The Philippines’ Best Alternative to Boracay Edit

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Michelle Tobias  • Contributor
Opinions expressed by Explora.ph Contributors are their own.

Written by Michelle Tobias, Kristin Mariano, and BJ Guerrero.

Composed of three main islands and 17 smaller ones, Romblon Islands have a raw and enduring appeal, offering a perfect throwback to what Boracay used to be.

While Boracay Island is shutting down for six months, the stunning and pristine Romblon Islands located just northeast of Boracay are being very much overlooked—and underrated.

The islands share the abundant fish and long stretches of ivory-white beaches of their neighbors Mindoro, Panay, and Marinduque. Best of all, Romblon Islands are just a boat-ride away from Caticlan, which also serves as the gateway to Boracay.

As Romblon is starting to pick up speed in drawing tourists, we encourage people to come visit this province while it still retains its virginal, natural beauty.

At the moment, costs of food, accommodation, and transportation are still cheaper than those in Boracay or Palawan! Let's explore these islands before it's too late.

Here are the best alternatives to Boracay Island:

Found northeast of Boracay, Romblon Islands are composed of three main islands (Tablas, Romblon, and Sibuyan) and 17 smaller islands and islets.

Carabao Island

Carabao Island gives a perfect picture of what Boracay Island, its next-door neighbor, used to be. Carabao Island is characterized by its small, peaceful village, jagged limestone cliffs, and lovely, long white beaches. The island serves as Romblon province's best beach destination, whose sandy shores are described as both raw and enchanting. Its three most notable destinations are the long Poblacion Beach whose water ranges between clear turquoise to deep shades of blue; Dingle Cave, which sits at the northern tip of the island, and; Koding Koding Point, which offers the most spectacular sunset view on the island.

Best couch in the Philippines! Spotted in Carabao Island. Photo by Vera Venus.
The rock formations in Dingle Cave, Carabao Island. Photo by Mac Dillera.
Carabao Island's long stretch of Poblacion Beach is a reminder of what Boracay used to be. Photo by www.trampingphilippines.com.
The spectacular sunset from Koding Koding Point in Carabao Island. Photo by Jan Levent.

Romblon Island

Two white beaches meet from each side of Romblon Island and stretches out to a long sandbar! Simply stunning. Bonbon Beach is just about 15 minutes from the town proper of Romblon, Romblon. The town has about 10 white beaches and three other islands nearby, namely Alad Island, Logbon Island, and Cobrador Island.

Bonbon Beach in Romblon Island. Photo by John Martin Villas.
Tiamban Beach in Romblon Island. Photo from thelostkids.ph.
Just 10 minutes away from Romblon Island is Logbon Island. Photo by John Martin Villas.
This beach is a continuation of the beach in the previous image. Bonbon Beach is in the background. Photo by John Martin Villas.

Cresta de Gallo Island

From above, Cresta de Gallo looks like a white shooting star falling across the brilliant Sibuyan Sea. Its head is shaped like the crown of a rooster, where it gets its name. Approaching Cresta de Gallo, you’d clearly see the rocks and corals through glassy waters. White sand runs on all sides of the island. The finest sand can be found on one side facing the bigger Sibuyan Island, while broken shells and corals run on the opposite side. Cresta de Gallo is uninhabited, however, and can be reached by boat for 30 to 45 minutes from the southern end of Sibuyan Island.

The uninhabited island of Cresta de Gallo is surrounded by the brilliant Sibuyan Sea. Photo by Jan Levent.
Cresta de Gallo taken from the tail of its powder-soft sandbar. Photo by Monte Corpuz.
The rougher side of Cresta de Gallo. Photo by Monte Corpuz.

Cobrador Island

Inhabited by a little village, Cobrador Island is Romblon town’s favorite beach destination. The island is formerly called Nagoso, a local word for corals, as the island is teeming with broken corals along its white sand beaches. Its surrounding water is so warm and clear you’d be fooled to think it’s drinking water. Another feature of the island, however, is its caves, which once held historical and archaeological artifacts such as wooden coffins and old coins.

One of the white beaches in Cobrador Island. Photo by John Martin Villas.
Cliff jumping in Cobrador. Photo by John Martin Villas.
Cobrador Island's corally beaches are very similar to Boracay's Puka Beach! Photo by Monte Corpuz.
You'll never run out of coconuts on this island! Photo by Monte Corpuz.
The busier side of Cobrador is home to a fishing village. Photo by Monte Corpuz.

