Guide to Balabac Palawan: Breathtaking Secluded Islands in the Philippines

Guide to Balabac Palawan: Breathtaking Secluded Islands in the Philippines

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Onok Island & aerial view of Balabac Island

The Phillippines is a country known for its countless pristine beaches scattered across its 7,640-plus islands. One of the best places to explore the white sand beaches in the Philippines is Palawan. This province in the Luzon group of islands is famous for its tourist destinations like El Nido, Coron, and Puerto Princesa. In recent years, Port Barton and the rest of San Vicente have also gained popularity among tourists who want to see a quieter side of Palawan.


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But one of the underrated places in the Philippines that is well worth a visit is Balabac, the southernmost municipality in Palawan. Because of its location, it is actually nearer to Sabah in East Malaysia than Puerto Princesa, the capital city of Palawan.

Balabac is slowly gaining popularity, thanks to its breathtaking beaches, unspoiled islands, and turquoise waters that rival those of other Palawan tourist spots. Some travelers even refer to it as the Maldives of the Philippines.

If you’re planning to add the municipality to your Palawan itinerary, this Balabac travel guide will help you by giving you what you need to know to have a hassle-free and enjoyable trip.

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Best Time to Go to Balabac Palawan

Balabac Palawan aerial view

Planning when to go to Balabac is important, not only because most of the tourist spots and activities here can be found or are held outdoors, but also because you’ll need to ride a boat to reach Balabac’s islands. To ensure a safe and fuss-free transfer to the municipality, you’ll need to schedule your visit during the dry season. Generally, this is the best time to visit the Philippines.

Dry Season | November to May

The best months to go to Balabac, Palawan is March to May, as these are the hottest months in the municipality. Visiting at this time gives you a high chance of calmer seas, which means smoother boat rides. However, do note that this is also the summer months in the Philippines, and because Holy Week falls during these months, it is also considered peak season for travel in the country. 

You may also visit from November to February, which is still considered the dry season. It won’t be as warm as March to May, but you can expect a small chance of rain during this period.

Climate and Weather

You can expect the weather in Balabac to be warm and humid year-round. However, you can expect rain during the rainy season. The hottest month in Balabac is usually May, which averages a 31.73ºC (89.11ºF) temperature, while the coolest is February, which averages a  25.48ºC (77.86ºF) temperature. 

The wettest months are usually July to October, so avoid traveling to Balabac during this period. To ensure a stress-free trip, make sure to periodically check weather updates as your vacation comes nearer.

What to Wear

Couple in Balabac, Palawan

The weather in Balabac is usually warm, and since most of its tourist attractions are islands and beaches, it’s best to pack light and breathable clothes, especially if you’re visiting during the summer months. Also, remember to include in your packing list sunglasses, hats, and sunblock to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.

How to Go to Balabac Palawan

Airplane landingIf you’re planning a trip to the southernmost municipality in Palawan, you need to plan your Balabac itinerary carefully, as traveling here can eat up a day, depending on where you’re coming from. Make sure to allot enough time before and after your arrival at Balabac Islands so you can maximize your vacation.

BEST DEAL: Click here to book a 4-Day Balabac Palawan tour package

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From Manila 

There are no direct flights from Manila to Balabac. The nearest airport to Balabac is the Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPS), so you will have to check which Manila to Puerto Princesa flights will work best for your schedule.

After arriving in Puerto Princesa, you may head directly to the port and catch a boat to Balabac, Palawan. But if your flight isn’t early enough to catch the bus to your preferred port, you will need to stay at least one night before continuing your journey to Balabac, as it would be hard to catch the boat that will take you to your final destination on the same day.

To ensure your comfort before a long journey, it’s best to stay in Puerto Princesa hotels. You should also consider booking Puerto Princesa vacation packages, some of which come complete with flights, accommodations, and Puerto Princesa Airport transfers.

If you haven’t explored Puerto Princesa yet, it’s a good idea to spend a day or two here so you can see some of its tourist attractions via Puerto Princesa tours. It would be a shame to be near the UNESCO World Heritage Site Puerto Princesa Underground River and not visit it.

From Puerto Princesa 

Puerto Princesa is the main gateway to Balabac, but if you’re in other places in Palawan, you can arrange transfers to the capital city. Puerto Princesa transfers are usually available from destinations like El Nido and Port Barton in San Vincente.

