Romblon, Boracay’s underrated neighbor
[Editor’s Note: This series, called “AltBoracay,” introduces readers to alternative sites they may explore in different parts of the country, following the six-month closure and rehabilitation of Boracay Island in Aklan province, the Philippines’ top tourist destination.]
Romblon, once synonymous to marble production, has always been Boracay Island’s underrated neighbor.
Caticlan, the jump-off village of Malay town in Aklan province to Boracay, is a two-hour boat ride away from Romblon’s Tablas Island—from the ports of Odiongan or Looc towns.
Tourists are beginning to discover Romblon’s unspoiled beauty, thanks to travel blogs and cheaper airfare. With the closure of Aklan’s famed tourist destination, a window of opportunity has probably been pushed a little wide open for the province.
Romblon is composed of three major islands—Tablas, Romblon, and Sibuyan — and several islets that offer a slew of beaches with sand just as white and fine as Boracay’s. Here are a few of what the province has to offer:
Make memories that last in Tablas, where there are a number of beach resorts like Binucot (Ferrol town), Lapus-Lapus (Calatrava town), and Tablas Point (Sta. Fe town).
Aglicay resort at Barangay Comod-om, Alcantara town, is probably the closest white sand beach to Tugdan airport. An easy trek to the hillside also offers an “instagrammable” view.
Flights from Manila to Romblon’s only airport, Tugdan, in Alcantara are available on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Another way to reach Tablas is via the roll-on, roll-off boat from Batangas port to San Agustin port.
An emerging destination is Simara, on the island-municipality of Corcuera. The town boasts of a public beach at the poblacion (town center) and the Colong-Colong beach at Barangay Colong-Colong.
Its lighthouse offers a perfect view of the whole island.
From Odiongan town (Tablas), take the jeep or habal-habal (motorcycle) to Calatrava town where boats depart for Simara island. Daily trips leave at 11 a.m. and fare is P150 per passenger.
Commonly referred to by locals as the “hambil,” Carabao Island is Romblon’s closest point to Boracay (about 45 minutes by boat). It actually belongs to the municipality of San Jose.
“[Carabao’s] sand is just the same fine white sand you can find in Boracay,” tourist Donna Orilla says.
Many people compare Lanas Beach to Boracay’s beach front. Those who are daring enough can try cliff diving from San Jose’s Kuding-Kuding Point.
From Odiongan, take the jeep to Sta. Fe, where pumpboats leave for Carabao. A charter boat from Caticlan to Carabao can be rented fors around P3,500 for 20 people.
The island and municipality of Romblon houses the provincial government’s seat. No need to travel far from the poblacion as there are already several adjacent resorts.
At Barangay Lonos is a stretch of white sand beaches. There is the private Nonok, Tiamban (entrance fee is P40-P50), and the public Bonbon. Try Bonbon’s sandbar that leads to Bang-og islet—free of charge.
Interisland ferries from Odiongan or San Agustin travel to Romblon regularly. Inland transportation in Romblon is by tricycle.
Cobrador is an island village of Romblon town, about half an hour travel by boat from the mainland. It is perfect for snorkeling as it is home to corals and other marine resources.
On one side of the island at Sitio Cabugaan is a stretch of white sand; on the opposite, rock formations and the Ilaya Cave.
Boat trips are available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from the mainland. The boat leaves Cobrador at 6 a.m. and returns from Romblon at 12 noon. Fare is P25 per passenger.
Cresta de Gallo
Cresta de Gallo, a 2-hectare islet off Sibuyan, offers an off-the-beaten-track adventure. Its name, according to local officials, was derived from the word (chicken) “crest” as it looks like one when viewed from the top. It is also said that Spanish galleons used to dock there.
Its water is clean and its white sand sparkles under the sun. There is also a 100-meter sandbar.
Only four families live on the islet. There are no public facilities, like cottages, bathrooms or convenience stores.
From Sibuyan, take the boat from the Azagra fishing port in San Fernando town. The ride takes about 45 minutes to Cresta de Gallo. There are no regular trips to the island so it is best to coordinate your visit with the municipal government.
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