Off the northern coast of Panay, between Mindoro and Bicol, the province of Romblon consists of three main islands – Tablas, Romblon and Sibuyan, and a dozen or so more smaller islands. The province is largely overlooked by visitors because it’s difficult to reach, and once you’re here, to put it simply, there’s not that much to do. There are few resorts and the most sophisticated Romblon’s nightlife gets is the occasional wooden shack with a karaoke machine. There are, however, some beautiful and rarely visited beaches and coral reefs, making it an excellent off-the-beaten-track destination for scuba diving, snorkelling or just exploring and getting a sense of provincial life in the archipelago.
Romblon Town itself is a pretty place, with Spanish forts, a cathedral built in 1726 and breathtaking views across the Romblon Strait from Sabang lighthouse. On Sibuyan you can explore Mount Guiting Guiting Natural Park and climb the mountain itself, an extinct volcano. To the south of Tablas Island is beautiful little Carabao Island (usually visited via Boracay) where there’s some terrific diving.Read More
Dominated by the ragged saw-like bulk of Mount Guiting Guiting, verdant Sibuyan Island in the easternmost of the Romblon group has everything an adventure traveller could dream of: a sparkling coastline, a thickly forested interior and a couple of daunting mountain peaks. Dubbed “The Galapagos of Asia”, Sibuyan boasts an extraordinarily rich range of wildife including 700 plant species and 131 species of bird. Five mammal species (one fruit bat and four rodents) are unique to the island. Much of the Sibuyan was declared a nature reserve in 1996. However, this has not prevented the island from being targeted as a potential mineral mining site, and much to the dismay of environmentalists and local communities, a Canadian mining company was granted exploratory mining rights in 2009.
Sibuyan’s 47,000 residents, mostly subsistence farmers and hunters who rely on the forest and the ocean to supplement their meagre incomes, rarely see tourists but know every cove, trail and cave on the island and are happy to act as guides. Most of them live in three towns, San Fernando, Cajidiocan and Magdiwang.