I was actually gone for 6 days and 5 nights! I think this is my longest domestic trip by far, without having to resign. LOL. This was not super planned because I only booked my tickets a month before our trip. My high school friend, Mayne, attended a wedding in Boracay and wanted to explore Romblon after. Since I also wanted to visit Carabao Island, I booked a flight to Caticlan via AirAsia and then started planning our trip. I ended up booking my inbound flight on a Thursday and my outbound flight on a Tuesday. I had enough time to spend at least 2 ½ days in Boracay, 2 days in Carabao Island and 1 day in Looc. Since my flight was to and from Caticlan, I had to go back there from Looc. So, my route became something like this:
Caticlan -> Boracay -> Caticlan -> Carabao Island -> Santa Fe + Looc -> Caticlan -> Boracay -> Caticlan
This was pretty tiring! I had 7 boat rides in 6 days. Good thing, there wasn’t any long land commute other than the jeepney ride from Santa Fe to Looc. I should’ve gone with my initial plan to just stay in Caticlan on my first night, since I just slept in the hostel anyway.
DAY 1: BORACAY
I was excited to go to Boracay again and since my first time was way back in 2014, I was excited to see how it looks like after its rehabilitation in 2018. Also, my memories from Boracay 2014 are so hazy – I really don’t remember much. I just think that yes, it costs more now than then definitely. So from Caticlan Airport, I had to take a tricycle to the Caticlan Jetty Port. It is 2km away from the arrival terminal so unless you can walk 2km under the heat of the sun, you need to take a tricycle or buy one of those van packages. There are really so many options now and you can even book these on Klook. I decided not to do any of that, so I took the tricycle. You will only see vans parked outside the airport terminal, so you need to go out and cross the street to go to the tricycle terminal. I had to ask the guard and they assisted me outside. The tricycle fare is fixed for PHP100 for a maximum of 3 passengers.
Upon getting off at the jetty port, I proceeded to the terminal. There is a registration table where you need to fill out a form, this is also where the officers inquire about your travel history as some sort of precautionary measures for COVID-19. They don’t really ask you much if you are Filipino, but on the other line was a Taiwanese national, and they asked him when he was last in Taiwan and also checked the stamps on his passport. After registration, you go to a different window to pay the terminal fee, environmental fee, and boat fee. My total was PHP250, because I opted to take the Oyster Ferry, because it was so hot, and I felt a bit dizzy. I thought the way going inside the terminal was so chaotic because there’s really no queue. People from different travel agencies kept cutting in and letting their customers through. It was annoying. Anyway, before going to the boat, you need to submit your registration form to the tourism officer where you will be asked to show your hotel reservation. We had to wait a bit inside the terminal because the Oyster Ferry has not arrived yet. Also, when it finally arrived and we were able to board, we stayed docked for a long time while waiting for others to arrive. That wait time made me even dizzier.
Upon getting off the ferry, I was welcomed by the beautiful coconut trees and these huge letters at the terminal. That was definitely not there before. LOL. For my first hostel in Boracay, I decided to book my stay at Shore Dormitel because it is close to Cagban Port. It is only 10 minutes away, so I decided to walk. This hostel is actually owned by Andok’s (according to their receptionist), so they have an all-day breakfast menu. Since I haven’t had lunch, I just ordered from them and it was served in their pantry. That was my first and last meal that day. I was so tired since I came from my night shift, so I ended up just sleeping the night away and leaving the next morning early to meet up with Mayne.
Too bad, I didn’t get to take advantage of their shuttle! I really don’t mind staying this far from the center if there is a shuttle. I think the first trip to D’mall is 8am and the last trip is around 10:30pm. They will give you a piece of paper with the timetable and the driver’s numbers so you can text them if you would like to be picked up. I would want to stay here again in the future! It’s clean, the staff is so attentive, they give you some basic toiletries – plus points for the bamboo toothbrush! The only downside probably is WiFi, I don’t have a network signal inside my room, so I have to go out to the pantry if I want to message someone. Other than that, I like this hostel! I wish I stayed longer.