Once you are in Puerto Princesa, ride a tricycle or a jeepney to the Irawan Bus Terminal. From here, you can ride a bus or a van. There are two ports that you can go to from Irawan Bus Terminal: Rio Tuba Pier or Buliluyan Port. Both can be found in the municipality of Bataraza.

Option 1: Rio Tuba Pier

From the Irawan Bus Terminal, take the bus to Rio Tuba. The 245.9-km journey will take around four to five hours. There are usually two trips scheduled for the day, one at 8:30 AM and one at 10:30 AM. From Rio Tuba, you can take a tricycle to the pier.

There is usually only one boat per day that ferries passengers from Rio Tuba Pier to Balabac. There is no fixed schedule, and the boat leaves between 9 AM and 2 PM, so it’s best to take the earlier bus. If you miss the ferry for the day, you’d need to book accommodations in Rio Tuba and head to the port early the next day to catch the boat. 

The boat trip from Rio Tuba Port to Balabac Island usually takes three to four hours. After arriving at Balabac, make sure to take note to familiarize yourself with the port, as you will need to head back here at least a day before your departure to reserve your seat for the ferry back to Rio Tuba. There is only one boat, which usually departs at about 6 AM. Even if you have reservations, make sure to arrive early, as latecomers may lose their seats to passengers on standby.

Option 2: Buliluyan Port

From the Irawan Bus Terminal, take the bus to Buliluyan Port. The journey of about 280.2km will take around five hours. There is usually only one scheduled bus trip that departs at 8:30 AM, so make sure you don’t miss it! This bus goes straight to the port.

There are no public ferries to Balabac from Buliliyan Port, but you can hire a boat to take you to one of Balabac’s islands. You can also check with your tour operator or accommodations in Balabac if they can hire a boat on your behalf. Depending on where in Balabac you are headed, the boat trip can take one to three hours.

While it is possible to arrange everything yourself and go on a DIY tour, because of the long travel time that involves multiple transfers and requires tricky scheduling, it is recommended to book a Balabac Palawan tour package inclusive of transfers, accommodations, and tours.

How to Get Around Balabac Palawan

Boat in Balabac PalawanThe municipality of Balabac, Palawan is made up of 36 islands, so if you want to explore most of it, you will have to rent a boat or book Balabac island-hopping tours

Within the bigger islands like Balabac, Bugsuk, and Bancalan Islands, you can hire tricycles to take you around as you explore. With some islands, you can also rent a motorcycle so you can ride around the area yourself. 

If you are staying in Balabac Town, the attractions are close enough to each other that you can usually just walk from one place to another. For a hassle-free experience, you may also book Balabac, Palawan tours.

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Where to Stay in Balabac Palawan

MLK Lodging in Balabac PalawanPhoto by MLK Lodging

While Balabac, Palawan has been gaining popularity recently, don’t expect a lot of options when it comes to accommodations. The municipality is remote, and there are only limited accommodations. To ensure that you will have a place to stay during your trip, book accommodations in advance, especially during the peak season. Also, note that these accommodations are basic, so don’t expect luxury.

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Homestays and Guesthouses 

These basic accommodations can mostly be found on the two big islands, Balabac Island and Bugsuk Island. In Balabac Island, you’ll find most guesthouses and homestays at Balabac Town Proper (Poblacion), while in Bugsuk Island, your best option is the barangay of Sebaring.

Some of these accommodations only offer fan rooms with a shared bathroom, so if you want added comfort, make sure to inquire if an air-conditioned room with a private bathroom is available.


There are many islands in Balabac that you can camp in, but make sure to plan this in advance as some may require fees. Some islands where you can find camping grounds are Bugsuk Island, Onok (or Onuk) Island, Catamaran Island, and Camiaran Island. 

If you booked Palawan tour packages to Balabac with campsite accommodations, check the inclusions. Some of these packages already include camping gear, such as tents, so you don’t have to bring your own.

Resorts and Beach Camps

Also scattered throughout the islands are several resorts and beach camps. Again, these accommodations are not four- or five-star ones, but they may be able to provide you with more comfortable accommodations compared to the guesthouses and campsites.

Some beachfront resorts offer bungalow accommodations, cottages, and even rooms on stilts, while beach camps offer tent accommodations that are already set up and ready to sleep in. You can find some of these accommodations on Patawan Island, Balabac Island, and Onok Island.

