Kabug Mangrove Park & Wetlands. Photo by Playground Films PH courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Since its founding in 2001, Zamboanga Sibugay has been steadily developing into a tourist destination. It is home to natural wonders, distinct landmarks, and other hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

Those who seek something new and fresh will enjoy the sights and experiences that this young province has to offer. Make the most out of your visit to Zamboanga Sibugay through this guide:

The young province is known for its abundance of calamansi sites. Photo by Playground Films PH courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Day 1: Mainland Attractions

Begin your journey at Ipil, the capital of Zamboanga Sibugay. There are several hotel options within the city, such as the Casa Mea Hotel & Restaurant

At Casa Mea, Standard Rooms (twin bed) and Single Deluxe Rooms will cost Php800, while a Deluxe Room is at Php1,000. For bigger groups, the Double Deluxe Room and Barkadahan Rooms are priced at Php1,250, while the Family Room costs Php1,500.

Town Sights

Once you are settled, make sure to take photos of the 10-story Rotunda Obelisk—a prominent landmark within Ipil. It is a monument that serves as a reminder of the lives that were lost in past skirmishes in the area. On the sides of the obelisk, the name of the province is written in baybayin, an ancient writing system native to the Philippines. 

You can also visit the nearby Zamboanga Sibugay Provincial Capitol to appreciate its distinct architecture. It is palace-like in structure and decked in many colors. 

The provincial capitol’s design is inspired by Subanen and Muslim cultural aesthetics. As the provincial capitol is built on a hill, the area is also a good spot for sightseeing. 

Outdoor Dining at Stonehill Farms

Ten to 15 minutes south of Ipil is Stonehill Farms, a 10-hectare hilltop property along the coast of Zamboanga Sibugay. 

Stonehill Farms offers traditional Zamboangueño dishes and delicacies, and Filipino classics like lechon and pancit. 

Guests may dine al fresco and enjoy the outdoor views: expansive fields, forests, Sibuguey Bay, and Buluan Island on the horizon. Cottages are also available for overnight stays.

Stonehill Farms has an entrance fee of Php30 for adults and Php 20 for children. The camping fee, inclusive of entrance fees, is ar Php200. 

There are also bahay kubo rentals ranging from Php1,200 to 2,000, depending on its capacity. Tent rentals, depending on the size, will cost Php300 to 1,000. 

Specialties like lechon baboy are at Php 460/kilo, while the special Stonehill Fried Chicken costs Php550. Other meals and snacks may be checked via this link.

Day 2: Falling for Zamboanga Sibugay

The waterfalls of Zamboanga Sibugay are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. It is possible to visit a few of them in one go. But you can choose to visit other destinations other than the falls within the day to add variety in your trips. 

Tagbilat Falls/ Malagandis Falls

The municipality of Titay is a 30- to 40-minute drive northeast of Ipil. At the heart of it is the Tagbilat (or Malagandis) Falls.. 

With a curtain-like appearance and a deep-green water basin, it is popular among the residents of Zamboanga Sibugay. 

From Titay, Tagbilat Falls / Malagandis Falls is a one-hour habal-habal ride away from the municipality. Most tourists have paid around Php500 for the ride, good for two people. Upon reaching the drop-off point, guests have to walk a few more meters before reaching the falls. 

Dalisay Falls

Also within Titay is Brgy. Dalisay, which is a shorter drive from Ipil at just over 20 minutes. It is located northwest of the city. 

Within the barangay is Dalisay Falls, which has one tier and four waterfall curtains. Its cool basin allows for swimming, but the rapids challenge those who wish to go near the cascading waters. 

After you’ve refreshed yourself in these waterfalls, return to your chosen hotel at Ipil and prepare for another nature-filled experience. 

Day 3: Rare and Seasonal Sightings at Kabug

Tourists can avail a boat ride around the mangrove park. Photo by Playground Films PH courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

East of the capital city is the Kabug Mangrove Park and Wetlands, a temporary haven for the world’s migratory birds. Located within the municipality of Siay, Kabug is a 30-minute drive away from Ipil.

In 2018, Siay hosted the first World Migratory Bird Day in the Philippines. Part of the celebrations back then was a tour of the wetlands, including bird watching and cultural performances. 

A cauldron of bats flying over the Kabug wetlands. Photo by Playground Films PH courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Currently, these activities are part of the tour packages available for tourists. 

The bird watching tour lasts for five hours (10:00AM to 3:00PM), while the bat watching activities run for either four (3:00PM-7:00PM) or five hours (10:00AM-3:00PM). The eco-cultural tour, which takes four hours, is held from 1:00PM to 5:00PM. 

The packages vary in price based on the number of people: Php2,300 (4 pax), Php2,830 (6 pax), Php3,360 (8 pax), and Php 3,890 (10 pax). 

A calamansi farm in Zamboanga Sibugay. Photo by Playground Films PH courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Optional tour activities include calamansi picking (Php150 entrance fee), calamansi food product processing, and kayaking (Php50 to 70 per hour).

After a day of birdwatching and sightseeing, head back to your hotel in Ipil and get ready to spend a day on a remote island tomorrow. 

Days 4 and 5: Camping at Buluan Island

Zamboanga Sibugay allows you to experience what it’s like to live on a remote island with organized camping activities. 

A nearby location is Buluan Island, which can be seen from high points in the mainland like Stonehill Farms. Located seven kilometers off the coast of Ipil, the island has white sand beaches and clear waters. 

There are no resorts or restaurants on the island. Instead, guests are encouraged to bring their own food, drinks, and camping materials. 

The waters are also clear enough for snorkeling. Cottages and benches are also available for guests to use. 

Visits to the island are coordinated with the Zamboanga Sibugay tourism office. A rough rundow of fees are as follows: a round trip fare from Ipil to Brgy. Buluan (Php500); habal-habal within Brgy. Buluan to the port (Php100); and boat rides to the island and to the snorkeling sites (Php500). 

Gear rental rates on the island vary. Fuel costs for the boats may also be shouldered by visitors. 

After Buluan, you can return to your hotel and spend the rest of your day dining in the local restaurants. 

You can come full circle and eat at Stonehill Farms to enjoy classic Zamboanga fare before leaving the region. 

Travel Safely!

Explore Zamboanga Sibugay responsibly by making sure that you comply with the region’s health and safety protocols, such as wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.

Ensure that you have acquired travel authority at https://s-pass.ph/ prior trip. Bring a copy or screenshot of this along with your vaccination card and valid ID upon arrival. 

For the latest travel information about Zamboanga, you may visit their official website or Facebook page. You may also review updated safety protocols and requirements on Philippine destinations at www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel.