Bearing the sheer strength of the Northeast monsoon, we disembarked to seemingly perilous trip from Balabac proper to the shores of sheer beauty – Onuk Island.
It is already my second time to visit this farfetched archipelago of pristine beauty, however, in the last quarter of the year 2018. My heartfelt thanks to Ms. Lorna Mortega, who hosted our trip there. To conveniently arrange your Balabac Island tour, please contact her at +63 946-557-6503 (Smart/TnT/Sun) or +63 906-690-9547 (Globe/TM). Below are her boats you can rent.
Here is another link for detailed travel guide:
Tip: Best to visit Balabac during summer and when both monsoon winds (NorthEast and Southwest) are not in season. According to Kuya Onyok, the waters are calm during those months, however, the huge influx of tourists.
We made it to the island, however, few hours after we docked, unfavorable Northeastern monsoon winds start to brunt its strength. The strong whistling winds sustained for more than two days leaving as stuck in the island. From afar, we can see gigantic waves and whitewash with an unaided eye. For safety reasons, we chose to stay and enjoy the island’s every nook and crannies.
What to do in Onuk if you are stuck?
WADE ITS CLEAR WATERS – especially during low tide. Coupled with fine white sand, it is hard not to heed its call. There is a ruined stilted structure which you can walk in knee-high waters.
SNORKEL – unlike other islands of Balabac, Onuk Island has its own reef teeming with diverse marine life. Just be aware of the current. Best to snorkel with fins. Both sides of the island are surrounded by coral reefs. Should it be high tide, you can ask your boatman to bring you to the right spot.
ENJOY THE ISLAND’S CORE – The central part of the island is covered with coconut trees and other flora. There is also a helipad. Be careful with some shrubs because of their spiny edges. There are chickens and ducks as well freely roaming this spot.
SWIM WITH SEA TURTLES – there is a rich seagrass area right beside the kitchen area of Onuk Island. Should you be lucky, wild sea turtles will visit and feed on the seagrass. It is like underwater grazing! Suggest maintaining silence to not frighten away the turtles. During our stay, we are able to see more than five turtles per batch. We just observed them above the deck. Do not underestimate these gentle sea creatures, you might notice their speed underwater should you wish to swim near them. Suggest not to touch them.
WASTE TIME AT THE HAMMOCK – Best spot to spend me-time! Lucky we are, that only four guests are at the island during our stay. With that hammock, almost free to the whole day, I spent hours snoozing with headphones plugged.
CIRCUMVENT THE ISLAND – Onuk Island can be explored in less than half an hour. Rimmed with fine white sand, your toes would surely be wanting to saunter its edges. Best to do this during low tide. Should you see some trash, suggest to pick them up and
PLAY LIKE A KID – unleash your inner child! Play the usual games you do during your school years. Fly a kite, play “patintero”, “tagtagan”, “piko”. Do you think you can play “Langit Lupa” here?
SUNRISE AND SUNSET WATCHING – since the island is surrounded by expansive, you can enjoy both sunrise and sunset. Watch as colors of landscape and seascape change dramatically while perched over the stilted house.
PHOTOSHOOT UNLIMITED – Immortalize your memories. Bring out all your selfie and groufie poses. If you are into vlogging, this is a spot best to record. Enjoy every angle and perspective of Onuk Island.
WATCH OUT FOR GLOWING PLANKTONS – At the dark side of the island, you can sit and watch for the crashing waves. This is where most of the glowing blue planktons are. At first sight, I felt a bit creepy, however, I enjoy observing them despite being alone at the dark side of the island.
MILKY WAY HUNTING – Since of its distance from Balabac proper, and after the lights go out, head out for the right time and right angle of the sky to catch the faint milky way.
SHARE MEALS AND STORIES WITH THE CARETAKERS – nothing beats connecting and knowing the island’s part from the first-hand source, the caretakers. They would be happy to share its history and how the island developed through the years. Since not all of the days they have guests at the island, I believe the caretakers are happy to indulge conversations to break the boredom.
What to expect in Onuk Island?
- There are roofed structures connected by a stilted bridge.
- They have electricity at night ran by a generator. Fuel available is good for 1-2 hours. It is during this time you can charge your gadgets.
- They have a solar powered charger. But it is for their personal use. You can ask politely if you need to recharge.
- They have a kitchen area.
- They have limited freshwater stock, so schedule well your bathing and washing.
- Despite its distance, note that there is a 3g signal at Onuk. Find the spot strongest should you wish to update your social media accounts.
One of the many breakfasts that Kuya Onyok and Ate Lorna served to us during our stay in Balabac. Would like to note that Kuya Onyok’s dishes are amazing! During our stay in Onuk, he is the one who does the cooking for us – from breakfast to dinner. My heartfelt thanks to Kuya Onyok!
Thank you to Sir Richard Ryan of Davao City for joining me in this unexpected treacherous trip to Balabac Island.
Balabac is the southernmost municipality of Palawan and has more spots waiting to be discovered. With its distance from the main urban Puerto Princesa, its pristine beauty is still kept from the eyes of the local and foreign travelling community.