Carabao Island, popularly known as Hambil to the locals, exudes with gorgeous coastlines and turquoise beaches blissfully devoid of luxury trappings. Overshadowed by its sister – the world famous hedonistic Boracay, this unassuming island has managed to retain its serenity.
Here’s a travel guide to help you plan your holiday in Carabao Island.
How to get to Carabao Island:
The nearest airport is in Caticlan, the gateway to BoracayIsland, you can also fly to Kalibo (Aklan).
Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines (PAL) flies to Caticlan from Manila and Cebu. They also have flights to Kalibo. Meanwhile Tigerair Philippinesa and Airasia Zest also flies to Kalibo from Manila.
Getting to Carabao Island from Caticlan:
From CaticlanAirport, charter a tricycle to take you to the port of boats to Hambil (San Jose). Locals call CarabaoIsland as Hambil. Fare is roughly Php 50.
From Caticlan port where you take the boat to Boracay, it’s about a 20 minute walk. If you need directions, use Hambil (not CarabaoIsland) when asking around for directions. You may take a tricycle but the fare is pretty hefty. I was charged Php80 (one way).
Boats to Carabao Island / Hambil from Caticlan:
Large passenger boats that can accommodate up to 60 people leaves for San Jose; Brgy.Poblacion (the main town center) or Brgy. Lanas. Boats leave at 8:30 AM daily, they only have one trip per day. So if you plan to do CarabaoIsland as a day trip, charter a boat instead. Fare is Php 80 per person and travel time is about 1 hour.
Boats From Carabao Island /Hambil back to Caticlan:
The passenger boat to Caticlan leaves at 5:30 AM daily. So be there early as they depart on time! Fare is Php 80.
Boats to Carabao Island/Hambil from Boracay
If you are pressed for time and you want to do Carabao Island as a day trip, you can just charter a boat to Carabao Island / Hambil for about Php 1,500 depending on your haggling skill. The boat normally stops at Brgy.Lanas.
A cheaper option is to find boats owned by locals of Hambil in Bulabog Beach, Boracay. Ask around for boats going back to Hambil/Carabao Island. Fare is Php50-Php80, travel time is about 30 minutes. Normally leaves around 5PM.
Getting to Carabao Island via Tablas Island (Romblon)
From Batangas port there are ferries bound for Tablas Island Romblon. Travel time is 8-10 hours. Fare is around Php 700-800. The ferry to Manila from Odiongan usually leaves at 6PM.
At Odiongan, ride a jeep en route to Sta. Fe at the jeep terminal near Odiongan public market. Travel time is about 1hour, fare is Php 150.
Boats to Carabao Island from Tablas Island (Romblon):
The passenger boat to Hambil/Carabao Island from Sta.Fe in TablasIsland (Romblon) leaves daily at 9:30 AM. Fare is Php 100. Travel time 1hour.
It leaves Hambil/Carabao Island at 5:30 AM. Fare is Php 100. Travel time is about 1hour.
From Sta. Fe to Odiongan (Romblon) there is a jeep waiting for passengers to Odiongan. Fare is Php 150. Travel time is about 1hour. The ferry to Manila from Odiongan usually leaves at 6PM.
Carabao Island Accomodations:
There are a handful of basic accommodations in Carabao Island.
I stayed at Kameo Lodge owned by the administrator of San Jose National High School. Will update the contact information since I left my notebook at home where the contact numbers are written.
Basic fan rooms priced at Php 500/ USD12 (good for 2) with own bathroom. I got the room though for Php 300 / USD 7 since I was alone.
EJR Eatery and Lodging House
Basic fan rooms at Php250 /USD 6
Contact #: +63 921 4661 90
Where to Eat in Carabao Island:
I could not find any decent restaurant at Brgy, Poblacion, if you know any, please comment below. I usually eat at eateries or buy barbecue at night. Meals and rice are expensive in CarabaoIsland though. Prepare around Php 80 per meal.
Marlice Eatery and Mami House – Owned by a kind family who befriended me. They serve Filipino dish, rice is expensive though.
EJR Eatery and Lodging House – Haven’t tried eating here but they also sell Filipino dish at lunch.
*Take note that electricity in Carabao Island only runs from 1:00 PM to 11:00 PM and 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM only.
*Bring mosquito repellant.
*To get around Carabao Island, charter a motorbike, rate is around Php 200-300 per hour.
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