Romblon province in the Visayas, 416km south of Manila, has 20 islands and islets scattered around Sibuyan Sea and Tablas Straight, and is made up of three main islands: Tablas, Sibuyan, and its namesake, Romblon. It is famous for marbles but its most alluring attraction are its handful of idyllic beaches - haven for those yearning for places that are still off tourism’s grasps.
In the quiet northern area of the Sibuyan Sea, in between Marinduque Island and Tablas Island, lies Banton Island, along with three uninhabited islands. Banton has beautiful snorkeling sites, teeming with marine life, and a pristine white beach hugged by emerald waters.
One other beach stop is Bonbon in the municipality of Lonos, about five kilometers away from the main town in Romblon, and located on its eastern side. It’s a privately owned property with creamy fine sand, calm, clear turquoise waters and gently sloping seabed, perfect for swimming. Tourists hardly reach this gem. From the beach, you get a breathtaking view of Tablas Island and a fantastic sunset if you stay until dusk. At Bonbon beach you’ll find a row of trees and if you walk through that it opens to a kilometer-long sandbar that connects Bonbon to the uninhabited island of Bang-Og. There’s no development on the site so if you intend to make a day of it, you'll have to pack a mat and a cooler filled with ice cold drinks.
Book a flight on Philippine Airlines for regular direct flights from Manila to Tugdan Airport in Romblon. From the airport, take a shuttle to the port of San Agustin from where you can take a motorized boat (8am and 1pm only) or an MV Querubin ferry (6am only) to destinations in Romblon and Sibuyan islands. Another way to get to Romblon is to take a bus from Manila to Batangas International Port, from where you can get tickets on any of three shipping lines that ply the Batangas-Romblon sea route. 2Go Travel is the most comfortable way to travel.
Book a stay at San Pedro Beach Resort (tel +63928 273 0515) in Talipasak, which has eight native-style cottages perched on a hill with views of the sea. A room night here costs P800 (US$18). The cottages don’t have aircon but they’re clean and have private toilet and bath, and garden.
Romblon provincial tourism office, +63920 629 5838.
The best time to go is August to January. The Ati-Atihan Festival in Romblon, a local mardi gras, takes place usually in the second week of January.
Christian Sangoyo is an experienced backpacker, having backpacked his way to about a third of the Philippines’ provinces for the past seven years. His blogsite Lakadpilipinas.com won the Best Travel Blog and Best Photo Blog in the Philippine Blog Awards in 2011, Luzon division. He was also one of the finalists in the 2014 Bloscars in the Skyscanner Travel Blog of the Year category. Visit Sangoyo’s blog, Lakadpilipinas.com.
Read Romblon’s top 6 beaches with wow factor.
Originally published in InFlight Traveller December 2015-February 2016. Updated September 2016