20 THINGS TO DO ON TABLAS ISLAND – THE BUCKET LIST
Tablas Island is the largest of the 20 islands in the Romblon province in the Philippines. It’s an adventure haven with epic beaches, waterfalls, island hopping, snorkeling and is perfect for off the beaten path exploration. I spent five days on Tablas Island with two friends and we adventured every single day, visiting popular spots but also exploring reefs and viewpoints we found by using satellite images on Google Earth. We ended up in some strange places (like people’s backyards or unsuspecting villages) but equally as many beautiful locations that I will share with you below. These are 20 things to do on Tablas Island in the ultimate Tablas Island travel guide.
20 things to do on Tablas Island, Romblon
Snorkel at Looc Marine Sanctuary
Looc Marine Sanctuary on Tablas Island, Romblon, is one of the longest standing tourism attractions on the island. It was established in 1999 and is home to more than 100 different species of fish and sea creatures. Tourism is still pretty low key on Tablas Island today so it’s pretty amazing that the sanctuary was started in 1999.
Tickets for the Marine Sanctuary are 100 pesos and snorkel and mask hire is 60 pesos. That is an extremely fair price for this type of attraction when considering the boat transit as well. From the tour office, you need to walk down the pier and wait for your transit boat. A small wooden boat will pick you up and shuttle you out to the pontoon on the sanctuary. The boats run ever 30 minutes or so bringing people in and out constantly. The day we went wasn’t busy and the boatmen were waiting for us and off we went. The trip is only five or so minutes and you will arrive.
The Looc Marine Sanctuary sits within a protected 48-hectare coral reef area. At the sanctuary, there is a wooden pontoon with a roof, tables, and even a kitchen. There’s even a big rectangular hole in the floor where you can observe the fish as they fight over the breadcrumbs the staff drop into the hole. We threw our gear down and jumped into the water to explore.
The underwater world at Looc Marine Sanctuary surprised me. It was incredibly clear and there were clams, and reef fish everywhere. Under the pontoon, huge fish waited for crumbs to be dropped from above and we swam through big schools.
We snorkeled over to the WWII lighthouse and continued to discover more marine life below the surface. I wasn’t expecting so many fish in this area but it was really quite a great snorkeling spot. There was a great variety of fish species and lots of different types of coral.
Dive into the Blue Hole
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!
We floated above the hole taking turns diving down for what was probably at least 45-minutes. It’s quite an atmospheric spot. You are literally floating over a black hole that seemingly leads to nowhere pleasant. However, our guide Deo told us that there is actually a tunnel out of the hole and it has been explored by scuba-divers.
View the full blog post: DIVING AT THE BLUE HOLE ON TABLAS, ROMBLON
Explore Busay Falls
Busay Falls is an epic multi-tiered waterfall system just out of San Agustin in the north of Tablas Island. When we arrived we had to pay 20 pesos entrance fee per person, which is about 40 US cents. A small man-made pool is at the entrance and we weren’t sure what to expect. As the path leads you up past the pool, at every plateau is a little cascading waterfall. Each time we made it to the next one we wondered if this was Busay Falls!
Finally, we made it to the top and there was a beautiful waterfall streaming down. One family set underneath a shelter at a picnic table as the kids played in the water. The water wasn’t very deep and this was a much more low-key area with no rope swing or crazy activities going on. It was more of a scenic waterfall. We hung out with the family for a while before finding out there was a path to the top of the falls.
A small, steep dirt trail wound up around the side of Busay Falls and took us to the top. Here we found an amazing waterfall, far more epic than the one below! We thought it might be Dulom Falls but in fact, it was still Busay Falls. This system of waterfalls just seems to go on an on. We hung out at the top in this area for almost an hour, taking in our private little oasis! Definitely venture up here when you visit Busay Falls. For me, this was probably the best waterfall on Tablas Island because of the atmosphere in this little cauldron of a spot.
