Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro

“The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they’re always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back. “

Going to Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro was not really my plan to begin with. I was supposed to go to a beach resort in Bauan, Batangas to spend the night at beach. But when I saw the zip line pop -up in my facebook account, I started to get interested and decided to go to there aiming for another wonderful experience.

How to get to Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro

From Manila or Alabang, you need to ride a bus going to Batangas port. I went to South Station in Alabang since there are a lot of passengers at LRT Buendia during weekends. Alabang to Batangas Port is php127.

From Batangas Port, you need to ride a RoRo (roll on/roll off) going to Port of Abra de Ilog. You can either choose Montenegro or Balino Shipping Lines.

I preferred Montenegro since their ships are bigger and new. I paid php260. The travel time usually takes for a about 3 hours. I took the 6am schedule but due to some delay, I arrived at Port of Abra de Ilog around 10am. I strongly recommend to just take the Dimples Bus Line instead of the vans just to be safe.

Welcome to Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro

Sablayan is located in the central part of Occidental Mindoro. It is bounded to the north by the municipality of Santa Cruz and the municipalities of Baco, Naujan, Victoria and Socorro all in Oriental Mindoro province; to the east by the municipalities of Pinamalayan, Gloria, Bansud, Bongabong and Mansalay also in Oriental Mindoro; to the south by the municipality of Calintaan; and to the west by the Mindoro Strait.

This municipality was first inhabited by the Mangyans. Presently, the tribe is still existing and the local government has been helping this indigenous group.

When I arrived, I immediately went to LandManz Hotel to secure a room. Camile Landicho is the general manager and the daughter of the owner was very accommodating and provided me a room at the hotel. Good thing that there was still an available room.

From the 2 hotels I checked that day but I preferred to stay at LandManz Hotel because its more accessible to any establishment in the town proper.

My purpose of going to Sablayan was to try the longest zip line of the world and to experience Pandan Island. Surprisingly, the Landicho also owns a beach resort in the island. So, I decided to take the zip line in the afternoon and have an overnight stay at LandManz Beach Resort in Pandan Island.

Sablayan Zip line

Under the initiative of Mayor Eduardo Gadiano, an island to island zip line was constructed to boost the tourism of municipality of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. The zip line was inaugurated last September 2015 and had started to put the municipality in the international tourism market which was known as “The Longest Zip line of the World”.

The zip line is about 1.7KM from Parola (Light House) going to South of Pandan Island. This is not a typical zip line where you are held with a rappel then using gravity to zip across. This is being operated by a motor cable line which will enable you to cross the island in a moderated speed. The total distance point-to-point is 1.4km, but the total length of the main cable is 1.7km, making the zip line in Sablayan the longest in the world, island-to-island.Before you start the zip line, there will be a blood pressure check- up at their clinic to ensure safety of the tourist.

Take note that if you are afraid of heights then you better think twice because the tower itself is already more than 100 meters above see level.

Once you crossed the other island or South Pandan, you will be assisted by zip mans Jouie Amores and Jason Pacifico. You can ride a small boat by Kuya Andy going back to Sablayan for php30 or can go back to Sablayan through the zip line for an additional charge of php500. Zip line operations starts at 8am-11am and from 1pm-6pm from Monday to Sunday.

Tip: You need to call the Municipal Tourism Office first in order to book for the zip line in advance headed by Ms. Sylvia T. Salgado. Below is the office contact information: Smart: 0998-547-1185 or Globe: 0915-502-1911.

Pandan Island

How to get to Pandan Island

There are 2 resorts in Pandan Island. Aside from the Pandan Island Resort, there is a new build resort which offers a different type of beach vacation experience.  LandManz Beach Resort is located at the west side of Pandan Island. They have boat services to their guest if they wish to stay at the island overnight.

For more information, you may contact Bott M. Landicho at 0939-531-7679 / 0977- 337-0170 or visit their facebook page: LandManz Beach Resort at Pandan Island.

After the zip line, from south Pandan, I asked the locals how much will be the cost if I will go to LandManz Beach Resort in Pandan Island. The boat ride is php250 and an additional php50 for the 3rd person. I asked for a discount since I am a solo traveller and will not stay at the resort. So, I gave him php150. It was already a good deal for me because he even gave me tour to the island and waited for me until I finished taking pictures.

