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Sailing In Paradise: Romblon 

Bonbon beach Romblon

In December 2018, we visited Romblon (town) on Romblon (island) in Romblon (province), arriving by yacht from Puerto Galera (Mindoro), via Mainit Bay (hot-spring bay) Banton Island (Romblon), with the intent of also visiting Sibuyan and Tablas islands. For various reasons we spent the majority of our time with our base of expedition being the Romblon Yacht Club, located about a kilometer North of Romblon town.

The Romblon Yacht Club has moorings for six or more yachts, located in deep water (25-35 meters) immediately in front of the clubhouse restaurant. If the moorings are full upon arrival, there are anchorages available in various locations within three nautical miles. Mooring fees at the yacht club are currently Php150 per day – about US$3 – payable at the restaurant. In the northeast monsoon the moorings are very sheltered and although our mooring looked as though it had relatively light tackle, it served our 47-foot sailing yacht very well.

Visiting yachts are very welcome at the Romblon Yacht Club so it was a surprise to us that during our five-day stay, ours was the only yacht in residence. We did note that a visiting jetski was launched from the boat ramp almost daily by its owner, for island hopping; the jetski was also visiting, being ordinarily resident in Pundaquit, Zambales.

The open-air yacht club restaurant currently operates from 2pm to 10pm daily and offers a modest selection of international dishes & snacks, combined with Filipino staples. The cold beverages were very cold and that which should be hot was always hot; the food represented very good value for money and the daily specials (mostly seafood) were most enjoyable. Every evening, the restaurant proved popular with locals and visitors to the island from farther afield.

The staff at the Romblon Yacht Club were very helpful and arranged for replenishment of our water & fuel supplies as well as organized our transport into town. The yacht club also offers showers during restaurant hours; staff are happy to prearrange unlocking the showers outside of restaurant hours.

In Romblon town we started our expeditions at the Romblon Deli. The Romblon Deli is owned by David Kershaw and his wife, and presents itself as a street-side dining experience where you could spend the entire day, from breakfast to dinner, watching the people of Romblon go about their business. Around sundown, the expatriate residents of the island gravitate to the Romblon Deli (and to a couple of other equally appealing restaurants adjacent) to catch up on the day’s happenings.

David, a long time resident of Romblon town, is probably the best source of information about where to go and how to get things done on Romblon Island. The best source except for where to go to get a broken key extracted from a lock and to have a replacement key made; for that we visited the JD&G Italian Restaurant – two doors away. The JD&G Italian restaurant is also one of three authentic Italian gelato makers in Romblon province – the other two are on Tablas Island – where the must-try is the calamansi gelato.

Our own guests aboard the yacht spent two days scuba diving and enjoying the macro-marine-life experience that has made Romblon world famous, especially for creatures such as nudibranchs of which Romblon boasts at least two unique species.

The third day we embarked on a motorcycle adventure around the island. Obtaining crash-helmets for the three rented motorcycles proved a little challenging – locals seem to happily survive without them – but eventually we motored off from the Romblon Deli and made our way up the hill to the marble carving area and thence to circumnavigate the island.

Signposts are lacking on Romblon Island so, without the prior education provided by David Kershaw, we could easily have missed almost all of the most interesting places. After a day of stopping for coffee, munchies and a beer or two at beach resorts, the lighthouse and a marble quarry, we arrived back at the Romblon Deli around sundown feeling we had met most of the island’s residents. Motorcycle tours of the island are still a bit of a novelty and we found the people on the far side of the island to be especially friendly and the most curious in our adventuring.

Of particular note were: the dramatic marble quarries and densely forested hillsides on the southeast of the island; the San Pedro Beach Resort, where we enjoyed a very good seafood lunch; and the pretty, white-sand Bob-Bon Beach, with its sandbar connection to the adjacent island that disappears at high tide.

The following day we took the time to walk around the town. The old Spanish fort has recently been restored and offers panoramic views over Romblon harbor. The Spanish church has some interesting history, with a stolen-and-miraculously-recovered statue and a mysterious masonic connection. There is still some old Spanish architecture evident in the houses more distant from the port but, sadly, very little evidence of the pre-Spanish culture that once flourished here.

If there was one other item of note in Romblon town it was the discovery of a fishing tackle shop that offers almost all the fishing gear that you would ordinarily expect to find in Metro Manila: on the ground floor of the Fonte-Dungo Building, a stone’s throw from the JN Ber gas station, a little North from the port area, is a tiny shop stuffed with fishing and boating gear.

We departed Romblon in the early morning and set sail for the island of Sibale (in the vernacular) otherwise known as Maestro de Campo (Admiralty charts) or Conception (Philippine municipal maps). Slipping the mooring at the Romblon Yacht Club at 8am we easily made Sibale Island by 4pm.

When you really want to get away from the pressures of Metro Manila for a few days you could travel to the heart of the Philippines and discover Romblon. Romblon town on Romblon Island is 12 hours by commercial ferry from Batangas Port; Odiongan town, Tablas Island, is about 18 hours by commercial ferry from Manila Port; Romblon/Tugdan airport is about 45 minutes by scheduled flight from Manila International Airport (NAIA).

Alternatively, if you have more than just a few days, you could charter a sailing yacht and enjoy encounters with dolphins. turtles and other marine life experiences along the way. If you are interested to charter a sailing yacht in the Philippines then check out: www.philippineyachthcarter.com

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