View the full blog post: 4 EPIC WATERFALLS ON TABLAS, ROMBLON
Climb to the Binucot Beach viewpoint
Binucot Beach is a beautiful cove with hill viewpoints at either end. Crystal clear water is home to lots of fish and it’s some of the best snorkeling on the island. A small path from the beach led us up to an old barbwire fence, which we slid underneath. From this point on there was no path and it was just a freestyle adventure. We climbed through vines, battled the ants and bounded over the sharp rocks looking for a nice spot to view Binucot Beach. After some serious work, we managed to climb out onto some rocks and enjoy the view back over Escape Eco Resort and Binucot Beach.
We explored the ocean-side of the Binucot Beach viewpoint and the rocks became to look very familiar. Throughout Tablas Island, there were many similarities with the famous El Nido. The rocks at Binucot Beach viewpoint were jagged and dramatic just like in Palawan! We trod carefully as we continued our exploration across the hill.
Eventually, I found a spot that looked perfect for a little cliff jump. I decided to jump from down low as I wanted to check the height first. It was deep but better to be safe than sorry. I then swam back to the ocean-side of the Binucot Beach viewpoint. I swam through epic slot caves and discovered some amazing little spots. It’s definitely worth snorkeling out on the ocean-side of the hill.
View the full blog post: BINUCOT BEACH VIEWPOINT & SUNSET ON TABLAS, ROMBLON
Watch the sunset at Tablas Point
From Alcantara, we drove down the east coast and wrapped around the southern tip of Tablas before reaching the west coast and getting our first glimpse of the setting sun. We ended up parking close to the exact point but slightly before because we found an epic little clearing with some palm trees. There are lots of great little spots waiting to be discovered or you can enter the Tablas Point Resort itself for drinks and food.
The palm area we found was something straight out of a Corona ad. Golden hour next to the beach with giant palms towering over us as we parked our bikes right there on the sand. This is what traveling in Tablas Island is all about. Not a soul in sight either, just a few local kids running about playing games.
The sky ended up lighting up and it was the best sunset of the entire week of our Tablas Island adventure. The ocean at Tablas Point is quite still, which means there were some epic reflections. We also had some find exploring the boats ashore and other places to shoot like huts and netting. This coastline is a great place to adventure and I advise coming well before sunset so you can look around and pick an awesome spot for when the sky lights up!
When we went to leave after the sunset we realized one of our bikes had no lights. It ended up being a slow journey back to Ferrol as we used the light from one moped to shine the way for two. Luckily we made it home safely and all was good!
View the full blog post: TABLAS POINT EPIC SUNSET SPOT ON TABLAS, ROMBLON
Explore Danao Norte Viewpoint
Danao Norte is a region in the south-east of Tablas Island, Romblon. There’s a couple of resorts, which you can reach by a gravel road but other than that we didn’t see too much. However, it was from the sky that we had a memorable experience in Danao Norte. It was also the reason we came. This bucket list item is titled Danao Norte Viewpoint but in actual fact, there is no name for this viewpoint as confirmed by locals. Noone goes here it seems. Therefore, for now, it is the Danao Norte Viewpoint.
t was the usual game plan for us on Tablas Island. Look at Google Earth and find some epic viewpoints and reefs to explore. As you can see below there was a shoot or a thin stretch of deep water with the shallow reef on either side. We thought it would be epic to shoot this location from the sky. It was awesome to be on Tablas Island finding random locations that turned out to be epic. It’s much more of an adventure than arriving at an easy to find a location that you have seen photos of a million times!
View the full blog post: DANAO NORTE VIEWPOINT ON TABLAS, ROMBLON
Discover Tinagong Dagat
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!
Find Dulom Falls
Dulom Falls is an epic little spot but not on Google Maps or signposted. It is near Busay Falls and I have written some directions in the full blog post, which is linked below. Once you finally get to Dulom Falls you will see why it is nicknamed the dark falls. Very little light seeps through into this amphitheater. A few streaks of sunlight shot through making for some pretty epic lighting conditions down at the falls. A bunch of local kids were jumping and playing around in the falls. The pool wasn’t very deep and unless you are local, under 10 years old and half ninja, I would advise not to do any jumping or such at Dulom Falls. It was only about 5-6 feet deep at the very deepest point.