Apo Reef Natural Park

How to get to Apo Reef Natural Park

The boat is about pricey since it is php 8,500 but with tour guide and activities. I suggest that you should be in a group to save money. It is 3 hours away from Sablayan Port. Please make sure to contact the tourism office first to get more information. The Apo Reef is a coral reef system in the Philippines situated on the western waters of Occidental Mindoro province in the Mindoro Strait. One of the reason why you need to go to Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro is to experience the Apo Reef Natural Park.

Tip: You need to bring your own food and water since there are no establishments on the island. The entrance fee is php350 for non-sablayan residence.

You will need to go to the Tourism Office headed by Sylvia Salgado for more information. She will be able to assist you on what will be your itinerary when you are in Sablayan. Her staff is very accommodating and will surely give you alternatives for a wonderful and safe travel.

The travel time is about 2.5- 3 hours from Sablayan Port. A tour guide will be assigned by the tourism office going to Apo Reef.

Tip: If you are a solo traveller, I suggest you coordinate with the Tourism Office head office if you can be a joiner in a group. You can meet new friends and of course save money. However, it is not a guarantee so might as well, go there in a group. But it is worth it!

You will definitely enjoy the powder – like sand in the shores of Apo Reef Natural Park.

Note: CLEAN AS YOU GO- ALWAYS 😋😋

I can’t even believe that I have finally reach an island full of surprises. As we continue to discover the island. Our guide Dave gave us a tour.

The Mangrove Forest at Apo Reef Natural Park 

The Apo Reef Lagoon is situated after the Mangrove forest which is nursery of fishes and some sharks before they reach the ocean.

Top view of the Mangrove Forest and Lagoon

Top View of Apo Reef Shoreline

Restricted Area at Apo Reef Natural Park

There is a restricted area at the west side of the natural park wherein according to the guide was because of the turtles laying their eggs at this area. The tourists were used to be allowed to watch the turtles lay their eggs during night but because some of them disturbed the turtles, the local government decided to have this area restricted so that the turtles can lay their eggs without any disturbances.

This is the headquarters of Apo Reef Natural Park Protected Area Office. They are responsible in making sure that the island is protected.

Project Laging Nariean and Diksyonaryo Atbp. Book Mobile Philippines.

These are individuals aiming to help less fortunate children by providing them educational materials and workshops.

MJ, John Paul, Momon, Vincent, Almich, Cocoy, Joan, Maco, Tilyn, Carlo, Ziggy,  Dick , Hubby, Felipe and Jules adopted me while I was in the island. Thank you guys 😜😜😜

Travel Expenses:

  • Manila to Batangas Bus Fare- php157
  • Alabang to Batangas Bus Fare- php127
  • Batangas Port to Abra de Ilog Port – php260
  • Abra de Ilog to Sablayan Bus Fare- php220
  • LandManz Hotel Accommodation-  php800/night per day
  • Sablayan Zip Line-  1 -way (php500) 2 -way (php1000)
  • Apo Reef Boat Fare- php8,500 (2 way)
  • Apo Reef Entrance Fee- php350
  • Snorkeling goggles- php150
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Marinduque Island

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

I have always wanted to go to Marinduque. I have seen a lot of blogs and even travel shows about the island but it is more fascinating when you experience it. I did not prepare any itinerary but one of my office mate is from Marinduque and he was able to at least gave me ideas on what places to visit.

How to get to Marinduque

From Manila or Alabang, you need to ride a bus going to Lucena City, Quezon for php208 directly going to Dalahican Port.

From Dalahican Port, you will need to ride a RoRo (roll on/roll off ships) from Starhorse or Montenegro Shipping Lines. Just check their website for the schedule.

Montenegro Shipping Lines

Starhorse Shipping Lines

From South Station in Alabang, I arrived at Dalahican Port Lucena City, Quezon around 9am. Take note that the travel time is 4 hours. So you will need to go to the bus station early to catch up with the RoRo.

