Calayan Island: Caniwara, Sibang & Cababaan Coves

Sibang & Cabaan Coves, Calayan Island
Panorama of Sibang Cove, with Cababaan Cove in the distance

Fortunately, the most picturesque beaches of Calayan Island are walkable from the main town, and are situated next to each other. Located in Barangay Dadao, just four kilometers east from the poblacion, are a series of three coves named Caniwara, Sibang and Cababaan that form one of the most spectacular seascapes in the country. It’s a comfortable walk along a hilly trail that leads away from the edge of town. The pathway leading to this amazing coastline is lined with wild flowers and magnificent trees, home to palm-sized butterflies and all sorts of birds, both native and migratory. During our hike, we spotted orioles and buntings; and a lone sea eagle soared next to the precipices of Cababaan.

Sibang Cove, Calayan Island
Huge sentries of rock jut up along the shoreline of Sibang Cove
Sibang Cove, Calayan Island
Sibang Cove is the middle cove most popular because of its fine sand and relatively calm waters
Caniwara Cove, Calayan Island
Villager geared for spearfishing

Easily rivaling the beaches of Palawan, the secluded coves are flanked by impressive cliffs carpeted in shrubs and windswept trees; and separated from each other by sentries of huge rocks jutting up from shoreline, some of them topped by bonsai trees. The open ocean swirls in, glowing in the brightest turquoise color under the full sun.

One can walk from one cove to the next, a task easily done most especially during low tide. Nearest to town, the southernmost cove is Caniwara, characterized by a pot-holed tidal flat with seaweed, sea cucumbers, small sea urchins and brittle starfish, where fishermen collect edible seafood during low tide, or hunt for lobsters with their nets. 

The southwest end of Caniwara is marked by Nagudungan Hill, which offers panoramic views of all three coves.

The middle cove, Sibang, is the most popular, since its northeast end offers a section of relatively calmer waters great for swimming. The last cove is Cababaan, which looks very similar to Sibang, but with a more immaculate stretch of sand and more pristine atmosphere. The waves, here, however are much stronger, and less safe for swimming.

Cababaan Cove, Calayan Island
Cababaan Cove has the most pristine stretch of sand

HOW TO GET THERE: For transportation details to Calayan Island, check out my travel guide.

Walking the entire way, the coves can be reached in around 1.5 hours on foot. Walk along the main road to the wooden bridge in Brgy. Dadao. Or one can bike or hitch a ride to this point, before continuing on foot. After the bridge, for another 15 minutes, walk up the hill, then along a creek, then up another hill. A wooden gate to your right marks the downhill pathway to the coves, 15 minutes more, through shrubbery and a tree-lined path that forks to Sibang and Caniwara Coves.

If you continue 100 meters or so uphill on the main trail past the wooden gate, you will come across a grassy clearing to your right that offers an amazing vista of Sibang Cove (see topmost photo).



Caniwara Cove, Calayan Island
Caniwara Cove is the most rugged, with the dramatic cliffs of Nagudungan Hill in the background


The coves are worth exploring for more than a day. It’s interesting to see them during different hours of the day, when the sunlight illuminates the landscape differently each time. More adventurous visitors can opt to spend the night at the beach. Bring your own tent, and camping gear; although I did recommend to TPS Homestay to provide camping tents for rent, for those who want to do to so. Perhaps these will already be available on your visit.

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7 Responses

  1. bertN says:

    Can you leave the island whenever you want to or are you dependent on available boats for hire and cooperative weather?

  2. @BertN: There are pump boats that depart the island daily, weather permitting. Best season to visit is April to May, to lessen the chances of getting stranded for days or even weeks, due to unfavorable weather =)

  3. Wow… My dream destination.. BUt I don’t think I can drag my friends here with that 6 hours boat ride “against ginormous waves”! hahahah

    How I wish.

  4. @Maveric: That ferry is def not for the faint of heart, especially when the Babuyan Channel rears its ugly head. VERY moody. One hour it can be a scene out of “perfect storm”, then next, clear skies and smooth sailing. But dont worry, Calayan is worth braving the rough seas…

  5. Jhudy says:

    Wow.. what a nice place….

  6. john says:

    be there soon and enjoy.

  7. Stanislava says:

    very useful information:) But interesting, when possible to catch the low tide in this place? in march-june?

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