Simara and Sibale Islands

Those who want some relaxing quiet getaways would definitely find refuge in either Simara or Sibale Island. Simara also has a watchtower ruin that the locals call Cotta. The views from this vantage point are quite impressive. Nature lovers would further enjoy their lush mangrove forest. Sibale Island, on the other hand, has a mountainous terrain. A climb up Mt. Banderahan and a trek to the waterfall are both rewarding experiences.

Sibale Island's Tunggo Beach is laid-back and enchanting. You'll have this beach all for yourself when you go here. Photo by Michael Zantua.
Sabale Island's Adagan Beach is just perfect for camping! Photo by Michael Zantua.
Poblacion Beach in Simara Island. Photo by Darlene Bernadette Falceso.
Bantoncillo Island near Simara and Sibale Islands. Photo by Jay MacGrace.

Binucot Beach in Tablas Island

Residents of the town of Ferrol take a lot of pride in one of the most beautiful coves there is to find in the region. Locals and tourists alike hardly get tired of the spectacular sunset view that can be witnessed in Binucot Beach. Gifted with fair tropical weather, white sand beach, and clear blue waters, Binucot Beach is a highly promising destination that is still largely uncharted in the country's tourism map.

Binucot Beach in Ferrol, Tablas Island.
The corally side of Binucot Beach near the islet.
The sunset from Binucot Beach in Ferrol, Tablas Island. Photo by Mac Dillera.

Where to stay in Romblon Islands

The bigger islands of Tablas, Romblon, Sibuyan, and Carabao are equipped with backpacker and mid-range hotels and resorts. We've listed below some of the best ones among the islands. In smaller islands such as Simara and Sibale, you would have to pitch your tent or talk to locals for a possible homestay. Either of these may be outside your comfort zone, but hey, there's always something new to experience!

Aglicay Beach Resort (Tablas Island)

Various accommodation types can be rented in Aglicay Beach Resort, such as bungalows that offer a panoramic view of the beach, dormitory-type rooms for large groups, and open-air sleeping areas perfect for campers and backpackers. Rooms (good for 2) start at P1,600. Book here.

At Aglicay, guests can enjoy a long stretch of beach with soft white sand and clear blue water.

Tablas Point Beach Resort (Tablas Island)

The tranquil Tablas Point Beach Resort comes with native-designed rooms, a pristine white beach, and colorful snorkeling areas nearby. Rooms (good for 2) start at P4,000. Book here.

Lounge area of Tablas Point Beach Resort.

Cummings Highlands Eco Resort and Water Park (Tablas Island)

Cummings Highlands is a whimsical and charming tree house and teepee style bed & breakfast accommodation nestled in the lush mountains of Tablas. Rooms (good for two) start at P1,200. Book here.

Cummings Highlands Eco Resort and Water Park from the air.

Punta Corazon (Romblon Island)

Punta Corazon invites you to take a breather away from the hustle and bustle of the city, while still offering you the basic amenities you need. Rooms (good for 6 people) start at P3,000. Book here.

Punta Corazon has direct access to swimming in Romblon's surrounding waters.

Rance's Haven (Sibuyan Island)

Experience living in this homestay in the town of Magdiwang. Rance's Haven comes with swimming pools and basic comforts that you need. A dorm-type bed (good for 1) starts at P300. Book here.

Experience authentic homestay living in Sibuyan Island.

The Beach House Resort (Carabao Island)

Just 6km away from Boracay, The Beach House Resort is the only well-developed hotel and resort on the unspoiled Carabao Island. Rooms (good for 2) start at P3,500. Book here.

Front beach of The Beach House Resort. Photo by Mac Dillera.

So, why are Romblon Islands the best alternative again?

  1. Romblon Islands give a perfect picture of what Boracay used to be.
  2. They’re just a boat-ride away from Caticlan! The islands can be easily reached by plane and ferry from Manila.
  3. They’re way cheaper than Boracay or even Palawan!

How to get to Romblon Islands

The fastest way to get to Romblon province is by taking a plane to Tugdan (Tablas) Domestic Airport. From there, you can take a boat to Carabao, Romblon, or Sibuyan Island. You can also fly to Caticlan instead of Tugdan Airport, but the cost will be two to three times more expensive. Other than plane, you can get onto a ferry from Batangas (located south of Luzon) to Tablas, Romblon, or Sibuyan Island. The islands are interconnected by boat, but you can easily travel around by renting your own.

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