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Onok Island – All You Need To Know

Probably the most sought-after island in the Philippines, Onok Island is a tiny piece of paradise in the south of Palawan that features expansive shallow clear waters, giant clams, a sand bar appearing during low tide, wild sea turtles, a coral reef, and a stilt over-water walkway.

Onok Island Aerial View
Onok Island Aerial View

Are you for Onok Island?

It’s not easy to experience Onok Island though. One must have a concrete desire to make it, a brave heart to dismiss the (mythical) threats, a willingness to embrace the (uncomfortable) island life, some time to spare for the journey, and money, of course. If you have a problem with any of the mentioned factors, then maybe Onok Island is not for you. Onok Island is not for those who are overcome by fear, nor those who can’t afford to take at least 5 days away from the convenience of the city. On the contrary, those who are up for an adventure are rewarded by Onok’s proverbial beauty.

Onok or Onuk Island?

But before anything else, let’s get this one straight. Many blogs write “Onuk” while some write “Onok.” So which one is correct? We learned through owner’s daughter that the spelling should really be Onok. So if you’re writing anything about this island, use the correct spelling, okay?!

A clear day in Onok Island
A clear day in Onok Island

Stories About Onok Island

Much about Onok Island is learned by talking with locals of Balabac, the municipality that covers Onok, especially the caretaker of Onok Island himself.

Ownership

Its discovery traces back in the 80’s when a mapping officer named Roughton discovered it and named it after himself, Roughton Island. Old topographical maps show Roughton Island instead of Onok Island. Eventually, an official of Balabac bought the island and held ownership until 2018, before it was acquired by another official. As of 2023, rumors run around the locals that a certain celebrity owns it now. Who knows? Even the caretaker (person who collects entrance fee) doesn’t know. But the new management it is still politically-affiliated.

Entrance Fees

Around 2015, one didn’t have to pay any entrance fee to set foot on Onok Island. However, one of the boatmen who offers tours to Balabac popularly named Kap Andong charged his guests Php 5,000 per person whenever he brought people to Onok, which the owner eventually found out through a blog that was published by a previous visitor. This caused the owner to ban Kap Andong (of Balabac Safari The Best) from bringing guests to Onok Island. This is why he doesn’t offer Onok Island; and it’s a story that you will only hear about when you are already frustrated for not being able to see Onok while you are in Balabac!

The owner also started to impose a Php 1,500/person entrance fee for a daytrip, no food nor transport included. The management used to allow overnight stay for Php 3,500/person, until recently when they prohibited staying for the night.

UPDATE: Since 2022, after change of management, all operators are now allowed to bring guests to Onok Island.

Tour Operators

Because of the private ownership of the island, one needs prior permission before going to this island, which a tour operator does for its guest. If you are visiting Balabac and don’t want to miss Onok (why would you?), make sure you have the right contacts.

Our team has healthy connections with the caretaker and owner of Onok Island, that is why we can certainly bring guests there, unless it is temporarily closed for maintenance.

UPDATE: After the pandemic, where a lot of people wanted to do “revenge travel,” a lot of new tour operators have also sprouted in Balabac. It’s now quote easier to find one to bring you to Balabac. We advise that you read this guide on how to choose a tour operator in Balabac before you book one.

How To Visit Onok

Our Balabac Private and Group Tours allow you to have a guaranteed and hassle-free visit to this paradise. Our van transport will pick you up from your lodge in Puerto Princesa. After 6 hours, you will reach the south port where a private boat will pick you up so you can start the island hopping to other islands in Balabac. Depending on your stay in Balabac (4 or 3 days), you will visit Onok the next day or the other.

On the contrary, other tour operators will have you commute from Puerto Princesa to Rio Tuba Port, spend the night there so you can ride the passenger ferry to Mainland Balabac, where you will sleep in the town. The next day serves as your chance to visit Onok. This wastes 2 days just for travel time to Balabac.

However, as tourist activity in Balabac is growing, almost 100% of tour operators are now picking up and dropping off guests in Buliluyan port as well for convenience.

Safety In Onok

If you are worried about safety in Balabac because you have heard about some threats such as crocodiles, malaria, and bandits, now is the time to have some peace of mind. None of this exists in Onok. The only threat is the waves that you will face since it is quite far. But so far, we have experienced no danger from all the tours we have conducted there.

You may read further about how Balabac is safe for tourists here.

Camping in Onok Island

You may find it strange that our team doesn’t offer overnight package in this island yet. One of the reasons is because of the inconvenience of not having fresh water. The toilets are also not maintained, so we are quite not confident yet to let guests who are willing to pay more to sleep here. Besides, while Onok may be the highlight of Balabac, our campsite Punta Sebaring boasts a finer white sand, longer beach and more convenient, while still basic, facilities like clean shared toilets with freshwater.

