Romblon is a beautiful archipelagic province located off the coast of Panay Island, between Bicol and Mindoro. The province is composed of 20 islands and islets, the largest of which are named Romblon, Tablas and Sibuyan. Romblon boasts of lush vegetation, rich soil, pristine beaches and abundant marine life but it has remained one of the best off-the-beaten-track destinations in the Philippines.
The Three Main Islands
Romblon Island (not to be confused with the name of the province) is the nerve center of the archipelago. This is where the provincial capitol is located and so are most commercial establishments. This island produces high-quality marble, earning it the title as the Marble Capital of the Philippines.
Tablas is the largest of the three major islands of Romblon. The only airport in the province, Tugdan Airport, is located here, in the municipality of Tugdan. Tablas is densely populated and is the main producer of agricultural products in the province.
The third island is called Sibuyan, a relatively untouched paradise with rugged peaks and stunning beaches. Its highest point, Mount Guiting-guiting is shaped like saw teeth and is considered one of the most challenging climbs in the country. Sibuyan Island is isolated from the rest of the world; tourist activity is limited to the occasional backpacker and locals keep to themselves most of the time.
Getting There and Getting Around
Traveling to Romblon can be quite a challenging adventure as there are no direct means of transportation to the islands except from Luzon. Local airlines Zest Airways and SEA Airlines fly to Tugdan Airport daily and some passenger ships from Batangas and Mindoro also stop in Odiongan, the province’s main commercial port.
If you’re traveling from Visayas or Mindanao, the best way of getting into Romblon is through the Caticlan Airport, which is also the gateway to Boracay. From Caticlan you can board a two-hour ferry ride to Odiongan.
Inter-island transportation is mainly through boats owned by locals. Within the islands, there are tricycles to take you through short distances. Walking is also a good way of getting around, there is much to see and appreciate and walking allows you to linger in spots that interest you.
Beaches and Dive Spots
One of the most-visited beaches on the Romblon Island is Bon-bon Beach, a 500-meter stretch of powdery white sand that embraced by warm turquoise waters. This beach is well-suited for swimming, the ocean floor has a gradual slope and there is an islet right across the beach that can be reached through a sandbar during low tide. The islet offers a private spot for swimming and tanning. Close to Bon-bon is Tiamban Beach which similar to the former but has a narrower beachfront.
Just off the coast of Romblon Island is an islet called Cobrador. It is known mainly as the site where high-quality marble is found but it is also home to fine beaches on its eastern side. The beach is made of crushed corals and fine white sand that stretches for about a kilometer and features a gradually sloping ocean floor. Several guest cottages dot the beachfront. Other islands within the municipality of Romblon are Logbon and Alad.
Those who are looking for a beach least frequented by tourists can head to Looc in Tablas Island. The beach fronting Looc Bay is secluded: a perfect spot for swimming and private picnics. This is a favorite picnic spot for locals but most of them keep to themselves and those who do not will only give you a welcoming smile and even offer to take you around.
The intriguing island of Sibuyan is also home to many fine isolated beaches as well as inland adventures. Home to the jagged slopes of Mt. Guiting-guiting, mountaineers often find the challenge of their lives on their way to its summit. To this day, it is considered the most technically challenging mountain to climb in the country. Sibuyan is a hidden paradise with a charming rustic atmosphere. Although the island is quite large, everywhere is considered to be a walking distance. Locals live simple lives and they are protective of their forests and seas.
Aside from the stunning beaches, the province also features a good number of dive sites that are famous in diving circuits all over the world. The rich marine species in its waters include pelagics, manta rays, sharks, barracuda, tunas and varieties soft and hard corals. There are also plenty of shipwrecks to explore. One of the most intriguing spots is the blue hole which is home to different marine creatures.
Other popular dive sites in the province include Cresta de Gallo in Sibuyan Island and the Tres Islas cluster made up of Sibale, Simara and Bonton. There are several diving shops scattered all over the province. If you’re interested in diving but you don’t know where to go, ask your guide or a friendly local to make arrangements for you.
Where to Stay
Romblon has not yet entered mainstream tourism and this means there are only a few inns and bed and breakfasts that offer accommodations to visitors. Understand that Romblon is a rustic paradise fit for those who are willing to rough it a little. There are some parts of the province, especially the islets, that do not have commercial establishments and visitors would have to rely on the hospitable nature of the locals. Don’t worry if you can’t find a place to stay during your first night, a local family is bound to adopt you into their humble abode. Just don’t expect five-star accommodations.
Some highly-urbanized areas in the province have resorts and inns that offer decent accommodations. Visitors are encouraged to call ahead for availability during their travel period.
Romblon is a province bursting at the seams with treasures found offshore, inland and along its sandy shores. The cluster of islands is a like a sandbox waiting for fun loving folks to jump in and enjoy. If you’re thirsty for adventure and willing to face nature’s challenges head on, Romblon is the destination for you.