We were searching of beautiful beaches we can go to for our birthday celebration this year. Boracay could have been our destination but we had time constraints plus the ongoing cleaning of the island might pose uncertainties. Thank goodness, I found a very place that piqued my interest after watching a local show. Romblon Island, here we go!
Why Romblon Island?
Yeah, we seldom hear this island as a favorite beach destination. Even the locals asked us, “why visit us, not Boracay?” Hahah. But after that, they point us to visit one of the famous destination in their province — the Bon Bon Sandbar.
Travelling to Romblon is usually by sea, although there’s an airport in Tablas. I was curious if I can take a 10+ hour ride on the sea. Thankfully, I did. It was just like riding an airplane, albeit the the slight swinging due to some rough waters.
Uncrowded white beaches, close to nature, not so mainstream…I just wanted to experience these qualities Romblon Island has to offer.
A little Intro…
In this blog, we will talk about one of the three major islands of Romblon Province which is the Romblon Island. Yes, there are other islands and tourist spots the province have but we only got 2 days and 1 night so we opted to visit the capital first with its promising beaches and sandbars. And yes, there are more than just one sandbar here!
Do you know where the center of the Philippine archipelago is? It’s at Romblon. The province has 20 islands in total. Sibuyan and Tablas island are bigger than Romblon and both of them packs exciting travel destinations as well. We might also visit them soon after witnessing such beauty on this province archiperlago.
How to Go to Romblon Island?
You can go by air as there are flights from Cebu Pacific and Philippines Airlines going to Tablas Island.
But the most popular and economical route is by sea through RORO shipping vessels. There are three shipping companies we found: Montenegro shipping lines, 2go and Navios. Each of them has different schedules so the one you’ll be hopping might be the one that suit your departure time just like on our situation.
Since we are from Batangas city, we utilized our advantage of the port nearby. Going to the airport in Manila might took long because of the traffic, plus the delays in the airport, etc. The fare is also cheaper and it meant a lot as our Romblon trip was decided overnight.
It is best to book in advance if you’ll be travelling on weekends. But since our trip took place on a Sunday afternoon, I was optimistic that there will only be few passengers. But I was wrong. It’s vacation time and locals were flocking back to their provinces so the ships were very crowded and tickets were sold out. Thank goodness I came early in the morning to buy our afternoon tickets. (There were direct ships going to Romblon, Romblon but tickets were sold out, so we opted to pass Tablas Island then ride another ship.)
It’s my first time riding a RORO vessel for more than 8 hours and I will share my thoughts in a separate post. Meanwhile, we departed from Batangas pier at 5pm, jumped at our beds and stretched time talking and of course browsing FB. We barely slept due to the noisy children below our beds. At 2:00 AM, we descend from the ship.
We hopped on to a mini-bus / giant jeepney going to San Agustin port. After 1 and a half hour of winding but smooth roads, we arrived safely. The first boat from Starhorse left the port at 4:30 am so we waited for 6:00 am trip. After a couple of delays (but we did’t felt as we were deeply sleeping), we arrived at Romblon, Romblon port 7:30 am. We immediately searched for a hotel nearby to freshen ourselves up.
Accomodations at Romblon
There aren’t so many accomodations at the island, so better book in advance during summer season.
Parc Bay Mansion. This is on our list after surfing the web. It’s just a couple of steps from the port and very close to the restaurants and souvenir shops. But the tricycle drivers there said that the hotel has a new owner and checking-in is uncertain. We opted for the next resort on my shortlist.
Talipasak Beach Resort / San Pedro Beach Resort. Tucked at a secluded barangay named Talipasak, the beach resort is famous for locals and tourists alike. It’s a little bit far from the pier at roughly 11 kilometers. Our tricycle driver which soon became our tour guide, named Jojo, drove us to the resort. More of our experiences here at later.
DRA Hotel. Romblon has the most affordable accomodations I’ve encountered so far. DRA hotel, according to kuya Jojo is indeed a doctor. He drove us here because we asked for the cheapest around. It’s a good thing they have a short-time rate (P600 for 6hrs) because we just needed a place to secure all our baggages and take a shower after our island hopping.
It’s a relatively small hotel, so are the rooms. But it has touch of modern vibes. Our room has cable tv, hot and cold shower and aircondition. I just didn’t like that the receiving area was messy during our visit.
Other hotels I saw are Romblon Plaza Hotel and Reggae Vibes De Isla Romblon.
Arrival at Talipasak Beach Resort / San Pedro Beach
It took 45 mins from town proper to Talipasak. We immediately ordered breakfast upon walking-in. Filipino and American breakfast cost P150 which I think was just right. As our room was prepared, we enjoyed the melody of nature. You can hear uncommon bird’s chirping, the relaxing sound of the waves, and hustling of leaves. The air was so fresh and breathable. Ahh, that taste of relaxation…it’s perfect for unwinding and giving yourself a break.
