There is much buzz about the quiet town of San Vicente in northwest Palawan as a new, exciting tourist destination in recent years. Much touted is its extensive stretch of white-sand beaches.
“San Vicente is the most promising destination we see in the Philippines right now. Here, there is a 14.7 kilometer (beach). It is not only the longest white beach in the Philippines, it is also the second longest beach in all of Southeast Asia,” described Patrick Tan, chief executive officer of SkyJet Airlines.
This emerging tourist spot has become more accessible with the addition of another regular flight from Manila. Local airline SkyJet recently made its maiden flight to San Vicente in the long stretch of island on the western part of the Philippines, considered as the country’s last frontier and a tourist favorite.
Despite heavy rains brought by tropical storm “Falcon,” the inaugural flight landed at about 9:30 a.m. on 16 July at the San Vicente Airport.
“We, at SkyJet, are always looking for new destinations to develop. Right now, we are a boutique airline. We fly to the best destinations in the Philippines and develop tourism in Batanes, Coron, Boracay, Siargao and now we’re in San Vicente,” said Tan. “We look around the Philippines for new destinations to develop, and this is our current project. We want to bring San Vicente up to the same level as Boracay, as Busuanga and so on.”
“San Vicente is not your ordinary destination,” emphasized James Paul Inawasan from the San Vicente municipal government, representing acting mayor Antonio Gonzales, citing the town’s biodiversity and special environment. He said 23 of 25 endemic species can be found in the town, which also has a forest cover at 86 percent, the thickest in the country.
Also present during the maiden flight was Danilo Intong, regional director of the Department of Tourism for Mimaropa Region, who said that “connectivity is very important,” relating that getting to San Vicente from Manila has not been very easy.
Tan related that before, one had to take a flight to Puerto Princesa, the capital city, and then a bus or van to San Vicente, which takes about six hours through some rough roads.
The SkyJet Airlines flight takes about 50 minutes and flies four times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.) The plane lands at a small airport, which is newly constructed. Inaugurated on 10 May 2018, it can accommodate about 150 passengers.
San Vicente’s main attraction is the long stretch of beach of fine sand ranging from ecru to beige. It is still uncrowded and with minimal development, retaining a largely rustic air. The tour operators here offer island-hopping trips and water sports such as kayaking. Aside from Poblacion and adjacent barangays, where most developments are located, another destination within the town is Port Barton, also known for beaches.
The best resort in the town right now is Club Agutaya in the barangay of San Isidro. It sits on a 3.5-hectare property studded with coconuts, gardens, pools, charming villas with grass roofs, the main building with has 32 rooms, a large hut serving as the restaurant and a nice beachfront.
With a direct flight, San Vicente will see rapid developments in the future.