by Anj Santos
Above: A nostalgic photo of Boracay from Boracay Magazine.
Boracay is the first island to put our country on the tourist map. It became popular among backpackers in the 80s; by the 90s, its beaches were being acclaimed as one of the best in the world.
But much has changed since then. The surge of tourists and explosive business growth has led to the island’s over commercialization and considerable damage of its once teeming marine life. With its-authenticity seemingly lost, tourists have been hard-pressed to find what they once sought in Boracay – postcard-perfect stretches of sand, beautiful sunsets and crystal blue waters, far away from the madding crowd.
Enter San Vicente, Palawan. A small fishing village northwest of Palawan’s mainland, it is now gaining recognition as a center of tourism. Endowed with white sand beaches, untouched vegetation and pristine waters, it is said to remind early vagabonds of the old Boracay.
Here’s why it might become the country’s next top tourist destination:
1. It’s home to the country’s longest white beach.
At 14 kilometers, San Vicente’s Long Beach is the longest shoreline in the country, three times longer than Boracay’s White Beach. What distinguishes Long Beach is the creamy-white hue of its sand that on some days can be so compact, the locals ride motorcycles through them. And while it seems to stretch endlessly into the horizon, it is intercepted by rocky cliffs, cutting the long coast into six shorter coves.
2. It’s centrally located between Palawan’s tourist gems – El Nido in the North, and Puerto Princesa in the South.
If you’re looking to do an excursion around Palawan, then San Vicente should fit snuggly into your itinerary. The trip from Puerto Princesa to Long Beach by private van is 3 hours, about half the time it used to take years ago, as the roads are now paved. If you’re coming from El Nido, the best mode of transport is by private boat. SanVicPalawan.com offers several options for getting to the town from different points in Palawan.
3. It has great potential not just as a beach, but as a nature attraction.
Long Beach is arguably the most famous attraction in San Vicente, but there are activities to do beyond beach bumming. Here are some you might want to try:
- Harvest your own food. You can charter a boat with experienced fishermen and go fishing for seafood and seagrapes or Buying catch directly from fishermen is cheaper than buying from the public market, not to mention more fun!
- Trek to Bigaho Falls. The 14-level waterfall descends into a pool where you can swim and relax.
- Go island hopping. There are half- and full-day island hopping tours complete with snorkelling gear and barbeque lunch.
4. Beachfront properties and resorts are now open, and there are more underway.
Most guests currently stay in Long Beach or in the coastal town of Port Barton. The best place to catch the amazing sunset is right in front of Long Beach, where there are several resorts already built, among them Club Agutaya, a luxury boutique resort.
It’s a good thing the local government enforced a no-build zone 50 meters from the beach, to protect the coastline and also to protect structures from possible storm surges. An Integrated and Conceptualized Tourism Master Plan was also created to ensure responsible and sustainable tourism years down the line.
5. The town’s international airport is in its finishing stages.
To further realize the tourism potential of San Vicente, an airport is being built and slated in open in the middle of 2016. By then, tourists can fly direct from Manila and other parts of Asia, and who knows, there may be flights from other parts of Palawan, too. All the more reason to tick this island off your bucket list, soon!
For further information, visit San Vicente’s official website, SanVicPalawan.com.