Top Things to Do and Tourist Spots in Balabac Palawan

The municipality is made up of several islands, so it’s no surprise that the majority of the Balabac, Palawan tourist spots and attractions are pristine beaches surrounded by crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life. Depending on the ownership of some islands, you may have to pay a fee or ask for permission to visit, but your tour operator can easily arrange this when you book Philippine island-hopping tours.

BEST DEAL: Click here to book a 4-Day Balabac Palawan tour package

Relax in Onok Island

Onok Island in Balabac, PalawanBalabac has some of the best beaches in Palawan, and one of them can be found on Onok Island. This tiny island east of Balabac Island is known for its stunning sandbar, shallow waters, giant clams, and a pretty walkway on stilts. Here, you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, or just relaxing at the beach. If you’re lucky, you can also spot sea turtles in its waters. 

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Marvel at the views at Camiaran Island (Pink Island)

Camiaran Pink Island in Balabac, PalawanCamiaran Island is sometimes referred to as Pink Island, thanks to the pinkish hue of the sand. This is caused by the crushed red coral that the sea has mixed with the sand. As you walk along the sand, there is actually a good chance of you stumbling upon pieces of red coral brought in by the time. Remember to refrain from taking these with you.

Enjoy the white sand at Punta Sebaring Beach

Punta Sebaring Beach in Balabac, PalawanLocated on Bugsuk Island, Punta Sebaring Beach is a popular destination in Balabac as it can easily be accessed by the guesthouses and campsites nearby. It is known for its 6-kilometer white sand beach that is connected to its massive sandbar.

Chill at Candaraman Island and snorkel at Starfish Sandbar

Candamaran Island in Balabac PalawanOne of the smaller islands in Balabac, Candaraman Island is usually a lunch stop for Balabac island-hopping tours. It is home to cream-colored sand, pale blue waters, and tall palm trees. Near the island is Starfish Sandbar. During low tide, you’ll see starfish strewn across the sand. Don’t worry if you arrive during high tide, as you can still snorkel in the shallow waters to see these creatures.

See the dolphin-shaped sands of Patawan Island

Patawan Island in Balabac PalawanPatawan Island is a small island located east of Bancalan Island. It is another private island that is best visited through Palawan tours. Many have dubbed it Dolphin Island, as its sandbar sometimes resembles a dolphin when seen from an aerial view. Apart from enjoying the sandbar, you can swim and snorkel in its waters.

Stroll along Mansalangan Sandbar

Mansalangan Sandbar in Balabac, Palawan

This sandbar is connected to Byan Island, east of Matangule Island. This picturesque and snaking sandbar stretches as far as the eye can see, making it perfect for a relaxing stroll while enjoying the sea breeze.

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Gaze into the blue waters of Tangkahan Island

Balabac has an abundance of stunning islands, and Tangkahan Island is one of them. This island boasts sandy beaches, towering palm trees, and surrounding waters that have different hues of blue.

Snorkel in the waters of Sicsican Island and Pulau Bato (Nasubata Reef)

Sicsican Island in Balabac, Palawan

While most of the islands and beaches in Balabac are great spots for snorkeling, if you really want to see lush marine life, head to either Sicscian Island or Nasubata Reef, which is also known as Pulao Bato. Sicsican Island is known for its flourishing coral garden, while Nasubata Reef is often found teeming with colorful fish.

Climb to see Cape Melville Lighthouse

On Balabac Island, you’ll find a Spanish-era lighthouse that began operating in 1892. Back then, it guided ships crossing the waters between Balabac and the northern islands of Sabah, Malaysia. While it is no longer used today, the 90-foot-tall lighthouse still looks impressive in the daylight, even as plants and trees are slowly reclaiming its structures. 

Explore Indalawan Falls and Indalawan Beach from Balabac Town

Since they are located on the same island, you can reach Barangay Indalawan from Balabac Town via land transportation. If you’re riding a motorcycle or a tricycle, expect a bumpy trip to Indalawan Falls and Indalawan Beach, as you may need to pass by dirt roads along the way. The trip will be well worth it, though, as these two untouched sites will give you the chance to reconnect with nature or just enjoy a peaceful and quiet exploration.

