Balabac is located at South of Palawan with 40 000 population. Balabac is a paradise to discover in Palawan. There are 31 islands where you will enjoy amazing island hopping. In this blog post will tell you all the things to do in Balabac, how to get there, prices schedule in our Balabac travel guide.
If you are heading to Balabac from Puerto Princesa the whole trip will take you around 5 days with the possibility of enjoying 3 days island hopping in Palawan. Prices for this trip you can find around 6000-8000 PHP per person joining a tour in Balabac (expect little bit more for a private tour) plus transportation to get there.
BALABAC TRAVEL GUIDE
HOW TO GET TO BALABAC
HOW TO GET TO BALABAC FROM PUERTO PRINCESA
You can get to Balabac from Puerto Princesa to Rio Tuba by passenger boat. And also you can get to Balabac from Buliluyan port.
HOW TO GET TO RIO TUBA FROM PUERTO PRINCESA
If you are going to Rio Tuba from Puerto Princesa by van will take 4-5 hours depending on the traffic. Prices are around 450-500 PHP depending on the driver. The schedule of the vans from Puerto Princesa to Rio Tuba is around 5 am to 6 pm. It’s not fixed schedule!
Once in Rio Tuba you have to get the passenger boat going to Balabac. It will take around 4 hours to get to Balabac. It costs 350-400 PHP. The boat leaves around 11 am. But you will have to book secure your seat early morning to make sure you have space on it. You have to buy your tickets from boat crew in Marabahay Pier.
This way you can do easy on your own. Once in Balabac you will decide if you join to a tour or get a private boat. When you are back to Rio Tuba you have to do the same way from Balabac town to Rio Tuba and get a van to Puerto Princesa.
Based in our experience last van is leaving around 7 pm from Rio Tuba to Puerto Princesa. We got to Rio Tuba around 8 pm and there were no regular vans anymore. They offered to us 4000 PHP for going direct to Puerto Princesa by van instead 450 PHP each that we paid regular service.
You have two options you can stay overnight in Rio Tuba and vans start leaving as early at 3 am from Rio Tuba to Puerto Princesa. The trip lasts 4 hours. You can also stay in the restaurant is 24 hours. In the restaurant there is wifi and data connection if you plan to connect online after not having connection for a few days in Balabac. We decided to stay in the restaurant since we wanted to catch up with work.
HOW TO GET TO BULILUYAN PORT FROM PUERTO PRINCESA
If you want to get to Buliluyan port from Puerto Princesa. You have to organize with a tour operator as we did. They will organize the transfer of the vans going from Puerto Princesa and coming back.
We organized with Ate Lorna (we saw good recommendations in other blogs but it wasn’t our case). Everything was bad organized so I can’t recommend this option. Next time we will do from Rio Tuba on our own and we will hire a boatman in Balabac.
The problem going to Buliluyan port for us it took so long the waiting time. From Buliluyan port you start your island hopping. And after one hour sailing you start visiting amazing islands in Balabac. It was cheap price but we didn’t visit as much islands as the initial plan was supposed.
We paid 6000 PHP per adult for 3 days Island hopping, food and accommodation included. Han our little one paid 2000 PHP all included too. Prices were affordable and it was the cheapest that we found but we got also 7000 PHP with other operator called Reinaldo.
IS IT SAFE FOR FOREIGNERS TO VISIT BALABAC ITINERARY?
I read before the trip that Balabac wasn’t totally safe for foreigners. As a foreigner I felt myself very safe in our Balabac itinerary. I met foreigners that they visited Balabac and all of them they felt very safe too.
Most of the foreigner countries recommend not to travel to South Palawan because is too risky due to terrorist attack or pirates. Based on my experience if you organize your trip with a tour operator they will guide you around and you will have no problems.
Based in my experience is safe visiting Balabac for foreigners. I didn’t see any problem and everything was working as other tourist destinations in the Philippines. Balabac isn’t so develop so don’t expect so much comfort when visiting Balabac. Accommodation in the islands are basic, you will not find phone signal and internet connection. But going island hopping in Balabac will be an amazing experience.
