Steve Says: Ausan Beach Front Cottages Review
Ausan Beach Cottages in Port Barton - 9 out of 10
Where to begin? Our stay in Port Barton was nothing short of amazing. Recommendations from fellow travelers caused us to avoid the touristy area of El Nido in favor of Port Barton. We were also told to try finding a place on the beach. Susan Beach Cottages was just the place and came highly recommended. Due to availability we were forced to spend our first night in San Vincente and take the ferry to Port Barton. Though only 10km separate the two towns by way of a flying crow, no paved roads or ground transport connect the two directly. It was either take a 30-45 minute ferry ride or a 3 hour bus ride via Roxas. Though more expensive, the ferry (not as much a ferry as much as a large Filipino style wave runner boat outfitted with a 2-cycle motor) was relaxing and the scenery a must see. Though a port of sorts, Port Barton has no wharf or large docking station for boats. Instead, the ferries beach themselves right at the tourist center (right on the beach) and you walk the short distance to your accommodation. Luckily every beach front resort in Port Barton is less than a kilometer from the tourist center. We arrived two hours prior to our check-in time yet only had to wait 30 minutes for our room to be ready. Like most resorts, upon check-in we received a complimentary ice-cold beverage. Yeah it may have been Nestea instant iced tea, but in the heat of the filipino sun it tasted like heaven. Our cottage was nestled less than 100 meters from the ocean. And, though not overlooking the ocean as some of Ausan’s cottages do it had a lovely porch complete with a table and chairs and clothesline. The cottage itself was part of a triplex building with every room having its own private bathroom. A mahogany wood construction screamed tropics and the lacquer applied created a surface easily cleaned of beach sand brought in by unsuspecting feet. The resort itself boasted of several cottages as well as two budget tree houses that shared a common bathroom. The staff was more than helpful and saw to every comfort you could imagine. We chose to use our time at Ausan as a relaxing point in our journey to catch up on work related issues and worship the sun. Sarah was able to run the quiet, serene beach every morning and due to the calm waters of the bay, I swam several hundred meters several times a day. The town of Port Barton is peaceful and small enough to traverse several times within an hour. You’ll meet affectionate locals and the occasional ex-patThe food at Ausan was average. Our breakfast at the resort was the best meal we experienced there. I have made it a habit to order the Filipino style breakfasts and they did an amazing job with both the cornsilog and hamsilog. Lunches for us consisted of fresh fruit purchased in the town and the occasional small meal at any of the numerous local places. We dined once at Ausan for dinner and were somewhat disappointed. My plate of sizzling sambas (shrimp) were mediocre at best. Though I like spicy dishes, the sambas was so spicy it was not enjoyable. The sauce it was served in also tasted as if it were made from a ketchup base or some other canned or bottled concoction. Even though our dinner experience was less than desirable, we would still return to Ausan again and again. Its location right on the beach coupled with the decor of the rooms and common outdoor areas is enough to keep us raving about it to any fellow travelers we meet headed to Port Barton. A bit of a warning though. The power to the town is out between midnight and 7 am. If your place lacks a generator and is not on the beach with the cool offshore breeze it can get rather warm at night. Cost: Very reasonable even for budget travelers. The tree house cottages are the most inexpensive but you have to share a ground level bathroom with the other tree houses. Not extremely practical if you have issues in the middle of the night. We thought the cost was perfect enough to warrant a longer stay next time we’re in the Port Barton area.Accessibility: Port Barton is definitely off the beaten path. A private van, bus, or jeepney from the main part of Palawan is the best way to get there. Vans are more expensive though its a faster ride through the dirt roads of the mountains. Currently the main road from Port Barton to the highway that connects most of the main island is being paved. Once it’s paved, look for Port Barton to become a bigger destination spot on the island (similar to El Nido). You can also take a ferry as we did depending on your location. I love this option and would do it again from a different spot on the island.Activities: Though we used our time in Port Barton as a relaxing getaway to get some work done the activities are numerous. There are island hopping excursions that rival those of El Nido, kayak and paddle board rentals perfect on the calm waters of the bay, and scuba diving as well. A fellow traveler and friend, Daniel, paid to take the certified PADI scuba course. Over three days (I believe) and six dives he received his dive certification for only $350 USD. Great deal and the certification is good all over the world. This is an inexpensive option and great if you plan on seeing other islands like Bohol after your stay in Palawan.Food: The dining options in Port Barton were amazing. From Miam Miam Glou Glou, a French restaurant owned and run by an expat, to the local street food we never went hungry. I must’ve eaten squid, whether adobo, curry, or garlic fried style at least once a day. We also took advantage of the beautiful fresh fruit sold by local vendors. Mangoes and bananas were a daily staple as was the local cashews and chicharrones (for me, Sarah doesn't care for them). Our favorites were Miam Miam, Ayette’s Bamboo House, and Paella Cafe. Most places on the beach also offer a happy hour perfect for budget travelers. At the Barton Bistro we took advantage of the 2 for 1 gin gimlets. Refreshing and ice cold in the late afternoon sun. No matter where you choose to dine in Port Barton you can’t go wrong.