The islands of Romblon have something for everyone. I previously described the multifarious dive sites of the islands and the unspoiled beauty in its waters. It is time to discover the islands’ other hidden attractions, unspoiled and undiscovered and away from the busloads of tourists that you find in more popular destinations in the country.
The municipality of Alcantara is called the Gateway to exotic Romblon with its pebbled beaches and clear springs. The major springs are located in Camili, Calogonsao, Bonlao, San Isidro and Madalag. Isolated coves and beaches are aplenty among which is Calagonsao Beach just off the national highway. It has a pebble-covered shoreline and a sandy ocean floor that dips abruptly about six meters off the shoreline. Tugdan Beach offers the same attractions as Calagonsao with calm waters and a deep ocean floor. Partly shielded from prying eyes is Binay-we Beach because of big boulders that surround the area. A small cove surrounded by white sand beaches is the perfect swimming spot for travelers. There are two major beach resorts in the municipality, Aglicay and Dranville where one can simply enjoy the inviting blue waters and relax in the palm-fringed beaches of the resorts. Mountains and forests in the area are good for hiking while enjoying the beautiful sights all around.
Aglicay Beach Resort in Alcantara
Banton is home to world-class diving sites, hot springs, caves and unspoiled beaches. It is home to historic forts, libraries and museums that please the mind. One of the oldest bastions of Christianity in the region is Fort San Nicholas and the San Nicholas Church built by the famous Recollect friar, Fr. Agustin San Pedro, also known as El Padre Capitan in 1621. The Ugat-Faigao Museum houses the social and cultural heritage of Banton. The building itself is of historical and cultural significance. The Spanish house of wood and limestone was the former residence of Rufo Faigao, the very first municipal head of Banton as well as the famous Bantoanon poet, Cornelio Faigao. The Fabella Library is housed in one of the oldest houses in the island which was built during the Spanish regime. It was the former residence of Faustino Fabella, Sr., one of the most illustrious sons of Banton High School, the earliest high school outside the provincial capital.
The Fort of San Jose in Banton
Guyangan Cave is burial cave where some of the famous Banton treasures were excavated. It is believed to be the site of ancient burial ceremonies and the famous “Ikat” or “Banton Burial Cloth” was found in the cave. It is said to be the oldest burial cloth in existence in Southeast Asia and is now housed in the National Museum of the Philippines. Centuries-old coffins were also found in the cave made of logs that were hollowed-out. Ancient artwork can also be viewed in the cave which was discovered in 1936. Needless to say, the cave is of cultural and historical significance, not just to Bantoanons but to the rest of the Philippines.
Two beaches in Banton are a favorite of locals and tourists from nearby towns and provinces. Togbongan Rocky Beach, as its name implies, is a long beach littered with stones and rocks providing visitors a unique experience. It is located adjacent to one of the best diving sites in the area and provides a convenient gateway to another cave, the Silak Cave which makes for an interesting trekking and climbing experience. The fine sands of Macat-ang Beach and the hot springs in the area are enough reasons to visit this place, not to mention the exquisite sunsets one can view for their pleasure.
The name of this municipality is derived from the word “jidioc” which is the word for palm in the local dialect. Palms abound in the area thus its name. It is one of three municipalities that lay claim to the popular trekking destination, Mt. Guiting-Guiting. Found in the western side of the municipality, the mountain claims 60% of the land area of Cajidiocan.
Aside from Mt. Guiting-Guiting, the Cawa-Cawa Falls is a popular destination of tourists around the area. It is a kettle-shaped pool carved out of the solid rocks by the cascading waters of the falls. It is located deep within the forest of Lumbang Este and the deep waters of the pool teem with native river shrimps called “uyang.” The Little Baguio Falls is yet another attraction with the cooling waters from the falls and the serenity provided by the towering trees and large boulders which screens the visitors from the rest of the world. Alibagon Beach is the most popular beach strip in the municipality which is ideal for swimming, picnics, hiking and the ever-popular sail boat rides.
Relaxation is what this quaint municipality offers with its little coves and quiet beaches that dot the area. An inland body of water aptly named Tinagong Dagat which translates to Hidden Sea in English is found about 10m from the sea. The waters rise when the tide is low and subsides when the tide is high, defying the laws of science. Guindawahan Island is a favorite destination where goats roam freely and colorful fish and corals abound in the surrounding waters. At the entrance to Romblon Pass stand two boulders standing guard and is called Oregon Rock. The bigger rock stands at 20m high and in between them are small patches of white sand where tourists can spend a whole day undisturbed.
