Palawan is a collection of natural marvel. When people talk about Palawan, the first things that come to mind are Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Coron. Today, thousands of visitors are unaware that there is a hidden paradise on the southmost part of the region. Balabac, the untouched beauty of Palawan where a number of islands and sandbars are located. In this blog, I will take you to the virgin island’s genuine pleasure.
For a complete itinerary and details of expenses, please scroll down to the bottom of this blog.
Oftentimes we see photographers and smartphone users overuse their editing apps up to the point where the level of vibrancy is the new definition of attractiveness. Well, it’s not bad to use editing apps. Just don’t rely too much on it. It may be bad for other people who would expect and get disappointed because the real thing they see is different from online previews. I am proud to share my photos in this blog where I did have to make color adjustments or use preset effects. Prepare to be stunned by unfiltered photos from Balabac!
The beaches. My best friend invited me to go to Balabac last January 2019, even though there were no flight sales. I could say I was totally abstract at that moment so he succeeded in persuading me to go with him. A month before our flight, I looked for a travel agency to assist us in our travel and I found Balabac, Island Tour and Travel Buddies on Facebook. They offered us a package worth 10,000 per person (see full itinerary below) for a three-day three-night tour. The only sad thing about our travel was the Onok Island Tour wasn’t included, there was an issue on the dates of our tour. Nevertheless, we had our moments and we owned them.
There we were on the last days of March 2019. Right after the land tour to Buliluyan Port, we went straight to island hopping and scheduled the accommodation arrival as the last on our list, which was Canibungan Island. The first island we got off to was Canimiran Island, followed by Patawan Island. We were surprised that we had no one to join our tour. When we got off the first island, there was nobody there, too. Only an adorable dog who loved a share with our pancakes. We had our lunch on the second island and we also spent a few hours there. After a few minutes came two boats with other visitors, but they left quickly. The beaches have little red broken shells, which are noticeable in some islands. If I am correct, this could be the same as the composition of sands at the Harbour Islands in the Bahamas and a few other famous beaches in the world.
The sand is a composition of bits of coral, broken shells, minute rocks and calcium carbonate from tiny marine invertebrates. – Harbor Island Guide
The sandbars are the best. One of the sandbars we got off to was so wide it stretched beyond where the eyes can reach. The water was so clean and clear, I think we spent most of that one day of our tour on one sandbar. We did not mind the sun staring directly at us. We were having fun, and again, there were only two of us. Although a good few hours some locals were landed as well. We had a photo with some kids from a nearby island.
Punta Sebaring was one of the last islands we visited, it was actually not scheduled on our itinerary. The operator of the accommodation we got was kind enough to include it. The sandbar has a powdery feel to it. Stepping on the sand creates a 3-inch deep footprint. It was the first time I encountered sand like that. On a farther side of the Sebaring sandbar is Paradise One, totally untouched. There was nobody else but only trees and fallen pine cones. The beach was not ready for visitors, there were a lot of plastic wastes and whatnot on the shore. Examining the litter, one would notice that it had come from far away, only brought by storms and heavy waves.
Inside the islands. So if all the island beaches are almost similar, what makes them distinct? What we noticed were the trees that spread on the islands. Some have pine trees and some do not. During our second day, on Sicsican Island, some of the trees are almost at the beach, offering a good shade for those who want to sink in the water during midday. Most of the islands are abundant with coconut trees, they were just everywhere.
Large islands are occupied with residential houses, some were big enough to have their own electricity and some just ran on power generators. Kap-Andong, the operator of the accommodation where we stayed shared his valuable insights and inspiring stories about the history of the island. We especially loved their service. Ate Inday, one of the cooks, served delicious snacks and meals everytime we got into the dining area. The comfort rooms were also clean and the water from the deep well was stored in drums. Charging time for mobile devices are only possible during 6pm to 10pm. They also had a satellite cable TV at the dining area.
The rooms are totally transient. No doors, just curtains, the ventilation is the sea breeze itself. We were lucky the nights were windy or we just wouldn’t be able to take our rests at night. The owner implied that he does not plan to develop the island any further. He displayed a character that cares deeply for the environment and the wildlife.
How NEAR from Malaysia? The farthest island, Paradise two is said to be the closest to Malaysia. It is only as far as a three-hour boat ride from there, much less than the boat ride to the main island of Palawan.
When we were first handed over with our snacks, we noticed that the products were not from the Philippines. The bottled water cannot be from a local shop. Sasa, a Malaysian packed bottled water is their primary source of drinking water. They had dozens back at the campsite. Some biscuits were also from Malaysia. As well as the soda and my preferred beverage, soy milk in a can, also from Malaysia. On the most beautiful sandbar of Matangguli, we had our lunch on the boat while it was afloat. Canned chicken curry with potatoes and spicy sauce. Also from Malaysia.
Canibungan Island is a good spot for sunset and sunrise photos. Not to mention the clear starry sky at night. At one moment there was a drizzle and I was lucky enough to take a whole rainbow shot.
Most of our island hopping, my best friend and I just stroll under the heat of the sun. We walked until we get tired. Pause for a while, then go back. We had a lot of time for photo opportunities. There was nothing else to do but enjoy our time making the most out of every island.
The last morning we had to wake up early since the ferry to Rio Tuba leaves at 7am and it was only scheduled to drift once a day. After the long ride back to Palawan, we bought souvenirs from Delma Pearl and Island Souvenirs Shop just across the airport. As usual, our flight was delayed and we had to endure the midnight taxi back to our homes in Manila.
I am so thankful to come with my best friend. We spent all our time alone together and had the best tour of our lives (so far!). We are also grateful for the people on the island where we stayed. They were the most kind, friendly, and accommodating. We miss the people and the islands. We are definitely going back to Balabac.
|Balabac Islands (3d/3n)|
21:00 – 22:00 – Plane from Manila to Puerto Princesa City (Regular Fare PHP 5000 RT)
22:00 – 03:00 (+1) – Few hours stay at Le Mon Pension Transient Homes (500/room)
03:00 – 09:00 – Land Transfer to Buliluyan Port (Php 1500/pax)
09:00 – 10:30 – Buliluyan Port to Canimiran Island
10:30 – 14:30 – Patawan Island
14:30 – 15:00 – Snorkeling near camp site
15:00 – onwards – Canibungan Island *Accommodation*
09:00 – 10:00 – Matangguli Sandbar 1
10:00 – 12:30 – Candaraman Island
12:30 – 14:30 – Sicsican Island
14:30 – 15:00 – Snorkeling near camp site
15:00 – onwards – Canibungan Island
08:00 – 11:00 – Paradise Three
11:00 – 14:00 – Punta Sebaring
14:00 – 15:30 – Paradise One
15:30 – onwards – back to Canibungan Island
06:00 – 09:30 – Canibungan to Balabac Port to Rio Tuba Port (250/pax)
09:30 – 12:00 – Break at Rio Tuba
12:00 – 16:30 – Land Travel to Puerto Princesa City
16:30 – 20:00 – Free time (delayed 6pm flight)
20:00 – 22:00 – Boarding and Plane back to Manila
Plane Fare – Php5500
Van Rental for RT Transfer PPS-Ports – Php1500
Balabac Port Fee – Php250
Tour Package – Php10000
Souvenirs and Excluded Meals – Php2000
Total of Php19000+/pax
Balabac, Palawan Island Tour and Travel Buddies | Ms. Rachel Cuba | +639773630639
Island Safari Travel and Tours | Ms. Lerma and Mr. Rolando Noe (Kap-Andong) | +639182482366 | +639204214583