“Boracay’s twin sister” is what most of the tourists describe it. But for the locals in Carabao Island, they call it their very own Hambil beach. Boasting off its crystal clear water and powdery white sand, this place is definitely one of the best beaches in the country!
Carabao Island is a laid-back island sitting on the Southernest part of Romblon offering its guests a number of exhilarating activities and fun things to do. Some of the prominent list of activities in the island includes cliff jumping and beach bumming in its long stretch of powdery white sand.
Carabao Island Pre-Travel Guide
Last August of this year, Carabao Island was our last destination during our 4-day backpacking trip in Romblon. It was actually the most famous beach destination in Romblon probably because it’s close to Boracay. Hence, tourists staying in Boracay Island make it their side-trip to visit Carabao Island’s cliff jumping sites.
Before you visit this amazing laid-back island, I made a detailed pre-travel guide for your upcoming trip – Carabao Islad DIY Travel Guide. Or if you don’t have plans to visit but you’re having second thoughts about it, you’ll probably want to change your mind soon!
Getting to know Boracay’s twin-sister
Dubbed as Boracay’s twin sister, you can actually expect more of this beautiful place than just being a second rate next to the superstar Boracay. People would often disregard Carabao Island on their itinerary because they think that it’s just the same with Boracay. However, I personally disagree that it should be evicted in the choices. I think that the powdery white sand is the only comparison it has with Boracay and nothing more. The locals, the activities, the destinations, and the food are all different.
Related Article: BORACAY ISLAND DIY GUIDE
The name of the island originated during the Spanish Colonial period when there were so many carabaos and cattles in the island. However, in this era there are not much carabaos in the island.
Tagalog is widely spoken in the island and English is mostly used in establishments like restaurants and hotels. But the main native language in the island is Onhan which is spoken by the Aeta natives and is one of the most common used language in Romblon.
The currency accepted here is Philippine peso and credit cards are not mostly accepted as form of payment. So make sure to bring enough cash with you since there are no ATM machines here. But we noticed Palawan Express near the establishments in Hambil beach if in case you’ll need to transfer or receive money.
Since Carabao Island is more on beach activities that requires the heat of the sun, best time to visit is during the dry season in the Philippines from March – July. But if you want to enjoy the place with less people, travel around December – February.
Getting around the island is easy by renting a motorbike for PHP300.00 per day. If you don’t know how to drive a motorbike, you can rent a driver that will take you to the tourist destinations. Rates of day tour ranges from PHP700.00 – PHP1,000.00. But that depends on your negotiating skills, you can actually haggle down to PHP500.00. There are drivers that will come to you and offer this rate if you’re not willing to pay PHP700.00. If you just want to go to restaurants and the beach, I suggest that you book your accommodation near the beach in Hambil. Everything you need is just a walking distance from the beach including the restaurants, bars, Palawan Express, etc.
Also, while we were walking by the beach, we read a signage that says all dogs in the island are vaccinated with anti-rabies. So you can see a lot of stray dogs playing at the beach and these dogs are really healthy compared to the stray dogs you can see in Manila.
How to get there (Carabao Island DIY Travel Guide)
If you are staying for a vacation in Boracay and you’re planning to go here, there are boats that will take you to Carabao Island for a day tour. Just ask around the island and the day tour rate ranges from PHP800.00 – PHP1,500.00/person and usually comes with a lunch buffet. But if you’re planing to stay in Carabao Island and just looking for a transfer, just look for boats owned by locals in Carabao Island to take you to the island. Fare is around PHP100.00 – PHP120.00 for a one way transfer.
Another way for you to get to Carabao Island is from Tablas, Romblon. If you’re coming from Batangas, ride a ferry to Odiongan port in Tablas. Proceed to the public market and ride a jeepney to Sta. Fe. Travel time is 1 – 2 hours and fare is PHP150.00. Note that the jeepney will not leave until it’s full. From Sta. Fe port, ride a passenger boat to Carabao Island. The only schedule of boat is leaving everyday at 9AM. If you miss the boat, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow or you can rent a private boat to take you to Carabao Island. The renting of a private boat ride is ranging from PHP2,500.00 – PHP4,000.00.
