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Gosh, promise. Balabac, Palawan is truly one for the books. Everything looked like it was something that you’ll only see in travel catalogues. Even the foreigners in our group can’t believe their eyes when we went to the first beach…
Just imagine how awestruck we all were as the view and beaches seemed to still get better as we went from one island to another!
If you’re looking for a destination that’s will truly feel like an escape from your mundane and repetitive life, a tour in Balabac Palawan is so far the best beach experience you may want to save up for!
This hidden gem is located in the southernmost part of Palawan, and it offers an amazingly unique travel experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the Philippines.
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In this article, let me guide you on our first Balabac experience. Well, I said it. It’s a first because it truly is something you would want to visit again and again – if you have enough time and resources.
Well first, it’s not cheap, since you have to consider getting the flight and your accommodation in Puerto Princesa and it’s a minimum of a 4-day stay (at least one in Puerto Princesa, 3 days in the island, then taking the last flight schedule for the day).
But I’m telling you it’s one of the most enriching experiences you’ll have and it’s never too late to save up for it! In this article, I’ll let you in on some tips and what you may look forward to.
If you think it looks good in pictures, wait until you get there because the picture do not justify the enchanting pristine environment you’ll find in Balabac!
Islands + Tourist Spots in Balabac
Here are the islands that we visited and some of the islands that we missed (we hope to come by again and visit them too!)
Tangkahan Beach Island
Tangkahan was our first stop and this was where we had our lunch after a 5-hour trip to Buliluyan Port.
I was tempted to dip in the waters before taking our lunch but then nah, I forgot my aqua shoes in the boat so it took me a while to put them on after it, lunch was almost ready so I ate first. We stayed on the island for an hour.
The weather was clear, the waters are at their bluest and the sand is pristine white! It was amazing. At first, I was feeling like, “Ah this would be like the typical beach hopping like most tours have” but I was wrong.
I was SO wrong.
We went to Patawan Island next. And what I thought would be like a typical beach hopping was dismissed immediately.
Another great news was, we were told that there was beer here! It was very chill and we stayed here for an hour and a half! They also have a nice restroom here in case you need to do your thing.
The remoteness of the island with nice huts for sitting adds to the charm of the inviting waters. After a while of swimming and drinking beer, we next headed to our campsite!
Everyone in our boat was booked with the same tour operator, and Sicsican Island is where we were set to camp. The docking point was on the other side of the campsite, but it was really nice to walk through the path with palms.
All the foreigners in our group were given tents (most likely because they booked with travel agencies) and later in this article, I’ll let you in some tips so you can get a room like ours (the picture below) on the campsite.
I’ll have a separate discussion about the camp later in this article so read on because we’ll get to that!
On our second day, we were welcomed to Onuk Island by three big tortoises! It was definitely a great spot for snorkeling. While we have our own gear, you can check the office there as they rent gear for those who want to have a look at the immense aquatic life forms around the area.
This is definitely my favorite beach of them all, as it was very picturesque and the sandbar stretches far wide which is best for non-pro swimmers like me haha. Good thing that we stayed ate our lunch and stayed here for 4 hours.
Most of the blogs I read before taking this trip mentioned that they needed the owner of the island’s permission before going here. It was a great convenience that this was automatically included in our tour package.
Just in case you’re wondering, every island has their own entrance fees, and Onuk/Onok Island’s fee according to our boat’s captain is currently P1500 ($27.56) per head. Maybe it’s also the reason why we stayed there the longest!
Not sure about the other tours but with our tour package we never had to think of anything else but our dry bags and sunblocks whenever we go from one island to another.
Truth is, for the effort of preserving the wildlife, around the area, I believe that’s a very minimal amount compared to the delight, serenity, and calmness that you’ll find on the island.
Nasubata Reef is a coral reef that is home to a variety of fish species, including colorful clownfish and angelfish. It’s a great spot for snorkeling and diving, where you can explore the colorful underwater world. You can even see the fishes and corals with your bare eye, that is how clear the waters are on almost all the beaches in Balabac!
This was the next stop after our long stay on Onuk island. We literally anchored the boat in what seemed like a typical part of the sea. It’s really amazing how our captain and all fellow boatmen were able to find the reef without any use of GPS.
While we didn’t snorkel here, I and my husband had our first jump off a boat in deep waters. Haha.
Candaraman Island was our next stop after the reef.
We found a lot of different colors of starfish around here! While it was another great beach it had such a great current that you can just float and move on your own.
The island also has its own airstrip. Most likely it’s for the owner’s private jet and guests, what a nice thing to have right?
Mansalangan Sandbar is just a few minutes away from Candaraman Island and while we were not able to wait for the sandbar to appear, we enjoyed just hanging out in the shallow waters for 30 minutes as the sun took cover in the clouds.
On our last day, we headed first to Bancalaan Island to submit the log files for the guests. We didn’t alight the boat to swim and headed straight to Canimeran Island. This is where we ate our last lunch.
We stayed here until 1PM and headed to Buliluyan Port again to take the 5 hour trip back to Puerto Princesa.
