Majestic Onuk Island – Palawan’s Hidden Paradise

Early Morning in Onuk Island photo by Nelo Marasigan-Manzo

Balabac, Palawan: Onuk Island Travel Guide

Onuk Island is Palawan’s undiscovered gem that offers more than just scenic views!

Palawan is one of the must-visit places in the Philippines, especially during the summer. The Puerto Princesa Underground River is world-renowned and is one of the 7 New Wonders of Nature. The limestone cliffs of El Nido are picturesque and comparable to Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay.

White Sand Beach in Onuk Island by Bugsuk Island FB
White Sand Beach in Onuk Island / Roughton Island photo by Akrosdayunibers

But a new undiscovered Palawan gem is worth visiting – the beautiful Onuk Island!

Found in the southwestern part of Palawan, Onuk Island (formerly known as Roughton Island) is a hidden spot that’s now taking the limelight for its crystal waters and its white sand beaches. It’s a great destination for rest and relaxation, and the calm waters make it a great place for swimming.

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Early Morning in Onuk Island photo by Nelo Marasigan-Manzo
Early Morning in Onuk Island photo by Nelo Marasigan-Manzo

It’s also fast becoming a popular tourist destination, having been featured in National Geographic Channel because of a winning photo by travel photographer George Tapan.

Onuk Island is a privately-owned island, a property of Mayor Shuaib Astami of Balabac, Palawan. Despite its being a private property, it is open to the public, and it has a few rooms to accommodate guests.

Floating Cottages in Onuk Island by Nelo Marasigan-Manzo
Floating Cottages in Onuk Island by Nelo Marasigan-Manzo

How to get to Onuk Island

If you want to go to the island, approach the local Office of the Mayor in Balabac town. Since Onuk Island is privately owned, special permissions and arrangements need to be made in order to be allowed to the island.

Sunset in Onuk Island by Renan Barco
Sunset in Onuk Island by Renan Barco Follow his Instagram @renanbarco

There is also a satellite office in Pajara, Puerto Princesa City where one can get permission. Best to bring a formal letter requesting entry to Onuk Island. You can contact the following point person Ms. Lorna at 0917-553-2845 or Ms. Fatima at 0921-777-6645.

Turtle in Onuk Island by Nelo Marasigan-Manzo
Turtle in Onuk Island by Nelo Marasigan-Manzo

To reach the island, there are boats for rent from Balabac Palawan. The boat rental depends on the boat size and the number of parties riding. The trip to the island takes roughly one hour.

How to get to Balabac, Palawan

Sunset in Balabac Palawan by Nelo Marasigan-Manzo
Sunset in Balabac Palawan by Nelo Marasigan-Manzo

To reach Balabac, you need to go to Rio Tuba in Palawan first. From Puerto Princesa City, Rio Tuba is about 7 hours ride by bus. Once you reached Rio Tuba, you need to take a passenger boat to Balabac (around 4 hours boat ride).

Things to do in the Island

Once on the island, frolic on the white sand with your loved ones, or go swimming in the clear blue waters. There are also sandbars during low tide season, and around this time you’ll see friendly creatures like hermit crabs and turtles!

Travel Photographer Nelo Manzo - worshiping the sun in Onuk Island Palawan
Travel Photographer Nelo Marasigan-Manzo – worshiping the sun in Onuk Island Palawan

This is the perfect getaway island – no internet connection, cellphone signal is limited, and no television sets. Electricity in the island is also turned off at midnight. It’s back to basics, but who needs these technologies when you have a great view?

From the island, you can rent a smaller boat and paddle towards the middle of the water for some water adventures. Go snorkeling and see giant clams and corals. The waters here are so clear you don’t even need goggles to see the underwater beauty. The beauty of Onuk Island is in the fact that without the crowds of a usual tourist destination, and of course the care-taking of a private owner, the waters are so clear and so clean, you will definitely not have trash blocking your view.

Relaxing in Onuk Island photo by Nelo Marasigan-Manzo
Relaxing in Onuk Island photo by Nelo Marasigan-Manzo

Caretakers staying in the island will be more than willing to serve some good home-cooked meals when you get hungry. Freshly cooked seafood from their catch is standard in the menu.

As the sun sets, you will see from afar the view of the mountain ranges in Balabac. This is also the perfect time to relax by the beachfront, or just chill in one of the many hammocks you will see tied to the trees in the island.

Definitely one of the best places to visit this summer, Onuk Island offers the perfect getaway for friends and families who want to appreciate the natural beauty of our country.

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