Authored by Diane Wuthrich (Contributor)
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path beach destination in the Philippines, look no further than Romblon.
Romblon is located in Luzon, a region made up of three large islands: Romblon, Sibuyan, and Tablas. There are also 17 small islands scattered throughout the province. Compared to other touristy beaches and islands throughout the country, Romblon remains generally isolated; the tourism infrastructure only has the bare minimum and it can be challenging to get around from one island to another.
Don’t let that deter you, the isolation means that Romblon’s natural wonders are kept very well intact. There are majestic mountains, rich ecosystems in and out of the water, lush jungle, white sand beaches, and cool rivers to explore. Add to that the fact that there are barely any other travellers around, and you’ve got an amazing paradise where you can snorkel, scuba dive, hike, swim, or just lay on a quiet beach for some good old R&R.
Here are 5 reasons why you should visit Romblon in the Philippines:
1. The Cresta del Gallo Islet
Easily the most beautiful and well-known attraction in Romblon is a remote sandbar called Cresta del Gallo. No larger than 5 kilometers long, Cresta del Gallo can only be reached via Sibuyan island. Due to its seclusion, the sandbar isn’t habitable, but it makes for a great day trip.
The waters are a magnificent shade of turquoise, and the sand is a clean, powdery white. Bring all the essentials you need for a day out in the sun: there are no bathrooms or resorts here. And don’t forget your camera: Cresta del Gallo is so picturesque!
2. Bonbon Beach
This beach is as sweet as it sounds. Situated just 5km from the town centre of Romblon, Romblon, Bonbon beach is easily accessible and shouldn’t be missed. It’s a 2km stretch of white sand that connected to Bang-ug island, another uninhabited islet. Bonbon beach is popular, although you’ll encounter very few travellers while you’re there.
You can enjoy picnic at Bonbon beach (there’s a handful of small huts for when the sun gets too strong) or walk to the nearby Marlin Bar (15-20 minutes away) for island-style refreshments.
When it’s low tide, you may be able to walk to the Bang-ug island. Other things to do while in Bonbon include exploring the nearby beaches separated by rocky formations – so make sure that you bring along protective footwear.
3. Catingas River
Considered as one of the cleanest rivers in the Philippines, Catingas River is worth the travel to Sibuyan island. The waters are extremely cold and refreshing, perfect for cooling down after spending days in the sun.
There’s a makeshift wooden jump board if you’re brave enough for cliff jumping. Catingas’ headwaters originate from the jagged Mt. Guiting Guiting, and it supplies most of Sibyan island’s electricity via a hydroelectric power plant.
The area surrounding Catingas is quiet and peaceful, it’s a great place to unwind. There are shallow areas as well as sudden drops, and a man-made waterfall where water from the hydroelectric power plant flows to the river – an amazing feat of both technology and nature. The best way to enjoy a day in Catingas river is to bring your own food and refreshments.
4. Aglicay Beach Resort
One of Romblon’s finest accommodations, Aglicay Beach Resort is located close to the airport. Its unique feature is a private coast featuring half a kilometre’s stretch of white sand, while the beach has crystal clear turquoise waters.
If you’re looking for some privacy in a tropical paradise, Aglicay Beach Resort is highly recommended. It might not be 5-star, but the prices are mid-range and you’ll have an unforgettable beach experience here.
The beach has several bamboo huts for privacy and shade away from the bedroom where you can eat and have drinks by the sea. If you’re staying at another nearby resort, Aglicay is open to outsiders for a minimal entrance fee. The hotel’s restaurant serves excellent seaside fare, including some of the freshest seafood this side of the country.
Check out Aglicay Beach Resort on TripAdvisor.
5. Romblon town proper
The Romblon, Romblon town proper is known for being the marble capital of the Philippines, producing marble that is among the world’s best. There are several marble factories and shops to explore, a great chance to see fine marble in many forms including white, black, blue, and green with the most expensive being the rare, hundred-century old black onyx marbles.
If you’re looking for marble pieces from sculptures to key chains, there are many available in town at affordable prices.
That’s not all there is to see in the town proper. After spending time in the mostly remote areas of Romblon, the town proper is where you can feast on international cuisine at inexpensive prices.
There’s the Romblon deli, as well as the terrific authentic Italian fare at JD&G’s Italian. Shop for local handicrafts at the several small vendors around town. Visit the Saint Joseph Cathedral, the oldest Roman Catholic church in the province which has been declared a National Cultural Treasure.
With the exception of Aglicay Beach Resort, the accommodation options throughout Romblon are on the budget side. There are inexpensive homestays and inns for around AUS $14, and the food is cheap but fresh and delicious. Wi-Fi and mobile signal is scarce in most areas, so be prepared to get off the grid for a few days, unplug, and connect with nature. Plus, the locals are friendly and happy to help if you have any questions about getting around or visiting tourist sites.
What you must remember about traveling to Romblon is to approach it with an open mind. Getting around from one island to another is considered an adventure, but you will be rewarded generously with some of the most unique landscapes and experiences that can’t be found anywhere else in the Philippines.