A group of lost-world islands sitting at the edge of West Philippine Sea.
Located in the untouristy half of Palawan, Balabac is the southernmost municipality of the province. Granted, Philippines is already home to thousands of bewitching beaches and islands, so is it truly possible for Balabac to be a cut above the rest?
Consisting of about 35 islands—each having its own allure and power to spellbind—this place is rightfully called a paradise.
Best time to visit: April-Mid May for calm seas.
Avoid monsoon months (June-October)
Currency: Peso (₱)
Language: Molbog, Tagalog, and English (every Filipino speaks English)
A trip to Balabac is not for the lazies since it requires patience and a lot of transfers. First, you need to get in Puerto Princesa Airport (PPS) as it is the nearest. It serves a number of major airlines for both domestic and international flights.
Next, is to take a van. Vans operate daily between Puerto Princesa (San Jose Terminal) and Rio Tuba in 4-6 hours, with the last one leaving at 9pm.
Tip: You could also rent a motorcycle for a more enjoyable journey. You'll then have the option to stop wherever you please. We got ours from Palawan Peter Motorcycle and Car Rental: +63 921 788 5506. They have the best rates and the most trustworthy bikes.
From Rio Tuba port, you'll have to ride a passenger boat to Balabac Poblacion.
Tip: Be at the port at 7am to have your name listed down. The boats don't have a fix schedule, so the earlier you are, the better. *If arriving by motorcycle, leave it at one of the locals’ home, choose one with a sari-sari store.
From Balabac, you’ll be able to charter an outrigger boat for island hopping.
Fare: ₱5000-₱7500/day inclusive of meals
*Chartering a boat from Rio Tuba is also an option, ask your contact for possibilities.
How are you? : kumusta?
Older woman : ate (ah-te)
Older man : kuya
Thank you : salamat
Yes : oo
No : hindi
What's this? (that?) : ano ‘to? ('yan?)
One (only) : isa (lang)
Do: Bring tons of insect repellent and sunscreen; Be responsible for your own safety
Don’t: Act bossy and demanding (You're on an island, expect things to go slow); Touch corals and other wildlife; Leave trash lying around
Before reaching the individual isles, you'll be served an aperitif of sparkling waters around Bancalan island. Hold your horses and don't jump in yet, this is merely a sample of what lies ahead.
Each island you'll be visiting boasts exquisite powdery white sand enveloped by the clearest cyan/turquoise sea. Believe us, you haven't seen anything like this, the place will forever hold your gaze and every beach you visit hereafter will pale in comparison.
10AM PATONGGONG ISLAND
Lunch with a Sea View
A refreshing respite after your taxing journey.
1PM PATAWAN ISLAND
Isle of the Lone Doggo
As your boat anchors in, a cheerful brown dog will greet you as if playing the ever hospitable host. Do pet him. Rub his belly. He’s super friendly and sweet, and will keep you company whether you want him to or not.
3PM CANDARAMAN ISLAND
Candaraman is an old station of a Japanese fishing company. You'll see traces of their business on the island, yet the whole place remains pristine.
Wake up early to catch the morning sun rays, as you skinny-dip in the warm luminous waters.
10AM CANABUNGAN ISLAND
A Beach Lined with Pine Trees
Make sure to bring your snorkeling gear as the special treat here is found underwater. Enjoy swimming and dunking with the rainbow-colored fishes and their equally colorful coral homes.
12PM PUNTA SEBARING
The 3rd Longest Sandbar in the Philippines
A place so blindingly bright with airy fine sand that every step is a sunken one, Punta Sebaring is THE White Beach.
Release your inner wild child and run amok the beach. Disrupt the sand. Build a castle. And have a siesta under the shade tree of your choice.
The 4th Longest Sandbar in the Philippines
By now, you've gaped at the crystal clear waters, the snow white beaches, and the wondrous nature scenes of Balabac that you might become blasé about it. Fat chance, but try not to be. :)
Chill Out Sesh
Your trip here will certainly be echoed by a promise to return. Spend the rest of your evening chatting and drinking away with the boatmen. Listen to their anecdotes. Learn about their heritage, their hopes and dreams. Lastly, prepare yourself to bid farewell to this paradise, and for the long journey back to the mainland.
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