The sea called us and we responded immediately. The sands were a little bit rough, not that fine but still nice to walk barefooted, comparable to those in Laiya, Batangas. The water was very clear and surprisingly not that salty. We enjoyed swimming and beach bumming. There were lots of shaded areas in case you want to hide from the heat of the sun.
Fort San Andres
For our Romblon town tour, we hired kuya jojo and fetched us at Talipasak Beach Resort. We had some lunch and went to Fort San Andres. The locals said it’s just a couple of steps away from town, but thank goodness we took the tricycle as the way was inclined upwards and the heat was blazing hot during that time.
Also called Fuerza San Andres, the fort is a heritage site that was built on 1500s during the Spanish era to serve as a fortress against intruders. It was rebuilt a couple of years ago with the help of foreign and local groups. One member of that group was present during our visit and helped us take our pictures. Haha. There’s no entrance fee but donations are welcome.
St. Joseph Cathedral
We visited this church that is full of marbles inside. We said our prayers and wishes as it’s our first time here (a superstitious belief).
Bon Bon Beach
I really like sand bars. That’s why I was so excited on the way to the beach even though the sun shines so hot past 4 in the afternoon.
After 10mins ride from the town proper, we reached a parking area near the beach. From there, you have to walk a couple of meters. It seemed far at first because you cannot see the sand bar right away.
Along the shore, you will find cool rock formations specially on low tides. There were floras that usually grow near the beach. Group of locals can also be seen hanging out on the shaded areas under tall bushes. I just felt worried that there were some spots where trashes, bottles and bonfires were left.
After a couple more walks, we knew we reached Bon bon sandbar as we walk past two shores on both sides. It’s kind of wider compared to the one we saw on palawan. The other side has bluer water plus some weeds while the opposite is clearer but seems deeper.
Bonbon sandbar has a length of 2km up to the inhabited island of Bangug. Yes you can walk towards the small island just like the ones in the picture but we didn’t try as we are afraid that a strong current might come. Haha.
We really wanted to swim but we decided to do it at Tiamban Beach instead as there were no facility to change clothes here. I hope that locals build simple restrooms just like the other public beaches in Calaguas and Zambales.
We enjoyed our time taking pictures and selfies while waiting for the marvelous sunset at the sandbar. What a remarkable sunset indeed. After a couple of drone shots, we walked back to the tricycle and went straight to Tiamban beach.
Some said overnight camping is not allowed but according to kuya jojo, there was a tourist group from the other night that camp there.
It’s dusk time when we arrived Tiamban. We were weary to pursue our swimming plan in this resort, but decided to have an ocular as we were already there.
I guess our decision was right as the resort will close at 7pm according to the caretaker. But there’s a little bit of regret I felt as the shore looks lovely with its fine white sands and very calm, clear water. For those who want to stay here, the rate is P1000 per night.
Island hopping at Romblon
After getting a goodnight sleep at Talipasak beach, we prepped and headed to DRA Hotel to secure our baggages there. In a jiffy, we headed to the pump boat port where kuya jojo’s friend and our boatman, kuya greg, was waiting for us. It’s island hopping time!
Island hopping at Romblon Island is not a popular activity. Even kuya greg does not know where the sand bars I saw on Google maps were. So I helped him search for them though I haven’t seen them yet even on pictures.
The first island we visited is the farthest of the three, Cobrador Island. It’s also called Naguso locally. The travel time from the port is around 45mins. Here are some shots at the island.
The second island we landed is called Alad Island. First, I was skeptical at where kuya greg will dock. There were resorts we saw but since we were in a hurry, we just landed at one of the beach near some locals. I didn’t saw any sandbar so I requested kuya greg to steer to a white stretch of sand nearby that might be Alad sandbar we are looking for.
Here’s Alad sandbar‘s natural look with weeds, and branches were scattered. I bet it would be a lot more touristy if the locals will clean this little sand bar, right?
The last island which is also the closest to the port is Logbon. You can see its sandbar from far away. Pretty right?For a detailed Island hopping, I will create a separate blog post. We left the three islands with hopes of coming back as our stay was so short. The ship was scheduled to leave the port at 1 pm so we hurried back to the town and went some shopping.
Souvenir Shopping at Romblon, Romblon
Romblon is the marble capital of the Philippines, so we didn’t want to leave the town without those marble souvernirs. The shopping center is just around the plaza near the port. We selected some keychains, necklaces and figures made of different kinds of marbles.
There are plenty of cool souvenir items we’ve found. You can customize all those made of marbles by etching it. The etching service is just P5 per name.
