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Romblon | Cresta de Gallo: A Beautiful and Remote Island

Sunday, April 28, 2013Ryan Mach

There is a small island sitting off the coast of Sibuyan in Romblon. It's called "Cresta de Gallo." We went there one summer and I was incredibly stunned by its beauty. Without sounding biased, I can say that it's one of the best islands I've seen. The photos don't lie, it's really a looker.
The scenic sand bar of Cresta de Gallo

Getting to the island is not easy. For starters, you'll have to board a ferry from Batangas to Romblon, then hop on another boat to the island of Sibuyan, Romblon's second largest island next to Tablas. There is a shipping line that sails directly to Azagra but it's got a reputation for being unsafe. Regardless, taking this ferry can save you a lot of time and money. Just don't say I didn't warn you. From Azagra, you need to rent a boat that will take you to the island. It's a half-hour ride, one hour tops if the water's choppy.

Seeing the island for the first time, I felt some sense of pride for my province. I never knew that such a lovely island existed. But then again, I was born and raised in Tablas, a few miles away from Sibuyan. In fact, I haven't been to this part of Romblon until that summer when I and my friends went on a backpacking trip around the province.

Struck by the beauty before my eyes, I welcomed my travel companions rather theatrically, exclaiming "Welcome to my province, Romblon!" with the most ecstatic voice I could muster, complete with hand gestures. But alas, they didn't notice the act (at least I think they didn't), which was fortunate because I looked rather awkward. Whether my travel mates were smitten by Cresta de Gallo, or they simply found my scream intrusive, I have no idea. Regardless, they paid me no mind, as if I hadn't shouted at all. And I can't really blame them for being speechless. 
Approaching the island
The mere fact that Cresta de Gallo left them utterly speechless was enough to make me swell with pride for my province. They had been nagging me to tour them around Romblon and it wasn't until April of this year when I finally brought them to my home turf. From Batangas, we ferried our way to the capital town Romblon and took another Roro to Sibuyan Island.
The mountainous terrain of Sibuyan, as seen from Cresta de Gallo
Sibuyan was an unexplored territory even for a Romblomanon like me. I was in fact unfamiliar with Cresta de Gallo until I saw it online a few months back. I have mentioned it before, but it's worth mentioning again this time: I mostly learned about various attractions in Romblon online. I began looking for information about the island on Google and found a few, which could only mean that not a lot of travelers have gone to the place. Cresta de Callo is called as such because it's supposed to look like a cock's crown when seen from afar. 
Almost there...
Camera shutters started clicking and a collective sigh of "Wows" and "ang ganda" broke the monotony. The hunger we've been trying to ignore for the last hour was momentarily forgotten. I myself was extremely starving but the moment I saw the white sand of Cresta de Gallo, I hardly cared much about lunch anymore. 
Clear water
I wanted more to swim than to eat lunch. Good thing, someone was sane enough to actually care about lunch. Dhie, our guide, told the boat captain to take our food to the other end of the island. I think she asked us to go back to the boat so we didn't have to walk to the shaded part of the beach. Apparently, we didn't want to go back to the boat because we wanted to feel the sand on our feet. 

And so, under the scorching heat of the sun, we walked toward the greener section of Cresta de Gallo, where trees and shrubs grew. It's about half a kilometer from where we initially docked but again, we didn't mind.
We in fact took our time, never in a hurry, and walked in a very leisurely pace. We could feel the sun's glare burning our face and skin, but even the glaring noonday sun couldn't drive us away to take cover. When you're in an island as beautiful as Cresta de Gallo, the heat can hardly be a distraction. It instead renders the sky and sea bluer, and the sand whiter.
But we're not sun-proofed. We needed to find a shade. Shade we found in the middle of a shrubbery area with a makeshift hut built by fishermen. This hut serves as a temporary abode for local fishermen who normally spend a couple of days in the island to catch fish. They were having lunch when we arrived and they welcomed us with open arms.
They even offered us their lunch, but we politely refused. Our presence was already an intrusion. We couldn't molest them any further. They didn't seem to mind though. We ate lunch with them. They were a happy bunch, and us, happy campers.
We hit the beach right after lunch, braving the relentless heat of the sun. 
The water was refreshingly cool. We saw local boys collect edible sea urchins. I waited for them to offer some to us, but they didn't. Lol. A fisherman took the boys' catch and brought them back to the sea. We heard that Cresta de Gallo has some really good snorkeling sites however we didn't have the chance to explore them. We were content in dipping at the shallow area of the shore, right next to our boat.
The swim was made more fun by our quirky guide who tormented one companion of ours with her unusual ice-breaker question: "M, have you tried having s*x in the sea?" (Okay, I'm such a prude, I couldn't spell the word completely).
We laughed out loud at the rather straightforward question. How can you answer such a personal question to a stranger? Our friend could only blush. Haha!
Dhie, our guide, didn't only share her naughty adventures (they deserve another post), she also imparted significant bits of information about Cresta de Gallo. According to her, the island is privately owned by a local and a few businessmen have tried to buy it, but to no avail. 
It's not only businessmen who are interested to have the island. Dhie told us that Sibuyan's neighboring province, Masbate has shown interest to make the island their own. They claim that Cresta de Gallo belongs to them because of its close proximity. 
The island is also attractive to various fishermen, both local and pirates because of its rich marine life. There had been various incidents of illegal fishing done on the waters around Cresta de Gallo. Fortunately, such an activity is no longer as rampant as it had been a few year back.
Cresta de Gallo, with its pristine white beach is indeed Romblon's gem. If maintained and protected, it can be a good tourism boost for the province. Its remoteness can be both a boon and a bane. 

How to Get to Cresta de Gallo
Cresta De Gallo sits a few kilometers off the coast of San Fernando in Sibuyan, Romblon. To get to San Fernando, you can take a Roro bound for Romblon, Romblon, then hop on another Roro (Querubin) to Sibuyan. Once you reach Sibuyan, ride on a jeepney to San Fernando, then a trike to Azagra, which is the jump-off point to Cresta de Gallo.

Boats for rent are available in Azagra. A round-trip fare can range from 1.5k-2k depending on how many you are in a group. 

Cresta de Gallo is uninhabited so you need to bring food and water if you plan to spend a day on the island.

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