Balabac Island is the main island in Balabac, and it’s where the town proper is located. We were not able to visit Balabac Island but we’d love too (hopefully we can go back again right?).
Here are the other beaches and tourist spots we would love to check out:
- Matangule sandbar
- Punta Sebaring
- Ramos Island
- Bobby’s Island
- Secam Island
- Cabcabun Island
- Timbayan Island (rock formation)
Reasons To Visit At Least Once
1. Unspoilt beaches
Aside from the pristine white beaches, you don’t get much of a crowd. No watersports, no trash. More of seaweeds, roots, sandbars, live corals… all-nature and aquatic life.
2. Remoteness = Best Escape
Without a signal for days, you might as well forget about almost everything for a moment. It’s a way to shut yourself up from all the noise.
3. Clear waters
What else is more inviting than clear waters right? Just be careful because what would at first seem shallow could run really deep!
4. No pirates or crocodiles
Yep, you read it right! You might have heard stories about it but my theory is this. The armed people would be most likely coast guards (as there is a base in Balabac) because it’s the nearest island from Spratlys Island, an island disputed by which ownership is still disputed by China and the Philippines.
How to Go To Balabac Palawan
Transportation to Balabac Palawan
Getting to Balabac, Palawan can be a bit of a challenge, but it’s definitely worth it. Here are some of the ways to get to Balabac:
Manila to Balabac Palawan
The easiest way to get to Balabac from Manila is to take a flight to Puerto Princesa, and then take a van or bus to Buliluyan Port, which is the jump-off point for island hopping tours in Balabac. The travel time from Manila to Puerto Princesa is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, while the travel time from Puerto Princesa to Buliluyan Port is approximately 5-6 hours.
Coron to Balabac Palawan
Take a ferry to Coron Boat Station and then to El Nido Palawan then take the bus to Puerto Princesa and then to Rio Tuba then take a ferry to Balabac Island Pier, which is in Buliluyan Port.
Most articles you may read may mention Rio Tuba but Buliluyan port is a more recent pier used to go to Balabac this 2023.
Puerto Princesa to Balabac Palawan
If you’re coming from Puerto Princesa, you can take a van or bus to Buliluyan Port, which is approximately 6 hours away.
We find that the best way to enjoy your Balabac experience is to directly book a tour as they usually fetch everyone straight from their hotels.
Tour Package & Experience
To make your trip to Balabac Palawan hassle-free, it’s recommended to book a tour package with a reliable and experienced tour operator. We booked a tour with Kamp Malaya three months ahead.
What we chose was a 3D2N package which is inclusive of a tour, accommodation, food, and transportation to and from Puerto Princesa.
The Camp Experience
The campsite of the Kamp Malaya tour had a common bathroom for everyone. The camp was not too crowded even when most of the tourists were in tents.
Mobile signal was hard to come by but that’s perfect when you want to shut out the noise from social media right?
As for electricity, it only comes on from 6 pm to 6 am. And don’t worry, because there are electrical outlets in the huts where your group come together for meals.
You may find that the same captain and boatmen you have on your boat are the same people who will be accommodating you during meal time (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Just let them know if you need anything like an extra meal as they would most likely try to help you.
Customized Tour Package
If you have a specific itinerary or budget in mind, you try to ask if they can tailor-fit your tour package based on your preferences and needs.
Best Tips & Reminders
Before you head on an adventure to Balabac Palawan, here are some tips and reminders that you should consider:
- Pack light: Since you’ll be island hopping and camping, it’s important to pack only the essentials. Bring only the clothes, toiletries, and gadgets that you need for the trip.
- Bring insect repellent: Balabac is known for its abundance of mosquitoes, so make sure to bring insect repellent to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- Stay hydrated: Balabac can be hot and humid, so make sure to drink plenty of water and other fluids to stay hydrated. Bring your own water tumbler/plastic bottle as you can refill from water jugs provided by the camp.
- Respect the environment and local culture: Balabac is a beautiful and pristine destination, so make sure to respect the environment and avoid leaving trash behind. Also, make sure to respect local customs and traditions, and listen to your boatmen.
- A 3D2N in Balabac would be nice but imagine how much more you could find when you take the 4D3N option, right?
- You can choose to spend one day in Puerto Princesa (before your first day in Balabac) and take another day after your last day in Balabac to avoid the hassle. As for us, we got the last flight back to Manila on our last day to make sure that we won’t miss the flight in case of any delay in the 6-hour trip from Buliluyan Port in Bataraza back to Puerto Princesa.
- Make sure to have your dry bags already with you in the van! It was such a breeze especially as we have gone straight to the island hopping after the long trip in the van. Don’t forget to have your sunblock, sunglasses, hat, and something to cover your arms in there in case the heat gets prickly.
These dry bags have been with us for a year now and guess what! We never had to worry about getting our things wet ever since we decide on getting these. In case you want to get yours here’s the link to getting it from Lazada and here’s a different brand but what I find as the best-reviewed dry bag on Amazon..
Dry bags are a great investment if you’re planning to travel, not just beaches, because they are also very useful when it’s raining.