The travel time from Dalahican Port to Balanacan Port in Marinduque is about 2-3 hours. Fortunately, I was able to secure a ticket from Montenegro Fast Craft for only php130 from php230. I left the port at 10am and arrived 12noon. The fast craft service of Montenegro is more convenient because aside from its faster which takes about 1.5 hours of travel time, less passengers and its air- conditioned.

Welcome to Marinduque

Marinduque is an island province in the Philippines located in MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Masbate, Romblon and Palawan region. Its capital is the municipality of Boac.

Home of the Moriones Festival

From the time, I arrived at Balanacan Port, I rode a jeep going to Boac for php50. I talked to the passengers from DepEd regarding the rules and regulations on the province. I noticed that not a single person is smoking in public. They said that it was a municipal ordinance.

Our Lady of Good Voyage Groto

Tip: As a traveler, it is important for you to know the rules and regulations of the place you will visit. It better to ask the locals just to be sure. It took around 30-45 minutes from the port to Boac. You will passed  by Mogpog, where the Moriones festival is being held every holy week.

I arrived in Boac by 1pm. I went immediately to Lucky 7 Pension House because it was featured by a blogger which is a backpacker friendly hotel.

I also had my lunch at Kusina de Plaza just right beside the municipal hall. It was really hot and they did not turn on the AC. There is nothing special about the food. Its just the same as the regular “food court” food available at the mall. There are still other restaurants in Boac, you need just to look for one. The restaurant was featured in a blog last 2012.

“As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.” #thebrokenheartedtraveller

Lucky 7 Pension House is located at the Lucky 7 Commercial Building beside Pure Gold. The lowest rate they have is php300 non -air-conditioned. You can call Jun Malabayabas (09125323867. They are really accommodating. You need to enter a “Tiang” (RTW stores) first before the hotel. I am not really sure if the place is quiet during night time.

Marikit Na Beach Resort in Maniwaya Island

While I was looking at the rooms, I decided to go to Maniwaya Island stayed at a resort instead of staying in Boac then go to Maniwaya the following day. So I asked Kuya Jun if I can still catch up with the schedule going to the island.

I planned to start my tour at the farthest destination and my end point will be in Boac.

Below is the schedule of Jeep rides of Marinduque. It is important that you these facts so you can plan your time accordingly.

  • Balanacan to MogPog – 6am to 4pm (back & forth)
  • Boac to Sta. Cruz – 6am to 4pm (back & forth)
  • Sta. Cruz to Poctoy – 6am to 4pm (back & forth)

 How to get to Maniwaya Island

From Boac, you will need to go to Sta. Cruz proper for php50, it takes about an hour to get there.

Municipality of Sta. Cruz

Buyabod Port in Sta. Cruz

From Sta. Cruz, you need to ride a tricycle going to Buyabod Port for another 15-30 minutes.

Tip:You can contact Willie Revilla (0933) 043 6286 for the tricycle ride. Just negotiate with him for the fare. I paid php120 since he waited for me and the port is far from the town proper. Fair enough since the jeep from Sta. Cruz to Torrijos is only until 4pm. But if you arrived early in Sta. Cruz then you can ride a jeep then ask the driver to stop at the waiting shed at Buyabod. But you still need to walk 1-2 km from the highway to the port. So, its better to contact him. 👍😜

Tip: Please make sure you already have a boat contact person before you go to Maniwaya Island. Their public boat transfer is only until 8am for php70. However, if you are a camper and no resort reservations, there are boats in the port. Just use your “tawad” skills since of course, they will definitely give you a higher price and will also depending on the boat capacity and number of passenger.

You can contact Roberto Pijarra (0912) 343 4456 Maniwaya Local (Boat Transfer Contact), he does not have his boat as of now but he can definitely help you look for one. Just be reasonable with the price. I have already gave him insights for budget travellers.

The boat transfer from Buyabod Port to Maniwaya Island is about 30-45 minutes. I know that you are already exhausted because of so many transfers but once you are on the boat, enjoy your moment at sea.

