Sibaltan, (and Tapik Beach Park Guest House to be more precise), is a place where dreams come true. After a few rainy days riding around El Nido, and staying just outside of El Nido town proper, we were ready for more of a chilled pace. We were well aware before travelling that travelling in rainy season has its pros and cons. Pros being cheaper accommodation rates and less people about (also allowing for more flexible travel), and the cons being rain. But my mood about the rain changed as soon as we arrived at Tapik Guest House.
Tapik Guest House is located on the West Coast. If you wanted to ride there it’s definitely doable (there are just a couple of rough roads on the way so maybe judge this by the weather and how confident you feel on a bike).
There is also a public bus (100php per person) leaving from El Nido town every morning at about 11am. If you don’t fancy riding then this would be your cheapest option.
Another option is to have Tapik arrange a shared van for you for 200php per person (the option we chose). They can arrange pick up at 1pm or 6pm. After one final bike ride in the morning (which inevitably ended with rain suddenly bucketing down and us having to find shelter for a while), we handed our bike back and waited at Amos Hostel for pick up. This option was comfortable with only a few stops along the way to let other passengers on and off.
The final option would be to have Tapik arrange a private transfer for you. This costs 1800php per van, so if there’s a group of you it could work out quite good value for money. If you’re travelling alone, then not so much.
Now this could be the contrast of the windy and rainy East coast and the much calmer West coast, but when we arrived we immediately knew we were going to enjoy our time here. Our van drove along the beach and dropped us right on Tapik’s doorstep.
We were greeted with a drink and our room was already prepared. We sat for a good while just admiring where we were before getting invited to play some beach volleyball. I played for all of 10 mintues before realising I suck at volleyball, then went off to take some photos.
We opted for the beach bungalow with a shared bathroom. Best. Room. Ever! If you’re not a big fan of shared bathrooms they do also offer rooms with a private bathroom, but this didn’t bother us too much. (Actually, it did bother me one night when I saw a huge spider on the bathroom door and nearly had a nervous breakdown, but that’s what you get when you stay somewhere like this). The shared bathroom was nice and clean, though.
Our room had the best view, made even better by the rainy season storms! We even had a few visitors one night (a lizard and a cat!).
What to do in Sibaltan
Sibaltan itself is actually a small village, so don’t expect bustling bars and fancy restaurants. But that’s part of the beauty of the place. We went into the village one day and all of the locals were so friendly.
A short distance from Tapik is a tiny (teeny tiny) island. On it is a tree and a small hut, and that’s about it. You can rent canoes from Tapik and canoe out to the island. It’s not often you get the chance to be one of only a few (or the only) person/people on an island – even if it is a small one! There are also mangroves nearby, which are easily accessible by canoe.
Tapik also arranges island hopping tours. Unlike the tours offered from El Nido town, these tours include islands on the West coast and it’s very likely that you’ll be the only group travelling to the chosen spots that day. We took a tour with other people staying at the guest house and had the best day (even when it rained). We snorkelled, admired a beautiful beach and ate freshly prepared food.
It’s still possible to rent a bike and ride around the island, discover even more quiet beaches like the one we found when riding around El Nido. But, honestly, we never wanted to venture too far from the area as it was so peaceful and beautiful as it was.
Of course, when situated in a pretty remote area, there’s nothing better to do than just relax and enjoy the moment.
Pros and Cons
Staying in this kind of place isn’t everyone’s ideal. It is pretty remote which means there’s not a lot of choice food wise and there’s not a big night life scene. If that’s a big concern for you then you might not enjoy staying here for more than a night. On the other end of the spectrum, it isn’t so remote that there’s no one else there. It is still a guest house and there were one or two others nearby.
There’s no wifi at the guesthouse. This might bother some people, but actually it was pretty refreshing to not be distracted by a glowing phone screen 24/7.
Despite it being pretty basic, our accommodation was fantastic. Your own bamboo hut, right on the beach with a bed, a mosquito net and a spectacular view – what more could you really ask for?!
However, I, personally, did not want to leave. It was an absolutely beautiful part of Palawan and if I was to return I’d be tempted to head straight there rather than staying in El Nido. In rainy season especially, the sea was so much calmer than on the East coast. I’ve not been in peak season but from what we saw in low season, I imagine El Nido would get quite busy and Sibaltan is close enough to get the best of both worlds.
If you missed it on my last post, check out this video by Toast City Productions from our time there:
Have you been to Sibaltan? Did you prefer Sibaltan or El Nido? Let me know in the comments below!