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Balabac: All You Need To Know

Read everything here first before considering our packages.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN BALABAC

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 ūüôā

 

PAGE CONTENT

Basic Information

About Balabac

What We Provide

Reasons to book us

Where is Balabac?

balabac map the wanderwalkers

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.¬†

EXPERIENCE ISLAND LIFE

Disconnected

Expect to be disconnected from the virtual world. SMS/call reception is unreliable, if existent. Tell your relatives you will be out of reach for a while before leaving Puerto Princesa.

Off-the-grid

There is no electricity in the campsite. A generator will run at night to give light; and this is your only chance to charge your devices. So bring extra batteries/power banks.

Basic Facility

Basic toilets with bucket flush, as well as clean freshwater coming from a deep well are available at the campsite. Bring your own toilet tissue, if you prefer. 

Bugs

Because the islands are not developed, nature still has its way. Bugs come out most during the wet season but don’t worry about malaria, there are no cases in the places you will visit. Prepare your insect repellents and long sleeve clothing against itchy sand fleas and mosquito bites, though.

TRAVEL TIME

Arriving to Balabac through our Package

  • Step 1: Book a flight to Puerto Princesa. We advise that you be at Puerto Princesa the day before your target start of tour (aka Day 0), especially for Joiner Tours. However, if that is not possible, you can also book a Private Tour, and customize your arrival to PPS at 6am or 7am of Day 1 at the latest.

 

  • Step 2: Depending on your booked package, we will pick you up from your hotel in PPS at 2am (for group tour) or 4am (for private tour) of Day 1. You will be in a van for around 6 hours, including stop overs.

 

  • Step 3. Once you arrive at the port, our boat will pick you up and you will start island hopping on¬† your way to our campsite.

Inter-Island

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.

 

 

ITINERARY

as fixed as the sea

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 like a lady... unpredictable.

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

Is it safe for locals and foreigners to visit Balabac?

Here are danger myths that you should know.

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.

 

Bandits and Terrorists

Myth #1

Balabac, as well as Puerto Princesa, Tubbataha Reef and the rest of the east side of Palawan (see map above) is located in Sulu Sea. On the other far end of this sea is Mindanao where Philippine¬†army continues to battle against bandits. Despite this, Balabac remains safe for tourists. Many local and foreign guests have visited us and no terrorist-related problem arose. The best way for you to know how others experienced safety in Balabac is by reading previous guest’s stories here. If you read reviews from previous guests, you will notice how they felt safe during the trip. The tour operator you will book also contributes to the security you will experience while in Balabac.

Read more here.

Malaria

Myth #2

While there were past cases of Malaria in Balabac mainland because of the tropic mountains surrounding it, the rest of the smaller flat islands are safe from Malaria with no reported incidents. We only take you to the highlight islands of Balabac which are completely safe from the disease. So if you’ve been wondering if you should take Malaria shots prior to coming, then free yourself of the burden. However, if you are coming to other parts of the Philippines that has incidents of such, then it is your responsibility to research and take necessary shots.

Saltwater Crocodiles

Myth #3

The saltwater crocodiles were only spotted by locals in the swamps of Balabac Mainland which is not part of your itinerary. Our campsite (Bugsuk Island) is far from this so you should not worry about encountering these crocs while you are on a holiday. We even had guests who wanted to see crocodiles but unfortunately (or fortunately?), none of them ever saw one. 

WE PROVIDE CONVENIENCE

You Save Time

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!

Enjoy a Roofed Boat

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. 

balabac small boats
Balabac small boats without roof.
Roofed outrigger boats.
Roofed outrigger boats.

Guaranteed Visit To the best Spots

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.

 

 

We provide added Security

  • We work in partnership with trusted locals in Balabac.
  • Coastguards are aware of the trips we conduct.
  • Our campsite is a private property near the local community.¬†
  • It is safe to leave all your luggages/backpacks¬† in the campsite while you are island hopping.

We provide Food and Water

  • All meals will be provided from the time you board our boat. Usual menu include rice, vegetables, and meat like chicken, pork and fresh seafood dishes (squid, prawn, fish, and crabs). If you have allergies or a strict diet, please let us know in advance.¬†
  • 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.

Stay in our Campsite!

Currently, only Punta Sebaring Beach (our campsite) in Bugsuk Island is allowed to serve as the campsite. Other campsites are not permitted to accommodate visitors.
Punta Sebaring. Balabac Tours by The Wanderwalkers

Fine Long of Stretch White Beach

Our campsite sits along the stretch of Punta Sebaring beach. Its sand? The kind of sand so white, fine and soft that beats Boracay’s. This long stretch of around 5 kilometer white beach is one of the longest in the country.

Punta Sebaring Sandbar Balabac Palawan Tours by The Wanderwalkers

Widest White Sandbar in Balabac

A 30-minute stroll by the beach to the right of the campsite will let you experience the whitest, finest, softest sandbar which becomes so wide when lowtide. The sand base creates ripples and feels like marshmallow when you step on it. Punta Sebaring sandbar is also perfect for just taking a walk to watch the sunset.

Sunrise in Punta Sebaring. Balabac Palawan Tour by The Wanderwalkers

Colorful Sunrise

Our beachfront faces the East giving you an everyday chance to wake up to the sun rising from the horizon while enjoying a cup of coffee. Bring your cameras to capture candy-colored clouds during dusk, weather-permitting.

Milky Way in Punta Sebaring. Balabac Tours by The Wanderwalkers

Memorable Nights Under the Stars

Whether you are on a private tour or joining a group, expect to have nights to remember while camping in Balabac. Bring a portable tripod because a clear sky when the moon is out, the milky way is visible, perfect for photographers. Enjoy a drink or two on our designated bonfire, or simply lay flat on the beach to stargaze.

Tent Camping Balabac Tours by The Wanderwalkers

Tent Camping and Cottages

For group tours and private tours, the default accommodation is tent camping. If you are a solo joiner, we will pool you with another joiner of the same gender. If you are a couple, you will have your own tent. The rest, you will have to bring: a blanket or malong or jacket. 

Open cottages are also available for our guests for free. You can leave your big bags here securely, hang out during meals or hang your hammock.

Shared Room Balabac Trip by The wanderwalkers

Shared Room Upgrade

Currently, a basic shared dorm with mattresses and mosquito net is available as upgrade at the campsite. It can accommodate 6 people only at P500/person for your entire stay. We strive to multiply this room to accommodate guests who can’t sleep on tents.

Untouched and Undeveloped

  • The campsite, although owned by the governor of Palawan, is still undeveloped as of the moment. Currently there are no hotels or lodges in the area, that is why our guests can experience basic camping. Because it is still untouched, nature still rules here, and that includes sand fleas that leaves itchy marks. So make sure you are equipped with insect repellent and long pants. Only a few guests don’t get bothered by them (maybe because of blood type?), but it’s better to be prepared.
  • Basic facilities like bucket-flush toilets are available for free, and there is also freshwater coming from deep-well so you can rinse saltwater from your body after island-hopping.
  • The only resident here are the caretakers, who also serves as our local team. Sometimes, other groups camp here as well who can get rowdy when drunk. So, we have published some campsite rules so everybody can get a good rest at night.
Campsite Rules in Punta Sebaring - Balabac Tours by The Wanderwalkers
Guests with our local crew.

We Provide the Best Local Crew

In the photo: Guests with our local crew.

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!

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