Carabao Island, locally known as Hambil, is a stone’s throw away from the famous Boracay Island, about an hour away from Caticlan, Aklan. It boasts the same powdery, white sand but is more tranquil and clean!
How we got there
We took an air-conditioned Ceres bus from Tagbak Terminal in Jaro, Iloilo City at 5:30 PM and arrived in Kalibo, Aklan around 9:00 PM. Regular fare was P250. Since pump boats from Caticlan to Carabao Island only operate from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, we decided to stay overnight.
We went to the Kalibo Ceres Terminal at 4:30 AM to catch the first trip to Caticlan scheduled to leave at 5:00 AM. Fare was P100. The bus, which was non-air-conditioned, left a little late at around 5:20 AM that we arrived in Caticlan at 7:00 AM. We had breakfast at Andok’s while waiting for another friend who was coming from Boracay. Upon her arrival, we hired a tricycle to the port (for P20 per person) with boats going to Hambil. The owner of Kameo Lodge advised us beforehand to take the boat M/V Ma. Celestial which will leave at 9:00 AM.
It was already 9:30 AM when we left and the sea was rough (it is always rough, but the bangkeros were experts!) and the waves were huge.
We arrived at the Port of Said in Hambil after an hour. The boat captain arranged motorcycles to bring us to Kameo Lodge for, again, P20 per person.
Where we stayed
A week earlier, I was able to get in touch with the Kameo Lodge owner (via a friend who has worked on the island) for our reservation and time of arrival. Air-conditioned rooms good for four people cost P1,500 while fan rooms good for two people cost P500. The place is only a few steps away from the beautiful San Jose Beach.
Contact number: 0917-813-9016
We took the air-conditioned room. The bathroom was big and clean.
What we did
It was a beautiful sunny day. The beach was picturesque with its powdery sand and turquoise waters. Before taking a dip, though, we decided to tour the whole island first.
Motorcycle rates for the tour is P250 per person per hour. Only one passenger per motorcycle is allowed as the places to go are quite steep.
We were able to see Tagaytay Point, Pokpokan Point, Lanas Beach, and airport site and capped off the tour with fresh buko, which cost P100 for six.
We savored San Jose Beach, being near the lodge, until sunset.
We had our meals at the local market eatery where the price of soft drinks caught my attention. A 12-ounce bottle cost P40! It’s probably because they have to transport them from Caticlan and electricity on the island is very limited.
We only spent a night and went back to Caticlan first thing in the morning. Boats leave the island at 6:00 AM with locals already swarming the port that early.
Overall, Carabao Island is for tourists who want relaxation and peace. The beach is perfect for lounging and swimming. I would like to visit this place again and add Tablas Island, which is an hour boat ride away, to the itinerary.