DAY 2: BORACAY -> CARABAO ISLAND / HAMBIL
We were up early because the boat from Tabon Baybay Port to Hambil leaves at 9am. You can also opt to leave directly from Boracay (and it’s geographically closer to Hambil) but the trips start in the afternoon, and we wanted to leave early to have more time in Carabao Island. I have been up since 3am because I didn’t do anything but sleep. I washed up and checked out at around 6am and started walking back to the port. Mayne was also up super early, and we were already at Cagban Port by 6:30am. We were TOO early! But that is better than getting stressed because you’re too late! We had breakfast at 7-11 in front of the port – which is a mistake. There is a small carinderia at Tabon Baybay Port, so I suggest just having your breakfast there while waiting for the boat to leave. We spent so many hours there, had coffee before getting on the boat.
Anyway, so exiting Boracay to go to Caticlan is easy. Just pay the boat fee (we took the pumpboat this time, since it’s super early and still not hot) and terminal fee (total: PHP130). From Caticlan Jetty Port, you need to take a trike to Tabon Baybay Port, where the boats going to Hambil are docked. It is around 1km away, and you can probably walk there but the road going there is a bit confusing, so I think it is better to take a trike. Personally, I think it is too expensive. The tricycle fare is PHP120. The tricycle fare from the Arrival Terminal at the Caticlan Airport to Caticlan Jetty Port is PHP100 and that is farther. Upon arriving at Tabon Baybay Port, someone would ask for you to list your name at the passenger manifest, and then you can wait at the carinderia I mentioned earlier. The payment will be given to the boatman upon getting off at Said Port in Hambil.
The boat’s scheduled to leave at 9am, but they don’t normally leave on time. I think we ended up leaving an hour later, and man, the boat ride to Hambil is the worst ever! I felt like I was having an anxiety attack – no joke. I was sweating profusely, super dizzy, and really felt like vomiting. If I had a vomit bag then, I seriously would’ve done so! The trip was also quite long, I thought it would only take about an hour, but I think it took an hour and a half because it was almost noon when we arrived at Said Port in Hambil / Carabao Island. Upon getting off at the port, we were welcomed by Mang Ben, who is the owner of Lola Gloria’s Kubo – our accommodation in Carabao Island. I was surprised that he immediately knew it was me. LOL.
Lola Gloria’s Kubo is very close to Said Port so we just walked there. All the dizziness and anxiety went away when I saw our beachfront. We certainly made a good decision to stay on this side of the island. It is a small kubo with only 2 rooms – one for 2 persons, and the other for 4. It’s like an entire house so if you are a group of 6, this would be perfect for your group. Since it’s one whole house, the kitchen and bathroom area are shared. It’s a fan room but we barely used the fan because it’s super windy during our stay. During our first night, we stayed with a family from South Korea, but we were alone in the house on the second night. We have our own leaning coconut tree in front of our house. I think the only setback is that the waves are too strong on this side of the island, as compared to the Lanas side. There are pros and cons, whether you want to stay on this side (Hambil) or the other side (Lanas). For us, since we were leaving at 6am on our way out of Hambil to Santa Fe, we thought it would be better to stay near Said Port. But if you would like to stay in a resort, it would probably be best to stay on the Lanas side. The sunset is best on the Lanas side, but the sunrise is the best from the Hambil side. There is 6km between these two sides, so you will need to hire a habal habal to take you there and back.
I also want to commend Mang Ben for being so helpful. Even days before our trip, I have been exchanging messages with him on Agoda, getting accurate information regarding the boat schedule because websites and blogs tend to have different information. He also helped us book a habal-habal for our tour around the island on our 2nd day. I read that it is normally PHP700, but we got ours for PHP500 each. Not included are the entrance fees for the places you will be visiting (entrance fee is PHP100 for each place) and any tip you’d like to give to your habal driver. We booked our island tour on our second day and just enjoyed the beach on our first day.
The first order of business – lunch. After resting for a bit (we were really dizzy and just had to lie down for some minutes), we took Mang Ben’s advice and headed to Ariana’s, which is a restaurant close to Said Port. Ok, this is the best place to go because they have videoke!!! HAHAHA! If all restaurants have free videoke while waiting for their orders, no one would be HANGRY! We ate a lot for lunch, fried rice (garlic for me, veggie rice for Mayne), buttered shrimps, calamares, and fresh buko! We spent a few hours here, singing and having a hearty lunch.