The inland body of water known as Tinagong Dagat
A view from the sea surrounding Calatrava
Concepcion is known as the island of enchanted coves and was the setting of an aerial and naval battle during World War II. The proud Japanese warship, the Yamato, sunk in its seas after a furious battle between Japanese and American forces in the Second World War. The entire island is ideal for swimming and scuba diving as all of its nine barangays have its own expanse of white sand beachfronts and small coves. The most notable beaches are found in Tongo Point and Banderahan Point. Quebrada beach which faces the town of Concepcion offers rock formations and a scalloping cove plus the proverbial white sands of Romblon.
The island is also a trekker’s paradise due in large part to the presence of Mt. Banderahan which, aside from its lush vegetation, is also historically significant because American forces climbed the mountain in the early part of the 20th century and planted the American flag there. A big stone where the flagpole of the American flag was hewed is a popular landmark sought by tourists. The interior hills that stretch from five to nine kilometers are also trekkers’ destinations. Bikers also find the hills perfect for the sport. Matudtod Cave is found hidden in the lush vegetation of the island and is particularly significant because ancient skeletal remains and artifacts were excavated in them.
The municipality is located in a bay that is rich with fish, making it a center of trade and commerce in the area. The Looc Bay Marine Refuge and Sanctuary located at the center of the bay is host to a diverse species of tropical reef fishes, hard and soft corals, sea grass beds, marine turtles, octopus, eels and a variety of seabirds. Snorkeling, diving and fishing are allowed in the area under the supervision of rangers that roam the area. The Buenavista Marine Reserve and Sanctuary is located at the western portion of the bay and offers a place of tranquility and privacy to travelers. The islet is a 10-15 minute hike from the seashore and hopping from one beach to the next can be an amazing experience.
Located in the lush hills of the municipality is a lush garden refuge which is a butterfly garden at the same time. In Limon Norte is located the Bungan-Bungan Cave which is home to hundreds of bats and swallows. Stalagmites and stalactites have formed in the caves and provide travelers an amazing experience that they will cherish. The Lumbia Waterfalls just a kilometer and a half from the town proper leads to a subterranean river just 300 meters from the waterfalls. A breathtaking trek through the green-capped hills of the area can be enjoyed by travelers for less than hour as they take in the sights and pleasures to be had in the area.
The Looc Fish Sanctuary
Snorkeling in the waters around the Looc Fish Sanctuary
Magdiwang is the official home of Mt. Guiting-Guiting, the highest peak in Sibuyan. It has a series of jagged peaks which is how the mountain got its name as “guiting-guiting” means “saw tooth” in English. Mountaineers would enjoy the challenge of the rugged terrain of the mountain. A romantic getaway is provided by the Lambingan Falls where the water cascades down to a natural pool where swimming and picnics can be enjoyed.
The jagged peaks of Mt. Guiting-Guiting
The municipality of Odiongan is famous for its waterfalls, namely: Mainit, Garing and Tuburan. Located in Barangay Pato-o, Mainit Falls has three tiers where water cascades onto a pool where one can swim undisturbed. The lush greenery surrounding the falls provides a tranquil place for relaxation to the erstwhile visitor. Garing Falls is in Barangay Progreso Weste where one will find two lakes formed by the cascading waters of the falls. The first pool is small and shallow while the second is three fathoms deep and has a width-span of 15 meters. Tuburan Falls forms a natural resort with its seven major and minor falls in total. Limestone caves can be found within the four rock walls surrounding the area. Mineral springs and a cool breeze permeate and locals believe that a cave hidden near the falls will lead to “Cayatong” which legend says is the land of the fairies.
The Mainit Falls of Odiongan
The provincial capital of Romblon is the Island of Romblon located between Tablas and Sibuyan Islands. It is an island rich in history, with its highest peak standing at 444 meters and is called Mt. Lagting. Of historical and cultural significance is the St. Joseph Cathedral and Belfry. It is the oldest Roman Catholic Church built by the Recollect fathers out of coral blocks and bricks in the 15th century. The twin forts of San Andres and Santiago were constructed between 1644 and 1573 by the Spanish conquistadores. The marble factories and quarries are also main attractions in the island as Romblon’s marble is said to be comparable to those of Italy’s Carrara because of the range in colors that can be found in the province. The municipality is also home to several beaches that are popular tourist destinations: Tiamban Beach, Bonbon Beach, Cobrador Beach, and the beach resorts Talipasak and Marble Beach.
The waters and rock formations found in the waters of Bonbon Beach
On the shores of Bonbon Beach
St. Joseph Cathedral and Belfry is a cultural and historical landmark of Romblon located in the municipality of San Andres
Canggumba Waterfalls, just another one of the falls located in Sibuyan Island in the municipality of San Fernando
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