There has been talk about Carabao Island being developed as a world class tourist destination. Rumor has it that the Air Transportation Office under DOTC has already greenlighted a multi-billion project which includes the construction of an international airport on the island. They say that such an airport will feature state-of-the-art facilities which promise to accommodate even big aircraft doing international flights. If all these were true, then thousands of tourists will flock this small island that's close to Boracay.
For the mean time, Carabao Island remains to be an off-the-beaten-path destination and an unexplored territory. It is bounded by the famous island of Boracay in the south, and Tablas in the north. The only way to get to San Jose (the town's official name), at least for now, is to take an outrigger boat that plies to the island on a daily basis. Gifted with a diverse landscape (rolling pastures, powdery white sand beaches), Carabao Island can be a perfect destination for backpackers and travelers seeking a quaint island experience. For those looking for some peace and quiet, it's a complete antidote to the wild atmosphere of its neighboring island, Boracay. This is a guide on how to get to Carabao Island.
I want to go to Carabao Island. How can I get there?
Depends on where you'll be coming from. If from Manila, you have three options:
1. Take a Roro (roll-on, roll off) ship in Batangas Pier to Odiongan, Tablas, Romblon. Or a regular ship that sails directly to Odiongan. Montenegro Lines has daily trips (except on Tuesday) to the island. Minimum fare is 700 (economy) and 1000 for Mabuhay class. They have no private cabins, only double decks and reclining seats. Ships leave at 5pm and docks at the pier in Odiongan 8-9 hours after, depending on the weather.
From Odiongan, board a jeepney (150php) bound for Sta. Fe (1.5-2 hour travel time), where you ride a boat (100php) to Carabao Island. Boats leave at around 9 or 10 am and reach Carabao Island after 45 minutes.
2. Fly via Zestair and Seair to Tablas, Kalibo or Caticlan. These airline companies have weekly flights to Tablas Island. From Tugdan Airport, hop on a jeepney that plies to Sta Fe. You can also rent a motorcycle to Sta. Fe, though of course the rate is much higher compared to jeepney's. If you're taking the Kalibo route, you need to go to Caticlan and board a boat to the island.
First option is the most budget-friendly.
If you're from Boracay or Caticlan, simply take a boat to the island.
Are there hotels in the island?
How about homestays?
That I'm not very sure. I didn't have time to ask when I was on the island. I guess there is, just ask the people at the pier when you get there.
How's the night life on the island?
Romantic. You can sleep under the stars and you can see them, really see them. Power's turned off at 11pm and resumes at 4am until 6am. It's a laid-back town, with a shortage in electrical power. It's unintentional but it makes staying in the island more fun, because you get to experience life in the most basic of ways. Don't worry though, there are cellphone signals on the island.
Do I need to worry about food?
You shouldn't because the island is gifted with rich marine life. In the morning, you can visit the market and buy fresh sea produce at a very affordable price.
Are there other things to do aside from beach bumming?
Is it safe there?
I just told you that the locals are friendly. :-) We're told that at present time, there's zero crime rate on the island, and I completely agree based on my stay there last month, although during election time, we hear there's tension and some gun fight, not sure if that's still the case. It's a remote town but not uncivilized.
Definitely not election season. Kidding. Summer, as with most islands, is the ideal time to go there. Travelling to the island during rainy or monsoon season can be quite scary because the water can get really nasty.
If you have more questions that you think I can answer, drop me a private message or leave your comments on the form below. Have a great time in Carabao Island!