Every summer, we are constantly on the look out for new destinations to explore. Besides, of all the 7,641 Philippine Islands, only a handfull are generally considered as established tourist destinations. This includes the island province of Palawan. After earning the most coveted spot as the “World Best Island” for 2 consecutive years, truck loads of tourists have made this their destination of choice, leading to the overnight fame of 3 of its major attractions: Puerto Princesa, El Nido and Coron. However, as how the saying goes “save the best for last,” Palawan’s finest set of islands is hidden far away from the bustling crowd of Central and Northern Palawan and is found at the southern tip of this elongated landmass. The Balabac Archipelago is a group of 31 islands found at the very tip of the Palawan Province. It’s a collection of islets, atolls and sand bars, of which Onuk Island is said to be the best, most beautiful, most coveted and yet the most elusive island.
To get here, one needs to travel to Rio Tuba town from Puerto Princesa, a good 4-hour drive and another 4 hours by boat going to Balabac town from Rio Tuba. Balabac town is still in its purest and untouched form, therefore, accommodations are very basic. From basic to “roughing it,” lodging are available in Balabac town and Punta Sebaring Island.
From Balabac town, iHAPer must take another 2.5 hour scenic boat ride before reaching the paradise called Onuk island. The boat ride can be very calm to rough depending on the time of the day and weather, however, one can witness an otherworldly change of water color from dark blue, light blue to crystal clear white as the island gets closer.
Once the island is reached a blinding white sandy shore welcomes travellers, while a rustic-looking wharf and cottages on stilts is easily noticeable from the approaching boat.
The island of Onuk is blessed with immense beauty. Here, one will find probably the whitest and finest sand, comparable to that of talcum powder; a patch of lush vegetation at the center of the island; nesting sea turtles that come back to the island to lay their eggs; and the healthiest corals, where giant Taclobo clams, Nemo, Dory and other types of fish swim in abundance. To top it all, a view of the mountain range of Sabah, Malaysia is surprisingly visible on the southern horizon of the island.
Accessing the Island is quite tricky, not because of it’s location but because of the permit that any potential visitor has to request for to visit the island. The Island of Onuk is owned by the Mayor of Balabac, Palawan and any request to visit the island must be coordinated with the LGU of Balabac. Based on the experience of the group of travel blogger Chyng Reyes, permits are only issued, a day before the visit, so an alternate plan to visit other islands of Balabac must be in place as a back up.
It is also highly suggested to have a reliable boatman since the town is fairly new in catering to incoming visitors. One highly recommended boatman is Kuya Fidel. His rental rate is P3000 per day, good for 6 people.
Special thanks to Travel Blogger Chyng Reyes for sharing this amazing travel experience. Please visit her website www.chyngreyes.com for more tips and photos about Onuk Island.
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