Final Reminders

Onok Island, and including other islands in Balabac is really one of the last untouched paradises on Earth. We hope to keep it that way by sharing as much real information as we can, so that we only attract travelers who want to broaden their minds and stretch their comfort zone – not the mass tourists. If you’re the adventure-type, nature-loving kind of person, message us! If not, that’s also fine. The world is big enough for all of us!

6 Responses
  1. gregorio roxas

    PALAWAN-the last frontier.
    after visiting onok island in balabac,
    u’ll surely change d period with as many
    exclamation point ( ! ) as u wish 🙂

Leave a Reply

Complete List of 2023 Group Tours

2023 SKEDS Balabac Palawan Joiner Tour
2023 SKEDS Balabac Palawan Joiner Tour

Stay in Our Pick Up Locations In Puerto Princesa

Budget accommodation for backpackers:

Hostel Privado (with free luggage keeping service)

Mid-range accommodation:

Booking.com

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Recent Guest Reviews

EXCELLENT
150 reviews on
Mau
Mau
August 28, 2023
Verified
The best island life experience All the team behind our Balabac trip was amazing and incredible! They were all friendly and helpful in our 4 days in Balabac. We went to the best and most pristine beaches in Balabac - and I must say, as a Filipino, this is probably the best beach I have seen in the Philippines! All the food they cooked and prepared were all delicious and the crabs were the bomb! We did karaoke two nights in a row and played volleyball with the local people in the village. The best way to enjoy Balabac!
Wanderer29768033894
Wanderer29768033894
August 28, 2023
Verified
Highly recommended! We had a great time! Really appreciated how love and dedication was put onto everything All of the personnel was very kind, food was great, tours very well planned .. So far, the highlight of our trip so we will recommend the tour to friends and family! ????
Xandra
Xandra
August 22, 2023
Verified
Best place ???? We really enjoyed our stay in your little community.. we really feel the warmth and care as we enter your place..you guys are really so welcoming..and we also enjoy the food, it was all delicious..???? looking forward to visit again soon with my family and friends.. thank you so much and best regards! ????????????
Mimi T
Mimi T
August 15, 2023
Verified
This is vacation! I love the whole experience. This is what a vacation should be. Relaxed. Connecting with nature. No wifi! This is recharging your well-being. Kudos to your team for taking good care of us! Keeping us safe! They were diligent in following all protocols. Food servings were generous. Healthy eating.
Emma Silvia Mancinella
Emma Silvia Mancinella
July 30, 2023
Verified
Best travel adventure This was the best thing we did in our backpacking trip to Southeast Asia. The islands are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, the vegetarian food was really good and the best part of the trip was our guide Jeremy and the rest of the group! They were amazing! I would do this tour again any day! Thank you for having us ????
Isabela
Isabela
July 8, 2023
Verified
Most authentic experience Thi experience was one of the best I have ever made. You will going to stay in an authentic Philippino village on the beach, eat simple but delicious food, enjoy amazing staff and people. This is not for everyone but only for who wants truly to leave an authentic experience, leaving at home expectation and comfort and just enjoy adventure. Balabac I think will be soon well known so I feel lucky that I can visit now. Highly suggested and I will be back as soon as possible. Thank you!
Nickola O
Nickola O
June 14, 2023
Verified
We want to go back already! We went on the 4D3N tour and we absolutely loved it. The staff were lovely and food really good considering the location. The camp site is very basic as they mention but has everything you need and only adds to the experience. The islands you visit are so beautiful and quiet with the clearest water we have ever seen. This was definitely our highlight in the Philippines.
Isabel G
Isabel G
June 14, 2023
Verified
Amazing tour and authentic island life Through this tour, we were able to authentically experience island life in the Philippines. The campsite was situated on a beautiful island with great spots for swimming, and sunset and sunrise watching. Accommodations are comfortable and basic, perfect for those looking for adventure and to experience something new. Food was very good, a lot better than I expected (3 meals a day with an afternoon snack). Island hopping days went seamlessly and were filled with beautiful sights and the most pristine beaches. The staff who helped with the tour were the best, very helpful, and fun, and with their expertise we were able to visit all the islands during the best times. I 100% recommend booking this tour.
Kendz
Kendz
June 14, 2023
Verified
Genuine Island Life Experience in Balabac Thank you for making our stay the most comfortable and fun we can possibly hope for. We love all the food prepared for us, all islands that we visited and the lovely people we met. It was a good decision to choose you for this indelible unique experience, and truly, one of the most memorable trips my friend and I ever had. 'Til next time! Continue the good work you are doing there guys! P.S. I also hope there will be an effort to clean up the coastline, especially the walk on Punta Sebaring sandbar that has one of the best sunsets and powdery sand that Boracay will surely envy. Maybe, we can add some initiatives like asking tourists or even locals if they will want to join a clean up activity (no pressure of course!) in the morning to pick up bottles/ trash - sort of early sunrise bonding then coffee at the end..
diggz j
diggz j
June 6, 2023
Verified
Superb The staff were very nice especially Jeremy who really took care of us from the start til the end of our tour, kudos to Jeremy!