Port Barton

Overview

Port Barton is at the moment a relatively simple and unsophisticated little town still awaiting to happen. It oozes a charm which people have likened to Thailand as it was 30 to 40 years ago. Described by one as “The town that tourism forgot” Indeed many people arrive there saying we will only stay a couple of nights and soon that becomes a week or more.

The reason it has not been developed like El Nido is quite simply down to the access road. However that is changing. The access road is 22 kms in length and in previous years, after the rains; there was more mud than concrete and in some places pretty much impassable. That is all set to change as daily a new section of concrete gets laid and hopefully soon the road will be completed and access will be available by anything including a skate board! We can only hope that the development of Port Barton will be somewhat better controlled than the likes of Boracay and El Nido, both of which have demolition orders on all buildings built within the 25 meters of the high tide.

Getting to Port Barton

For the brave until recently you either hired a bike or caught the jeepney and if you could get through the mud and chaos of the access road you would arrive in Port Barton battered but hopefully unscathed! Now due to road improvements, there are at least 8 daily vans going back and forth to Puerto Princesa. There are also private hire vans available and even one van a day going directly to El Nido from Port Barton. Aquaholics can help in getting you there. The cost is 500 php to come here from Puerto Princesa and includes collection from your hotel. Collection times are generally 9 am,1.30 pm and 4pm. If you want you can also make your way to San Jose bus terminal and catch the same vans for 350php

Where to stay

There are currently no hotels in Port Barton just cute little resorts and private rooms. Prices range from 250 php per person a night to rooms at more than 2,000 php which. Air conditioning is currently only available at one resort and mains electricity only available from 6 pm to midnight. Most places have cold water showers. Having said that with the gaining popularity, some of the resorts now provide extended hours for electricity by use of their own generator and solar powered hot water showers are now becoming more and more available. Most provide free internet. Both mobile phone operators Smart and Globe have coverage in Port Barton

We recommend that you book a place to stay before you arrive (we can help with this) , particularly if you are visiting between Christmas and the end of February. Be particularly aware of Chinese New Year as you could end up sleeping on our lovely beach!

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Please note number 23 is now renamed Pisces Lodge

Aquaholics Port Barton was formerly known as Sea Dog/ Barton Divers

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Fun Diving at Port Barton

In total we have about 12 dive sites. We have 2 wrecks – one of which is at 35metres. We also have a range of coral reefs and an excellent dive in the open sea around a 50m high rock’
The day trip is usually 3 dives; the most popular trip being our shallow wreck , a drift along a wall , lunch on the boat and finally one of 4 coral reefs in the bay.
Book with us at least one day before diving and arrive at the dive centre at 8 15 unless otherwise arranged.

The cost of the day trip is 4000 pesos and payment can be made in most currencies and also credit and debit cards and PayPal.

Learning to dive at Port Barton – Martyn

I honestly believe that as the instructor I am blessed teaching in Port Barton. To me it’s perfect for teaching beginners and Try Dives/Discover Scuba. Why should I say that? Well firstly we don’t have any swimming pools in Port Barton so we have to get the students started in “swimming Pool like conditions” or “confined water” and we have them here in abundance.

I teach under the SSI training agency (SCUBA Schools International) who in my opinion have a more flexible approach than the world largest training agency P.A.D.I. (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). In addition SSI are far more advanced with on line learning so many students arrive here having completed the on line learning in their home country; meaning the course can be completed comfortably over a 2 day period rather than 3 days. It’s important to note that there is no charge with SSI for the on line learning but it is chargeable with P.A.D.I. (Currently $146.00) and SSI offer the on line learning in more than 50 languages. Want to get started now? https://www.divessi.com/register.

So assuming the student has done the on line learning; when they arrive in Port Barton they watch a 3 part risk awareness video, highlighting the dangers of SCUBA diving in order to make them aware of why we follow various protocols and rules. Like anything in this world there is a degree of risk and although risk can never be entirely eliminated, It can be substantially reduced with the proper training and knowledge. I have been diving for more than 30 years now and have never seen anything worse than a nose bleed and a jelly fish sting. Then we complete the paperwork which includes both a waiver and medical questionnaire. If you answer yes to any of the questions on the medical then a medical will be required to see if you are fit to dive. Maybe ask Aquaholics to e mail you one first if you are in any doubt?