Balabac Palawan Sample Itinerary

Sandy beach in Balabac, Palawan

Because of the long travel to get here, it is best to allot at least five days for your Balabac trip. This will allow you to have three days to explore Balabac. If you have more time and want to explore more of the municipality, you may also extend your trip to seven or more days.

BEST DEAL: Click here to book a 4-Day Balabac Palawan tour package

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Day 1: Travel to Puerto Princesa and/or Rio Tuba

Day 2: Arrival in Balabac + Island Hopping Tour

  • Boat ride to Balabac from Rio Tuba Pier or Buliluyan Port

  • Island-hopping tour to Tangkahan Island, Patawan Island, and Punta Sebaring Beach

  • Enjoy swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing

  • Lunch served picnic-style on one of the islands

  • Overnight camping at Punta Sebaring Beach

Day 3: Balabac Island-Hopping Tour 2

  • Enjoy breakfast 

  • Island-hopping tour to Mansalangan Sandbar, Canibungan Island, and Sicsican Island

  • Back to Balabac Town and check-in at accommodations

Day 4: Balabac Island-Hopping Tour 3

  • Enjoy breakfast 

  • Island-hopping tour to Candaraman Sandbar and Onok Island, where you can swim with turtles and explore the giant clam area

  • Travel back to Balabac Island

  • Hike to Cape Melville Lighthouse and watch the sunset

  • Free time to relax, pack, and prepare for departure.

  • Dinner and overnight stay at accommodations

Day 5: Departure from Balabac

  • Breakfast and checkout from your accommodations

  • Depart from Balabac via ferry or boat to Rio Tuba Pier or Buliluyan Port

  • From Rio Tuba Pier or Buliluyan Port, travel back to Puerto Princesa by bus or van

  • Depart from Puerto Princesa International Airport to your next destination.

Balabac Palawan Travel Tips and FAQs

Patongong Island in Balabac, Palawan

Balabac, Palawan is an amazing destination to visit, but thanks to its remote location, not a lot of people have had the chance to explore it, and many may have questions about this destination. Check out the following tips and frequently asked questions so you can have a smooth and fuss-free trip.

Are there ATMs in Balabac, Palawan? 

Since it is a remote municipality, there are no ATMs in Balabac. It is best to bring all the cash that you would need for the entire trip. It’s best to withdraw Philippine currency either in Manila or Puerto Princesa. If you’re staying a night in Rio Tuba, you will also find some ATMs in the barangay.

Is it safe to go to Balabac, Palawan? 

Balabac is generally safe for all tourists, but as with any destination, travelers should always exercise the right amount of caution and be mindful of all the health and travel risks that come with the trip. It is also best to be informed about the local customs, traditions, and laws so that you don’t accidentally disrespect the locals or break the law. 

Is there mobile or phone signal in Balabac, Palawan? 

The weak mobile signal in Balabac, Palawan is not reliable, so if you need to update your friends and family or download important information, it is best to do so while you are in Puerto Princesa or other bigger cities and towns.

Tropical landscape with lagoons in Balabac, Palawan

Are there any restrictions or permits required in Balabac?

Since some islands in Balabac are privately owned, visiting them may require fees or permits. This can be arranged by your tour operator.

What should I bring for my trip to Balabac?

Palawan is the only place in the Philippines with malaria, and while the local government is taking steps to eradicate the disease in the province, it is best to take precautions and bring and use mosquito repellant.

Also, take note that because Balabac is remote and has limited infrastructure and access to modern amenities, you should bring your own creature comforts and necessities like drinking water, food, and medicine. Some areas also have no electricity so it is recommended to bring a power bank and charge it when possible.

Is there anything else I should take note of when visiting Balabac?

As with any place you visit, do not litter. If you have trash with you but there are no garbage bins in sight, hold on to it until you find an environmentally friendly way to dispose of it.

Start planning your trip to Balabac, Palawan

Mansalangan Sandbar in Balabac, Palawan

The travel to Balabac, Palawan is not for the faint of heart, but after reaching this remote and untouched destination, you will instantly realize that the time and effort required to get there is worth it.

In fact, Balabac's isolation from the main island of Palawan adds to its charm. While there are no luxurious resorts and strong mobile signal here, it gives visitors the chance to go back to basics, reconnect with nature, and shut away the noise of the modern world. 

Give yourself the chance to be recentered when you explore the southernmost municipality of Palawan and arrange your trip to Balabac today.

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