We bought some egg statues, crucifix, necklaces, decorations and the souvenir we do not forget for every travel, T-shirts.
Where to Eat
For our 2 days and 1 night stay, we ate at Talipasak since they serve meals there. There are also restaurants operated by expats at the town proper like Jd&G Italian restaurant, Restaurant Fuju, but I was not in the mood to try foreign dishes at that time. I tried some turo-turo for lunch and snacks. There are plenty nearby.
2D1N Romblon Romblon Island Itinerary + Island hopping
4:30 PM = Arrive at RORO port
5:00 PM = Montenegro Shipping Lines departed at Batangas Port to Odiongan Port, Tablas Island, Romblon
2:00 AM = Arrival at Odiongan Port
2:30 AM = Ride a mini bus/jeep to San Agustin Port
4:00 AM =. Arrival ar San Agustin Port, we were late from Starhorse at 4:30 AM
6:00 AM = Depart at San Agustin Port enroute to Romblon, Romblon port
7:30 AM = Arrival at Romblon Island
8:00 AM = Arrival at Talipasak Beach Resort, freshen up
8:30 AM = Breakfast
9:00 AM = Swimming, free time
1:00 PM = Ride to town
1:30 PM = Lunch
2:00 PM = St. Joseph Cathedral
2:30 PM = Buy Tickets at Montenegro
3:00 PM = Find a boatman for Island hopping
3:15 PM = Fort San Andres
4:30 PM = Bon bon beach
6:00 PM = Ocular at Tiamban beach
6:30 PM = Back to Talipasak
7:30 PM = Dinner
9:00 PM = Lights off
6:30 AM = Rise and Shine
7:00 AM = Check out at Talipasak Beach Resort
7:30 AM = Check in at DRA Hotel, prepare
8:00 AM = Start of Island Hopping
11:30 AM = Back to port, Souvenir shopping
12:15 PM = Back to Hotel
12:30 PM = Board the ship
2:00 PM = Late departure of ship
10:30 PM = Arrive at Batangas port
11:00 PM = Home sweet home
Expense/Budget per pax unless noted:
- Montenegro ticket to Odiongan = ~P1250 *aircon
- Mini-bus to San Agustin = P150
- San Agustin to Romblon = P100
- Tricycle from port to Talipasak = P250 up to 4pax
- Whole Day tour tricycle plus going back and forth Talipasak = P1100 per group
- Tricycle from Talipasak to port with bonus service for faster travel within the town = P300 per group
- Tip = P75
- Boat for island hopping = P750 (2 to 3 pax only)
- Food = around P150 per meal / P50 turo-turo
- Romblon to Batangas = ~ P1620 *aircon
- Pasalubong: Around 15 for keychains, ~P100 for decors. P5 engraving fee
- Travel Tax = P10
As you can see, it’s cheaper if you’ll go in groups. The ideal size per group is 3 to 4 pax to maximize your budget.
1. Plan ahead to avoid the rush and uncertainties.
2. Choose tourist class if you’re not used in travelling via RORO because it’s very humid and noisy outside.
3. If you are on tight schedule like us, rent the tricycle for the whole tour.
4. If you have a lots of free time, take public tricycle transpo to save as much as 500%.
5. Bring large scarfs that you can use as a blanket and sun shield at the same time.
6. Have a chat with the locals. They’re very friendly.
7. There are some tour packages available for a more seamless travel but I think doing D-I-Y or backpacking is quite easy.
Things to bring:
1. Powerbank. You will be travelling for more than 8 hours onboard and charging stations are expensive so bring your high capacity powerbanks.
2. Water bottle. I can’t believe we survived our 2nd day until lunch without drinking water. Stay hydrated guys!
3. Cash. There’s an atm at Romblon, Romblon from PNB but to be sure, bring some extra with you.
4. Padlocks. This is for your bags so you can roam around the ship without worrying for your belongings.
5. Swimming gears, shades, sunblocks, tent
6. Dry bag. I put my dslr and drone remote here during our island hopping where the waves can be very rough. It’s very useful!
Kuya Jojo. We just met him at the port and toured us. You can contact him if you have questions. His number is 09952024434. He’s living at Brgy. 2, which is very near at the port. He can also arrange the island hopping with kuya Greg as the boatman. Kuya greg is a taciturn man but he’s kind and approachable.
More of Romblon
We really liked our short but sweet trip in the capital island of Romblon. But we haven’t seen the beauty of its nearby islands. There is the Looc sanctuary in Tablas island and a couple of white beaches as well. Sibuyan is just as interesting plus a mountain that trekkers look up to.
Moreover, Carabao Island and Cresta De Gallo Island are two paradises that’s also part of Romblon province. I hope we can visit them soon!