The gem that is called Balabac is tucked away in the farthest reaches of Palawan, Philippines. There awaits another treasure for those who seek the raw beauty of nature alongside the thrill of a new adventure. Island visitors wake up to the symphony of rare birds, watch the theatrics of marine life and relax at breathtaking beaches giving a completely new meaning to the island getaway.
Balabac is made up of 31 islands and islets, each boasting its own unspoiled riches; from picturesque surroundings to endemic flora and fauna as well as the kind of marine life that only the waters of Sulu Sea can offer.
The gem of the last of the last frontier is under the accord of locals and the Molbrog tribe.
Compared to all the other known biodiversities, Balabac ranks high as the most dense and diverse. It hosts the perfect environment for native mouse deer called “pilandoks”, Sunda tree squirrels, dozens of plants and insects of rarity, dugongs, saltwater crocodiles, sawfishes, sea turtles, stingrays, and giant Sulu Sea Pearls.
How to get there:
Book a flight to Puerto Princesa from major airlines – Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, etc. Flight duration is more or less an hour.
Rio Tuba is one of the barangays in the Municipality of Bataraza. The town of Bataraza is about 236 kilometers from Puerto Princesa and can be reached by bus, jeepney, or shuttle which departs daily from the city (San Jose Terminal). Travel time is roughly four (4) hours.
Rio Tuba is the entryway to Balabac. A public vessel cruises daily from Rio Tuba Port to Balabac. Note that there is no definite schedule of the departure as it solely relies on the weather condition and if the ship is already fully boarded. I encourage you to be there before 10:00 AM since they practice “First come first served” (FCFS) policy. The fare is PHP 370.00/pax one-way and the commute length is about four (4) hours.
The municipality of Balabac is composed of a group of 36 major and minor islands, and the primary mode of transportation is “habal-habal” and tricycle. There are no fancy resorts in town and in the islands, but they have small houses and camping sites, which you can rent and enjoy.
Your Balabac vacation would not be complete without going outside of the mainland. Island hopping is the best part of your tour! However, expect that the amenities are quite basic, but nonetheless, the island will give you an enjoyable and priceless experience!
Onok (Onuk) Island, the most beautiful island in Balabac, has limited rooms to accommodate guests. The island is privately owned by the family of the Mayor of Balabac and arrangement is necessary for tourists visiting or staying in the island.
There are other beaches and islands in Balabac that remain untouched by modern civilization, some are privately owned so it is better that a local guide will accompany you.
For bookings and other inquiries, kindly contact Kin Cerdan of Isle Adventure Travel and Tours at (+63) 927-698-8769. Certified hassle-free tour agency in Balabac!
Onok (Onuk) Island Day Tour rates:
PHP 2,500.00/pax (Good for 1-5)
PHP 2,000.00/pax (Minimum of 5)
Onok (Onuk) Island Overnight rates:
PHP 4,500.00/pax (Good for 1-5)
PHP 3,500.00/pax (Minimum of 5)
Overnight at Onok (Onuk) Island with side trip to Candaraman Island rate:
Things to remember:
- Mobile phone signal of major networks are present in Balabac and in other islands.
- Bring cash. ATMs are nonexistent and no establishment accepts credit and debit cards in Balabac.
- Stay hydrated. A whole day on a beach calls for lots of drinking water. There’s nothing worse than feeling dizzy because you haven’t drunk enough, so ensure you always have water with you.
- Bring sunscreen. This is to protect your skin from damaging UV rays from the sun.
- Bring insect repellent. This is to protect you against mosquitoes and sand flies.
- Bring Sunnies. Now, this may seem like a no-brainer, but to those who don’t wear sunglasses regularly, you may forget this handy little item.
- Bring Flip-flops. It’s likely that the sand will be incredibly hot and there’s nothing worse than burnt feet. They also make the perfect accessory for your beach outfit.
- Bring a First Aid Kit. It’s always best to keep a little first aid kit with you at the beach. You’ll be surprised at how handy it will be.
- Bring power banks. This is a lifesaver especially if you will be taking lots of snaps or listening to music on the beach. This will allow you to always be in the zone and connected to what you’re doing.
- Bring speakers. There’s nothing like beach jams. Energize the atmosphere with some music, but make sure to respect your neighbors!
- Do your research. Usually, there are no lifeguards on the beach, be sure to watch out for potential dangers like strong currents or other threats like sharks or even jellyfish, so always be cautious.
- Best time to visit is during SUMMER (April to May)
- Practice the Leave No Trace Seven Principles