Carabao Island used to be a secret place, somewhere a small number of backpackers knew about. Today it’s more familiar — in fact, it’s even part of island hopping tours in Boracay. Even so, Carabao Island has kept its cozy charm. It remains a place for those who like white-sand beaches but prefer a quieter location instead of the Boracay.
Here’s our updated travel guide to Carabao Island in Romblon, located an hour away from Boracay.
Our stay at Carabao Island
Carabao Island is a small island in Romblon Province. It’s locally referred to as “Hambil” by locals or its fancy-sounding Spanish-derived name Isla de Carabao.
There are various theories as to why it’s called Carabao Island. Locals told us there used to be lots of carabaos (water buffalos) in the island. Others say that the island topography resembles a carabao, but there are others that say the shape resembles an “anvil”, hence the local name Hambil.
At the time of our visit, I knew little about Carabao Island but I admit that my interest was piqued. We came here from Tabon Baybay port in Caticlan, on a 1-hour ferry ride. Interestingly, the shirt of our boat captain was wearing says “Carabao Island” and underneath that The Promised Land”.
We got off the ferry and right there at the port was a long stretch of white sand facing a clear blue ocean. I was already expecting it to be beautiful, but what I didn’t expect is that we wouldn’t have to go too far to see it. It goes from the port and continues alongside the main road. As other beaches in the country, it’s safe guarded by lines of coconut trees.
I learned that there used to be a marine sanctuary here about 3 years ago; now the beach is open to the public.
In the late afternoon, the water recedes to reveal a field of seaweeds several meters away, where there are sea urchins, star fishes and sea anemones. In the morning and afternoon, everybody is free to frolic in its tropical waters.
Aside from the beach, there are also attractions in Carabao Island accessible via habal-habal or boat.
After hours out in the sun, we decided to explore the island. Hali and I chartered habal-habals which rode through through steep hillsides until we reached a coconut tree plantation. Past the farm’s wooden gates is an area called Tagaytay Point, which overlooks the island of Boracay. Boracay’s famous white beach is at the other end.
We rested here for a bit. We watched the farm’s caretaker harvest coconuts from the tree, which he gave to us for free.
We stopped next in Koding-Koding Point. The rocks here are pointed and ragged, with a wooden diving board ready for those who are brave enough to dive towards the sea below. Unfortunately, it was habagat season during our visit and the waves were too strong, so diving wasn’t advisable. Hali kept hinting about diving anyway, while our guide kept hinting back that it wasn’t safe.
We went inside the nearby cave, where there’s an underwater tunnel that leads outside. It wasn’t safe to go through it as well for the same reason as above. Hali tried to go through it and we were afraid for him, as it seemed the waves would trash him against the cave walls and ceilings. We were relieved when he finally came up the water. He told me it was amazing underwater and I should’ve taken a peek too.
Our last stop was Ngiriton Bat Cave. There’s nothing much to see here, to be honest. There used to have thousands of bats living in the cave. It was turned to an excavation site and the bats were since gone.
The ride back from the land tour to our accommodation in Kameo Lodge was nice. We passed a road with flowering plants on both sides and then another long road along the beach. The beach’s sand wasn’t as white as the one earlier, but who can say no to a cool sea breeze?
Travel Guide to Carabao Island (Romblon)
It’s possible to visit Carabao Island on a day tour, which is what most tourists prefer especially those who are staying in Boracay. Other spend more days since Carabao Island offers a more relaxing option compared to other nearby places.
How to get to Carabao Island
There are different ways to reach Carabao Island depending on where you’re coming from.
- Ride a tricycle to Tabon Baybay port where there are daily passenger boats to Carabao Island. Fare is P100 per person. Boat schedules are 8-9AM, 2-3PM, and 3-4PM daily. Return trips to Caticlan are at 6AM daily.
- Head to Bulabog Beach in Boracay and charter a boat from the locals for a day trip to Carabao Island. Rate depends on boat size and can range from P1500 (good for 4 people) to P3000-4000 (10-12 people), depending on your haggling skills.
- An alternative is to head to Station 1 and find boats operated by locals living in Carabao Island. Ask for a ride for a small fee. These boats normally leave as early as 2PM.
Tip: If you want to go from Carabao Island to Boracay, you can try asking for a ride from boats on island hopping tours as the pickup/dropoff points is Boracay Island.
From Tablas Island, Romblon
- There are ferries in Sta. Fe in Tablas Island en route to Carabao Island. Ferry schedule is at 9-10AM. Fare is P100 per person. Return trips to Sta. Fe are 5:30AM daily.
Places to see in Carabao Island
These are the attractions in Carabao Island.
- White Beach. This is the island’s main beach. It has fine white sand, clear water perfect for swimming.
- Tagaytay Point. A farm overlooking the island of Boracay. This is also a favorite spot for watching the sunset. Entrance fee is P70 per person.
- Koding-Koding Point (or Kuding-Kuding Point). Here you can cliff jump and swim through an underwater tunnel that leads right out the ocean. Entrance fee is P100 per person.
- Cathedral Cave. Here you can go on spelunking or jump from 2 diving boards 30 feet hight. Entrance fee is P100 per person.
- Angas Cave. Another cliff-jumping site.
- Ngiriton Bat Cave. A cave used to be home to thousands of bats. There is nothing to see here, so I recommend skipping it. Entrance fee is P100 per person.
- Tan-Agan Picnic Grove. This is a fairly new installation in the island. Here in Tan-Agan Beach you can see vibrant-colored tents and floaters.
You can rent a habal-habal to explore these locations. Rate is P700 per person.
Where to stay in Carabao Island
At the time of our visit, there were limited accommodations in Carabao Island. We stayed at Kameo Lodge, about 15 minutes away from the port. Rate starts at P500 good for 2 people.
- Kameo Lodge: Facebook | 0915 690 9174
Here are other resorts in Carabao Island.
- Carabao Backpackers and Guesthouse. Located in Lanas, this is another budget-friendly option in Carabao Island. Rooms and dorm spaces are available. Book discounted rooms here.
- Lanas Beach Resort. A resort with a nice beachfront and a restaurant offering local & international dishes. All rooms have a sea view. Book discounted rooms here.
- The Beach House. Another comfortable resort with its own private beachfront. Book discounted rooms here.
- Oceans Edge Resort. A luxurious resort with swimming pool. Book discounted rooms here.
Looking for something else? Click here search for other resorts in Carabao Island.
Planning to stay in Boracay Island instead? Click here to search for other resorts in Boracay.
Things to know before you go
- Bring enough cash. There are no ATMs in the island.
- There is decent mobile signal coverage.
- There are casual eateries in the island. Resorts may also offer cooking facilities if you prefer to cook your own food.
- Carabao Island is generally a quiet island. Do not expect to find bars or party lounges.
Has this Carabao Island travel guide been helpful to you? Let us know in the comments section!
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Katherine Cortes is a long-time backpacker and a freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).