We were supposed to be 6 passengers in a small boat but it ended for me to take the boat alone. But one good thing happened since the boat driver we already upset waiting for them for hours but declined. He did not ask me to pay the fair. It maybe he saw me that I was really enjoying the sea travel and did not mind the inconvenience. I asked him a lot of questions and diverted his attention. Maybe he was glad that someone understood him and made the ride for free. See? It pays to be friendly. 🤓🤓🤓

There are a lot of resorts in Maniwaya Island. But I really intended to go to Marikit Na Beach Resort since the owner of the resort is a friend of our neighbor. Without any idea what the resort looks like. When I arrived at the Marikit Na Beach Resort, I was really impressed of the house structure. It is not a typical beach resort where you have individual rooms.

It is a higher class homestay type of resort. The big and made up of wood. The interior is like Victorian meets summer time camp rustic feature. From term Home Stay, it means that you do not need to buy food. Most of their package includes 3 days and 2 nights including breakfast,lunch,dinner and the breakfast before departure. Most of the rooms are good for group. However, they let me stayed in room for 2 pax.

I was able to talked to the resort owner and the manager and learned that the resort is self- sustaining. Meaning, since it is an island, there is a time frame when it comes to electricity and water. I think it is common when you are in an island. They have their generator and solar panels just to make sure that they have enough electricity in the resort.

For more information regarding the packages offer, you may contact Ron 0921 978 5565. He is the resort manager.

Dinning Area at Marikit Na Beach Resort

After dinner, I stayed at the beach front and it feels so good when all you can hear is the sound of the waves. I never felt so calm in my life until I went to Maniwaya Island.

Although that I am not the only guest the resort but it feels like you are not in a resort at all. It feels you are at home. You can even stay at their veranda over looking the sea and have your moments.

Sunset at Maniwaya Island

I slept around 8:30pm and woke up by 2am because if the noise from the 20 guest who came around midnight. I assumed that they are also impressed with the interior because 2 guest opened the door at my room which seems they are curious what is inside. But I got upset the second time since it a sliding wood door therefore when you open it, its creates noise.

I was able to witnessed as the sun rises and immediately swam since I need to catch the first boat transfer back to Buyabod Port.

Groufie with locals of Maniwaya Island

While I was taking pictures I met Kuya Bert and told me that he will also go to Buyabod Port. I asked him to go the resort so we can go together. He came to the resort and informed me that there is already a boat waiting at the shore. To my surprise it is only a small about with 6 passengers including me. But they guarantee that it will be safe. So I decided to take the challenge and rode with the locals. I only paid php100 for the gas. Thank you Kuya Bert, I enjoyed the ride.

By the time, I was in Buyabod Port, I need to go back to the jeep terminal in Sta. Cruz going to Poctoy, Torrijos. Kuya Bert went with me to the town proper just make sure.

Poctoy White Beach, Sta. Cruz Marinduque

It is an hour ride from Sta. Cruz. When I arrived in Poctoy, I was looking for resort to have a day tour. The beach is clean and they are only few guests. You will need to pay php30 as the entrance fee and there are also resorts in the area for overnight.

Rendezvous Inn is owned and managed by Mr. Leonard Fetalviro. You can contact him at (0981) 475 4298. I can say that its the best resort in Poctoy White Beach. It was Barangay Councilor Nilia Vilar who helped me look for a resort. I was able to talked to Sir Leo and gave me a discounted price of php200 for the day tour.

I met new friends from Manila which were also travelers. Its not their first time to go to Poctoy. While we were sharing our travel experiences, sir Leo offered it to me for free. I was really happy at least I get to secure my things while swimming. Thank you sir Leo. 😂

Tip: I highly recommend staying at Rendezvous Inn when you are in Poctoy White Beach. The place is not crowded and very affordable as well. Sir Leo is very kind and accommodating.

The place is very clean and the AC’s are functioning well. You can at least get to stay in an air-conditioned room if its really hot and you don’t want to swim. The resort also serves food at your choice for a reasonable price.

You can also buy flavored shake at Councilor Nilia Vilar (0949) 780 0516. I saw a lot of people buying shakes in her kiosk.

Boac Cathedral

I ended my day traveling back to Boac. I need to ride a jeep again going back to Boac to have lunch and visit the church.

From Boac to Sta. Cruz is an hour ride for php45 and from Sta Cruz to Boac is php47 for another 1 hour. Upon arriving at Boac, I immediately when to the Boac Cathedral, prayed for a safe trip and took some pictures.

