Tablas - Aglicay - Resort From Southern Hilltoop

Tablas – Philippines – Around The Island By Scooter


FEBRUARY 2016:





INTRODUCTION:

I was staying at the AGLICAY BEACH RESORT on Tablas Island.

Tablas - Aglicay - Resort From Southern HilltoopTablas - Aglicay - Balcony ViewI was impressed by what I had found.

The Aglicay was the best value for money accommodation that I had found in my 5 weeks in The Philippines so far. The room was a good size and clean; so was the ensuite. It had a lovely beach setting.

However, when you use online search engines, there are very few Hotels listed for Tablas Island (less than 10).

I wanted to know whether or not there were more such places around the island that were not on the internet… did this island have any ‘secrets’ that we should know about?

Is Tablas Island an ‘undiscovered gem’? …


MY SCOOTER:

Tablas Island MapThe Aglicay rents scooters for PHP600 / day. It is not the best price in the world but, for a resort, it was reasonable.

Besides, I didn’t have any other choices… the Aglicay is in the middle of no-where. It was rent from them or nothing.

I booked my scooter the day before. I was at reception at 7:15am the next morning. They called for my scooter and it was delivered shortly after.

It wasn’t the best nor newest scooter in the world but it was good enough.

They scanned my Passport ‘photo page’ and checked my driving license.

I was on the road by 8:00am.


THE EAST COAST:

Tablas - Trip 1 - Eastcoast Road North Tablas - Trip 3 - Eastern BeachI travelled north up the east coast road first passing through Alcantara.

I stopped at beaches on the way and, as usual, took any side roads that I could find to look for ‘hidden’ beaches.

Tablas - Trip 3 - Fish & Rice PHP30 Tablas - Trip 4 - Eastcoast BeachI stopped for breakfast in a small cafe that I found opposite a school.

I had a simple breakfast of sweet and sour fish with rice; they gave me hot water for the sachet of black coffee that I had brought with me. Total cost PHP30.

Tablas - Trip 5 - Eastcoast Bay Tablas - Trip 6 - View of San AgustinI headed for Santa Maria.

But, I must have ‘blinked’ and missed it.

I continued up the east coast road to San Agustin. San Agustin is where you catch the boat to Romblon Island.

This was a proper town (unlike Santa Maria) which I could see across the bay as I approached.

Tablas - Trip 7 - San Agustin Main RoadTablas - Trip 8 - FarmlandI found one unlisted resort on the way – but it was not a very good beach nor a very good resort, so I did not enquire about prices.

The landscape starts to become more hilly after San Agustin and there were some very picturesque views of the local farmland.

The East Coast was nice but the beaches were average. No ‘hidden gems’ here…


THE NORTH:

Tablas - Trip 9 - Entering Carmen Tablas - Trip 10 - Carmen Bay RoadAt the northern end, I left the main road and continued north into Carmen Bay.

The roads alternate between patches of concrete and patches of dirt track.

This is a dead end road and I knew that I would need to ‘double back’ on myself later – but the scenery was so nice in the north that I wanted to see more.

Tablas - Trip 11 - End of Silangga Road Tablas - Trip 12 - Biaringan IslandOne fork in the road takes you to Silangga where you get a nice view of Biaringan Island.

You can park your scooter at the end of the road and follow a walkway around the headland.

A pleasant respite from sitting on your scooter and getting a sore bottom.

Tablas - Trip 13 - Road to Cawayan Tablas - Trip 14 - Cawayan Road ViewDoubling back and taking the other fork will take you to Cawayan.

This is the most picturesque part of the journey with winding lanes and stunning views.

Tablas - Trip 15 - Cawayan Road Tablas - Trip 16 - Cawayan Road ViewBut, alas, no ‘hidden gems’.Tablas - Trip 17 - Cawayan Road View


THE WEST COAST:

Tablas - Trip 18 - Calatrava bay Tablas - Trip 19 - Agpudlos bay FishermenI doubled back to the main road and headed for Calatrava.

Again, I found a little fishing community on an average beach. This is where you catch the boat to the Paksi Cove Resort.

I continued down the west coast to Agpudlos Bay; and found much of the same.

In Agpudlos Bay I watched a fishing boat bringing in its and nets and stopped for Lunch. Stir fried noodles with a boiled egg (PHP30 + PHP8).Tablas - Trip 20 - San Andres Beach

Further down the road I stopped at San Andres Beach; again, OK and good for a day trip. But no resorts on the beach.

