Tuesday, March 20, 2018

March 16th – Ravishing Romblon

It's hard to believe that the little island of Romblon isn't very known about on the international circuit (it isn't particularly known about within the Philippines either, other than being home to the country's main marble quarries). Because, this friendly little place is home to some of the most idyllic beaches you can imagine.

I took a boat over to the undeveloped Cobrador Island, where we spent a lovely morning on the gorgeous white beach at Nagoso. It doesn't really matter that there are next-to-no facilities there – when you have such soft white sands, warm turquoise seas, and healthy coral gardens to explore just 5 metres off the coast, what else do you need?

If we hadn't just been absolutely spoilt by the truly phenomenal underwater world of Coron the day before, we'd have probably been blown away by the waters off Nagoso Beach. Here, the coral was in great shape (although not as colourful as Coron), and there was a decent amount of fish swimming around. The fish were quite small though – a local told me that the fishermen were taking up most of the sealife, so maybe we were lucky to see anything.

I get the impression that these superb landscapes and seascapes on offer are probably how the Thai islands used to be, 50 years ago. I just hope that the Philippine government can protect and preserve their islands and keep development to a minimum, whilst still raising the living standards here.

Actually, back on the main island, the quality of life appeared to be a few notches up above that on Coron. It's a pretty little town with a really friendly atmosphere – a sign of how undeveloped the tourist industry here is probably reflected by the genuine warmth of the welcome we got.

What gives Romblon a bit of extra income (and a bit of extra interest too), is that it's home to that marble industry. Any time in town confirms that this is the "Philippines's Marble Capital" – there are so many shops and stalls selling anything from marble knick-knacks to large marble dining tables (not the kind of thing to fit into your luggage sadly). Tracy's tour took her around the marble quarries and marble workshops – it was fascinating to see, but slightly depressing to see that those guys put up with such difficult and dusty work conditions for about $5 a day.

Everyone we've spoken to loved Romblon – sometimes the places that you've never heard of, that you have no expectations of, can deliver the best of days.