Ariana’s is also right in front of the beach, where you have this swing facing the blue waters of Carabao Island. It saved us a trip to Tan-agan Picnic Grove, because I initially wanted to go there just for the swing. That’s not too far from Poblacion, but we decided not to go anymore.
After lunch, we went back to our kubo and took photos in front of our wonderful beach. Seriously, we took a lot of good photos here, and we didn’t even have to go far. We were planning to swim, but the waves were too strong, so we ended up not doing so.
After our photoshoot (LOL), we decided to make our way to Poblacion. But before that, we dropped by a mini-mart to buy some snacks and beer. The neighbors were staring at us when we walked out of the mart with our Red Horse Stallion. LOL. The next day, when we bought some snacks and I bought a Coke Mismo from the mart, one manong said, “Walang Red Horse?” HAHAHAHA. Seriously though, I felt so at home on this island. We felt like we were part of the neighborhood, everyone was so nice! Anyway, so we spent our afternoon in this area not too far from the famous leaning coconut tree and Poblacion. There is a pavement overlooking the beach, and then you have stairs going down. The stairs are incomplete though – I have to jump off the last step when I went to take photos. We spent the afternoon just talking over beer, and Ding Dong.
Once we were done with our beer, we walked to Poblacion and just explored a bit – looking for a place to have dinner. We took photos at Hambil Park, before walking back to our kubo.
Even though we walked around Poblacion to look for a place where we could eat, we still ended up going to Ariana’s. And yes, we did videoke again HAHAHA. I wasn’t very hungry, so I just ordered a pancit, while Mayne had sisig and rice. The plate of pancit was too much for me so I had it wrapped, and I still ate it the next morning.
DAY 3: CARABAO ISLAND
I woke up pretty early and I was excited to watch the sunrise. Our roommates (the family in the other room) were also up early and they also watched the sunrise. It was soooooo beautiful.
It was a pretty lazy morning, I had breakfast (we bought some cup noodles and egg from the mart the previous day) and just pretty much stayed in bed. Mayne was so much more active and kept moving as soon as she got up. Our island tour doesn’t tour until 11am so we had a lot of time in the morning. We decided we wanted to boil some sweet potatoes to take with us to our tour so we went out to buy and then boiled them in our kitchen. You know, just in case, we got hungry.
We walked to Said Port at 11am, where our habal-habal drivers were waiting. It is 1:1, unlike in other islands where they allow 2 people to 1 driver. Our first stop was Tagaytay View Point, since it’s the closest one. I think this is more popular to go to during sunset but since we already told Mang Ben that we want to go to Lanas Beach Resort for sunset, we went here first. It is the highest point of the island so it’s really windy – it is probably super cold here in the later afternoon. You have a good view of Boracay Island from the tree house. Ok, right off the bat, we already noticed the “hugots” all around this place. There were a lot of travel hugot quotes everywhere! This became a pattern in Cathedral Cave and Kuding-Kuding as well. LOL. We took photos around and then went our way to Cathedral Cave.
I would say that Cathedral Cave is the highlight of the island tour because there’s a lot of things that you can do here. Aside from cliff diving, you can also do some caving (obviously) and do a kawa bath. Upon arriving, we were pulled into caving immediately. I was so not prepared! HAHAHA! So it’s basically a cave with stalactites and stalagmites (my clue has always been stalactites = C = ceiling, stalagmites = G = ground, HAHA), and there is also a small lagoon where you can swim. So why Cathedral Cave? According to our guide, back during the war (I don’t know which one) the people of Carabao Island hid here and even performed masses.
We had a blast swimming in the lagoon because it was our first swim in Hambil! We couldn’t swim yesterday! The color of the water was glowing green. It was beautiful!
We exited the same way as we entered, and then we were pulled into trying the kawa bath. I was surprised they had this! Which I think is good because at least there’s stuff to do for those who didn’t want to cliff dive (like us).
We hung out at the waiting area (where there is a long table and benches on each side, watching the others dive (hyping those that are a bit hesitant to jump), and snacking. We stayed a good 2 hours (I think) before proceeding to our next stop: Kuding-Kuding Point.
