Travel Guide: Carabao Island (Hambil)
For years, Carabao Island, the southernmost island of Romblon, has been living in the shadow of the world famous Boracay Island of Aklan, its so called “twin sister”. Popularly known as Hambil to the locals, Carabao Island is only an hour away from the hustle and bustle of the famed party island. But despite its close proximity to Boracay, Carabao Island offers an entirely contrasting ambiance.
Carabao Island is politically known as the town of San Jose in the province of Romblon. It has five barangays, home to less than 10,000 inhabitants. While the island’s primary source of livelihood is fishing, numerous residents work in various establishments in Boracay Island.
Carabao Island offers sun, sea, sand and serenity totally opposite of Boracay’s life. Where climbing a bent coconut tree, watching the sun rise and listening to the waves are some of its simple pleasures. Time passes unnoticed in this tropical paradise of serene beauty.
Make Carabao Island a part of your memory. Experience a virgin paradise, only one hour away from Boracay. Experience Carabao Island.
How to Get There
An international airport that will become the primary gateway to Boracay Island is rumored to be built in Carabao Island, but while the airport is still in haze, the nearest airport to the island is still Caticlan, Aklan.
By Air: Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific fly to Caticlan from Cebu and Manila. From Caticlan Airport ride a tricycle to Tabon Baybay (P15/pax) and look for the public boat going to Hambil. The boat ‘s schedule of departure is at 8:30AM but usually departs past 9AM. Travel time from Tabon Baybay takes one (1) hour.
By Bus and Ferry:
- Batangas-Caticlan: Ride a bus to Batanggas Port and catch the 2Go ferry from Batangas to Caticlan
- Batangas-Calapan-Roxas-Caticlan: Ride a bus to Batanggas Port, then a RORO ferry (Montenegro Shipping Lines, Inc., Contact No: +63-043-723 7975 / +63-043-723 7598) to Calapan, from there take another bus/van to the port of Roxas, Mindoro Oriental where you can catch another RORO ferry to Caticlan.
- Philtranco buses leave daily from Cubao and Pasay to Caticlan. Travel time is approximately 12 hours.
Caticlan is a two-hour ride from Kalibo Airport, the main airport of Aklan. There are vans outside Kalibo Airport that go to Caticlan, price ranges from P200.00 to P250.00. Philippine Airlines, AirphilExpress, Cebu Pacific Air, Zest Air, Air Asia Philippines and Sea Air fly to Kalibo from Manila, Cebu and Clark. These vans unload passengers at Caticlan Jetty Port, from there ride a tricycle to Tabon Baybay (P15/pax) and look for the public boat going to Hambil. The boat ‘s schedule of departure is at 8:30AM but usually departs past 9AM. Travel time from Tabon Baybay takes one (1) hour.
If you are in the island of Boracay, there are public boats at Bulabog Beach that go to Hambil. These boats usually transport workers from Hambil to Boracay and back. Boat schedule is indefinite, fare is P50 per passenger and travel time is approximately 45 minutes. If you miss the public boat, you can charter one in Bulabog or in Puka Beach. Rate is as low as P1,000 , one-way for a boat that can carry up to six passengers.
Via Tablas, Romblon
By Air: Tablas Airport is the gateway to the province by plane. Zest Air and Sea Air regularly fly to and from Tablas, Romblon everyday. From the Tugdan Airport of Tablas, catch a jeep to Sta. Fe and get off at the Tourism and Terminal Building. There is only one boat trip from Sta. Fe daily, leaving at 930AM. Fare is P100 and travel time is approximately one (1) hour.
By Ferry: From Batangas, several shipping lines serve Batangas – Odiongan everyday:
Montenegro Ferry – (043) 723-6980 / (043) 723-8294
Departs Batangas to Odiongan, Romblon and Sibuyan every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 5PM. Economy fare is P584.00 for Odiongan, P634.00 for Romblon and P834 for Sibuyan, inclusive of travel insurance. Return trip is every next day after departure Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
CSGA Ferry Corporation (M/V Princess Annavell)
Departs Batangas to Odiongan every Tuesday at 4PM and San Agustin, Rombon and Sibuyan (Azagra and San Fernando) every Thursday and Saturday at 4PM. Economy fare is P550.00 for Odiongan and San Agustin, P575.00 for Romblon and P680.00 for Sibuyan. De Luxe fare is P675.00 for Odiongan and San Agustin, P700.00 for Romblon and P800.00 for Sibuyan. Return trip is every next day after departure Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Romblon Tablas Sibuyan Lines Inc. (M/V Miss Romblon)
Departs Batangas to Odiongan, Rombon and Sibuyan. Economy fare is P550.00 for Odiongan and Romblon and P600.00 for Sibuyan. Tourist fare is P600.00 for Odiongan and Romblon and P900.00 for Sibuyan. De luxe fare is P700.00 for Odiongan and Romblon and P1000.00 for Sibuyan.
