Not so long ago, a trip to Palawan usually meant either Coron, El Nido, or Puerto Princesa. But the breezy southern islands of Balabac – also dubbed as the “Last of the last frontier”, is becoming subtly well-known for its sleepy town, fine white sand beaches, unlimited amounts of delicious seafood, and friendly neighborhood.

The Balabac islands are always reliable, with their crystal-clear waters, towering coconut trees, and open skies. Given the proximity to Malaysia, being closer than mainland Palawan, the diverse range of consumer goods here will be more from Malaysia than the Philippines. What the island lacks for pork and beef products, it compensates with bountiful seafoods, wherein you’ll likely have a different variant of freshest crab meal every day on your island hopping tours. If lucky, you’ll get to try lobster too.

Balabac is the kind of place you go to for escape. The central appeal of the region is being able to immerse yourself in its landscape. As you frolick in the sandbar, swim the day away in natural sea pools, and dine and sleep in transient houses or your own pitched tent, you experience a simple way of life that’s deeply rooted in history. That rustic simplicity is a key part of Balabac’s charm as a best kept secret destination in recent years.

You definitely need to see it for yourself, but for now, here are some of photos of our trip delving into a constellation of islands, laid-back fisherfolks, and houses built on stilts overlooking the clear turquoise West Philippine sea. Here’s one of Palawan’s most charming – and relaxing – holiday destinations — Balabac, an idyllic wonderland.

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