Incomparable with Coron and El Nido, Balabac Islands in the southern tip of Palawan has its own caliber of beauty. Still a virgin, Balabac group of Islands is untouched by commercialization and tourism, which makes it stand out from among all other tropic paradise in Asia, if not in the world.
The Virgin Islands of Balabac Palawan
You will find here the widest, longest and finest white beaches with sand so soft it feels like a marshmallow when you step on it. The vast expanse of clear waters in different shades of blue will make you feel like you’re in another world. Its unique features such as the pink beach, the starfish island, the white sandbars, and rock formations are some of the wonders you can explore while you’re there.
A Beauty So Hard To Get… But Worth It
If it’s worth having, it’s worth fighting. You would definitely have to level up your fighting spirit as Balabac’s beauty doesn’t come easy on your body and wallet. It takes a full day to get to Rio Tuba port in the south from Puerto Princesa via public transportation. If you miss the van, you will have to wait another day. By private vehicle, it’s easier at around 5 hours.
From the port, you will then take long boat journeys to the islands which are far from each other. It would take around an hour by boat to get from one island to another. Here’s where the boat tour operator comes in. Boat tours are priced from a whopping 15,000 for a 4-day tour – not really accommodating for solo or couple adventurers unless you saved up a lot for this.
Once you get here, forget the comforts of the city. No electricity, no consistent signal to allow you to update your social media, no hotel rooms. Only pure adventure in the wild and beautiful outdoors. Sleep in a hammock or tent on an island, eat fresh seafood, watch the sunrise and sunset, and bask in the sun, sand, and sea.
Tips When Visiting Balabac Island
- If you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, travel together. Join a group tour held by Balabac locals which will not only cut your costs, since everything else will be provided for (full board meals, tents/hammock, transportation, insurance and local guides) but will also increase your safety as compared to traveling in a solo or with a small group. Besides, there are no other tourists in Balabac, you will never feel it’s crowded even though you’re in a group. Click here to join find a group you can join.
- Best time to visit is in summer (March to May) because the waves are calmer and it’s safer to travel by small boats compared to the rainy season. However, Balabac is still breathtaking during other times of the year. Read this to know more about Balabac seasons.
- Bring your own snorkeling gears and dry bag. It’s 3 to 4 days of paradise islands, having your own water gears will be worth it.
- Cover up! Cover from the sun (sunscreen, shades and hat). Cover-up at night with long sleeves and pants. And cover-up at day with a rashguard, especially when in some islands where sand flies are present.
- Prepare your batteries and power banks. Only Balabac town proper has electricity. There are generators in some islands though.
- Bring extra cash. No ATMs in the area.
- Expect to rough it out. This trip is not for the spoon-fed luxurious travelers, but for those who enjoy off-the-beaten-track adventures.
- Book your flight to Puerto Princesa the day before your Balabac trip, and fly out the day before.
- Bring your personal medicines.
- Although it is safe for foreigners to travel in Balabac, it is still highly recommended to hire local guides.
Visit Now Before Commercialism Takes Over
Balabac has been kept as a hidden gem, mainly because of the difficult road access to it. However, roads have already been improved recently by the government, and the local authorities are in the process of establishing tourism guidelines, starting with fixing tariff and tour rates. Soon enough, Balabac may already be as popular as El Nido and Coron, losing its insanely untouched beauty.
Need Help Planning Your Visit?
If you’re traveling from another country and coordinating with the locals is difficult, or if you’re a solo traveler who wants to visit Balabac while sharing the costs with other adventurers, just join this FB group to find people who are also planning to go to Balabac.