Tablas - Trip 21 - West Coast Farms Tablas - Trip 22 - West Coast FarmsAs you come down the West Coast you get more picturesque views of local farms and farmland.Tablas - Trip 23 - River Bridge

One of the better beaches that I found was just north of Odiongan and a very easy trip from an Odiongan hotel if you want to spend a day there.

Tablas - Trip 25 - West Coast Beach Tablas - Trip 26 - West Coast BeachHere I found some nice new-build houses on the coast that looked like they had been built by expats.

It would seem that expats are already starting to discover this idyllic little island.

Tablas - Trip 24 - Fishing BoatsMy next stop was Odiongan – the main ferry port town and the biggest town on the island.

I stopped here for a break and bought a couple of things at the Zafeways Supermarket.

Tablas - Trip 27 - Odiongan Main Road Tablas - Trip 28 - Looc Bay SunsetI had run out of time and needed to head for home.

So, I bypassed the coast road through Binucot and headed directly for Looc.

There’s nothing ‘endearing’ about Looc. There are a couple of hotels there but it isn’t a pleasant place to stay – nor is Odiongan for that matter.

As I left Looc heading for the Aglicay, I left the sun setting behind me.


A FITTING END TO A DAY:

I decided not to eat Dinner at the (poor value for money) Aglicay; I wanted to do something different.

It was almost 6:00pm. I passed the turn off to the Aglicay and continued north towards Alcantara Town. I saw a street stall on the way selling BBQ Kebabs – I stopped and had a quick look. I liked the look of it – but didn’t want rice.

I continued into town and bought a bag of 5 fresh bread rolls (PHP20) and headed back to the stall. I ordered 4 pork kebabs. As I waited, I was beckoned over by a group of guys in the house behind the stall. ‘Join us for a beer’, they said. ‘Why not’, I said – and sat down to join them.

They shared their beer with me and we had a lot of laughs. The family and children gathered around to join in. I sat drinking beer and sharing my pork kebab rolls. They shared their french fries.

The lady of the house came out with fried noodles for me (free). I ordered 4 more pork kebabs. From no-where a lady appeared selling eggs. Henry, one of the guys, bought a couple and offered me one. He cracked open the top to reveal a whole unborn chicken and started to eat it. I couldn’t touch mine – the barriers in my mind wouldn’t let me. 🙂

But, it was very generous of him.

Tablas - Trip 30 - BBQ BoysThey accepted my apologies with grace. After spending over an hour with them I had to go before it got too dark to drive home. I went to pay for my 8 pork kebabs: PHP40.

One of the girls at the BBQ stall was getting married on Saturday. Today was Thursday. I was invited to the party on Friday night. I had to be there at 7:00pm – and I was expected to dance with the ladies. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it… I don’t have any transport to get there…


CONCLUSION:

I was on the road for 10 hours and covered nearly 200 kms. Petrol for the whole trip cost just under PHP200.

It was a shame that I was unable to include the Ferrel and Santa Fe areas. These are the main areas where other online accommodation is listed. I decided to extend my stay at the Aglicay for another 4 nights so that I could do a second scooter trip around the south of the island.

I did this the following Monday… the results have been written up in Where To Stay.

Everywhere you go around the island people are genuinely friendly. The children wave at you as you drive past and shout out ‘hello’. But, it is not just the children… the adults do it too. I don’t think that they see many foreigners touring the island on a scooter. It makes for a very pleasant journey.

Tourism is not a major income for Tablas Island. Tablas Island is a farming and fishing community.

There are some unlisted ‘resorts’ and ‘homestays’ around the island but very few. I did not find one that I could recommend as being a ‘special’ place to go to. There are several unlisted cheap hotel options in Odiongan and Looc – but why stay there? They are just your usual unkempt Filipino towns.

I was unable to get to the Paksi Cove Resort near Calatrava. You can only get to it by boat (locals pay PHP20 each way). The resort has 11 accommodation options. I met an Australian couple that went there who said that (once physically there) cottages with ensuite were PHP1000 / night and rooms with shared bathroom were PHP500 / night. But, with only 11 rooms, the shared bathroom probably feels like an unattached ensuite anyway. Prices are higher online – so remember this ‘off the street’ prices when making an online booking – wait for appropriate discounts.

In summary, I would suggest that the best places to stay on Tablas Island are already listed on the internet. There aren’t many to choose from… and the ones that are there have already found the best locations.


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