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Romblon Travel Guide

Sibuyan Island Travel Guide

Isolated to the rest of the world since the ice age, and never connected to any Philippine archipelago since history, Sibuyan Island’s seclusion has kept its pristine state since geological formation. With the seismic forces pushing its jagged mountain peaks up to 2,000 meters above sea, much Sibuyan Island is untouched. Naturalist and scientist around the world were quick to give the island a moniker, “Galapagos if Asia”. The island itself has its own character, having one of the richest concentration of endemic flora and fauna. The island also has the densest forest in the world.

Isolated to the rest of the world since the ice age, and never connected to any Philippine archipelago since history, Sibuyan Island’s seclusion has kept its pristine state since geological formation. With the seismic forces pushing its jagged mountain peaks up to 2,000 meters above sea, much Sibuyan Island is untouched. Naturalist and scientist around the world were quick to give the island a moniker, “Galapagos if Asia”. The island itself has its own character, having one of the richest concentration of endemic flora and fauna. The island also has the densest forest in the world.

Where is Sibuyan Island

The crescent-shaped island of Sibuyan is named after the Sibuyan Seas where it is located. Sibuyan Island is also part of the three main islands of Romblon province under the MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) region. It is the second largest of the three islands with an area of 445 square kilometers.

Hot to Get to Sibuyan Island

Ferries at the Port of Romblon
Ferries at the Port of Romblon

Of the three island’s of Romblon, Sibuyan Island takes quite an effort to reach. There’s no direct flight or boat to the island, visitors must pass through either Tablas or Romblon Island.

Fastest (Recommended) Way

By Air via Tablas: The fastest way to Romblon is via a flight from Manila to Tablas Airport, Tugdan (TBH). Cebu Pacific Air is offering flights every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

  • From Tugdan Airport, take a jeepney or tricycle to San Agustin. Travel time 1.5 hours. Fare is P250
  • Take a pump boat to Romblon Island. Departs daily at 8:00 AM and 1:00 PM. Travel time is 40 minutes. Fare P200. Heading back to Tablas, from San Agustin, a pump-boat leaves the pier at 8:00 AM and 1:00 PM. If missed boat schedules, local fishermen can be hired for P1,500 one way.
  • From Romblon Town there’s a Starhorse Ferry heading to Sibuyan island every Wednesday and Saturdays at 4:00 AM in the morning. Travel time is 2 hours. If there are no delays arrival time is at 7:00 AM at Cajidiocan. Fare is P295. Heading back to Romblon, ferry leaves at 12noon every Wednesday and Saturday. TIP: Seats and cabins are not reserved, It’s a first-come, first-served basis so don’t be surprised if locals are in a hurry to get in the ferry. They prefer the sleeper cabins.

Recommended Way by Sea

Inside 2Go sleeper cabin
Inside 2Go sleeper cabin

2Go Travel Ferry from Batangas to Romblon Island

Fare is P1,639.86 per passenger economy class. Travel time is 9 hours overnight.

Batangas to Romblon

Estimated Time of DepartureEstimated Time of Arrival
Tuesday 9 PMWednesday 6 AM
Thursday 9 PMFriday 6 AM
Saturday 9 PMSunday 6 AM

Romblon to Batangas

Estimated Time of DepartureEstimated Time of Arrival
Wednesday 8 PMThursday 5 AM
Friday 8 PMSaturday 5 AM
Sunday 8 PMMonday 5 AM

*Schedule may change from the time of writing. For updated schedule and booking tickets visit their website

Montenegro Lines Ferry from Batangas to Romblon Island

Batangas to Romblon

Estimated Time of DepartureEstimated Time of Arrival
Monday 5 PMTuesday 7 AM
Thursday 5 PMFriday 7 AM
Saturday 5 PMSunday 7 AM

Romblon to Batangas

Estimated Time of DepartureEstimated Time of Arrival
Tuesday 1 PMWednesday 3 AM
Friday 1 PMSaturday 3 AM
Sunday 1 PMMonday 3 AM

*Schedule may change from the time of writing.

Navios Lines Ferry from Batangas to Romblon Island

Batangas to Romblon

Estimated Time of DepartureEstimated Time of Arrival
Sunday 3 PMMonday 2 AM
Wednesday 3 PMFriday 2 AM
Friday 3 PMSaturday 2 AM

Romblon to Batangas

Estimated Time of DepartureEstimated Time of Arrival
Monday 3 PMTuesday 2 AM
Thursday 3 PMFriday 2 AM
Friday 3 PMSunday 3 AM

*Schedule may change from the time of writing.

