Carabao Island is a small island next to the touristic Boracay on the north side. Oh, how much I enjoyed the island. It remains a place for those who like dreamy sand beaches but prefer a quieter location instead of the party island Boracay.
HOW TO GET ON THE ISLAND?
The best adventure you can have is to travel with local people on their pump boats. From Boracay – Caticlan Tabon Baybay you can take the local boat every day to Lanas beach at 10 am. It takes approximately 45 min to 1 hour and it costs 100 PHP. They transport luggage, food, a lot of beer, furniture, and motorbikes on the roof of the boat. BUT BETTER TO BE EARLY THERE! You actually never know when the boats will leave.
PUMP BOATS are utility outrigger canoes known in the Philippines. From small native canoes (“bangka”), it has expanded to the bigger ship for transport people and other goods. The outriggers are made of bamboo to support and stabilize the boat.
LOCAL STORES AND PEOPLE
On the island, there are no restaurants and no electricity from 8 am to 2 pm. We had guesthouse 50 meters away from the “port” if we can call this a port. It is more a spot for unloading. The first thing we needed to do was finding some food from locals to do lunch and dinner later. Their stores are full of vegetables, fruit, noodles, eggs, bread and a lot of instants and canned food. We were lucky that our Carabao guesthouse (which is one of the cheapest on the island) had a kitchen that we could cook.
LIFE ON THE BEACH
Island has some nice beaches around. We stayed on Lanas white sand beach. It was nice, especially when you can hear waves of the sea at night and birds singing in the morning. It was not touristic at all! But white sand beaches and turquoise blue seas you can find on the other side of the island as well. San Jose (the capital of the island) beach is just a purely natural paradise. No people, palm trees and you! So peaceful!
TRANSPORT ON THE ISLAND
I wanted a scooter! But there are no scooters on the island. Just real motorbikes, which I do not know exactly how to drive. But whatever. We rented a motorbike for 500 pesos per day (9€ ). With no helmets of course (they don´t have it).
The island develops really slowly. In the north, they are building a wider road (“highway”) already for 6 years. If you want to come from Lanas beach to San Jose is a narrow road (they called it highway) that leads through the jungle and some rice fields. On these roads are some paths that lead to awesome panoramic views (Tagaytay sunset view hill). And you won´t believe it, we found one restaurant with really good food.
The next day, I thought “How we will get from Lanas to San Jose Port with all our luggage?” Well, let me tell you and show you. They order for us (from ladies from stores) 3 guys with 3 motorbikes. One was driving our luggage, and two were driving us. Simple! It was a funny thing, but just that we came on time to the port! We gave them 450 PHP. Destination: boat at 12:00 to Santa Fe (Tablas Island). On all islands, you need to pay terminal fees in the port!
PURE NATURE AND SIGHTSEEING SPOTS
Even though the island is still not so known among the tourists, there are some good spots to explore, enjoy and have fun. First, we visited CATHEDRAL CAVE CLIFF. There you can explore the cave and jump over the cliffs. You can jump how many times you want. The water of the sea is transparent blue.
You have two sides of the Cathedral Cave. On the left-hand side, there are two diving boards, which are about 3 meters and 5 meters high. On the right-hand side, you will find the higher ones. On the left side are more boards as well, but they are allowed for tours coming from Boracay. It is nice how they design this outdoor adventure. There are bamboo ladders to climb back up to the top of the cliffs. They have also expert people who take care of you during the jumps.
There is a big cave as well if you want to explore more. You need to take helmets and lights that are laying right outside by the entrance. You can not go without a guide. The tour takes 15 – 20 minutes.
Then we drove to another side of the island to San Jose. The road is narrow but at least is not a lot of traffic. The town looks more like a village. The beach is awesome and in the afternoon we went on the market.
For the last stop, we enjoyed the sunset at Tagaytay hill which overlooks the island of Boracay. The entrance fee: 100 PHP.
To visit Carabao island was a spontaneous decision, but one of the best one. There is a lot of tours offering island hopping, as well on the Carabao island. But my advice: if you have time, Carabao Island will be a good decision after partying hard on Boracay Island. You will experience the wilderness, nature and how to survive as local people on the island. Like many islands in the Philippines, the main activities are fishing and farming.