It is right next to Cathedral Cave. You can literally see the diving area of Cathedral Cave from Kuding Kuding Point. Ok, I must admit we didn’t really get to explore Kuding Kuding Point much because it’s much more open and I think it was around 3pm at that point so it was hot. Also, there were hammocks with our names on it (LOL), and we just really wanted to get some beer and chill there. And then we went to the small hut with a papag. Damn, that was super comfortable. But we did explore a bit and swam a bit in the small lagoon in a small cave. Ok, so why Kuding-Kuding? Kuding means kuting or cat. It got its name from the sound the waves make when it slaps the cave rocks during habagat or amihan. (I forgot which one LOL).
After some relaxation time and a bottle of beer later, we were off to our last stop: Lanas Beach Resort. We were here for an early dinner, as well as to watch the sunset. We initially wanted to stay here, because I have been following their Instagram page for a while now. But then, we decided to stay on the other side, so I thought at least we could come here to eat and watch the sunset from here. It seems like a popular place because there were a lot of motorcycles parked outside.
We absolutely enjoyed our time here!!! We were sat at the bar, and had a blast speaking with our servers. Their food was really good, too – everything was delicious! We ordered a pizza margherita (I think) and buffalo wings, plus a bucket of beer. The sunset was at almost 6pm and I was pretty buzzed by the time we left. I love this place! The staff is so nice, the place is so clean and comfy, the view of the sunset is amazing. We didn’t get to swim because we were #foodfirst. HAHAHA. I would totally recommend this place! And I want to stay here next time! 😊
It was already a bit dark when we started making our way back to Hambil Beach. It was such a good night. I would say that Lanas Beach Resort is the best place for happy hour.
DAY 4: CARABAO ISLAND TO LOOC
We were up early because the boat ride from Hambil to Santa Fe leaves at 6am. Mang Ben stayed with us during the night and took us the port in the morning. You only need to pay PHP10 for the terminal fee (super cheap, compared to Caticlan’s PHP100, humph) plus the boat fee of PHP100. I don’t remember when we paid the boat fee though, if before or after the ride. Buuuuut, it left on time! Kudos to the boatmen of the Hambil-Santa Fe route! It took less than an hour I think and as soon as we got off the boat, there is a jeep to Looc waiting. We wanted to have breakfast first, but I was uncertain about what time the next jeepney would arrive, so we got on and made out way to Looc. It took about 45 minutes, and they now have a terminal! When I was there last December, they stop at the parking lot next to Rizal Park. But now, they have a terminal closer to the Looc Port. The jeepney ride took less than an hour and the fare is PHP50. We took a shortcut inside the market – we didn’t know where it will lead us, but alas, it was indeed a shortcut because when we got out, we were right in front of Rizal Park.
We went directly to Haven Hotel to see if we can check in early. Luckily, it was one of those 24-hour hotels, where you can check in anytime and you check out 24 hours after. It was around 8am when we got there, so we also checked out at 8am the next day. This was perfect because we had to leave the next day early anyway. Haven Hotel is totally recommendable, it’s new and clean! The beds were so comfy, we had a television, there was hot water, we had a balcony overlooking our neighbor’s house (LOL) and the location is just perfect! There was no need for us to take any tricycle because we can just walk to our destinations.
First order of business – breakfast. We wanted some hot pandesal but we don’t know where to find them! There was a bakery right in front of our hotel, but it was so useless. Literally, we asked several times in different hours of the day, but we never got the response we wanted. We ended up having palabok at this small diner at the corner of the street. In fairness, I was able to finish my plate of palabok. Because I was so full and I didn’t have coffee that morning, I fell asleep as soon as we went back to our room. We decided to go to Looc Fish Sanctuary in the afternoon anyway, so we had time to rest. I was able to sleep for about 2-3 hours, Mayne was awake the entire time. HAHA.
We went out I think after 1pm, to have a quick lunch. We had lunch at Angelique Inn and Restaurant, because it was really close to our hotel as well. I wasn’t very hungry, so I only had a cheeseburger and coffee. I really needed that coffee. Then we walked to Looc Fish Sanctuary. On the way, we bought some biscuits to feed the fish with. So, you have to register and pay first at the office. The normal fee is PHP100, but apparently, since we are the only ones going at that moment, it is going to be a special trip and that will cost PHP300 – so PHP150 each for Mayne and me. And then I paid for the snorkeling gear rental for PHP100 because I forgot to bring my goggles, which brings my total to PHP250. That is really not so bad. We were assigned two boatmen, and then off we go.