Getting Around

Sibuyan island has a straightforward 91.5km circumferential road connecting the three municipalities of Magdiwang, San Fernando and Cajidiocan. It crosses over around 34 bridges over streams and rivers. Some parts of the roads are not paved.

Transportation around the island is limited to public jeeps coinciding with schedule of the ferries. Within municipalities, tricycles ply the roads. It can be challenging to travel alone using public transportation. Tricycles can be hired for special trips for P500.

Resorts like Nature Garden Sanctuary in Magdiwang, where we stayed, offers rental for bikes for P200/day, motorbikes at P600/day (excluding fuel) and private vehicles (like cars and jeeps) for P5000/day.

Things to do

Sibuyan island is raw and there are limited facilities for tourist. If you’re a nature lover and has the knack for adventure, you’ll surely enjoy this island.

Climb Mt Guiting Guiting

Known among the local mountain climbing world as the famous G2. Any serious and enthusiast climbers would have the 2,058 meter-high Mt Guiting Guiting in their bucket-list. Aside from it’s challenging jagged peaks, it’s a biodiversity haven for naturalist. In 1996, Mt Guiting Guiting National Park was established to cater for climbers.

Climbing G2 entails a level of fitness. It takes 2-3 days to complete the climb. It is better to train before the climb.

Island Hop to Cresta de Gallo

Beach-lovers would revel to know Sibuyan island has a spectacular beach and sandbar in Cresta de Gallo. Found at the southern tip of the island about an hour’s boat ride away.

Chase Waterfalls

Dagubdob Falls in San Fernando
Dagubdob Falls in San Fernando

Sibuyan island has 44 recorded waterfalls but there only few accessible ones. Check out the post “Waterfalls of Sibuyan island” for Dagubdob Falls, Busay Falls, Cawa Cawa Falls and Lambingan Falls.

Cliff Jumping and River Adventure

Cantingas River cliff diving

Cantingas River Resort in San Fernando has one of the clearest waters in the world. Locals spend time here for picnics or enjoying the cliff diving platforms.

Birdwatching in Magdiwang

Birding by Pawala River in Magdiwang
Birding by Pawala River in Magdiwang

The Sanctuary Garden Resort is a popular base for birdwatching. The slopes at the foot hills of Mt Guiting Guiting is a popular place for birding that visitors from other countries also frequent the place.

Meet the Sibuyan Mangyan Tagabukid

Portrait of a Sibuyan Mangyan Tagabukid elder
Portrait of a Sibuyan Mangyan Tagabukid elder

Sibuyan island have an indigenous tribe in Cajidiocan. The Sibuyan Mangyan Tagabukid lives deep in the forest of Cajidiocan. They are at least 800 strong. And don

Where to go

Each municipality in Sibuyan Island has something unique to offer. Depending on how long the visit it’s impossible to visit them all unless the visitor is staying for at least a week. So it’s best to check first the place of interest.

Ruins of a Spanish Casa in San Fernando
Ruins of a Spanish Casa in San Fernando

San Fernando

Located at the southwestern part of the island, San Fernando is the largest of the three municipalities. It also has a good concentration of attractions in the area. So if one have limited time to explore, I would recommend staying here and visit the following attractions:

Lamao Lake
Lamao Lake
  • Cresta de Gallo Island
  • Cantingas River
  • Waterfalls in San Fernando: Busay, Dagubdob, Lagting and Bila Bila Falls
  • Spanish Casa Ruins
  • Lamao Lake: a 7-hectare natural lake in Barangay Azagra
  • Azagra Church: Also known as Virgin Mary of Candelaria Church, considered as the 2nd oldest church in the Philippines. Church was constructed using bogas or coral stones.

Magdiwang

View of Magdiwang hills and valleys
View of Magdiwang hills and valleys

If climbing is the main reason for visiting Sibuyan island, Magdiwang, at the northwestern side of Sibuyan island, is the place to go as the jump-off to Mt Guiting Guiting is located in the municipality. The log deck area and DENR station is found in Magdiwang. Registration, fees and guides are mandatory. After climbing there are interesting sidetrips in the area as well.