From Romblon, Romblon
This option is for tourists coming from Romblon, Romblon island. There are ferries like Starhorse that leaves from Romblon to Tablas island in San Agustin Port. However, the schedule is not always clear. Some locals say it leaves at 9AM MWF, and some say everyday except Friday. A guaranteed schedule is a passenger boat leaving from Romblon port to San Agustin port every Saturdays only at 8AM. The fare is PHP100.00 only.
From Caticlan Jetty Port
If you’re gonna come from Caticlan Aisport (MPH), just ride a tricycle to Caticlan Jetty Port and from there, ride a passenger boat to Carabao Island. The fare is ranging from PHP100.00 – PHP120.00.
Where to stay
We stayed at Kameo Lodge located in Hambil. It’s a good place to stay since it’s just beside the beach. We paid PHP600.00 for a fan room with 2 beds and is good for 3 people. The room has its own comfort room, but the water from the shower is a bit salty. We were supposed to book the fan room good for 2 people for only PHP500.00 but unfortunately there were no vacancies the time we visited. So if you’re planning to come here, I highly suggest to make an advance reservation.
You can also book with Agoda through the platform below.
Where to eat in Carabao Island
Before anything else, please take note that majority of the restaurants in Carabao island closes before 7PM. So if you’ve been to a day tour, I suggest that you buy your food before going home to your lodge.
There are karenderyas scattered all over the street near Hambil beach and near Kameo Lodge. Most of the karenderyas offers inihaw to their customers. I also noticed that the locals offer parrot-fish for inihaw food to foreigners and visitors. Please be reminded that PARROT-FISH SHOULD NOT BE EATEN. Not only they are endangered species but they are precious creatures of the sea and they are also the reason why we have white sands. So please, if you encounter locals selling these beautiful fishes for food, do not forget to educate them about the importance and the decreasing number of parrot-fishes. Most of the locals and fishermen do not know this and it’s going to be a big help if we help spread this message.
For recommended restaurants, I highly suggest Bamboo Restaurant in Hambil beach. It’s just a few minutes walk from Kameo Lodge. The sinigang here is the best! Another restaurant is Balai Karan-an, it’s a 2-story restaurant and it has a stunning view of the beach in its balcony at the second floor. The food is average, we ordered adobong pusit and fresh mango shake. For me, the taste of the food was just ordinary. But still, the whole place is nice with its balcony and besides, we haven’t tasted everything on their menu.
Places to visit in Carabao Island
Showcasing a breath-taking view of the Carabao Island and Boracay Island is what you can expect at Tagaytay Point. There is an entrance fee of PHP100.00 when you get here. It is best to come here during sunset or after you’re done touring with the cliff diving spots. Aside from watching the sunset at the beach, this is another good place to unwind.
Kuding-Kuding Cliff Jumping
Another famous destination in Carabao Island is the Kuding-Kuding Point. This is a good place to do picnics with your family and friends. The most popular activity here is cliff-diving. Aside from cliff diving, there’s a small cave with a mini pool, where you can swim inside. The entrance fee is PHP100.00 and to get here, you can hire a motorcycle driver from Hambil beach to take you here. The travel time is 30 – 40 minutes depending on the weather. If it’s been raining, the road is a bit muddy and slippery, making the trip longer.
This is another cliff-diving spot which is just 10-15 minutes walk from Kuding-Kuding point. If you’re up for another cliff-jumping adventure, this place is for you! There is another PHP100.00 entrance fee for Cathedral Cave. Just like Kuding-Kuding, it also has its own mini cave that you can explore.
Busay Cliff Jumping
The newest tourist attraction is the Busay cliff jumping. There is an entrance fee of PHP100.00.
The Hambil Beach is the main beach in Carabao Island. It’s a stretch of long white powdery sand and the water is crystal clear. Hambil beach is what they have been comparing to Boracay, which is why it was called Boracay’s twin sister.
Things to do in Carabao Island
Just like I’ve said earlier in this guide, Carabao Island is a lot more than just living in the shadows of the famous Boracay Island.
- Drive a motorbike and explore the island
- Cliff jumping sites
- Beach bumming at Hambil beach
- Sunset at Tagayatay Point
- Explore the caves at Cathedral cave
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