ATM’S IN BALABAC
There is no ATM in Balabac! We recommend you to bring cash and withdraw in Puerto Princesa. On the way to Rio Tuba there are places where you can withdraw money. You can ask the van driver to stop in Nara and Brooke’s point. You will find ATM and also in Rio Tuba.
Our advice it’s don’t trust so much this option. In our case we couldn’t withdraw in Nara and Brooke’s point since the ATM wasn’t working when we pass by with the van. It’s much better that you withdraw enough money in Puerto Princesa for your trip in Balabac. So you don’t have to be worried about cash. You just have to enjoy the island life in Balabac. Make sure that you bring extra cash for your trip.
DAILY ITINERARY BUDGET TRAVEL IN BALABAC
It’s hard to say about a Balabac itinerary daily budget travel since prices are changing and depending of the season. It depends if you are joining to a tour or getting a private boat. But we will try to give as much information as we can as we always do here. Especially about travel on a budget!
When we were preparing the trip we made calls trying to match budget and schedule a tour operator in Balabac. And most of them were offering similar prices and tours. Expect to pay for 3 days 2 nights around 6000-10000 PHP per adult. It’s weird but you can try to bargain the price since there is so much difference. Per kid expect to pay around 2000-5000 PHP based in our experience.
You can try to adjust the price before choosing a tour operator if this your choice. These prices are all included: food, water, entrance fees and accommodation. They will pick you up in Buliluyan port and drive back to the same place. There is no so much variety about food in Balabac so contact to your tour operator if you have any food restrictions.
You will have to arrange on your own the transportation going to Balabac or with the tour company the prices of the van going to Balabac. Expect to pay 600 PHP per person as we did from Puerto Princesa to Buliluyan Port. Make sure you read the schedule above to make sure you don’t have to wait overnight in Rio Tuba. Or being ready with the information if you decide to do wait for a few hours.
To go to Rio Tuba the price is 400-450 PHP. If you want contacts or tour operators for your trip around Balabac email us at [email protected] or just reply in the comments below and we will provide you the information.
If you are planning a private tour for adult we got 2500 PHP each adult per day and kids were joining for free. It was only included the island hopping. No entrance fees, food, accommodation and water. If you can travel 4 of you as we plan to do it in the future.
You can get a boat in Balabac around 5000-8000 PHP per day depending how many of you and the season low or peak season. These prices are only for renting the boat per day. And you will have to arrange your food, water and accommodation.
ENTRANCE FEES IN BALABAC
Entrance fees to the islands are between 50-150 PHP most of them. Except Onuk Island which goes from 1500 PHP spending the day to 2500 PHP if you stay overnight. Prices will be cheaper if you are traveling in a group or if you can join 3-4 people you will get better deals that if you do alone. At the time that we visited Balabac Onuk Island was closed for a few months for cleaning and maintenance.
BEST TIME TO VISIT BALABAC
Most of the people are visiting during the dry season from November to April. The best time to visit Balabac is from April to May. We visited on June and the weather was windy and it rained one day out of three that we spent in Balabac. The best thing of going on June that we were alone visiting the islands and sandbanks. We saw maximum two boats in the same island at this time.
ELECTRICITY AND INTERNET CONNECTION IN BALABAC
You will not find internet connection in Balabac. Well at one point you can find an intermittent signal, we didn’t find it. Also similar with phone companies like Smart and Globe we couldn’t find phone signal in Balabac.
In Buliluyan port Smart was getting signal for messages and calls but not for internet connection. In Rio Tuba you can get wifi, phone signal with Smart and Globe. Also you can get data connection with no problem in the town of Rio Tuba.
Once you are in the islands around Balabac just enjoy and forget about phone signal and internet connection. You will find electricity to charge your devices. In our case until 10 pm you were able to charge your batteries and devices which was enough time to do it.
Since they provide adapters to connect USB and plugs enough for all the people staying in the accommodation. Apart from this there is almost no electricity just with their own generators in the islands.