  • Mt Guiting Guiting (DENR Jump-off)
  • Waterfalls (Lambingan and Cataja Falls)
  • Ikaduha Fish Sanctuary (snorkeling and diving)
  • Birdwatching at Nature Sanctuary Garden
  • Magdiwang Beach (2km public beach)
  • Paseo de Magdiwang (close to Magdiwang beach with agoho trees that has been in there before the park was developed)

Cajidiocan

Cawa cawa Falls in Cajidiocan
Cawa cawa Falls in Cajidiocan

The municipality of Cajidiocan is on the eastern side of the island. The town looks quite developed and is being geared for culture and culinary tourism. Though the municipality has eco-tourism sites but tucked deep the mountain hills. One reason to visit this place are the indigenous people

  • Visit the Sibuyan Mangyan Tagabukid
  • Waterfalls (Cawa Cawa and Little Baguio Falls)
  • Hand Weaving Facility at Romblon State University
  • Agbalit River
  • Alibagon Beach
  • Eateries around town

Where to Eat

There are very little option in terms of specialty restaurants in Sibuyan island. Most of the eateries are in the resorts or inns. The standalone restaurants are few and far between. And the best eats we had are at the humble homes of our hosts on the island. Nevertheless here are some interesting ones.

Bash Cafe in Cajidiocan
Bash Cafe in Cajidiocan

Cajidiocan is gearing up to be the island’s culinary destination. Just riding around town, we already saw a few interesting establishments. Here’s a couple we tried.

  • Bash Cafe: Excellent and good value coffee from the highlands. Delectable pastries too. Try their blueberry cheesecake.
  • Chai Tea Cafe Bubble Tea House: A local pancit, the Pancit Sibuyanon, is available here along with their milk teas, frappes, burgers and fries.
Pancit Sibuyanon at Chai Tea Cafe

In Magdiwang, Rancher’s Bed and Breakfast has inasal chicken, nachos and other comfort foods. They have a nice billiard room and there’s karaoke in the evening.

Inasal Chicken at Rancher's
Inasal Chicken at Rancher’s

Where to Stay

There are several options to stay on the island, from beachside resorts, in town or uphills.

Sanctuary Garden Resort

One of the rooms at the Hibiscus Building
One of the rooms at the Hibiscus Building

From our visit, we were able to stay for a couple of nights at Sanctuary Garden Resort. A beautiful 30-hectare resort in Magdiwang valley right at the foothills of Mt Guiting Guiting. There are different types of accommodations. We stayed at the Hibiscus 1 building having two spacious rooms with two queen sized beds each.

Click image to book

I love how the resort is tucked amidst nature just beside Pawala River. It’s a favorite destination for birders too. Restaurant serves comfort Filipino food. Breakfast can be arranged at the scenic hill with a majestic view of G2.

For details visit their FB page /sgrmagdiwangromblon/ or book online here.

MC Town Center

MC Town center in San Fernando
MC Town center in San Fernando

Just right next to the city hall of San Fernando, MC Town Center has a very convenient location at the center of the town. Aside from 5 basic rooms with clean bathrooms, the common living area has free water and hot water for coffee. The building also has some essential facilities like money transfer, a rural bank and an eatery. It’s also right next to the plaza where internet is available for free.

For details visit their FB page /MCtowncentre/ or book online here.

CLICK IMAGE TO BOOK

What to Buy

Weaving products at Cajidiocan

Romblon is widely known as the marble capital of the Philippines but marble items are widely available in Romblon and Tablas Islands. In Sibuyan island, there’s some cultural souvenirs live traditional handloom weaving in Cajidiocan, Romblon State University.

Balitsaw delicacy from Magdiwang
Balitsaw delicacy from Magdiwang

In Magdiwang, make sure to grab a bottle or two of Teresing’s Blitsaw. It’s their local delicacy of ginataang alamang made of fermented shrimp, coconut milk, coconut oil, sugar, salt, water and garlic. Comes in regular and spicy flavor.

Uyang, freshwater shrimp
Uyang, freshwater shrimp

And if ever you find yourself in the market, make sure to find some freshwater shrimps they call Uyang.

Travel Tips & Info

Sunset at San Fernando Bay
  • Ferry schedules to and fro Sibuyan island are not strictly implemented. Be flexible. Delays can take up to hours and may also be cancelled depending on the weather conditions.
  • To learn more about Sibuyan Island and get help in coordinating tours and travel in the island contact Bayay Sibuyanon at their FB Page /BayaySibuyanon/
  • There are Globe and Smart data on the island but mostly good for messaging and calls. Internet data is intermittent and are accessible only in towns.
  • Bring enough cash. ATMs are available in some times and city halls but cash is not always guaranteed.
  • Sibuyan island is still very provincial. Establishments closes early. As early as 6PM. So if you need to buy essentials or other supplies, go early.
  • If you like snorkelling or free diving, it is better to bring your own gear (snorkel and fins)

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