Is Balabac Safe for Toddlers?

Balabac, Palawan

Balabac, Palawan, the last of the last frontier, is around 10 to 12 hours away from the province city capital Puerto Princesa. To get there, one would need to travel by land for five to six hours and by sea for three to four hours, depending on the condition of the sea. Given that it’s no joke to get to this municipal town with 36 of the country’s most beautiful beaches and islands, anyone could wonder: is Balabac safe for toddlers? Our little boss Ilog, barely 4, managed to survive and enjoy our 6-day Balabac holiday.

This is how we did it.

Is Balabac Safe for Toddlers?
Patawan Island. We didn’t expect to start our island hopping the same day we arrived in Balabac, so we haven’t adequately dressed as you can see Ilog in this photo.

Land Travel

Challenge: Several hours in a moving vehicle with limited space is one of the significant struggles parents have when traveling with kids, who, we all know, get bored quickly.

Solution: Unless you’re pulling off a DIY for this trip, most vans leaving for Buliluyan Port, where drivers drop off all travelers who availed of packaged tours, pick up guests from their hotels at around 3 am. So, for most of this 6-hour land travel, Ilog was just sleeping. When he woke up, the sun’s already up, and we had biscuits, water, and toys to keep him from getting bored or becoming rowdy. We encouraged him to watch the sceneries or the vehicles on the road from time to time.

We also had sickness bags readied in case he needed to throw up and packed a jacket and a set of clothes in his tiny bag should there be any need for him to get changed.

Is Balabac Safe for Toddlers?
Candaraman Island. Nope, the boat isn’t moving when this photo was taken.

Travel by Sea and Motion Sickness

Challenge: Last year, during our trip to Siquijor and while riding a ferry, we discovered that Ilog has motion sickness. During the peak months of March to May, the sea is calm, and the three to four hours of travel by outrigger boat to Balabac mainland can be manageable. It’s a different story when you’re traveling during the rainy season or when the waves are rough.

Solution: Oh, dear gawd. During our trip, there were times when I wished that I was just at home and sleeping. That’s how bad the sea was all those times. The waves were so massive the seawater replaced our entire view of the horizon for most of the trip. I also couldn’t just think of myself because my offspring was clinging to me all the time. So how did we get by?

Is Balabac Safe for Toddlers?
On our way to Onuk Island.

Dasal lang talaga, dasal lang. JK. Well, there’s no treatment for it, but we tried our best to make him comfortable during the trip. I bought a few pieces of Bonamine for kids, but we weren’t able to use it.

We were wet all the time because of how the sea was. Good thing though, I brought Ilog’s raincoat, and I think that somehow kept him from becoming soaking wet like us adults. I also hugged and held him tight and prevented his head from wobbling. Thinking it’d help, I encouraged him just to laugh the big waves off. At first, it worked. Sadly, no raincoat or mother’s love made him any better, and our little boss got sick for most of this part. The seawater is too salty too. Too salty my dyed hair became light pink from bright red after the trip.

We could’ve shared a better video showing how angry the sea was during our trip, but it’s challenging to take out our gadgets while taking holding on for your and your son’s dear life.

Malaria and Niknik Bites Scare

Challenge: There are reported cases of Malaria in the southern part of Palawan, including Balabac, according to several blog posts. Also, some islands, regardless of how beautiful they are, are infested with niknik or sand mites, known for their notorious bites that can cause extreme soreness and itchiness of the skin

Solution: The five islands we visited, lucky for us, don’t have resident mosquitoes or niknik. Still, we applied mosquito and insect repellant lotion to Ilog when possible. We also had him worn airy pants back in the mainland, so his legs were covered most of the time.

Canibungan Island. Ilog just being his makulit self.

Sunburn

Challenge: Most of the private boats operating in Balabac are small outrigger boats. The wind was strong during our trip, and the boat crew had to fold the tarp serving as our roof to prevent us from meeting an accident; this exposed us to the sun for several hours.

Solution: We applied and re-applied sunscreen to him when possible and also had him worn UPF rashguard.

Canibungan Island. We were supposed to snorkel here, but the current was too strong our boat captain advised us not to push through.

Some Tips

  • Probably by now, you know how much we hated the sea during our trip. That said, go when the sea is calm. The best months are from March to May.
  • If your kid is a picky eater, better to bring snacks that he/she usually eats, inform your host ahead of what your kid normally eat so they could prepare a good meal if you availed of an organized trip.
  • If possible, allow a buffer day during your trip; this is helpful when things go south like your kid gets sick and needs to take a day off from any stressful activities.
  • As always, bring basic first aid kit and medicine.
  • Do not push on island hopping if the weather is terrible, and the boat captain says it isn’t safe to travel.

Is Balabac Safe for Toddlers?

Totally! We can only provide a tip or two, but, ultimately, making a trip to Balabac safe and fun for your kid lies to your hands. Know your kid’s weaknesses and how you can prevent or, at least, make things comfortable for them. 🙂

Ilog and his new-found friend, JM.

Please visit my travel website for a sample itinerary, budget, and other helpful details about Balabac. <3

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