MALARIA IN BALABAC
There were a few cases of Malaria in Balabac. We didn’t hear of any of them directly. We just put mosquito repellent but we didn’t take malaria pills. Just inform yourself in a medical center and make the right decisions before going to Balabac. In our case everything was fine and we didn’t have any health problem in Balabac. Most of the visitors that we met in Balabac didn’t take any malaria pills.
HOW MANY DAYS YOU SHOULD STAY IN BALABAC
In our opinion at least 3 days island hopping is a must in Balabac. It means be ready to spend 5 days from Puerto Princesa to Balabac and come back to Puerto Princesa.
There are companies that organize tours in Balabac. You can contact them and try to schedule your trip with them. If they pick you up first thing in the morning from Puerto Princesa you can reach Balabac at noon. So you will be able to enjoy your first day of island hopping in Balabac.
After the island hopping the first day you will be able to stop 2-3 places before watching the sunset and sleep in your first accommodation. The accommodation in Balabac is limited and basic. If you get a room it will be so small. If there is no enough rooms you will sleep in a tent.
The second day you will start with breakfast and island hopping around Balabac 3-4 islands. You can include Onuk island which allows stay overnight. Prices are expensive 2500 PHP per person overnight. We couldn’t visit Onuk since it was closed for 3 months for cleaning the island at that time.
Similar like first day after sunset dinner and time to sleep. Electricity is limited but good enough to charge your devices. You will not get phone signal in the whole trip. It happened to us from Buliluyan Port where you can get Smart signal weak for calls and not even getting data for internet.
The third day you can do island hopping and going back to Buliluyan port around 3 pm. If you coordinate properly with your tour operator you will be able to reach Rio Tuba by van. And from there get the last van going to Puerto Princesa around 5-6 pm. We didn’t manage to get a van on time to Rio Tuba on time and we stayed overnight in Rio Tuba.
For us 3 days of island hopping in Balabac is the minimum that you should do. But we recommend you if you can extend to 4-5 days since there are many islands to visit and it takes long to reach them. We decided 3 days was fine since we didn’t want to stay longer without internet connection.
WHAT TO BRING TO BALABAC
Sunblock make sure you protect and avoid to burn your skin.
Bring extra water in our case they were providing just a small water per meal. So better if you bring a couple of them.
Mosquito Repellent yeah! After the sunset make sure you put mosquito repellent and you cover yourself with pants and long sleeves to avoid them.
Power-banks to charge your phones and devices. You can use them to take pictures, watching movies or listening to the music since there is always free time after the island hopping.
Snacks since you will almost not find them in the islands.
Snorkeling mask is a must in Balabac. For our surprise our tour operator didn’t provide snorkeling mask for renting. Luckily we are always ready with our own and we didn’t have this concern.
Dry Bag to protect your devices and belongings.
Raincoat just in case it rains.
Long pants and long sleeves for protection against the mosquitos.
All your travel gear from underwater cameras, drone or whatever you have it. Balabac is amazing and you will love to capture these moments.
THINGS TO DO IN BALABAC ISLAND
1. ISLAND HOPPING IN BALABAC
Obviously the main activity is island hopping in Balabac. It will be a non stop island hopping. We did for 3 days and we slept 2 nights in the same island.
It was our first stop in the island hopping in Balabac is one hour far from Buliluyan port and one of the most beautiful place in Balabac. Sorry guys but it was windy and we couldn’t fly the drone to show you pictures from above.
CANDARAMAN SANDBAR AND ISLAND / STARFISH ISLAND
It was great for snorkeling and the water was so clear. Unfortunately at sunset time the sand bar was in high tide. But the water was so transparent and there were many star fishes.
It was our first stop of the second day and it was the rainy day. In the pictures we can see how clear was the water. There is a sand bar but at that time it was a swimming pool. Nice pictures for taking pictures with the small house and the sand bar.
In Bugsuk Island we stop for lunch and the beach is nice but unluckily the weather was still rainy that morning. Very close from the previous sand bar.
MANSALANGAN SAND BAR
At this time in Mansalangan was low tide and we could walk around and watch the star fishes. It was still windy so we couldn’t manage to fly the drone. Our last stop of the day.
