Balabac Islands | Travel Guide to The Last of the Last Frontier

I’ve been wanting to visit Balabac way back years ago but didn’t have the guts to pursue it due to the limited information I could gather online. Aside from that, there’s also a rumor about the safety of the place for travellers. But this year, my dream came true finally as I had the chance to visit the most majestic place at the southern tip of Palawan. Thank you to my friend Marvin who encouraged me to join their organized tour.

I’ve been to different parts of Palawan; El Nido, Coron, and Puerto Princesa but Balabac is very special to me. Its beauty is raw, unspoiled and can be considered as the road less traveled. This place is not as popular as the neighboring towns in Palawan, but Balabac is definitely worth visiting.

Just a brief background, Balabac is situated in Sulu Sea and considered as the last of the last frontier. If you are going to check Google Map, this place is very close to Sabah Malaysia. Isn’t it fascinating?

Let me share with you our actual itinerary during our trip to Balabac.

How to get there:

Book a flight to Puerto Princesa Airport. You may consider Rio Tuba as the gateway to Balabac Island. But since we had an organized tour, we just rented a van that took us to Buliluyan Port where we had our boat ride bound to Punta Sebaring.

Day 1

We left Puerto Princesa City at around 11:00 in the evening and arrived at Buliluyan Port around 5:00 in the morning. We waited for a few hours for our boat ride before we started off our first island to visit. Since we had a very limited time in Balabac, we maximize every second of it by having a tight itinerary.

Patawan Island
On our way to Punta Sebaring, we first visited Patawan Island since it’s close to Buliluyan Port. The island itself is very small; surrounded by pristine white sand and turquoise sea water. This place is also suitable for camping, swimming, and picture taking (just check out the cool spot in the middle of the island).


Arabella Beach
Located near Punta Sebaring, Arabella Beach is a tiny beach made up of sandbar, mangroves, and clear water. We spent just a few minutes here before hitting up to our next destination. The native bahay-kubo on this place serves as the shelter for tourists most especially if the sun is scorchingly hot.


Sandbar near Punta Sebaring
Get your underwater camera ready because this one's a perfect spot for your instagram gaming. The water is very clear that you can almost see what's underneath.

Punta Sebaring
My most favorite place in Balabac! After spending time in Arabella Beach, we finally went to Punta Sebaring. First we hit off the best spot for photo-taking. Grabe! I just can't get over how magical the place looked like. It’s very much close to Maldives. The water is like Gatorade blue.

Punta Sebaring is one of the prominent places in Balabac which is ideal for camping. It is located in the island of Bugsuk - the second biggest island in Balabac Group of Islands. Our contact, Ate Thess, who manages the place, made us feel at home during our two-night stay.

Punta Sebaring has a wide coastline which is almost similar to Boracay. This place doesn’t have decent accommodations but with only few native huts for guests. We just brought our hammocks and tents for our temporary shelter.

Just in case you are wondering, they have restrooms here but don’t expect a lot since they are made up of basic materials. Water supply is also good but not safe to consume.

Bonbon Beach
Just a few kilometers away from Punta Sebaring, you can find Bonbon Beach. The place is totally ‘gram-worthy! The water is clear and the sand is fine as Boracay. What really makes the place a lot interesting are the dead trees along the coastline due to typhoon.



Day 2

We woke up early at around 6:00 in the morning to start of our island hopping experience. The good thing about organized tour is that we don’t have to think about our meals because they already planned it for us. This helps lessen our prep time and just focus on the tours itself.

Mansalangan Sandbar
Our first destination on our day two in Balabac Island is Mansalangan Sandbar. The place is majestic with long stretches of white sand. Ideally, drone shots are perfect here!


Onok Island
The highlight of our trip is visiting the famous Onok Island. Before we hit off this place, we first went to Balabac town proper to formally listed our names in the coastguard’s manifesto. It took us about two hours to reach the town then we went straight to Onok Island after filling in the list. The travel time is almost two hours again. It was a little bit tiring considering the long hours of travel but when we reached the destination, it was totally worth it!


Onok Island is relatively small and beautiful in person. Same as other surrounding islands, it is also covered with pristine white sand bar and Gatorade blue water. One of the most photographed spots in Onok Island is the wooden bridge and the stilt cottages.

Near the island, you can also go snorkeling or freediving.

Day 3

Our last day in Balabac. We woke up early again to do the next island hopping experience. By this time, we packed up our things and left everything inside the boat. Since it was our last day we maximized our trip by visiting three more destinations.

Candaraman Island
Another ig-worthy island is Candaraman Island. According to the boatman, it was closed down to the public starting July this year. We just visited the huge sandbar surrounding the island but two people approached us and said that we needed to pay for it. I didn’t know what was the arrangement but they left us there after a few minutes of negotiations.



Candaraman sandbar is pretty huge! It’s raw and unspoiled. Super loved our photos here!

Marabon Island
Just so you know, municipality of Balabac is very close to Sabah, Malaysia. So, expect Malaysian goodies here such as noodles, bottled water, and even coffee. The best place to buy cheap products of Malaysia is in Marabon Island in which they are also accepting ringgit as a form of currency. It is located two hours away from Candaraman Island. Going here was challenging and at the same time, interesting! You’ll see stilt houses approaching the island. It’s just, it saddened me upon seeing trash around the area. Hopefully, the residents would do something about that.

Patunggong Island
Our last stop before heading off to Buliluyan port is Patunggong Island. Just like other islands, this one is also small and yet still unspoiled. We didn’t approach the island because our boat couldn’t get closer due to low tide. We went here for our last swimming trip.

If you are curious where we changed and took a bath, we did that in Buliluyan port. There public bathrooms that we paid for P20 per person only. The place isn’t developed yet so public cr is one of their struggles to maintain.

Budget:

Our tour for each pax is P8,500 that includes van and boat transfers, island tours, full board meals, and pitching of the tent. Price may differ to the number of joiners. Pasalubongs are not included.

Contact:

Ate Thess: 0946-4135108. She is the caretaker in Punta Sebearing and she's the who arranged everything for us.

Hungry Herl Adventure Tips:

• Charge all your batteries and power banks. There are some islands that don’t have power yet. In Punta Sebaring, they have a generator at night for you to charge all your gadgets. It is also helpful if you have an extension cord.
• There is no signal mostly on every island. It was a struggle for me even to send messages. Only keypad phones are getting the best network.
• Travel time during island hopping is almost 2 hours per island. Bring something to ease your boredom.
• You need to register to Balabac town proper before going to Onok Island. Spending an overnight there isn’t allowed anymore.
• Bring insect repellent or manzanilla! There are lots of niknik in Punta Sebaring. Also, effective sunscreen to protect your skin.
• Don’t be afraid that you might encounter crocodiles. They can be found in Balabac island only.
• Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but pictures. Most of it, enjoy the experience.

Rumor has it that Balabac is developing accommodations and airport for easier accessibility to public in the next five years. It’s quite alarming but I guess, it’s also beneficial for the whole municipality to boost their tourism. Hopefully, they still preserve the beauty during the process of commercialism. Hopefully.

If you are going to ask me if I want to visit Balabac again? Definitely, yes! Maybe in the next year on the same month. Guys, Balabac is relatively safe but still be extra cautious and respect everyone and everything that you will encounter here. Balabac is pure. Balabac is now my favorite place.


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