Long Weekend Trip: Romblon Islands

5:05 PM

Days prior to the long weekend, we didn't have plans in mind. We're unsure if we should fly to another island or just spend our weekend at our favourite beach destination which is Bantayan Island

Luckily, we scored cheap roundtrip tickets from Philippine Airlines. And the next thing we knew, we were seated comfortably on a plane going to Kalibo Airport.

Whether we like it or not, Kalibo is synonymous to Boracay. The party island is still one of my favourite beach destinations amidst its controversies. Though we've been to Boracay for several times, we still don't want to miss the opportunity to visit, but at the same time, we want to see another island.



Boracay

It was a sunny Thursday when we touched down Kalibo Airport. We went straight to the counters that offered van transportation to Boracay Island. Hoping that our Php 200 each fare will take us quickly to Caticlan. Unfortunately, we chose a KIATA - operated van and they made us wait for an hour before leaving the airport. kiata jud bai! Hence, we missed the stunning Boracay sunset.

We reached Caticlan Jetty Port around 6:30 PM. We paid the usual charges below:
  • Boat Fare to Boracay - PHP 30
  • Terminal Fee - Php 100
  • Environmental Fee - Php 70
Upon reaching Boracay, we took a tricycle (Php 50 each) going to Station 2/ Dmall area. We knew that it was high season yet we didn't book any accommodation. Yes, it was a pretty dumb move. 

We managed to secure an accommodation at Villa Simprosa Station 2. We paid Php 2500 for a 3 - person accommodation. It was maybe one of my most expensive accommodations, but it was by far the best. 



The location was superb. We were located at a beach front room and we had an exclusive roof deck for ourselves. 

For cheap boracay accommodation, check out this link


Carabao Island

We checked out at exactly 12 nn, of course! We met with Roger Ilisan +63 995 988 8828, a local tour guide from Carabao. We've agreed to pay a Php 1,000 per person price for his services. We were under the impression that the Php 1,000 per person included the Boracay to Carabao transfers. Unfortunately, we ended up paying a separate 300 per head for the boat. Our Php 1,000 package got us a modest room to sleep, motorcycle tour around the spots in the island(entrance fee excluded), dinner, bonfire, and warm hospitality. 


Due to time constraints, we weren't able to visit all of the places but at least we went to some of their best spots. Alternatively, there's a public boat that may take you to Carabao Island everyday from Caticlan.

Cathedral Cave and Cliff Diving

We didn't go to the cave but we enjoyed swimming. Seeing the kids jump off the cliff was quite a sight. They actually made me feel that it was easy and made me want to jump at some point. But, fear quickly overshadowed me and I chose to use the ladder to access the swimming area. It was still fun, though. What we just hated was paying the hefty entrance fee of Php 100 each.







Lanas Beach

Since we stayed for the night at Kuya Roger's place, their house is located along Lanas Beach. We enjoyed the late night talk and the hellish - looking bon fire.



Inflatable Balloon

We accessed this via a small outrigger and went straight to the floating cottage. It was pretty straightforward. There were a small floating cottage and an inflatable balloon that catapults people once someone jumps in. It's a little bit smaller compared to the one in Samal Island, Davao



San Jose Long White Beach

This is the highlight of the trip. This is where you can find the famous leaning coconut of Romblon that you can see all over Facebook. Its powdery white sand reminds me of the old Boracay which I've only seen through old photographs. 





Never miss the picturesque sunrise on this side of the island.





The Trip to Tablas

The next day, we rose at 5AM and headed to San Jose Port which was located on the opposite side from where we've stayed. We were hoping to catch the first of the two boat trips which was scheduled to depart at 6 AM. Unfortunately, since it was a Black Saturday, tourists flocked the port to also catch the earliest trip. Hence, we were not able to secure a spot. The next boat schedule will be at 11 AM. We were a little bit flustered since we had to tweak our whole itinerary. Jeeps/ PUJ schedule are in sync with the boat arrival time. Consequently, missing a schedule would ruin everything. 

Fortunately, we had kuya Roger to our advantage. He reached out to his contacts and got us a small fishing outrigger. The price was okay; PHP 40 higher than the PHP 100 public boat. The main issue was the size of the boat. After all, safety always comes first.



Though we felt that everything didn't go as planned, we can't let our traveler spirits die due to this minor set back, it's either we go bold or go home. We took our chances on this small boat. Spending PHP 140 each, we sliced through the waves in between Carabao and Tablas. The heavens blessed us a fair weather. Hence, It only took us around 35- 45 minutes to reach Sta. Fe, Tablas. 

