12-Day Beach Trip in Palawan (Itinerary + Budget)

12 days beach trip palawan

Underground River. Honda Bay. El Nido x Coron A, B, C, D. Like us, you probably have visited these well-known places already, no? 

I first saw Palawan about 5 years ago. When El Nido was still a paradise without the crowd and the Underground River was gaining its momentum on tourism for being a wonder of the world. Puerto was indeed clean and green, and so was Sabang and El Nido. It was also cheap to travel to Palawan then, from transportation, food, accommodation to island tours. I surely got my money’s worth. With an exception on the mandatory tour to see the Underground River. I was curious if Palawan did change (for better or worse) after five years.

Just a little recap on how we did our 5-day Palawan trip last 2012 for only  6,000.

I wasn’t able to document our travel in 2012, so ₱ 6,000 was just an estimate. We went to Honda Bay on our first day in Puerto. Second day was for Underground River tour. Same day, we rode a van from Sabang to El Nido, I think the fare was 700. Next 2 days were spent for El Nido Tour A and C. Then we went back to Puerto on the last day for our flight to Manila. We stayed in cheap hotels that only cost 450-800 per night. This one of the most common itineraries for a short trip to Palawan, so you’ll likely to worry less on availability of transportation. 

punta sebaring sunset
Balabac G.O.I!

12-Day Palawan Beach Trip Itinerary

...That’s not El Nido Tours, Honda Bay or Underground River

After 5 years, we visited Palawan again! Pretty much to spend this year’s summer season. Since this trip was 12 days long, I would always say to my friends, “Quota na ‘to hanggang 2018! Di na ko mag-beach ule!” Of course they knew it was a lie. Hehe! Our trip was cut short though, because we’ve already exceeded our budget. We skipped Coron and ended our trip in El Nido. We were supposed to take the 2Go ferry from Coron to Manila but we figured it was cheaper and faster to go back to Puerto and fly out.

Not sure if going on a North to South Palawan beach trip interests you, if it does, here’s a summary of how we traveled 500+ km from El Nido to Balabac on bus, van, boat and scooter. I can write about more details on specific towns, just leave a comment if you need it! :D

First Day: Fly to Palawan

If you weren’t able to get a seat sale, the cheapest, most frequent flights to Palawan land in Puerto Princesa. Regular fare can be as low as 1.3k pesos. You can also fly directly to Coron or El Nido from Manila but expect higher ticket prices. We chose the night flight to Puerto since it was the cheapest 1 week before our intended departure. Yes, you can still travel for less even without a seat sale!

2 Days in Puerto Princesa

Because we’ve already been to Honda Bay and Underground River, we opted for other activities and beach options near the city. We rented a scooter to make it easier to travel around Puerto. Our first stop was Blue Palawan Resort, just 20 minutes away from the airport. Kalash wanted to try their water activities like kite and wakeboarding. Unfortunately, the weather was so good, there was no wind! We just rented a paddle board and made our way to the nearby mangrove reservoir. The water was shallow and flat so it’s perfect for paddle boarding. After leaving the resort, we headed straight to Palawan International Circuit to try Go Kart for the first time (4 laps for 250 pesos). On the second day, we drove for 1 hour via scooter to reach Nagtabon Beach. It is not a tourist attraction but it’s worth visiting because of its raw and clean beach with very few tourists.

blue palawan mangrove reservoir paddle boarding

2 Days in Port Barton

Port Barton has a beautiful horizon because of the islands that have intersecting silhouettes during sunset. There’s also A-D island hopping with snorkeling tours to try. But I’m not sure if they’re as good as other island hopping tours in Palawan. There’s nothing much to do in PB, but if you love hanging out in reggae bars along the beach, they have it. Also, since we were saving up our funds for Balabac, we just relaxed on the beach and tried to take in the view while having few beers and chips for almost 2 days. One turndown of Port Barton though, there are many small boats docked on the shore especially in the afternoon because PB is still an operational port. We left PB via boat to San Vicente and stopped over Inaladelan Island Resort.

inaladelan island resort port barton

port barton beach

3 Days in Long Beach, San Vicente

One of the best beaches I’ve been to! I used to say to Kalash, “Ano naman kung 14km beach? Dagat lang din yun!” But I was wrong! San Vicente’s Long Beach could be the next big thing in Palawan. It’s the longest, unobstructed beach I’ve ever seen. I’ve never felt secluded (in a good way) for a long time. The sand isn’t pure white all the way but many parts of the longshore have super fine compact white sand, some mixed with brown, sometimes grayish sand. You can laso tell that this paradise is raw by looking at how many crabs there are peeping and playing in and out of the sand. It also has the longest and largest stretch of coconut trees I’ve seen. Unlike Port Barton, there are no boats docked at the shore of San Vicente (maybe because the water was too shallow) so you get a better view of the open sea.

