There is more than meets the eye. This hidden paradise in the southernmost part of Romblon province is a must visit place for all travelers. Carabao Island or better known to be called as Hambil to the locals in the Visayas region, is an island for everyone who wants to relax and take a break from the noise of the city.
Carabao Island offers a quiet and relaxing environment, white sand beaches, newly discovered caves, and nice cliffs where you can do cliff diving. It consists only of 1 town which is San Jose and has 5 barangays/subtowns namely Busay, Combot, Lanas, Pinamihagan and Poblacion which is the capital of the town.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly directly from Caticlan International Airport in Aklan which is the nearest airport in Carabao Island. From the airport, you may ride a tricycle going to Tabon Baybay jetty port for 15php for about 10minutes.
If coming from Kalibo International Airport, you have to ride a van going to Caticlan for about an hour which will costs you 100php and ask the driver to where he can drop you near the Tabon Baybay port. You can then ride a tricycle going to Tabon Baybay port for 15php.
Then, take a boat from Tabon Baybay port going to Port of Said in Carabao Island or Hambil for 100php. Travel time is about an hour. Note that up to date, there are only 2 boats that travels from Tabon to Carabao Island. They both leave Tabon port by 9am so you have to be early and be there before the boats leaves the port.
WHERE TO STAY
During my visit, I found this place called Kameo Lodge which is just a walking distance in the Welcome Arc of San Jose. The room is good for 2 and costs 500php. But since I am a solo traveler, I asked the owner for a discount and gave it to me for 350php. It’s a fan room comfortable enough with private bathroom. They also have bigger rooms and air-conditioned rooms for families and big groups. In case you want to inquire you may contact Ms. Marielle at (0917) 813 9016.
From the Said Port in Carabao Island, there are habal-habal waiting in the area. You may just ask the driver to take you directly to Kameo’s Lodge or to where will you stay. Kameo Lodge is a known tourist house in the island.
If you are planning for just an overnight stay, you can just bring your own tent and have them ready near the public white beach in Poblacion just near the Welcome Arc and Tourism Office.
HOW TO TOUR AROUND
You may hire a habal-habal (single motorcycle) to tour you around Carabao Island. What I did when I was there was I have already talked to the driver of habal-habal who took me in Kameo Lodge. Luckily, I found an honest and kind driver. He is Kuya Anthony. There are yet no official tour guides when I visited Carabao Island. The training for aspiring tour guides was only about to start a week after I went there and Kuya Anthony is one of them. He only asked me for 500php for a whole day trip in the whole island. Aside from 500php, you only need to pay the entrance in some private tourist spots in order to enter.
WHERE TO GO
Poblacion White Sand Beach – this is the famous public white sand beach near the tourism office and welcome arc of San Jose. It offers a powdery white sand and plenty of coconut trees by the shore. It is where the famous coconut tree of Carabao Island located. It is the one that you always see in facebook, instagram and google images.
Kuding-Kuding – this is a nice cliff diving site and picnic destination for tourist. It gives you the big waves and navy blue-colored water smashing through the rocks. Unfortunately, at the time of my visit, the waves were too high that cliff diving activity was not permitted. But the scenery was still perfectly instagrammable.
Angas Cliff Diving – which is also a perfect place to cliff dive. The clear blue water will give you a majestic view of the sea. You can jump as high as 35ft in this cliff diving site. Entrance fee is 50php.
Dingle Cave – this is the newly discovered cave in the Carabao Island. Expect a rough road on the way to this cave which is located in the middle of the island.
Other tourist spots in the island would include:
Tagaytay Point – uphill view of Panay Island which has been compared to Tagaytay in Batangas where it got its name. Entrance fee is 50php.
Ngiriton Cave – during my visit, the big balete tree went down after a typhoon so I did not get the chance to see what’s inside.
WHERE TO EAT
I ate my first lunch in the island at Lyn Rose Snack House and Videoke which is inside the public wet market. I ordered adobo and sisig paired with a cup of rice.
For my dinner, I just bought some pork barbeques and grilled hotdogs in the street just near Kameo Lodge. I separately bought 2cups of rice at the same eatery in the market where I had my lunch. The locals told me that the owner of the two are the same. There are other small eatery near the market.
This place is so wonderful. It was named Carabao Island because of the Buffalo-shaped rock in the sea. Moreover, not too long ago, there were really a lot of carabao in the island. I asked Kuya Anthony why I barely saw carabao during our island tour. Unfortunately, the owner of carabao in the island have decided to sell them so they can send their children in school. The locals lives a very simple life. I just hope that even one day when I come back, I would still see the exact same paradise.
Have you been to Hambil/Carabao Island? Share us your experience and let us help fellow travelers to explore this fantastic island.
Carabao Island Vlog soon in this section.