Carabao Island (Hambil): Travel Guide to Boracay’s Twin Sister

Carabao Island

About Carabao Island

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 barangay, 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
Sunrise hues in 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
The main beach of Carabao Island during high tide.

How to Get To Carabao Island

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.

From Caticlan

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.

From Kalibo

Philippine AirlinesCebu Pacific Air and Air Asia Philippines fly to Kalibo from Manila, Cebu and Clark. From Kalibo, catch a van or a bus to Caticlan for a two-hour ride, fare ranges from P200 to P250. Vans and buses 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.

From 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.

Carabao Island
Sunset at Carabao Island.

From Tablas, Romblon

Tablas Airport is the gateway to the province by plane. Cebu Pacific Air regularly flies 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.

Alternatively, you can also reach Tablas by riding a fast craft or a ferry from Batangas, several shipping lines sail from Batangas to Odiongan everyday including Montenegro Ferry, CSGA Ferry Corporation, Romblon Tablas Sibuyan Lines, Super Shuttle Ferry, Rapal Inter Island Shipping, 2Go Travel and Ocean Jet.

From Roxas, Oriental Mindoro

From Roxas, Oriental Mindoro, a motorboat departs daily at 10AM to Odiongan, Romblon 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.

Boracay
The world famous Boracay is just a stone throw away.

Where to Stay in Carabao Island

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! 🙂

Top-Rated / Highly Recommended Accommodations in Carabao Island

Carabao Backpackers & Guesthouse

Carabao Backpackers & Guesthouse
Lanas, San Jose, Romblon
Starts at 350 PHP (Dorm Room)

CHECK RATES

The Beach House

The Beach House
Lanas, San Jose, Romblon
Starts at 2,500 PHP

CHECK RATES

Other accommodations in town are Vista Violeta, TJ’s Haven, GP Lodge and Freidles Cottage. These are aside from the home stays 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
Carabao Island’s main beach.

What to Do in Carabao Island

  • 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
A perfect escape from the chaos of Boracay Island.

Sample Itinerary and Budget

Carabao Island Itinerary 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)

Comments

  1. Ana ventura

    Hi.I am planning to via 2go which would I take odiongan or romblon.Also do I need to ride another boat going to carabao island. Thank you in advance

  2. Sandy

    I am also a solo backpacker going to Carabao Island on the last week of August. I am planning to go SCUBA diving also 🙂

  3. Joseph

    Hello there.,,I’m planning to go here in math of August 2015..I’m a solo traveller….but anybody who has. Allan to go to this month with me..or a group.,much better.,,,I’m from Iloilo….can’t wait for my vacation in Philippines.l.l.

  4. Tim

    I am a single traveller. I want to take a day trip by public transport from Bulabog, Botacay to San Jose ((Hambil). Your suggestions please.

    1. don

      Hey tim, i am also a solo backpacker, when will you visit hambil?

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  6. 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.

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

      gord

      1. jerelyn

        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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  9. cucinera

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

    thanks !

    1. 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.

      1. 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

  10. Abby Gomos

    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

    1. Abby Gomos

      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! :))

      1. 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 🙂

    2. 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!

      1. 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

        1. Marvin

          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?

          1. 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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