Day 1

Students arrive at our shop in the middle of the beach at 8.15 am for equipment fitting. The trip takes approx. 45 mins and we use this time to recap the do’s and don’ts, rehearse hand signals and practice assembling the equipment. We then arrive at Exotic Island to do the first exercises after first doing some basic swimming and snorkeling! Then it’s on with all the gear and now time to start breathing through your scuba gear, firstly on the surface and then under we go in waters deep enough to stand up in should you feel the need! After performing several exercises including the much hated mask removal we go on a short dive around the reefs of Exotic and enjoy the abundance of marine life. Then back to boat and off we go for more training exercises to place called the Swimming Pool……called that as it resembles a swimming pool with sand on the bottom. Careful though not to crush or damage anything as in the sand you will often see pipe fish and nudibranches and sometimes a very annoyed looking Scorpion Fish. We do the same exercises again but also bring in some new ones. Then time to dive again around the reef wall like swimming pool diving to a max depth of 12 meters. Then its lunch time usually on the boat. A preselected choice of chicken, fish and vegetarian food is served along with fruit. At Aquaholics we like to give the student a very varied dive itinerary which means greater enjoyment and experience. For this dive we start by swimming from the shore for about 90 meters to where there is a drop off and then we turn right. This dive is often referred to as the turtle dive as high chance that’s what you will see. The turtles now are so used to us that often they refuse to move. Look carefully on this dive and you may also see crocodile fish. Then it’s back to the boat and the shore. Now back on the boat the student dismantle their equipment and then a 20 min ride back to our shop and the sleepy village of Port Barton. It’s not over yet for the student as time to get wet again and do some washing….equipment maintenance…all equipment must be washed in fresh water as salt water can be destructive to SCUBA equipment. End of day one and just got time for a well-deserved ice cold beer with my partner Keith whilst watching a fabulous sunset It’s a hard life!

Day 2

Students arrive at the shop 8.15.am. Let’s go to the ship wreck at Albaguen. Here there is a fairly flat sandy bottom for conducting more exercises. These exercises focus on what we would do if we ran out of air and there was no other diver near enough to help us. Then we go to dive the ship wreck. As we have students with us we are not allowed to penetrate the wreck and the max depth we are permitted to take the student is 18 meters
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although parts of the wreck do touch 26 meters. The wreck is alive with corals and many smaller fish including Lion Fish, Parrot fish and baby Barracuda at certain times of the year. Why not watch the cleaner shrimps clean your finger nails at the shallow end of the wreck. The ship was carrying wood when it sank some 23 years ago. Look and you will see some of its cargo strewn in the sand around the vessel. Then we are off to my favorite dive site, Shark point. Called Shark Point as the rock protrudes from the sea in the shape of a sharks fin.
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On a bad day the visibility will be 20 meters and on a good day 50 meters plus. There is no sand here just rock and coral and when under the water its like you are swimming around this enormous natural pyramid which completely dwarfs us divers making you feel significantly small. There are interesting little gulleys you can swim up and stop and just admire nature as you can see waves above smashing into the top of the rock. Fish life here is amazing with many varieties and species.
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After approximately 45 mins we arrive back at the boat and then we enjoy our lunch on the boat. After this it’s time for the final dive and depending on weather conditions this is either Middle Rock or one of the other coral reefs. Finally there is a 50 question multiple answer exam to complete, and the exam is marked. and finally the issuing of the students certification card before the cold beer and sunset!
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Hope this helps all those wanting to do the SSI Open Water course in Port Barton understand what a great adventure awaits them in beautiful unspoiled Port Barton and if you want to check what some of our previous customers have had to say

http://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/Attraction_Review-g294257-d6800582-Reviews-Aquaholics-Puerto_Princesa_Palawan_Island_Palawan_Province_Mimaropa.html

I recently had a student who said to me that he initially thought that the prices were a little high, I asked compared to where and he said Koh Tao, Thailand. He then added after the course that it was money well spent with Aquaholics as the service is much more personal and tailored for the individual. Very often when I teach people to Scuba dive, it’s simply the two of us in the water with no other dive/snorkeling boats to be seen In Koh Tao I am told you could be with one of 50 dive operators in the water at the same time and a total of more than 300 divers!

Prices(Per Person)

SSI Open Water Course 22,000 php
SSI Advanced Adventurer Course (5 Specialty Dives) 16,000 php

(If Advanced Adventurer course booked at same time as Open Water then a 15% discount will be applied to the total price)

Prices of specialty courses such as deep, wreck and navigation are available on request .

All prices include all equipment, boat, food, boatman, instructor and certification card

We accept all methods of payment. Please note that there are no banks or ATMs in Port Barton.

Email: martynjohncollins@gmail.com

Telephone: 09199916282 (Martyn) / 09981936585 (Jane)