Before booking a trip to Balabac, please make sure you and your companions understand that this is an expedition to the most remote islands of Palawan.
This trip is NOT A LUXURY TOUR where everything is comfortable and itineraries are fixed!
If you are ready to ROUGH OUT THE ISLAND LIFE, THEN THIS TRIP IS FOR YOU 🙂
Balabac is Philippines’ last paradise found in the southernmost part of Palawan, the same province that brings you Coron and El Nido; but unlike the latter, it has not been discovered by many tourists yet. Sometimes we even enjoy the islands to ourselves. However, due to its pristine beauty, more travelers (including v/bloggers) are starting to reach it already, and began sharing it to the worldwide web. The islands in Balabac are privately owned, some by politicians, and some by locals who have gain rights by living there for a long time. Owners who are starting to see the potential of Balabac are making moves to make their islands more accessible to more tourists. At the time of writing (2019), an airstrip is already being built in one of the larger islands, and ports are being developed for cruise docking. Due to this, Balabac may start becoming crowded like El Nido and Coron, but for now you can still enjoy serenity and quiet life in the islands.
Travel time between islands varies from 45 mins to 2 hours, depending on the condition of the waves and weather. If we’re going with the waves, it will be faster. If we are going against the waves, it will be slower and splashy. Bring a good book to read, or load up your playlist and bring a good headset.
There is no strict itinerary to be followed in this expedition. Although we have a list of target islands to visit, the itinerary will depend on tide and wave conditions. The boatman is the captain! You have to trust his discretion.
It is possible that you visit a sandbar during a high tide, so you will not actually see the sand base, but experience a shallow pool instead. It is possible that big waves will hinder you from visiting/enjoying the infinity pool. It’s possible that it will rain hard so you don’t get sunny photos.
Don’t expect a perfect itinerary.
Weather in Balabac is very different and unpredictable from the rest of the country, even from the rest of Palawan mainland. It is highly affected by the two wind patterns in the Philippines. Prepare for sun and rain! Click here to read more about Best Time To Visit Balabac.
Mar-May (Summer, with weak Amihan monsoon winds) is the best time to visit since it will be mostly sunny. More people in the islands, though.
Jun-Nov (Weak to strong Habagat monsoon winds, Rainy season) will have mix of sun and rain, as well as calm to wavy sea depending on the weather. This period is still recommended to travel.
Dec-Feb (Weak to Strong Amihan winds, Rainy season) is windiest with chances of rain. Although it is not the best time to go at this season, it is still possible to travel to Balabac and have sun. The bonus is you can have the islands to yourself since few people travel here at this season.
Boat will adjust to wind and weather conditions. Don’t expect it to perform like a speedboat
Many people, both local and foreign, have a misconception about Balabac’s safety because of what’s already been published online by bloggers. This section aims to give you a peace of mind if you want to visit Balabac but afraid of the “threats.” If you want to read a more about safety in Balabac, you can read more here.
If you have done some research, you will see that previous travelers to Balabac had to ride the passenger van to Rio Tuba, sleep there for a night, ride the passenger ferry the next morning for a 4-5 hour ride to Balabac mainland before you can start island hopping in the afternoon.
You don’t have to do that with us. Our driver will pick you up from your Puerto Princesa lodge at 2-4am of Day 1 of your tour (depending on the tour you booked). You arrive in Buliluyan Port at 8-10am and start island hopping right away. The first island is only 45 mins from the port! No need to spend 1.5 days of travel time!
While many tour operators in Balabac provide small boats without roof especially if you are a small group or a couple only (see first photo), all the boats we use are outrigger boats with tarp roof (see second photo) as shield from the sun while you do island hopping.
PS: During intense wind conditions (when there is typhoon or strong monsoon), the roof has to be removed so that the wind will not overturn the boat.
All highlight islands in Balabac are private properties. Onok Island, the most beautiful and expensive of them requires every visitor to be given oral permit first by the management before coming. There are some tour operators banned from visiting some islands, too. If Onok is not in their itinerary, that’s because they’ren ot allowed to visit. Our local team has developed a good relationship with these owners/managers that is why our guests were allowed to visit even when others are not.
Clean drinking water will be provided. Bring a personal water tumbler!
Snacks are provided after you arrive back at the campsite, but you should bring your own personal snacks you can eat during the long boat rides.
Our trusted boatmen serve as the captains of the expedition. They have lived in Balabac their entire life and know when is best to go where. While we have an itinerary set, the captain’s discretion will be followed.
Our cook and assistants make the very good LOCAL food! She makes sure you start, go along, and end your adventures with a happy tummy.
An English-speaking licensed tourguide will be present for big joiner groups. For smaller private tours, the locals will accompany you during the trip.
CLICK HERE to meet our team!