View full blog post: 4 EPIC WATERFALLS ON TABLAS, ROMBLON
Jump from the bridge in Looc
In the town of Looc, there is a small cement bridge that the local kids jump from. We were passing by and stopped to hang out with the kids for a while and send a few backflips. We had an awesome time chilling with these kids at their local spot. The water isn’t very deep and we had to jump in a pretty specific spot. Definitely not one of the safest jumps of my life but with a muddy bottom the risk wasn’t too high! We passed by the bridge on our way back from the Looc Marine Sanctuary.
Calatrava Island Hopping
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!
I wrote an extensive blog post about the experience, detailing every stop we made on our Calatrava Island hopping adventure but this is a brief round-up of what was involved:
- Fish Market: Load up on supplies and snacks for the day of island hopping
- Cove Aurelio: Variety of vivid corals, marine life, and rock channels
- White Rock Reef: Amazing underwater rock structures and a huge drop-off
- Blue Hole: Free-dive into the Blue Hole, 10 meters below the surface
- Gorda Point: Snorkel with schools of fish in the clear water near the Blue Hole
- Blue Hole Cliff Jump: An awesome cliff jump above the Blue Hole
- Pearl of Melody: A hidden sea cave inside the cliffs
- Tinagong Dagat: Hidden saltwater lakes
- Tinagong Dagat Cliff Jump: End the day with a 10m cliff jump as the sun sets in Calatrava
View the full blog post: CALATRAVA ISLAND HOPPING ADVENTURE TOUR ON TABLAS, ROMBLON
Visit Aglicay Beach Resort
Aglicay Beach Resort is tucked away on a private beach below Alcantara on the south-east corner of Tablas Island, Romblon. Palm trees tower over the white sand, creating a natural wall between the accommodation and the private beach. Visitors from outside the resort are welcome to enter for just 50 pesos per person and enjoy Aglicay Beach Viewpoint as well as the spectacular beach.
Once we arrived at Aglicay Beach Resort we paid the 50 pesos entrance fee per person. We could now make use of the bathroom facilities, filtered water, benches and tables as well as enjoying the beach and the viewpoint. We hung out on the beach for a while playing about with some kids from Manila in a splash war before exploring the beautiful palms on the shore.
View full blog post: AGLICAY BEACH VIEWPOINT AND RESORT ON TABLAS, ROMBLON
Get off the beaten path at Sitio Sawang Village
Just near Looc Bay in the Agojo region, we discovered an epic looking reef on Google Earth. Off we went on the bikes. The road was in pretty average shape with rocks and gravel everywhere but we managed with the motorbikes. It was almost 30 minutes driving off the main road and at one point a group of men were repairing the small road and sent us on a detour through a grass field. We were well and truly off the tourist trail.
Finally, we were close to the end of the road and what we thought might be a resort or cafe. In fact, we had stumbled into a small fishing village called Sitio Sawang. They were as surprised as us. In fact, there open plan houses and lots were sprawled across the road and we actually drove through someone’s living room! Like all over the Philippines, the locals were intrigued but of course happy to see us.
It wasn’t what we were expecting but we knew it would be epic from the air so we went to the basketball court in the center of the village and unpacked our drones. One by one the entire village came to see what was going on. When the drones went up the kids screamed and chatted amongst each other about the foreigners and their helicopters. The parents laughed at their children but were equally intrigued.
The reef turned out to be magnificent. I tracked some fishing boats as they cruised through Looc Bay and also shot some stationary boats parked near the mangroves. There’s nothing like being in an epic location and seeing it from the air. We were fortunate enough to be able to show the kids and the parents what their home looked like from 500 meters in the air. They loved the new perspective and at the very least we gave them some afternoon entertainment!
View full blog post: DRONE PHOTOGRAPHY IN SITIO SAWANG VILLAGE ON TABLAS, ROMBLON
Explore the tiers of Trangkalan Falls
Trangkalan Falls is another waterfall on Tablas Island, which isn’t on Google Maps or sign-posted from the road. That’s not an issue as all you need to know is that it is in the Barangay (town) of Bachawan, which is on Google Maps. You will need to drive further south along the east coast until you reach the town of Bachawan. In the main street, it is the last right turn down a little road. If you can’t find the road just ask the locals for Trangkalan and they will point you in the right direction.