Rapal Inter Island Shipping (M/V Ma. Angelica Grace)
Departs Batangas to Odiongan, Romblon and Sibuyan (Magdiwang) every Wednesday at 430PM and to San Agustin, Rombon and Sibuyan (Magdiwang) every Sunday at 430PM.
Super Shuttle Ferry
Departs Batangas to Odiongan every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3PM.
Note: Prices and schedules are as of November 2011 and are subject to change; please contact the shipping lines for inquiries.
From Roxas, Oriental Mindoro, a motorboat departs daily at 10AM to Odiongan and returns on the same day at 1PM. Travel time is two hours. From the Odiongan Port, catch a jeep to Sta. Fe and get off at the Tourism and Terminal Building. There is only one boat trip from Sta. Fe daily, leaving at 930AM. Fare is P100 and travel time is approximately one (1) hour.
Where to Stay
Most tourists stay at the Hambil Beach in Barangay Poblacion where one can just pitch a tent along the beach. There are accommodations nearby though that cater to tourists, Republic of Inobahan is one, located along the beach near the tourism office. It has 15 rooms for as low as P500 good for two persons (fan room) and a restaurant that serves good food. You won’t miss this place, everyone in town knows where it is for it is owned by the current mayor. They also allow campers in their vicinity (which we did). They didn’t charge us anything except for the food bills when we ate at their restaurant. Thumbs up!
Other accommodations in town are Vista Violeta, TJ’s Haven, GP Lodge and Freidles Cottage. These are aside from the homestays along Hambil Beach for as low as P300. Just ask around, the locals are very nice and helpful.
If you are staying in Lanas Beach, you can also pitch a tent anywhere along the beach or stay in the lodges nearby like Carabao Lodge, Ivy’s Vine Asian Beach Resort (Contact No: +639182573052) or Nipa Hauz Beach Resort (+639203643852).
- Beach Bumming
- Sunrise watching at Hambil Beach
- Scuba diving/snorkeling (bring your own equipments or go to the dive shops in Boracay, Tablas or Romblon). Dive sites in San Jose are Lanas Slope, West Wall, Devils Boulder, Gentle Wall, Tunnel Dive, Cathedral Cave, Channel Dive, Cemetery Wall, Village Reef and Lobster Wall.
- Check out the other beaches of Carabao Island: Tinap-an Beach and Lanas Beach
- Go caving in Ngiriton, Bunayag and Angas Caves
- Camping (bring your own equipments)
- Spend a day or two at Boracay Island
- Explore more of Romblon Islands
Sample Itinerary and Budget
Hambil by Roro with Boracay Sidetrip
1930H-2000H: Assemble at Pasay Buendia Bus Station
2000H-2300H: Pasay to Batangas Pier Bus
2300H-2345H: At Batangas Port / Purchase RoRo Ticket to Calapan
2345H-2359H: Boarding / Waiting Time in Ferry to Calapan
0000H-0230H: Batangas to Calapan
0230H-0430H: RoRo Bus Calapan to Roxas
0430H-0440H: Roxas Petron to Roxas Port by Tricycle
0440H-0500H: Purchase RoRo Ticket to Caticlan / Board Ferry
0500H-0900H: Roxas to Caticlan
0900H-0915H: Trike from Caticlan to Tabon Baybay
0915H-1030H: Caticlan to Hambil Island (Carabao)
1030H-1200H: Camp or check-in / Free Time / Beach Bum / Beach Hopping
1300H-1800H: Free Time / Beach Bum / Beach Hopping
1900H-onwards: Night Socials
0700H-0800H: Call Time / Breakfast / Check-out or Break Camp
0800H-0900H: Hambil to Bulabog Beach Boracay
0900H-0930H: Bulabog Beach to Resort / Check-in at Resort
0930H-1200H: Free Time / Beach Bum / Beach Hopping
1300H-1800H: Free Time / Beach Bum / Beach Hopping
1900H-onwards: Night Socials
0600H-0700H: Call Time / Breakfast
0700H-1300H: Fly Fish / Parasailing / ATV Ride
1300H-1500H: Fix up / Check-out / Late Lunch
P192.00 – Ferry Fare Batangas to Calapan
P30.00 – Terminal Fee at Batangas Port
P180.00 – Bus Fare Calapan to Roxas
P15.00 – Trike Fare to Roxast Port
P391.00 – Ferry Fare Roxas to Caticlan
P15.00 – Terminal Fee at Roxas Port
P20.00 – Trike Fare from Caticlan to Tabon Baybay
P400.00 – Boat share from Tabon Baybay to Hambil to Bulabog *depends on pax est 5
P200.00 – Accommodation in Hambil
P200.00 – Day Tour Accommodation in Boracay
P20.00 – Habal Habal Tour in Hambil
P20.00 – Trike from Bulabog to Resort
P25.00 – Resort to Boracay Port Trike
P25.00 – Boat Fare Boracay to Caticlan
P100.00 – Terminal Fee in Boracay Port
P800.00 – Caticlan to Batangas
P50.00 – Terminal Fee at Caticlan Port
P166.50 – Bus Fare from Batangas to Manila
P500.00 – Food Allowance