- For your first day in Balabac, make sure to dress in something with swimming in mind, just add a coverup if it’s too revealing. I remember that some in our group had to change in the boats since there was no place else to change clothes.
- The best place to sit in the boat would be in the middle. Yes, thank me later.
- Book months ahead so you can have a room. We booked our tour right after we booked our flights. Having your own hut is quite convenient as you have a fan, your own electrical outlet, mosquito net, and a bed to rest on after a long day. Maybe it was also a great thing that we booked directly with the owner!
- We also brought with us the aqua shoes that we got from Decathlon. These shoes have kept our feet safe from hard rocks and sharp stone beaches. Plus it has a snug fit that only sand, not stones, get in.
- Don’t drink tap water. This goes for every travel you’d have. Which would you rather have, resisting having to drink or have a stomachache?
- Best to have travel chargers, so that it won’t be only you who could charge when outlets run out right?
Weather Forecast in Balabac Palawan
Balabac, Palawan has a tropical climate, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 30°C throughout the year. The best time to visit Balabac is from February to May, when the weather is dry and sunny.
However, it’s also possible to visit Balabac during the rainy season, which is from June to January.
Budget for a Balabac, Palawan Trip
Let’s base this budget on a 3D2N trip we had.
- Package tour – P 11,000/per head ( x2 in our case)
- One-day hotel in Puerto Princesa – at least P 1000
- Car / Motor rental for a day in PP – at least P 500
- Meals (for two people, three meals at the most) – P 2000
- Extra money (toiletries, pasalubong, etc.) – P 6000
This brings us to P 30,500 for two people WITHOUT the back-and-forth airfare. So yes, it’s definitely something you may want to save up for!
Alternatives for the overnight packages
In case you’re not yet ready for the full overnight tour packages it’s a great thing that you can actually experience Balabac through the different Balabac Tour Packages on Klook.
Let me give you a quick overview of what each tour includes. Basically all the tours include everything below:
What you’ll get:
- Admission to attractions,
- An English-speaking guide,
- Life jacket,
- Sightseeing boat tour
- Cottage rental
What you need: Bring your own personal stuff like sunscreen, snacks, and swimwear as there are no store around. Pro tip: pack light, but don’t forget the essentials!
The tour starts early, and you need to be in Buliluyan Pier in Bataraza by 7-7:30 am, so make sure to be on time because latecomers or no-shows are not allowed to be refunded.
You need to pay an environmental fee and rates vary depending on where you’re from.
- Foreign Guest: Adult PHP200 / Senior and PWD PHP160 / Children below 12 yrs old PHP100
- Domestic Tourist: Adult PHP150 / Senior and PWD PHP120 / Children below 12 yrs old PHP50
- Palawan Resident: Adult PHP100 / Senior and PWD PHP80 / Children below 12 yrs old PHP30
Make sure to bring your mobile voucher from Klook and have it ready to show when you arrive. Pro tip: Screenshot/print it because there is no signal in the pier.
The true difference lies on the destination of each tours
Balabac Tour A – Islands
Where you’ll go: Canimeran Island, Patawan Island, and Tangkahan Island
These islands are a great destination for a quick day tour and experience of Balabac.
Book it now on Klook →
Balabac Tour B – Sandbars
Where you’ll go: Punta Sibaring Sandbar, Mansalangan Sandbar, and Canibungan Island
If we’d go back to Balabac this is most likely a tour we’d get from Klook as we were not able to visit these on our 3D2N stay. Now that price, that’s a steal!
Book it now on Klook →
Balabac Tour C- Onok Island
Where you’ll go: Travel to Candaraman Island/Starfish Island, Pulao Bato Coral Garden, and Onok Island
I find this tour C the most appealing for me as it includes Onok Island which was really beautiful and charming. Can’t help thinking that it has that Maldives vibe to it.
Now I know what you’re thinking, can I just book these instead of the overnight tours and packages? Well yes and no.
Yes, you can book them all but then you have to also stay around Bataraza area for 3 days as each tour starts at 7:00 am- 7:30 am.
And no, you can’t book them all and have it done in one day.
If you’re considering booking the Balabac Klook tours above, either you need to book a van that would take you back and forth to Puerto Princesa or you need to find a place to stay around Bataraza. It would be best to research van recommendations or contact them yourselves first before booking your flight and reserving vouchers on Klook.
Summing It Up
Amazing is the only word I could think of, to sum up this experience. It’s one-of-a-kind and something you would truly want to save up for!
From crystal-clear waters to diverse marine life, Balabac has something for every type of traveler. Whether you’re a nature lover, a beach bum, or an adventure seeker, Balabac Palawan should definitely be on your travel list.
Overall, Balabac Palawan is a destination that you need to see at least once in your life. With its natural beauty, rich culture, and warm hospitality, Balabac, Palawan will surely leave a lasting impression on you.
Do we want to go back? Hell, yes!
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Louee is Lasang Uulit’s SEO wizard and content creator with a psychology background. She is just one of the food bloggers based in the Philippines, with a passion for sharing the best of the local cuisine.
Passionate about unearthing culinary treasures, she crafts mouthwatering stories, explores quirky recipes, and immerses herself in local food culture.
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