I asked a tricycle driver where can I buy a ticket for Balanacan to Lucena. He told me to go to ABC where the ticketing outlet is available.

The ABC building is within the public market and to me surprise the person I asked at the market was the one who sells the ticket. I bought my ticket back to Lucena for only php50. I was kinda nervous and hesitant because it might be some sort of a scam. I asked several locals if the ticket was valid and told me that it is.

Before I went to Balanacan Port, I decided to look for another restaurant then I tried the one beside Kuzina de Plaza. Their food was good and the service was also great. I even asked them if the ticket that I bought for Starhorse Shipping was valid then they said it is. There are vans located at ABC Market where it directs you to Balacanan Port. I paid php60 and was able to ride the 5:30pm schedule.

While on my way to the port, there are 2 men who sells tickets for Montenegro along the highway for php130. During the inspection, the ticket was a valid. Indeed honesty is the best policy. Now, another 3 hours RoRo ride going back to Dalahican Port, Lucena City and another 4 hours bus ride going to Alabang. What a day!!! 😌

My weekend summer gateway in Marinduque Island was a not all about going to nice beaches, island hopping or trying different food. It was more on patience because of the  long travel, so many transfers, appreciation of nature and the kind of culture the Marinduqueños have when it comes to genuine hospitality.
There, I got to experience how difficult their lives are when it comes to the mode of transportation and no 24/7 electricity but still I saw smiles in tier faces when they see me happy and most importantly regardless of their situation, they still able to help a broken hearted traveller like me.

Breakdown of  Travel Expenses:

  • Manila to Lucena City (Dalahican Port)- php208
  • Lucena to Marinduque (Montenegro Fast Craft)- php260
  • Balanacan to Boac Jeep Fare- php50
  • Boac to Sta. Cruz Jeep Fare- php36
  • Sta. Cruz Proper to Buyabod Port- php120
  • Boat Transfer from Buyabod Port to Isla Maniwaya- Php500
  • Marikit Na Resort Hotel -php1, 900 (food included)
  • Sta. Cruz to Poctoy Jeep Fare- php92
  • Rendezvous Inn Day Tour- php200
  • Sta. Cruz to Boac Jeep Ride- php75

 

Romblon, Romblon

“Life experience is what defines our character, even if it means getting your heart broken or being lied to. You know, you need the downs to appreciate the ups. Going on the adventure or taking that risk is important.”

My trip to Romblon was supposed to be scheduled next week but something came up, so I decided to just packed my things up and immediately went to Batangas Port.

Welcome to Romblon

Romblon Island is a third-class municipality and the capital of Romblon Province.

How to get to Romblon Island

From Manila, you will need to ride a bus going to Batangas Port but make sure to secure your ticket first either 2GO Travels,  Montenegro or Navios Shipping. You can visit their website for the schedule.

It was my first time to go to Romblon, so I did not have any clue where to stay or what will be my travel itinerary. Good thing, one of my co-workers is from Romblon so she was able to provide information that I needed. Thank you Caryl Mendez 😊😊😊.

I planned to stay in Romblon for 3 days and 2 nights but when I arrived, the locals informed me that there will be no trips going back to Batangas by Monday due to the national election. So, I need to make an immediate plan on how to go along with my itinerary for one whole day but still following the advise of my co-worker.

Tip: Make sure to check the travel schedules online and book your tickets ahead of time for convenience. The travel time to Romblon is about 13 hours and will also depend on the departure time from Batangas port. I highly suggest to book 2GO or Montenegro shipping lines.

Where to stay in Romblon

There are couple of hotels and beach resorts in Romblon where you can stay. I checked in at Dra. Hotel. This is the newest hotel in the place. It is located at 3rd&4th floor of DRA Commercial Building. M.L. Quezon St. Rajah Matanda St. Brgy. Poblacion, Romblon, Romblon. Room prices from Php600 up to Php 1,200 per night. Additional person is php300.

Contact Information:
0949-980-9145 or 0949-691-3906

Marit Mariño was the receptionist when I arrived in Romblon around 3am. She is really nice and will take care of you.

I met Rosanna Yap who owns a small stall beside the port and fortunately enough that her son Isacar Yap gave me a tour in the place. You can contact him at 09076529598 He can bring you to all the tourist spots and you can also negotiate the price.

