Home of the Galapagos of Asia
Tours and activities
Where to stay
Notes and itineraries
Romblon Islands (Romblon Province)
Accessible through short air travel or affordable sea voyage, Romblon province is a group of about 20 islands at the very center of the Philippines. It has three main islands—Tablas, Sibuyan, and Romblon—and a number of small islands, most of which share the abundant fish and long stretches of ivory-white beaches of their neighbors Mindoro and Boracay. Carabao, Tablas, and Romblon islands have the most beautiful coasts, whereas the whole province is wrought with dozens of waterfalls, caves, and historic Spanish sites.
Romblon province is distinctive for Sibuyan Island, which is known as the Galapagos of Asia. While still teeming with many undiscovered endemic plant and animal species, the island’s recently known finds include the Sibuyan striped shrew rat, the Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat, and the indigo-banded kingfisher. The province is also rugged with several mountains, the highest of which is the dangerous Mt. Guiting-Guiting. It was named so after its fang-like peaks and chocolate-brown boulders and rock formations.
The capital of Romblon, which has the same name as the province, has several heritage sites such as the province's oldest church Catedral de San Jose, the ancestral houses in the town proper, the Spanish ruins of Fort San Andres, and Apunan Point Lighthouse. This provincial capital is the entry point to the largest marble deposits in Asia, earning the province the title “Marble Country.” Unique sites to see include its Marble Shopping Center, Marble Processing Plants, and Marble Quarry Area. While its main source of income comes from mining these gorgeous marble deposits, Romblon province is generally a fishing and agricultural community, subsisting on coconut and rice industries.
5 Key Experiences in Romblon Province
Mt. Guiting-Guiting Natural Park
With a land area spreading over three towns, this massive volcano is often on the top list of mountains to climb in the Philippines. It combines arduous, technical climbing, impressive panoramic views, and sightings of unique plant and animal species. Some of its unique features include scrambling and bouldering over jagged rocks and chocolate-colored cliffs, wall-climbing the 90-degree Knife's Edge, and hugging the Kiss The Wall to scootch over to the other side—or you fall into a ravine. Scaling this mountain takes two to three days, and requires some leg-work training and know-how of basic mountaineering. Non-trained visitors are free to explore the rivers, waterfalls, and wildlife at the foot of the mountain.
Carabao Island gives a perfect picture of what Boracay Island, its neighbor, used to be. Carabao Island is characterized by its small, peaceful village, jagged limestone cliffs, and stunning, long white beaches. The island serves as Romblon province's best beach destination, whose many 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.
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.
Marble Industry Tour in Romblon town proper
Romblon province is considered the Marble Capital of Asia because of the its large deposits of gorgeous raw marble. Its main three types of marble are white, century (with gold streaks), and black onyx. Tourists can first visit the Marble Quarry Area which cover a vast landscape of hills and mountains. Here, big blocks of the mineral are cut down to smaller pieces. These are then sent to four major Marble Processing Plants where they are cut, carved, and polished into tiles, balustrades, and other products. The last stop of the tour is at the Marble Shopping Center, where the final marble products are found. These range from souvenir items and keychains to furniture and art decor.
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 hold historical and archaeological artifacts such as wooden coffins and old coins.
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.
Yummy Local Food to Try
Sarsa is the food icon of Romblon province, but Sibuyan Island is proud of its own version of this local delicacy. It uses shrimp as its main ingredient, which is mixed with grated coconut meat, pork, garlic, and other spices. A portion is wrapped in gabi leaf and cooked in coconut milk.
Filipinos can't live without its special sauces to pair with their food. Similar to fish sauce and shrimp paste, balitsaw is made from fermented fish sautéed in coconut milk mixed with sugar, salt, garlic, and chili. Its taste can be adjusted depending on one's preference—it can be sweet or spicy. It is a perfect dip for green mangos, crispy turnips, boiled sweet potato, and young banana.
Taghilaw is a local dish in Romblon that is similar to dinuguan, a common Filipino dish comprising of pig's innards and blood. Taghilaw, however, excludes the blood. The dish is made of pork meat and intestines cooked in vinegar and spices.
Best time to visit Romblon Province
Romblon province has no distinct wet or dry season. While rain is distributed evenly over the year, the rainiest months are between June and November. One can visit the province the whole year round, but the best time to explore is between December and May, when the weather is drier. Snorkeling and diving are best done in the summer months from March to May when the water is at its clearest. Other activities to enjoy during summer are Mt. Guiting-Guiting tours, trekking, spelunking, and island-hopping.
How to get there and around
Romblon province has three main islands Sibuyan, Romblon, and Tablas, and four accessible smaller islands. From Metro Manila, Tablas Island can be easily reached by booking a CebuPacific flight to Tablas (Tugdan) Domestic Airport, which serves as the only airport in the province. All three islands, however, are reachable by bus and ship from Metro Manila.
In Metro Manila, board a bus to Batangas port, and from there, get onto a 2Go ship bound for Odiongan (Tablas), or a roll-on roll-off shipping vessel (RORO) bound for Odiongan (Tablas), Romblon, or Magdiwang (Sibuyan). There are only one or two daily scheduled trips from one island to the next. This often requires an overnight stay on one island before going to the next.