Sibuyan Island is one of the most remote destinations in the Philippines. The island is often referred to as the “Galapagos of Asia” because its unique and pristine remoteness from all the mainlands. It also has attracted more attention after former President Ramos proclaimed the “Mount Guiting Guiting Natural Park” as one of the officially protected areas of the country.
Sibuyan Island is one of the seven islands in the province of Romblon, which is part of the MIMAROPA region. The island is rich in flora and fauna and also the home of some unique mammal species – including the bizarre tube-nosed fruit bat. The island is truly welcoming and a paradise for nature lovers and biologists because of its unspoiled natural blessings.
As a declared protected area, the locals are also doing their best to protect and nurture the destination. In fact, before travelers could enter the Mt. Guiting Guiting Natural Park, they must first enter the “Magdiwang Visitors Centre”. This is for some compulsory arrangements and pieces of information even though there are three entry points.
The island is a fortress of endemic species, including the exotic birds.The forest around Mt. Guiting which is also called “G2” with a height of 2,058 meters is said to have one of the highest tree densities worldwide. Therefore, it is not surprising that there are many birds nesting in the protected forest, thus attracting a lot of ornithologists from all over the world.
Mount Guiting Guiting – The Philippine Sanctuary for Mountaineers and Adventurers
Aside from birdwatchers, there are also climbers, hikers, and mountaineers who want to successfully overcome Mount Guiting Guiting. The ascent and descent usually take up to three days, on which the two days are spent on climbing up.
According to “Pinoy Mountaineers”, G2 is a real challenge with a difficulty of 9/9, the same with Mount Halcon and Mantalingajan.
Before anything else, one has to register first at the office of DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) at the entrance of the park. Depending on the duration of the stay, an environmental fee will be asked while the personal guide will be paid separately.
As a protected area, the DENR is concerned about the protection of the national park. For it is still haunted by illegal poachers and timber traders. The office also provides information about the boundaries and current status of the park which they post on their corresponding website.
If you do not necessarily want to go to the summit, where the municipalities of Cajidiocan, Magdiwang and San Fernando meet, you can also do nice day trips. A tour, for example, will take you to the Gaong River which is considered as one of the cleanest rivers in the country.
The water is indeed crystal clear and has drinking water quality. The tour takes about 4-5 hours and can also be organized by DENR staff.
How to get to Sibuyan Island and away
A trip to Sibuyan is quite an adventurous undertaking. On our first visit, we chose the flight from Manila to Tablas. From there, we took a van going to San Augustin (about 45 minutes), then transferred by boat to Romblon.
As of now, there is only one direct connection from Tablas to Sibuyan with Montenegro Shipping Lines. The time will be around 5:30 am – 6:00 am, which also leads via Romblon Island.
Depending on the weather condition, there are also further connections from other islands. There are boats in Roxas City (Panay) as well as in Masbate, which go to Sibuyan. The estimated travel time is about 8 hours.
The visit of Sibuyan Island requires the ability to being flexible in accommodation and meals. The Sanctuary Garden Resort is probably the most developped place on the island.
Real adventurers and nature lovers come here however fully at their own accord. For us, Sibuyan was a real experience away from tourist tramps, which we will definitely visit again.
We also had similar beautiful experiences in Dinagat Islands, which we can recommend as another exotic secret tip.