When we arrived, there was no-one at Trangkalan Falls. There was some sort of tour office but it appeared out of action. A small emerald pool was the first waterfall that caught our eye. It was a small flow like Mablaran. We wondered if there was more and began scaling the rocks upstream to explore. What we found was amazing. Boulders, vines and exotic plants lined the stream, which seemed to continue tier after tier. We finally stopped after what seemed like endless climbing but who knows if we made it far enough.
We did, however, make it far enough to enjoy an epic spot, which was an amazing way to end the day standing at the top of Trangkalan Falls having visited some of the best waterfalls on Tablas Island!
View the full blog post: 4 EPIC WATERFALLS ON TABLAS, ROMBLON
Enjoy sunset at Binucot Beach
Binucot Beach is the perfect place for sunset as it faces directly west. Whether atop the viewpoint or on the shore you will get some awesome colors and reflections.
We were staying at Escape Eco Resort, which is right on Binucot Beach when the sun started setting. My friend and I quickly grabbed our cameras and shot what turned out to be an epic sunset. The palm trees on the hill are quite unique as they seem to be melting into the ocean. The sunsets in Tablas seem to last for over an hour so you get a lot of time to enjoy the slow-fading beauty of mother nature.
Aglicay Beach Viewpoint
At Aglicay Beach Resort, we walked up the stairs down the far end of the beach and went to check out the viewpoint. It was a bit of a cloudy day but it would have been magnificent on a sunny day to look back down on the water and the reef. However, we still got a great view of Aglicay Beach Resort. The hike up the stairs takes about five minutes so if you visit, definitely take the time to get up to the top for the view.
On the back side of the viewpoint, the beaches get even better! From here there was a huge reef with small fishing boats cruising in and out. Little coves crowned by palm trees lay across the bay, untouched.
View full blog post: AGLICAY BEACH VIEWPOINT AND RESORT ON TABLAS, ROMBLON
Swing on the vine at Mablaran Falls
We arrived early in the morning but even at 9 am, the place was becoming crowded with local families set up for a day of BBQs and family fun time. To enter Mablaran Falls, the entrance fee was 10 pesos according to a hand-painted sign. That’s 20 US cents.
Mablaran Falls is more of a hangout spot than an epic waterfall. A small waterfall pans into a large pool. The main attraction at Mablaran waterfall on Tablas Island was the rope swing. Kids took turns swinging on a vine and launching into the water. It wasn’t a man-made rope like most swings, it was actually a vine, which was super cool. We joined in with the kids as they showed us their four stacker rope swing tricks and enjoyed making fun of my Tagalog.
View full blog post: 4 EPIC WATERFALLS ON TABLAS, ROMBLON
Cliff Jump into the Blue Hole
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.
View the full blog post: DIVING AT THE BLUE HOLE
Enjoy Sunset at Footprints Beach Resort
We needed a place to stay in San Andres and it appears the best spot is Footprints Beach Resort. I thought it might be a bit expensive but they had a dorm room, which was super clean and only $8 per night. That was an amazing price considering we were right on the beach and surrounded by palms. The sun sets right over the water here and we had a unique sunset on the night we hung out here. Clouds covered the whole sky except for a small little section at the bottom of the sky. When the sun shone through here it shot rays into the rest of the clouds from the belt of the sun. Definitely, head to Footprints and grab a drink during sunset while on Tablas Island.
Abandoned Hotel cliff jump
As we were driving down the east coast of Tablas Island we spotted a random house/hotel on top of a rock. Kids were dripping wet and there was quite a commotion. We whipped around and went to investigate. It turns out they are building a hotel or renovating an old one as we were told. But for now, you can jump of the roof or out the windows into the crystal clear water. The sand is actually shells and rock, which are very fine and make the water crystal clear with no murkiness. It is like a little European paradise in the middle of Tablas Island.
Try the Inasal at Melberto’s
I don’t normally blog about food and try and stick to the adventurous things to do and see. That’s what I like and probably why you are here reading this too! But one meal to try and something to tick off your Tablas bucket list is the Inasal and Mango shake from Melberto’s. We stumbled in here by chance and ended up coming back multiple times, any time we passed through Looc in fact. For a few US dollars, you can get a huge piece of barbecued chicken, unlimited rice, and a mango shake! If you are in Looc just head into the town and ask someone where Melberto’s is or drive the four streets of the town. It’s small. You will find it!
