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We finally made it to Romblon. A few hours of traveling by ferry brought us through some small islands and into a beautiful bay. By far the most friendly area of the Philippines. We headed to Romblon Deli to meet up with a member of the Classic Club, (a group of expats that get together once a week for lunch). We had lunch and then headed up the road to Joebelle Hotel for a nights stay before we find another hotel to our liking. Joebelle is a new hotel, very nice but too expensive for an extended stay, 1,100 pesos. The next day we rented a tricycle to take us around the area to find a resort of our liking. Only 14km out of town we found a private beach resort with large private rooms for only 600 pesos a night, right on the water.
San Pedro Beach Resort is a great place to sleep but wouldn’t recommend eating there. They don’t have anything on the menu but if the cook is there you can order food from the chef in the morning and you might have dinner available. But if you walk up the hill 7 minutes you can go to a little roadside bar owned by Litto, local Philippino. Once I found this place I was there every night. Drinks are cheap and the meal of the night will feed a small army. Litto is a fantastic host and recommend this place to everybody. We ended up staying a week there with days lounging on the beach…all day long. Two hammocks are located on the beach but not to worry, they only have about 5 rooms and they hardly book out.
During one of the days we drove around looking at all the marble shops and watched the carvers create all the fantastic pieces you see in the pictures.
I also met Patrick, now a close friend of mine, who runs his families resort and dive shop. I jumped on an opportunity for a two tank dive in Romblon. I would not recommend coming to Romblon without a dive trip. We headed out and had two awesome dives; clear visibility, low current, warm water and beautiful location. We even stopped at a secluded beach for lunch. If you want to go diving look up Ducks Diving.
It has been 2 1/2 months since we set out on our journey. Janice and I were getting a little tired of always being on the move and decided to head back to Sabang. Any other traveling would be done for a week at a time with Sabang being our home base.
As you can read from my blogs that we had a fantastic trip and I hope that anybody that decides to travel to the Philippines finds the blogs useful. Remember, the prices you are quoted are always negotiable.
We landed at San Fernando. So the boat that was supposed to go to Romblon does not exist. Instead we had to go to Sibuyan, one of the three major Romblon Islands. So we catch a 5 hour, 400 peso ride to Sibuyan and checked in at Sea Breeze Inn located a 75 pesos away. The hotel is okay but nothing special. Located right on the ocean but not worth swimming in. We get a very small room for 500 pesos. Then we wanted a boat the next day to Romblon City but again, no boat going there. We needed to take a 500 peso ride up the coast to Magdiwang. Apparently there is a fantastic national park in Magdiwang but with everything over the last couple of days we wanted to make sure we caught the right boat at the right time on the right day. We finally caught a 225 peso ferry (roll on, roll off = row row or R2).
Romblon here we come…finally.
We got up first thing in the morning (to get the hell out of there) for the only van to the other side of the island to a town called Mandao. The van left at 6 AM and costs 100 pesos. This will take you across the island for a couple of hours to another lazy town. The ride was very nice and the island reminded me a lot of Hawaii. Luckily enough we found a nice bed and breakfast, Morning Sun. The boat to Romblon leaves on Wednesdays and Sundays. We got to Mandao on Thursday so we had a few days to kill. The B&B was comfortable and the rooms were great. The town, however was not designed to accommodate tourist. The only places to eat were a couple of the local Philippino cafeterias. Not very appealing. The next day I ran into an American at the hotel and found out he and his wife owned the place. Later in the day they asked us if we wanted to take a boat ride to their other house for a quick visit. They’ve been out of town and haven’t been to their other house in a few months. They said that there wasn’t any food and there wasn’t much to do. We would have lunch, relax and head back. We weren’t expecting much.
The boat pulled up to the beach in front of a two story home. It was more like a small mansion. Come to find out they also rent out rooms and for the same price as the other location, 850 pesos a night. We decided to move out of Morning Sun and stay at Sunset Villa until the next boat out. It was so nice and relaxing we decided to stay a few more days since it was so inexpensive for the accommodations, private and the food was plentiful. I would recommend this hotel to anybody that came to Masbate Island.
Romblon here we come.
The original plan while touring was to go from Southern Luzon to Leyte. But I’ve had this desire to jump across the oceans to Romblon, home of the Philippine marble. So we headed down to the pier for a 5 hour rickety boat ride to Masbate for 200 pesos. The boat ride is a great adventure and the thunderstorm for the last hour of the trip will make you realize what adventure travel is all about.
We were told that there was a boat leaving Masbate City to Romblon twice a week but when we got to Masbate there was no boat. Apparently there was a boat that left on the other side of the island. Or so they think. Ask five people a question and get five different answers. Ahhh, life on the road.
We landed in Masbate and got a 25 peso ride to the Masbate Hotel. After a few hours walking around we realized that there is nothing to do in Masbate, it was scary and wouldn’t recommend this place to anybody. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Don’t go here!!!
Mandaon here we come.
I’ve been looking forward to swimming with the whale sharks for years now and Donsol is the only regulated tourist destination for whale shark diving. The van from Legaspi to Donsol was 150 pesos and a 25 pesos tricycle ride to Amor Farm Beach Resort. This is a very nice resort located right on the beach and a short walk to the tourist location for diving. The resort was 800 pesos a night with a full restaurant. It’s a bit far from town but not necessary to visit. If you want something to do in the evening you can ride up the river to view the thousands of fireflies.
Whale shark diving is pretty straight forward. A boat rents for about 3700 pesos and holds up to 6 people. If you can find others that want to dive so you can combine the groups to reduce individual costs. Rental gear is extra, about 300 pesos. We were there a little late in the year but we still had a chance to jump in and see three sharks. There is no real way to express the feeling when you are swimming right next to these huge animals. The beginning of the season, around December, is the best time of the year to see large groups of these docile creatures.
Masbate here we come
Van from Naga to Legaspi was 140 pesos with a 7 peso jeepney ride to Magayon Hotel. For 750 pesos you can have your very own frame sized window in the bathroom that gives a view of Mt. Mayon. We hired a tricycle for 200 pesos to the base of the mountain and a 40 peso motorcycle ride up the hill to the observation point. This is the tallest and only mountain in the area. The volcano is active and erupts daily. Occasionally there are warnings of a huge eruption. You can also rent ATVs to ride up an empty river basin within range of the base of the volcano.
Legaspi is a clean town with a great market, medium sized malls and a great outdoor food court for evening meals. Everything is in walking distance and worth spending time just walking around and visiting all the shops. This is a great stop before Donsol for whale shark diving.
Donsol here we come.