Dubbed as the last of the last frontier of the Philippines, the Balabac Group of Islands is one of the most beautiful islands in Palawan that you could have ever visited. Home to unspoiled white-sand beaches, finest sand bars, brilliantly colored coral reefs, a wide range of marine life, and bountiful flora and fauna. If you are keen on exploring virgin beaches and secluded islands, this island paradise is a must-visit!
Compared with the two popular island destinations in Palawan, El Nido and Coron are much more accessible than Balabac. It is a more remote island paradise that takes long hours of travel to get there. But once you get here, you can have the opportunity to have a full experience of island life – a one-of-a-kind lifetime experience! Much closer to nature with a more serene atmosphere and having a chance of getting completely disconnected from social media.
In this blog, you will learn more about Balabac, how to get there, things to do, what to see, and everything you need to know about this trip. This travel guide to Balabac, Palawan, will surely help you if you plan to visit the island soon.
Travel Guidelines & Requirements (as of 2022)
Although Balabac is now open for tourists, there are still travel guidelines and requirements that you need to follow. In this case, here are some of the documents that you need to showcase at the airport from Manila.
- A negative result of Antigen (accomplished within the last 48 hours before arrival in Palawan)
- Vaccination card
- Approved S-Pass from the local government of Balabac
- Returned flight tickets
About Balabac, Palawan
Balabac Group of Islands is located in the southernmost part of Palawan and is known as the last of the last frontier of the Philippines. It has 36 islands where some are Inhabitat, while some of them are uninhabited and are still unexplored.
Balabac is about 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Sabah, Malaysia, across Balabac Strait, which is just a few hours away. Don’t get surprised as most of the islands here are owned by the local politicians and some locals living in Balabac. This island is also home to some species, and one of them is the nocturnal Philippine mouse-deer (or Pilandok in Tagalog) which can only be found on the island. In addition, the island is also rich in marine species such as dugongs, sawfishes, sea turtles, and saltwater crocodiles.
How to get to Balabac, Palawan?
From Manila to Puerto Princesa
Since there is no direct flight to Balabac, you need to book a flight to Puerto Princesa instead. Airlines such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia offer flights daily. You may opt to book a flight from any of these airline companies. Better yet, wait for their offered promos to score cheaper flights bound for Puerto Princesa.
From Puerto Princesa to Balabac
Take a van heading to Buliluyan Port. It takes 5-6 hours from the city to the port. Kindly note that your contact tour guide from Balabac will pick you up from the city. If you opt to travel by yourself, it is not highly recommended at the moment since it is mandatory to book a package tour to the island. Then from Buliluyan Port, you need to ride a boat heading to your base camp. It takes approximately 2 hours or more to get there.
Exploring the islands of Balabac, Palawan
The Balabac Group of Islands consists of 36 islands in total. Some of them are inhabited, while some of them are not. These are some of the following islands that you can get a chance to see.
After long hours of traveling, we finally reached our first island destination, Canimeran Island. This was our first destination since it is the closest island to the port. We had our lunch here and took some time to take pictures. As we got down the boat, we were welcomed by the crystal clear water of the shore and its fine white sand. The island is filled with lush rows of coconuts. We were also able to see some peacocks and island dogs during our visit.
Our next island stop. The island has got its unique charm. Its pristine sand with a mild tint of pink and turquoise seawater is good for swimming. From its aerial point of view, the island looks like a dolphin, making the island more beautiful and appealing.
This is our base camp. This is where we stayed for four days and four nights. You could stay and sleep in a tent or nipa hut during your stay. In our case, my friends and I stayed in nipa huts. The room is good for four people. It is just amazing because the nut is facing the sunrise view, so once you get up, you can get a chance to catch the sunrise. Meanwhile, you can watch the sunset on the other side of the island!
