Carabao Island in Romblon, Philippines is comparable to its neighbour, the chart-topping Boracay Island, in terms of powdery white sand beach and turquoise blue sea.
However, this tropical island is the reverse of Boracay when it comes to the presence of crowd, the party atmosphere and the luxurious indulgence the latter offers.
Exploring Carabao Island
If you love simple pleasures of enjoying nature in a serene environment, then Carabao Island is for you.
One Day on Carabao Island
One full day in the 8.51 square mile Carabao Island, more popularly known to locals as Hambil, can easily be filled with fun activities to do and places to go. Here are your options for enjoying the island in a day.
This is at the island’s east side where the boats dock if you are coming from Romblon (the capital) through Santa Fe Port in Tablas Island. Tablas Island is one of the three major islands in the province of Romblon.
Passenger boats from Boracay Island also dock in Hambil Beach.
The sight of the powdery white sand, crystal clear and astounding turquoise waters of Hambil Beach upon our approach made my heart skip with excitement.
Walk through its long shore of fine sand, cool off at its clear waters, say hi to its resident fishes through snorkeling, or just spend the entire day beach bumming.
Unfortunately, I regret not taking more photos of Hambil Beach during daytime when the water is in its most vibrant blue. I did love walking through the beach at sunset though.
Kuding Kuding Point
Kuding-Kuding Point is a rather new destination in Carabao Island getting known as a cliff diving site.
Getting There: You can get here from Hambil Beach in about 30 minutes by renting a motorcycle.
There’s a strip of the road nearing the entrance that is quite challenging though. This road segment is very narrow, with rocky downhill and uphill slopes.
You can ask your motorcycle driver if you can walk this part of the path, as it’s just less than a kilometer away from the site.
The site boasts of beautiful rock formations and amazingly blue waters.
Things to do at Kuding Kuding Point
Aside from cliff diving, there’s a small cave with a mini pool, where you can swim inside.
If you’re not up for a cliff driving, you can still enjoy Kuding-Kuding Point by taking in the gorgeous site or simply hang out over the raft below the cliff.
You can access the raft through a bamboo ladder.
Lanas Beach at the western side of Carabo Island can be reached through a chartered boat from Boracay.
From Hambil Beach, you can go to Lanas Beach by motorcycle. You can actually rent a motorcycle for a day to go to different places of interest around the island.
You can see Puka Beach, the northern tip of Boracay, from this side of the island. Our motorcycle driver told us that Lanas Beach is a good take off point to beautiful diving spots.
Our motorcycle driver also took us to a viewpoint of Boracay and Panay Island from a hill. From the main road, we had about 5-minute walk uphill through grassland.
The breeze and shade from the hut at the viewpoint was a great way of cooling off from the heat of the sun.
That’s Boracay Island on the left and the northern portion of Panay Island behind it.
How to Get to Carabao Island
From Aklan or Boracay Island
The nearest airport in Carabao Island from Aklan is the Caticlan International Airport.
- From the airport, ride a tricycle going to Tabon Baybay port.
- From the port, take the passenger boat bound for Hambil. Boat leaves the port at 9 AM and the ride takes about an hour.
- If coming from Kalibo International Airport in Aklan, ride a one-hour van trip for Caticlan. Ask to be dropped at the Tabon Baybay port.
- If you’re in Boracay Island, you can take a chartered boat to Hambil, which is 40 to 45 minutes away. The boat can take you to Lanas or dock at the Hambil Beach, where passenger boats also land.
From Tablas Island, Romblon
Fly into Tugdan Airport in Alcantara, Romblon. From the Tugdan Airport, take the jeep to Sta. Fe and get off at the port where you will catch a boat.
The boat leaves at 9:30 AM, while boat ride is around one hour.
If time is not an issue, you can catch ferries bound for Tablas Island, Romblon from the Batangas Port. Travel time is 8-10 hours.
The ferry docks at Odiongan in Tablas Island. Ride a jeep to Sta. Fe at the jeep terminal in Odiongan. Jeep ride takes one hour. Get off at Sta. Fe port.
Going back from Carabao Island
Passenger boat leaves Hambil for Caticlan at 5:30 AM. That leaving for Sta. Fe also leaves at 5:30 AM.
Carabao Island as an Emerging Destination
Carabao Island’s proximity to Boracay Island has made it an emerging destination. It deserves to be a destination in its own right. What I loved about Carabao Island is its tranquility and the STILL preserved state of the environment it is in now.
Accommodations and places to eat are basic facilities, free from the luxury you can have over at Boracay. Nonetheless, resorts and accommodations are slowly growing.
In fact, building an international airport within the island had been part of the government’s plan to directly link the island to other parts of the Philippines and other Asian countries.
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), the proposed project had two national administrations come and go without the project being executed.
I am not against development. However, it’s sad to see how sadly some pristine islands in the Philippines have turned into commercialized areas crowded with tourists, at the expense of peace, tranquility and natural beauty it was supposed to offer.
Responsible Travel Tips to Carabao Island
The least we can do as travelers is to protect the area by being responsible visitors.
Don’t throw plastic bottles, food wrappers or any other solid wastes anywhere. Better yet, find ways of avoiding using them if you can. Learn more about ways on how to travel responsibly and reduce our negative impacts to the environment here.
Jing Calonge is an environmental consultant from the Philippines who happens to love travel and photography. She considers traveling as the best way to discover not just the world outside but to learn of oneself.