CALATRAVA ISLAND HOPPING ADVENTURE TOUR ON TABLAS ISLAND, ROMBLON
When you think of island hopping in the Philippines it is El Nido and Coron that jump to mind. However, Calatrava in the north of Tablas Island, Rombon is a mind-blowing experience waiting to be discovered! I spent an entire day exploring the caves, reefs, lakes and cliff jumps on a Calatrava island hopping tour with Deo from Deo’s Adventures and it was one of the best days of 2018!
Calatrava Island Hopping options
As with most planning in the Romblon region, nothing was easy. In fact, I couldn’t even find a company to call for the island hopping at one stage. I finally found a pamphlet hidden on a pinboard at our resort, Footprints in San Andres. It was an island hopping experience to Turtle Cove and Lapus-Lapus beach. This option was on a boat with lots of other tourists and you get to snorkel at a couple of spots and eat lunch at the beach. It was part of a big group and the price was listed as 1300 pesos per person, which is about 24 USD.
This company didn’t answer my phone call and I am grateful for that. Then as I was researching online just as you probably are now, I came across Deo’s contact details. He is one of the most experienced locals in the area and has made it a hobby to explore all of the caves, hills, viewpoints, bays, and reefs of Tablas. His curiosity for discovering new spots led to the creation of Deo’s Adventures, his adventure tour company. Deo offered to take us island hopping the next day for 2400 pesos per person, which is about $45 USD. That seems like a lot compared to the group snorkeling tour and I was a bit unsure.
The trip was definitely expensive but his personalized tour took us to some of the most epic spots in Calatrava that most tourists would never even know about. I’m talking about hidden sea caves, underwater channels and unbelievable rock formations below the surface. Deo took us from breakfast, picked us up at our resort and we stayed out all day until sunset. This was a tour where he wanted us to see the beauty of his island, Tablas. It was the most expensive island-hopping tour I’ve ever done in the Philippines. Most normally cost $20 or less per person and this one cost more than $50. If you have room in your budget it was a great day but you can still enjoy Calatrava on the other tours if it is out of your backpacking budget. There isn’t really anyone offering similar tours so you really only have one option if you want a more personalized tour.
Contact Deo’s Adventures
- To contact Deo you can reach him by clicking the link to his Facebook Page and shooting him a message: Deo’s Adventures Facebook Page
- You can also contact Deo directly at his local number: +63 9990020806
Calatrava Island Hopping Experience
Deo picked us up from our accommodation, Footprints Resort, in San Andres. This was handy because it is a 30-minute drive to Calatrava. Before we got onto the boat we first stopped at the local fish market to grab some fresh produce for our lunch. Deo picked out some fresh fish, chicken, sausages, and watermelon. We were all set for the day. We headed to the harbor across the road and jumped in the 20-person outrigger and our Calatrava island hopping adventure began!
As we cruised along the coast, we knew were in for a good day. The sharp, jagged cliffs towered above the crystal clear water in dramatic fashion. The sun was shining and the weather gods managed to keep it that way for the entire day! We pulled in to Cove Aurelio, a small bay with little bungalows on the shore. This would be our base for the day and also our first snorkel spot. We dropped our bags in a bungalow and jumped into the water for our first snorkel of the day.
Under the surface, we encountered some incredible rock formations. Huge boulders and channels made for an underwater playground as we went free-diving in and around the rocks. Marine life was abundant with blue sea-stars all over the sea-floor! Spectacular reef made the perfect home for a variety of coral fish, who zipped in and out of their colorful homes. A small islet just out from Cove Aurelio had some beautiful spots scattered around its edges. I could’ve explored the underwater world of Cove Aurelio for hours but we had more in store for the day.
White Rock Reef
We cruised further north from Tablas and came across a huge white rock in a little cove. This is White Rock Reef as Deo called it. Below the surface, huge boulders, tunnels and channels make for an unbelievable free-dive playground. Schools of fish an even a small turtle cruised by, surprised to see us. There is a giant drop-off, a wall, that is also awesome to free-dive at. This was probably the best snorkel spot on our Calatrava island hopping experience.
Freediving: It’s possible to scuba-dive at the Blue Hole or to free-dive as we chose to do with Deo our guide. We aren’t very experienced free-divers, in fact, we are about as amateur as they come. The beauty of the Blue Hole is that it is only about 10 meters below the surface. That means you can free-dive down even a few meters and get a great look into the depths of darkness within the hole. Of course, if you are a gun like your guide, Deo, you will be able to reach the top of the hole and explore the deep blue!
After we finished diving at the Blue Hole, we continued swimming around the corner to Gorda’s Point. It’s a huge bay and Deo told us it is possible to spot a turtle here if we are lucky. On this occasion, we didn’t find a turtle but we did encounter something amazing. A huge school of fished swarmed in unison, twisting and turning in tune. It’s incredible how organized and synchronized such a huge school of individuals can be. We dove down with the school and watched as the school expertly evaded us. The water at Gorda’s point was crystal clear with lots of coral and marine life to observe.
Blue Hole Cliff Jump
After snorkeling at Gorda’s Point, I told Deo I was going to climb up the rocks near Blue Hole and do a cliff Jump. It seemed about 12 meters but I’m not sure. Deo wasn’t sure either. But he knew I was experienced at cliff jumping. I managed to climb out of the water and scale my way up the cliff. The guys in the boat watched on as I lept off the cliff and seemingly jumped into the Blue Hole. Of course, I didn’t go down deep enough but it felt like I was jumping into the hole itself while I was on the way down. It was a great way to end an awesome day of adventuring on Tablas Island with our guide Deo.
Pearl of Melody Cave
Our boat veered towards the cliffs and we saw a small opening. It was time to hit the caves. This cave was named by Deo after an incident involving a lost pearl. The boat anchored just outside the cave and we swam through a small opening inside the cave. Crystal clear water shone with luminescence in the small pool of water behind the walls of the cave. As we climbed out of the water we could adventure further inside the cave until the light was no more. The patterns on the cliff walls here were quite remarkable and made for some epic over/under shots with the GoPro.
Tinagong Dagat Tablas
Tinagong Dagat on Tablas, is a beautiful salt-water lake, right on the tip of the coastline. We docked our boat here to check out these two epic wonders of nature. Tinagong Dagat translates to ‘hidden sea’. From the boat, you cannot see the pools, which makes for a cool discovery as you come to land. From the air, Tinagong Dagat in Calatrava looked even better. I shot down the entire stretch of coast and captured one of my favorite photos from our Calatrava Island Hopping trip!
Tinagong Dagat Tablas Cliff Jump
As the sun began to set, I headed around the cliff with a local kid and he showed me a spot to cliff jump. It was about 8 meters high and not very deep, but off I went. Nic managed to capture the epic sunset cliff jump moment from the drone and it’s a moment I’ll never forget from our Calatrava Island hopping and our time on Tablas, Romblon.
Where is Calatrava?
Calatrava is in the north of Tablas Island. If you choose to go island hopping from Calatrava with Deo, he will pick you up. However, if you make your own arrangements you can get a jeepney or tricycle to the port in Calatrava. The market to buy the food for your expedition is right next to the port also.