It also boasts fine white sand and crystal clear waters of the ocean. Coconut trees also surround the island. Sicsican Island is also a good spot for freediving. You will love what the island offers underwater if you are a freediver. Some of my freediver friends got a chance to explore underwater! (wishing I could go with them) *sobs*
Known as the Starfish Island, it is a long sandbar that is just a few minutes away from the shores of Candaraman Island. This is where you can get to see many starfish and get a chance to swim with them. Fortunate are those who arrive at the island during the low tide because it is much more visible.
It was high tide when we got there, but we still had fun looking at the starfish underwater. Even from the boat, you can still glimpse the starfish due to its clearwater!
Onok Island (Roughton Island)
This is indeed the most sought-after island amongst the islands of Balabac, Palawan. The island features wide-ranging shallow turquoise waters, a sandbar, wild sea turtles, and coral reefs. Truly one of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen; getting to this place was all worth it! On the 2nd day of our trip, we went here for lunch and spent some time exploring this tiny island. I must say that this is the highlight of our trip.
Onok Island is such a paradise! In addition, it also boasts giant clams underwater, where you can get a chance to see through snorkeling or freediving. Not to mention its beautiful boardwalk and tiny houses built on stilts. It was an amazing, memorable day for us—a perfect island in perfect weather.
Nasubata Reef is just nearby Onok Island. This is the most popular spot for snorkeling and freediving. Explore and see the beauty of coral reefs and the wide range of aquatic species underwater.
One of the sandbars you can visit during your island hopping tours in Balabac. This is one of the longest islands in the Philippines! Also one of the most beautiful and one of my favorite spots we visited!
Punta Sebaring (Bugsuk Island)
I think this is the farthest island that we have ever visited. We took long hours to get here while facing the huge waves. Despite that, it was worth seeing the island. Although you have to be very careful with sand mines (or locally known as niknik), it is still one of the best sandbars and beaches ever! As we docked our boat near the shore, I told myself that I wouldn’t go down to avoid getting bitten by the niknik. But our tour guide convinced me to get down to experience the beauty of the island that it offers.
So I got off our boat and went to the shore, not minding the niknik bites that I might get after. As I stepped on the island’s sand, I just felt mesmerized by it! I could say that this island has got the most powdery and finest sandbar I set foot on! It amazed me. One of the best island beaches I have ever seen so far! I enjoyed walking for a while; my feet sank into the sand. Thanks to our local tour guide, I got some stories about Punta Sebaring.
An island also offers the finest white sandbar with a vast expense of clearwater.
This is our final stop on the last day of our trip since we had to get back to Buliluyan port and Puerto Princesa City.
Sample Balabac, Palawan Itinerary for 4D3N
Here is the sample Balabac itinerary for four days and three nights. This gives you an idea of what you can expect from your entire trip.
- Pick up from Puerto Princesa to Buliluyan Port.
- Start of island hopping.
- Canimeran Island
- Patawan Island
- Sicsican Island
- Camp at Sicsican Island.
Island Hopping Tour.
- Starfish Sandbar
- Onok Island
- Nasubata Reef
- Back to base camp
Island Hopping Tour.
- Mansalangan sandbar
- Bragi Island
- Punta Sebaring
- Back to base camp.
Island Hopping in the morning.
Head back to the city.
- Candaraman Island
- Canibungan Island
- Tangkahan Island
Budget and Expenses
My friends and I got our all-in package tour from Kamp Malaya for only Php 10,990 pesos per person. This includes the following:
- Roundtrip AC Van transfer(shared) PPS to Buliluyan Port
- Roundtrip boat transfer
- full board meals (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
- all entrance fees
- Accommodation (fan room)
- Tent (island camp)
- tour insurance
- life vest
- local tour guide
Take note that the cost depends on how many people join the tour. In our case, we are a group of twelve. For the budget, it is safe to have at least Php 15,000 for the entire trip, excluding the airfare.