Kanibungan Beach was one of our favorite places to visit and enjoy swimming, flying the drone and taking pictures. Blue water and transparent. Great for snorkeling, calm and relax island.
We stopped in Marabaon town and you can see the mix of the people Malaysian and Filipino. The stores sell Malaysian products like the mineral water, chocolates and even clothes. We saw also a huge problem since in Marabon town was full of trash.
Our last stop in Balabac was Tangkahan Island so beautiful with perfect weather was a perfect place to say goodbye. Great drone pictures, clear water for snorkeling and quiet place to stay.
You have to try snorkeling in Balabac since the water is so clear and you will see fishes and plenty of star fishes. Our little one Han enjoyed a lot doing snorkeling just around the seashore you can see many of them.
We recommend you to bring your own snorkeling gear as we always do. In this case in our Island hopping in Balabac the tour operator wasn’t provided snorkeling. So we used ours and we didn’t have a problem on this.
If you aren’t bringing snorkeling gear make sure that the tour operator is providing for renting or as part of your package. You can’t miss snorkeling in Balabac Island.
3. FLYING THE DRONE
We went there on June and it was windy and rainy sometimes. So we couldn’t fly the drone as much we would like to do it. If you are planning to fly the drone in Balabac. The best time to visit Balabac and flying the drone are the months of April and May when it’s not rainy and the wind is calm.
4. WALKING AROUND THE SANDBARS
It was amazing to visit sandbars in Balabac they were huge and surrounded of clear water everywhere. We couldn’t fly the drone in all of them but we had so much fun walking, swimming and taking pictures around. It’s so beautiful the water clear and the white sand. Going to the sandbars was definitely one of our favorite things to do in Balabac.
5. WATCH STARFISHES
Close to the sandbar there is a star fish island where you can see many star fishes around. There are plenty of them in the clear water. You can even see them walking around without snorkeling.
6. WATCHING MAGICAL SUNSETS
We were staying in Island and the sunsets were so magical. Blue and clear water combining with orange and pink colors was amazing. Our place for staying was Kandaraman Island and the sunsets were so colorful and amazing.
Balabac isn’t very touristic. You can’t expect comfort when staying in the islands. You will get a simple and tiny room without electricity. You will have also the possibility to pitch the tent. They will offer for you the options depending on availability that they have.
MORE THINGS TO DO IN BALABAC
8. SHOPPING MALAYSIAN PRODUCTS
An interesting thing to know in Balabac. Since Balabac is close to Malaysian Borneo and cargo ships stop in Balabac. You will find many products as mineral water, chocolates, soups coming from Malaysia. As we mentioned before part of the population in Balabac are muslim and part are catholic.
9. VISIT ONUK ISLAND
When we were in Balabac Onuk Island was closed because they were cleaning. Everyone who visited there liked it. Prices are expensive and you pay 1500 PHP for day tour visiting Onuk Island and 2500 PHP if you stay overnight. Expect to pay more once they open Onuk Island again based in the boatmen.
This is our Balabac travel guide with all the things to do in Balabac. Hope you like it and email us if you have questions going to visit Balabac island. Share with your friends and family and hope they can visit soon this paradise.
GO BACK AGAIN TO BALABAC ITINERARY?
Yes for sure! It’s in our mind to go back in a few months and plan the things better. At least making sure that if we can’t do longer days of island hopping like waking up early until sunset or having an extra day for island hopping instead 3 days.
It’s not crowded, I would say 90-95 % of the tourists are locals. Included myself (well considering myself half tourist only ha! Since I have been living in the Philippines for a few years) I saw just 5 foreigners in Balabac during our island hopping and staying in the islands.
I think Balabac will increase the visit of tourists every year. And we have to be careful with the islands and try to keep in the same way that we find them. Take care of the trash, be conscious about this. If you can collect trash when you see in the beach it will take you a few minutes to keep it clean and bring back to the boat.
Hope that we replied all your questions in our Balabac travel guide and we didn’t forget anything in our favorite things to do in Balabac. Let us know in the comments below and feel free to share this psot with your family and friends going to Balabac.
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