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 / 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 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.
Early Morning in Onuk Island photo by Nelo Marasigan-Manzo
It’s also fast becoming a popular tourist destination, featured on 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 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
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 to be allowed to the island.
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
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
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 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 on the island is also turned off at midnight. It’s back to basics, but who needs these technologies when you have a great view?
You can rent a smaller boat from the island 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.
Onuk Island’s beauty 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
Caretakers staying on 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 on 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 island’s trees.
Definitely, one of the best places to visit this summer, Onuk Island offers the perfect getaway for friends and families who want to appreciate our country’s natural beauty.