san vicente long beach

Turublien Inn along the Long Beach

I shouldn’t forget to mention how Alex of Turublien Inn made our stay memorable. He runs Turublien with his family who lives along the Long Beach. The rooms are across the river where you need a short boat ride to cross. Rooms are 600-800 pesos per night ensuite bath. Scooter rental was 300 pesos for half day. This guesthouse will surely leave a special place in one’s heart because they treat their guests like family and close friends. They ensure that you have a comfortable stay and they only charge a minimal fee for the delicious meals they cook during your stay.

san vicente long beach turublien inn

san vicente long beach turublien inn

3 Days in Balabac

We concluded that Balabac has some of the best beaches and sandbars in the Philippines. Many people said that it’s “the real Maldives of the Philippines.” I was close to saying that too but I figured that I should stop comparing both. It was disappointing to know that the tours in Balabac were overpriced for Philippine standards. If not for Balabac’s raw and natural beauty, I’d probably be beyond embittered now. In any case, there are 

3 main things you can do in the province: 
1. Go island-hopping and prepare to pay 2,000 per day
2. Go to Onuk Island and pay 3,000-5,000 per person or
3. Rent a scooter for 400-700 pesos to see the Melville Lighthouse. 

We only did 1 and 2.

I love Balabac, but the experience could’ve been better if we dealt with a different tour provider.

balabac group of islands

onuk island

1 Day in Nacpan and Duli Beach

Because we’ve already done the tours when they were only 700-900 pesos, we rented a scooter for a day to visit Nacpan and Duli Beach. Unfortunately, the Twin Beach of Nacpan was closed indefinitely due to land disputes between professional squatters and the “real” owners. We went on a Sunday and many locals were having their family picnic by the beach. Such a sweet thing to see! We also went to Duli Beach (to surf) on the same day. But the waves were rough and I heard there were jelly fishes. So nope, not good for swimming either. Duli beach was also empty that day. By the way, there’s a mandatory 100, 50 pesos environmental fee in Duli and Nacpan respectively. We drove back to El Nido for dinner and I was surprised to see many bars and restaurants in Bacuit Bay. It was so crowded. Unfortunately, El Nido started to look a lot like Boracay - commercialized and crowded. Of course, it’s a good opportunity for locals to earn but can’t imagine queuing to enter the hidden lagoon, or having a kayak traffic jam. Just. Sad.

nacpan twin beach

Last Stop: 1 Day in Las Cabanas

What a perfect way to end a vacation in Palawan! Perfect weather with blue skies, calm and shallow waters, beautiful sunset. If you’re looking for the best sunset spot in El Nido, Las Cabanas is the place to be. It’s just a trike ride away from El Nido town. There’s no entrance fee too! There are around 5 bars at the first half of the beach and then a big resort at the other side of Las Cabanas. The best sunset spot is at the far end of the beach, behind “the big rock”.

las cabanas el nido sunset

Summary of Expenses in Palawan for Two (2) Persons

If you follow this itinerary, the budget would be around 22,000 pesos for 2 people excluding activities and airfare from Manila
Accommodation ➜ ₱ 7,360
Food ➜ ₱ 5,925
Island Hopping ➜ ₱ 550
Transportation ➜ ₱ 8,832
Grand Total 22,667

Cost of Activities

I did not include the activities above because it will always vary depending on your budget and travel style.
Go Kart in Palawan Int’l Circuit ➜ ₱ 250
Paddle board rental ₱ 300 per hour
Kayak rental San Vicente ➜ ₱ 150 per hour
Balabac island hopping ➜ ₱ 2,000 / pax / day
Onuk ➜ ₱ 3,000-5,000
Scooter rental x 3➜ ₱ 1,200
Nacpan & Duli Entrance ➜ ₱ 150

punta sebaring balabac

Private Accommodation

Per Night
Travelite Hostel (Aircon)
Monkey Family
Port Barton
Turublien Inn
San Vicente
Strong Tower Inn
El Nido
White Haven Lodge
Rio Tuba
Sing and Swing Lodge


Travel Time
[Van] Puerto to Port Barton
4 hours
[Boat] Port Barton to San Vicente
1 hour
[Van] San Vicente to Puerto
4 hours
[Bus] Puerto to Rio Tuba
5 hours
[Boat] Rio Tuba to Balabac
4 hours
[Van] Rio Tuba to Puerto
4 hours
[Van] Puerto to El Nido
5 hours
[Bus] El Nido to Puerto
5 hours
* Van prices are negotiable. You can haggle via SMS too!

Please leave a comment below if you need the contacts of hotels and van agencies above. Not sure if I still have them (my phone got broken after this trip) but I can try to find them online. :)

Palawan has a charm that thrilled and humbled us at the same time. The kindness and warmth we experienced wayback 2012 haven’t changed. Travelers are awed by the beauty of Palawan but it will not be the world’s best island if not for the locals who work hard to make every visitor’s vacation experience truly memorable. For years, Palawan has kept such good reputation for being the most beautiful island - something that makes me proud to be Filipino. ❤