I always have a soft spot for small charming towns. Sibaltan is one of those peaceful coastal towns I could get lost to if I just want to have an escape. I did enjoy the visit to the Balay Cuyonon Museum, the mangroves by the beach and especially paddling to Bubog Island just off the shore of Sibaltan. I can’t say that those attractions could rival the attractions at Bacuit Bay and lure people into visiting Sibaltan, but I do know that the town has one thing El Nido Town doesn’t have, it’s the unobstructed view of sunrise over Sulu Sea. For me who’s a sucker for chasing sunrises and sunsets, it was enough reason to venture to the eastern coast of El Nido and stay at Sibaltan.
There is only one bus that travels between El Nido Town Proper and Sibaltan. The North Star Bus usually leaves Sibaltan early morning at 6am for El Nido Town proper and then travels back mid-day from the public market. If we only stayed a night, there is a slim window to catch the sunrise over the Sulu Sea. With that in mind we decided to stay two nights to have ample time to enjoy the sunrise.
First day of sunrise was cloudy but it lent a dramatic effect on the sky like a moody painting brushed by a painter struggling to express an image in a confused state. The town was slow to wake up, a few roosters crowed, the low tide echoed a faint sound of the waves. I could see an army of small crabs marching on the beach only to hide from the light tremor of a gentle step on the sand. Dogs run around freely in play on the beach. It was a slice of an un-hurried life.
Almost Left by the Bus
As if nature was teasing us, on the day of our departure in Sibaltan, the weather got better. The sky displayed a burst of colors and an adequate layer of clouds was enough to add a lovely strands of purple in the sky. It was magnificent like the painter had a clear state of mind. The view was begging to be taken so we spared a few minutes to photograph. Then we learned that the bus already left, our caretaker called the bus and convinced them to return. Good thing they did as it was the only transport available for the day. Off we ran towards the bridge where passengers wait until we saw the bus conductor waving at us to hurry.
- Sibaltan is at the Northeastern side of El Nido between San Fernando and Villa Paz towns.
- North Star Bus is the regular public transport that plies the Sibaltan and El Nido route. Leaves Sibaltan at 6am and leaves El Nido between 11am to 12 noon. Travel time takes 1-2 hours depending on the load, number of passengers and stops along the way. Fare is P70 one way.
- The Sibaltan Marine Sanctuary Guard House is the only accommodation available for visitors at the moment. You can book through the El Nido Municipal Tourism Office prior your visit at [email protected]
- There are a number of Sari-sari store in the area. People can eat at Ursula Beach and another eatery within town. The caretaker can also cook food for you.
- Electricity runs from 6-10pm only
- Sibaltan is a historical site where they found remnants of a community from the elite Cuyonon Tribe. Visit Balay Cuyonon for a glimpse of Cuyonon life.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.