the bus terminal in Taytay.

Taytay, Palawan

A fork in the main highway somewhere in between Taytay and Roxas is the road that leads to the town of San Vicente. I had wanted to get off at that fork in the Barangay of ITABIAK instead of going all the way to Roxas but we we’re told we would not be able to board a van or bus going to the poblacion of San Vicente if we did that.

So our option was to take the bus all the way to the bus terminal of Roxas. Personally, I’m not really fond of Roxas, simply because it is unbearably hot! I always get off Roxas during stop-overs and that is what I notice every time. It’s really, really hot there! Maybe its because there aren’t enough trees? I don’t really know.

We took the non-aircon RORO bus from El Nido at 8am because we needed to catch the bus supposedly going to San Vicente from Roxas at twelve noon. This was a bus that supposedly left Puerto Princesa at ten in the morning. Firstly, I was thankful we got on the non-aircon bus because Lia needed and delighted in the breeze; and secondly, it was the best time to go really – not too early and not too late.The fare from El Nido to Roxas is Php230.

Taytay, Palawan

We arrived at the Roxas bus terminal at about eleven thirty in the morning and it was really, really hot! To add to my dismay, beggars abound. Mothers carrying babies would ask you for your bottled juice while you are sipping it, and kids of all ages would ask you for your coins for what seemed like an interval of every five minutes. (Lovely and I got into a conversation about our stand on giving alms to beggars. But seriously, what is wrong with the local government of this provincial town?)

The bus from Puerto Princesa did not arrive; we waited until one in the afternoon. I was tempted to take the jeep going to Port Barton, another tourist destination and another baranggay in the town of San Vicente, but that took another route, in the opposite direction of Poblacion’s Long Beach.

When we asked the lady at the carenderia where we had coffee at on how we might be able to get to San Vicente, she told us there are shuttle vans on the other side of the terminal. So that’s what we took, an airconditioned shuttle van from Roxas to San Vicente. The trip cost Php120 each and took about an hour.

I realized then that it really wasn’t as difficult as I thought to get to the town of San Vicente. If you are coming from Puerto Princesa, it would only take 3 hours: two hours to Roxas, and an hour from Roxas to San Vicente.

I first heard of San Vicente in 2005 while hanging out at Balay Tubay one night; two Europeans who were residents of Boracay heard about the 14-km long beach and decided to check it out. They brought their dirt bikes with them and talked about how the road was so terrible, that motorcycles were the best (if not the only sane) option. As I was sitting comfortably in that air-conditioned van though, I thought, “This isn’t so bad.” The municipality is only beginning to pave the road but on that relatively dry week, the road was not so bad. It reminded me of the dirt road from El Nido town to Lio airport back in 2005, before it was cemented. It looked nearly the same.

The town of San Vicente looks a bit like El Nido seven (or ten) years ago, if El Nido was better planned. They have big cemented roads in a near-grid pattern and the first sight to greet you is a view of San Vicente Bay at the end of that wide cemented road. (Marcos has some photos the town, click here.)

We arrived on a bright, sunny, cloudless afternoon and the color of the bay was just breathtaking.

Peace and Love Resort, San Vicente, Palawan

I have always wanted to get to San Vicente and at that point, I was truly overwhelmed.

We only stayed overnight because we needed to get back to El Nido the next night. The last shuttle van out of San Vicente bound for Roxas leaves at 1pm. Instead of leaving at 1pm, we opted to leave at 5pm and catch the bus going to El Nido at Brgy. Itapyak at 6pm. We rented motorcycles for that. The trip cost us Php250 each motorcycle and driver, and it only took 45 minutes.

We didn’t need to go back to Roxas because buses from Roxas pass by Itapyak on the way to Taytay/El Nido and they are never full. We waited in one of the sari-sari stores lining that intersection while sipping coffee. It was a good trip over-all.

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