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

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.

Carabao Island

At the Carabao Island welcome arc

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.

Via Caticlan

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.

Via Kalibo

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, AirphilExpressCebu 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.

Via Boracay

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.

Carabao Island

Uncrowded Hambil Beach

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).

Carabao Island

Sunrise at Carabao Island

Activities

  • 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
Carabao Island

Coconut trees lined up along Hambil Beach

Sample Itinerary and Budget

Hambil by Roro with Boracay Sidetrip
Day 0
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

Day 1
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
1200H-1300H: Lunch
1300H-1800H: Free Time / Beach Bum / Beach Hopping
1800H-1900H: Dinner
1900H-onwards: Night Socials

Day 2
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
1200H-1300H: Lunch
1300H-1800H: Free Time / Beach Bum / Beach Hopping
1800H-1900H: Dinner
1900H-onwards: Night Socials

Day 3
0600H-0700H: Call Time / Breakfast
0700H-1300H: Fly Fish / Parasailing / ATV Ride
1300H-1500H: Fix up / Check-out / Late Lunch

Budget

P166.50 – Bus Fare Manila to Batangas
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
———–
P3516.00 (Approximate total budget)

16 Comments on “Travel Guide: Carabao Island (Hambil)

  1. Pingback: Beyond Boracay | Finding paradise in rustic Hambil | resident tourist

  2. Wow. You made a very comprehensive post. Thanks for sharing. I bet the Philippines has other great destinations. I will surely tell my friends about this so that they can include it in their list. Just browse travel republic for some great ideas.

    • anything you want to know about travelling to Carabao Island ,, just ask and I will do my best to answer

      gord

      • hi gord,

        good day, planning to have our vacation this coming summer at Gigantes Island, want to know if there is any transpo from Gigantes Island in Carles to Carabao, Island?

        could you please extend you help?

        thnx

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  5. hi ! how’s the diving in san jose- hambil ? can you recommend a dive operator ?

    thanks !

    • Hi Cucinera, to date, there is no dive operator in Carabao Island, but Boracay and Romblon based dive shops go there once in a while.

      • there actually is one very good dive shop here on carabao island . the experience is personalized with smaller groups than in boracay and the emphasis is put on quality of dive experience rather than quantity of dives a shop can out on in a day .
        every person that has been diving with nadja has come back with a smile on their face .

        I will be personally taking my open water course from her in the next few weeks and can then give you a first hand opinion

        gord

        ps . let me know if you are interested in getting her info

  6. Hi Angel,

    Wow! This is my first time to read your blog. And i was amazed about your traveling experiences. You’ve been to a lot of places that i dreamed to visit. Your blog helps me to plan where i should go next.
    I am a hotelier and i love to travel as well cause its my own way to unwind from a very stressful work. I would like to meet new friends along the way too. But sometimes i am afraid to travel alone. Anyway, its a very big challenge for me as a solo traveler. When I travel i always have this motto ” Travel more, Spend Less”. Yes, traveling can cost you thousands but i want to travel with less expense cause

    • can you give me some tips about traveling alone? and can you recommend me some places that i can visit in Visayas? Looking forward for your response. TWO-THUMBS UP FOR YOU! :))

      • Thanks Abby and welcome to the road :)

        Anyway, I, too, treat traveling as my stress reliever :) I frequently travel only on weekends and holidays since I have a day job too. I travel solo and sometimes with a group too. Traveling alone can be fun, but traveling with a group is cheaper and more fun :) I only travel alone for spontaneous trips and for destinations that I find too difficult to reach (i don’t want to drag my friends on my misadventures, hehe).

        Tips, hmmm, just stop planning and start traveling. You will discover a lot about the world and about yourself on the road. And you will meet a lot of friends along. In fact, I met most of my travel friends today during my solo travels and we now travel on a group regularly.

        PS. Bohol, Cebu, Biliran, Samar, Leyte, Siquijor and Guimaras are amazing places in the Visayas :)

    • Hi!! My friends and I are beookd already for Kalibo, plane leaves 7am here in Mla. Okay lang ba na from kalibo diretso kami ng Carabao Island ( via Caticlan port ) then overnight at Carabao, next day late afternoon diretso ng Boracay? Tama na ba ang isang araw na tambay mode sa Carabao? salamat!

      • hello, yes u can get here right from caticlan.kaso lang ung public boat schedule is only 6am.but we can fetch u right at caticlan using our own boat. we have accomodation, tours and dining.we can arrange ur activities here at carabao island tapos pwede namin kayong ihatid sa boracay the next day.

        see our links below
        facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carabao-Island-Tours-and-Activities/160947924062012?ref=hl

        youtubehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16pNCzmIl5o

        gord and shirley

        • Hi Gord! Planning to have my vacation and hope I can have it end of this year. I really am interested for an overnight stay in carabao island then boracay the next day! Magkano ba yung transpo from carabao to boracay?

          • hi marvin ,
            we do supply transport from carabao to boracay for 2500 php , but right now we are working on having daily round trips with numerous guests and should have that in place by november . when that happens , we will be charging 300 php/pax

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