Recommended Tour Guide
To experience the best Balabac Island Hopping tours, you may contact Kuya Motet Sason from Kamp Malaya through his personal Facebook page. He was our tour operator during our trip! He’s very kind and friendly! Apart from that, he offers the best service ever! Highly recommended! You may also contact him via Instagram (@kampmalaya).
Things to do on the island
- Go snorkeling.
- Go freediving.
- Catch the sunrise and the sunset.
- Connect with the locals.
- Have lots of seafood.
- Try some snacks from Malaysia. A little trivia about the island, our local guide said that 80% of their food comes from Malaysia.
- Go stargazing.
- Go camping.
Here are some of my photos taken by @the.christian.cee.
Where to stay
Suppose you are wondering where to stay on Balabac Island. In that case, you can stay at some beach camps such as Punta Sebaring, on the southern end of Bugsuk Island, Candaraman Island, and Sicsican Island (which was our base camp during our visit). You may also have an overnight stay on Onok Island, but expect higher rates for this experience since this is a privately-owned island.
Things to Bring
- Insect repellent for mosquitoes and sand mines
- Dry bag
- Extra batteries or power bank
- Snorkeling set and fins
- Extra food and snacks.
- Power Extension
- Your best outfit for the trip. (Of course, it shouldn’t be missed!)
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to go to Balabac Island?
Palawan is considered one of the safest tourist destinations in the Philippines. Though Balabac Island is located at the southernmost tip of Palawan, it is safe to go to the island. This is where you get to meet the country’s nicest and friendliest people.
When is the best time to visit Balabac?
The best time to visit Balabac Island is from March to May since this is the summertime in the Philippines. The sea is much calmer, and you can have the best weather during these months.
Is there a signal on the island?
The signal on every island is very limited and unstable most of the time. This is the perfect chance to escape from reality. Indeed a perfect place to detach yourself from the real world.
How much is the budget for the trip?
The ideal budget would be around Php 15,000 to Php 17,000. Provide at least Php 2,000 for the airfare (promo price). Allot Php 11,000 for your entire Balabac Island tours (just take note that this budget was based on a group of twelve). Then, the remaining budget is for the extra expenses of your food, pasalubong, and accommodation in Puerto Princesa. You can find discounted rooms through Airbnb, Reddoorz, Agoda, and Zen rooms.
Is there electricity on the island?
The island has a limited source of electricity. The generator only runs at night from 6 PM to 6 AM, so make you get all your batteries charged within this time.
How many islands are there in Balabac, Palawan?
The Balabac Group of Islands has 36 islands located in the Balabac Strait.
How long is the travel time from Puerto Princesa to Balabac?
Travel time to Balabac from Puerto Princesa is approximately 5-6 hours. Make sure you bring your travel pillow and have a more comfortable seat in the van.
Are there ATMs on the island?
No. So make sure you bring extra cash before heading to the island.
Who to contact for Balabac Island Hopping Tours?
Kindly contact Kamp Malaya Tours or Kuya Motet on their Facebook page for more information.
How many days should I spend staying in Balabac?
The ideal would be five days and four nights. It is highly recommended to arrive at Puerto Princesa the day before your trip to Balabac. It takes 5-6 hours to get to Buliluan Port, then hours to arrive at your first island destination. Being said, spend your first day in Puerto Princesa City. So make sure to book a flight the day before your trip to Balabac!
If you are wondering where to stay in Palawan, you may consider Hillside Resort, one of my favorite places to stay in the city. If you still have extra time to spare, you can also explore nearby islands by booking Honda Bay Island Hopping Tours in Puerto Princesa.
Traveling to Balabac Island is not as affordable as it may seem. But you will never regret visiting this island paradise. If you are up for new adventures and discover a less touristic island destination yet one of the best, you must go to Balabac soon!
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Hey! I’m Ara Patria – the girl behind The Adventuress, travel & lifestyle blog! I tell stories through adventures and personal life experiences. U ready? Join me on my adventures!