How to get to Tablas Island
Depending on where you are coming on there are actually plenty of ways to get to Tablas. We came in from Manila but flew to Caticlan and then took a ferry as it was the cheapest option for us. However, you can take a ferry from Batangas (near Manila) and go ferry the whole way.
Our ferry was incredibly nice with beds instead of seats, televisions, and power charge stations. There is only one ferry per day from Caticlan but multiple from Roxas, Batangas etc. They will all dock at Odiongon port.
If you manage to find a cheap flight, Tablas actually has its own airport! You can fly directly to and from Manila for about 500 pesos or 100 USD. This all depends on the going rate and how far in advance you book.
So without giving you the timetable of every single option, just know you can go direct with ferry or flight from Manila. You can also get the ferry from Roxas, Caticlan, Sibuyan, Romblon, and Carabao!
Where I stayed on Tablas
Escape Eco Resort in Ferrol (2 nights)
On our first day on Tablas Island in Romblon, we took a tricycle to Escape Eco Resort on Binucot Beach. It would be our home for the next two nights and turned out to be an incredible base for our adventures and the restaurant we hung out at for dinner each night and breakfast each morning.
The rooms at Escape Eco Resort are awesome thatched bungalows. A fan, power outlets, mirror and a double bed is all that is inside this simple-living style accommodation. The restaurant is in a pirate ship on the beach. That’s how you do it!
Check for availability and prices: Escape Eco Resort on Binucot Beach
Footprints Beach Resort in San Andres (3 nights)
Footprints Beach Resort and the staff were bloody awesome. For $8 USD per night, we had a bunk bed in the dorm room. We each grabbed a bunk and the others were unrented so essentially we had an entire dorm to ourselves. As you can see below the entire resort is right on the beach, in the middle of a field of palms. For $8 a night that is tough to beat especially when the resort is on the west coast and has some of the best sunsets on the island!
The staff were awesome and helped us rent motorbikes, book our island hopping trip, tricycle transfers, load our data on our phone and everything else we needed. The dorm room was basic but clean and each bed had power outlets and a small fan. The wifi didn’t really work but it didn’t really work anywhere on Tablas so that is just the standard.
Check the prices and availability: Footprints Resort San Andres
Tablas Island WIFI
Don’t expect wifi at either of the accommodations I suggested although they probably both advertise that they have it. What I can tell you is that this seems to be a SMART island. In the Philippines, there are two major cell providers and different places work better with either sim card. Many Filipinos who travel have both sims and switch them out. Seems insane but just roll with it. From my experience, Tablas and Romblon were SMART, while Sibuyan and Carabao were Globe. We managed to keep up to date with most things but did find it challenging at times with the internet accessibility in Ferrol particularly.
Tablas Island Transport
Motorbike: Finding a motorbike proved difficult on Tablas. When we arrived at Odiongon port, no one around knew much about renting a motorbike. In the end, after an hour of looking, we jumped in a tricycle to Escape Eco Resort. There they rented us their own personal motorbike. It was pretty strange and not set up for tourists wanting to rent a bike at all. Footprints resort had two motorbikes for rent at all times. The daily rate of rent was a bit steeper than other places in the Philippines but it is a pretty off the beaten path location so that’s how it goes sometimes. We paid 500 pesos per day for the motorbike, which is 10 USD.
Jeepney: The Jeepney’s run in two directions for the most part but you can get pretty much anywhere along the major road around the island via jeepney. They don’t run all day and are always packed so expect to sit on the roof. It’s called natural air-conditioning. They are the cheapest way to get around but not ideal for sightseeing and more for a full transit move from one side of the island to the other.
Tricycle: The tricycle isn’t cheap but it’s your best bet if you don’t go motorbike or if the jeepney isn’t at the right time for you. We used the tricycle to go from Ferrol to San Andres. Generally, we were paying 500-1000 pesos for 3 people and luggage to go 1-2 hours. By yourself, it would be quite expensive. If you don’t take a motorbike, this will be your only option for sightseeing transport unless you take some sort of guided tour in a car, which I didn’t see any of!
Tablas Island Map