Since we weren't able to catch the only PUJ that plies the San Agustin, a group of motorcycle - riding men approached us. They offered a "special trip" to San Agustin. We needed to pay Php 450 per passenger. Honestly, it was hefty and could chip a big chunk from our budget. During this trip, we've spent a great deal from both Boracay and Carabao Islands so this "special trip" will definitely add another blow on our beaten finances. Again, we had to think quick and decide. We gave in to their "special trip" and endured a bumpy 1 and half hour ride. The only positive point from this ride is it's faster than the PUJ. 


The 500 - all in Bonbon Beach Escapade

We reached the Port of San Agustin, Tablas around 10:30 AM. The boat for Romblon is scheduled to depart at 1 PM for PHP 100 each. 

A young, fair-looking man offered us another "special trip" to Bonbon beach. Man, this place should be called Romblon, the island of specials! He offered a direct boat trip that could leave anytime for PHP 1,500. It's clearly pricier than the PHP 100 public boat but time is no longer on our advantage. As cliche at it sounds, time is gold for this trip. We have limited days plus trips aren't as regular since it's holiday season. Hence, we needed to quickly discuss and decide. 

We couldn't really discuss properly since we were famished and exhausted from the uncomfortable trip. We went to Ging's eatery, a hole-in-the-wall located inside the port terminal. We ate and discussed. Finally, we've finally reached a decision. Yes, we took  the "special" boat trip offered by Jason, the boatman, but with some conditions.



We went to Jason's place to discuss our terms with his uncle. We've decided that we're only taking their offer if they'll offer a roundtrip service. Both sides shared their thoughts until we've reached terms. We've agreed to pay PHP 2,000 Round Trip for the boat; good for 5 passengers. 


Since we couldn't spend the night at Bonbon Beach, Romblon as we might miss the 6 AM Jeep trip from San Agustin, Tablas to Looc. Supposedly, we will book an accommodation at a nearby inn at the port. Suddenly, one of Jason's family jokingly offered us to spend the night with them. They have a newly built hut ("kubo") which could accommodate the 5 of us for PHP 100 each. And immediately, without hesitation, we said yes. 

Basically, we spent PHP 500 for a roundtrip boat and an overnight stay at San Agustin, Tablas. 

And, their kind family gave us a fairly comfortable foam to sleep on, electric fan, exclusive use of the hut, clean restroom, drinking water, cooked rice, and dining utensils and plates. We highly appreciate their hospitality and I commend the residents of San Agustin. 

The long stretch of the sand bar and sparking clear water greeted us upon our arrival at Bonbon beach. Its beauty was jaw - dropping and marvelous. I immediately remembered Camiguin's famous White Island





We also went to Busay Falls in San Agustin. There was no entrance fee and we only paid Php 20 each for the tricycle ride. The PHP 20 was to and from the falls. It was really cheap!





Unfortunately, we weren't able to get Jason's number but if you'd like to try a deal with them, just ask around for Jason. He's known by most people at the port.

For more Romblon accommodations, check out this link

Looc Fish Sanctuary

En route to Looc, we paid PHP 120 each for more than an hour jeepney ride. Upon reaching Looc Sanctuary, we paid PHP 100 for the entrance fee and another PHP 60 for the snork mask rental. 



The entrance fee includes a roundtrip boat ride to the floating cottage near the marine sanctuary. 





Personally, I enjoyed the swimming with the fishes since there is no strong current within the sanctuary. Also, we fed fishes with crumbs. Though the sanctuary is not yet that rich with marine life. Still, It was a really nice experience. 




Boat to Boracay Island

From Looc Fish Sanctuary, we hailed a tricycle that took us to Sta Fe port. Since there were no scheduled boat trips around 12nn, we contacted Kuya Roger to pick us up from Sta Fe, Tablas to Puka Beach, Boracay. 



It was supposed to be just 1 - 2 hour ride. We left the port on small outrigger boat. The trip started calm and easy. Just a few minutes from port, the calm waters started rocking our humble boat. It was like Poseidon, god of the sea, was turning Hades on us. It was one hell of a ride; it felt like a huge wave could slam us anytime.

Though everyone looked calm, I sensed fear from those straight faces. The boat was no longer slicing through the waves. This time, it was the opposite; waves had the upperhand. Randomly, I kept remembering the MV Princess of the Stars tragedy that happened in Romblon 10 years ago. 



I kept my cool and started blowing up our toy store - bought donut floater. The boat only had 1 life vest and our trip was not registered with the coast guard. Consequently, if the boat capsizes, no one will know. 

The 1 - 2 hour boat ride became a rough 3 hour ride. It was a really thrilling experience which I'll remember for the rest of my earthly life. Hence, I highly recommend sticking to the bigger public boats. They're actually safer and a lot cheaper. 

Overall, we enjoyed this adventure and we met new friends along the way. We definitely recommend visiting these islands. 

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