There’s very little to say about Sibaltan Palawan that you can’t gather for yourself from these pictures.
Very simply, Sibaltan is not one of those places that will ever be overrun with tourists. Not because it isn’t serene (you’ll find no shortage of serenity here) but because the beach is not swimmable and there’s very little (read: nothing) to do in town aside from visit the charming Cuyonon Museum and mingle with the locals. But Sibaltan has other ways of rewarding travelers. Among them, the chance to encounter real local life in a small Filipino town, to explore untouched beaches and islands nearby, and to sleep under skies heavy with stars.
It’s a four-hour ride to Sibaltan from El Nido by local bus, but only a little more than an hour by private car or with the shuttle run by Tapik Beach House. If you’re making the trip by motorcycle you can easily go there and back in a day, but for a more authentic experience, try staying a night or two.
Sibaltan is as unassuming as it gets. The sandy streets are easy to explore on foot. At the pier, fishermen wait in the shade. Children attend class in a humble school. Because this is the Philippines, there is of course a basketball court and church. At the end of the town, towering coconut trees shade a beachfront cemetery. A little farther, the Balay Cuyonon Museum offers an interesting glimpse into the domestic life of Palawan’s Cuyonon people.
Where to Stay in Sibaltan
Our favorite place to stay in Sibaltan Palawan has to be Ursula Beach Club. Run by local entrepreneur Dennis and his family, the B&B has only two rooms and some camping areas, but offers a high level of service and some serious relaxation for those who don’t mind the simple life. Dennis’ mother makes fantastic Filipino dishes (try her amazing fish curry!) and his father built all the future you’ll find in the rooms.
Island-hopping in Sibaltan
Longing to get out on the water? There are several options for island-hopping near Sibaltan Palawan. I recommend having a good discussion with your boatman about where you want to go. Some of the islands are quite far and underwhelming, while close by you can find some beautiful corals for snorkeling and equally scenic beaches. One caution: Beware of sandflies. We met with lots on these remote islands.
It’s not easy to articulate the appeal of Sibaltan. Except to say that there the silence is real, life is simple, and peace is palpable.
All photos in this post by photographer Fred Wissink.