Tip: The locals do not take advantage that you are a tourist and will give you an specific amount for tricycle ride. Be reasonable to the locals because its not everyday that they get to be hired for touring purposes. Be friendly too.

Romblon is just a small municipality and the distance of the beaches are not that far. But what I can say, all of their beaches have white sands. I also got a reasonable price for my island hopping. It is better that you make friends with the locals because they can negotiate in your behalf. You can ask Isacar Yap to contact Jessie Menes for the boat. Kuya Jessie Menes is not a tourist guide but during my island hopping, he gave some insights about the islands and will bring you to the nicest beach areas.

Travel Itinerary:

Beaches in Romblon Island

Romblon is know to have a lot white sand beaches. It is good to note that the place is not yet crowded and most of the beach resorts are cheaper in terms of entrance fee for day tour and stay per night. I decided not to stay in a resort and rather when to different beaches.

Take note that these beach fronts are far from each other. From Nonok Beach Resort going to the Bon-Bon Sand Bar. They are just few meters away, however owned by different local businessmen. By 6am, I started by beach tour.

Bon-bon Beach

This is by far the best sand bar I have seen. I never thought I was able to experience a one of kind spot and  I was just alone at the beach. This sand bar connects from the main land to a small island.  Visitors are warned to be extra careful when swimming  due to the unpredictable water level.

Gargantos Beach

At Gargantos Beach, you only need to pay Php5 for the entrance fee and you have to experience their diving board. Take note that it is about 6 feet deep and has a basin. If you do not how to swim then don’t dive.There is also a small sand bar at Gargantos Beach in the afternoon. I had a great swim but I am still afraid of the deep. It is good to note that there are no jelly fish at that time.

Isla Cobrador

One of the must visit islands when you are in Romblon. This is one of the best shoreline I have visited not only because of the white sands but the island is still not exploited. Most of the resorts  are from private individuals not for business.  See article Cobrador Island.

Alad Beach

Logbon Beach

Tip: It is better you start the day with the island hopping because there are big waves when you cross going to Cobrador Island. What I did was start with the sand bar at Bon-Bon Beach because it is still low tide and the water is calm while Tita Rosanna Yap was waiting for the boat owner to negotiate the price. You will be amazed of the powdered – like sand and crystal clear water when you get to Cobrador Island. Enjoy the beach!! 😍

Punta Corazon Beach

Historical Sights in Romblon, Romblon

St. Joseph Cathedral

In 1991, the image of the Nuestra Señor Sto. Niño de Romblon placed at the altar of the Saint Joseph Cathedral was stolen. It was only recovered in Jan 2013 by local Catholic authorities after 22 years of missing.

Fort San Andres

Fort San Andres is the last surviving fortification from the period of the Spanish Occupation of Trinidad, which came to an end in 1797 with the capture of the island by the British. Source: Wikipedia

Romblon Freedom Park

Tip: I highly recommend to experience every island and beaches in Romblon, Romblon. My experience was awesome because I was the only one swimming at beach. As if I own it. Isacar also went to my island hopping to help me with capturing the moments.
 

Sunset at Bon-Bon Beach

You can go back at Bob-Bob Beach in the afternoon to experience low tide and the complete transformation of the sand bar where it connects to a small island. The sunset is also astonishing.

If you are in budget travel like me, you can just eat at a nearest eatery near the port. There are also restaurants like Marlin Bay and Pineapple Restaurant. You can also try their special siopao at Boknoy’s bakeshop near Dra. Hotel for php10.

I can’t help but to take a selfie at the beach. I went home the following day at 2pm and arrived in Batangas port around 11pm with Montenegro as my preferred shipping line.

My experience in Romblon was really awesome and I am looking forward to go back and explore Tablas and Sibuyan Islands.

Travel Expenses:

  • Manila to Batangas Bus Fare – php 157 (LRT Buendia) or  php127 (Alabang)
  • Navios Shipping Lines- php750
  • Tricycle Ride for the beach hopping- php300
  • Boat for Island hopping- php500 (solo)
  • Hotel Accommodation- php600 per night for 2 pax