The sanctuary is like a 10-minute boat ride from the Looc Port. They close at 4pm so we had about 2 hours to enjoy ourselves, and I really did! The fishies were so beautiful, and I loved that we had the place all to ourselves. I’m just bombed we didn’t bring a lot of bread. When we ran out, of course, the fishies no longer like us. HUHU.
Once we had our fix, we went back to the port and thanked our boatmen. We used a different route on the way back and saw these beautiful mangroves.
There was no time to waste upon getting back because we wanted to see the sunset at 6pm. We were lucky to have gone out just at the right time and we were able to witness the beautiful sunset at Looc Bay.
We went straight for dinner because we got hungry from all the swimming and interacting with the fish. We went to have dinner at Melberto’s, because I read about it on some blogs. I didn’t know though that it is an inasal place! But they have an extensive menu, that I had a hard time choosing! I ended up having inasal anyway, with unli rice. That was a huge piece of chicken, so I was so full again. We walked a bit around the park before going back to our room, and spent the night watching TV. I really don’t mind that. The only time I get to catch up on TV shows is during vacation.
DAY 5: LOOC TO BORACAY
Another early morning for us because Mayne needs to take the jeepney from Looc to San Agustin, then take the ferry / boat to Romblon, while I need to take the 9am pumpboat from Looc Port to Caticlan Port. That will take around 2.5 hrs so I was expecting to arrive before noon. But again, the boats usually leave late, and I was a bit annoyed about that, but nothing I can do about it. Anyway, so the fare has increased a lot from what I read on the blogs, the boat fee + terminal fee is PHP355. The boat ride was so long and uncomfortable, but I was able to take a nap. I was woken up by huge waves, and I knew then that I was near Carabao Island, LOL. The waves there are just super strong.
It was lunch time when we arrived at Caticlan Port, so I had lunch at Andok’s first. Haha, you can’t go to Boracay and not eat at Andok’s! I definitely enjoyed my rice toppings meal plus mais con yelo! After lunch, I took the boat to Cagban Port in Boracay, and went the same way as my first day. By the way, I didn’t have to pay for the environmental fee again, so I saved PHP75. So I guess that’s a tip, since you’re just coming back from another island and it’s all one trip, there is no need to pay the environmental fee again, just the terminal fee when you go in and out of Boracay. I took the pumpboat again this time, so my total was just PHP130 this time.
I couldn’t walk to my hostel this time because it is really far from Cagban Port. I booked a bed at Chillax Flashpackers, which is a hostel close to Diniwid Beach. Since it’s far, I took the tricycle, my fare to CityMall was PHP30. From there, you can either take a habal-habal to Chillax Flashpackers or walk. I decided to walk because it will only take me less than 10 minutes anyway. It was around 2 or 3pm though so it was hot. I was super sweaty when I arrived at the hostel. It killed me more cause I had to go through a flight of stairs to get to the top, where the reception / common room is.
I booked this via Agoda, so it has been paid for. They do ask for a PHP1000 deposit though, that they will return upon return of the keys and towel during checkout. Thankfully, I was in a room just one floor down the reception area. Chillax Flashpackers is pretty cute! Too bad, I couldn’t take photos! I was actually surprised to see this in my Saved collection on Instagram a few days later. I didn’t know that I booked an accommodation that I actually saved on Instagram. Anyway, so I was placed in an 8-bed room, with 3 men. It was fine because we were all in separate beds. Thank goodness, it was an off-peak season and the room was not full. I was also close to the toilet and bath. I really don’t mind dorms, and It’s always better if the shower is inside the room, like this one. I just have some issues with the door! I can’t freaking lock it, so I was just a bit paranoid every time I showered. LOL.
Anyway, so this is obviously super close to Diniwid Beach, so I showered and change out of my clothes and walked. I decided I will laze around Diniwid Beach the following morning and go to White Beach for the afternoon. The sunset is the best at Diniwid Beach, but I wanted to check out Café Maruja in Station 3 and I don’t think I will have time to walk there if I will do it the next day. So, I decided to walk from Diniwid Beach to Station 3, which took me an hour. It was not so bad because I walked on the beautiful beach and was reminded of how beautiful Boracay is, despite the many constructions going on out there on the main road. Station 1 still has the finest sand and wide stretch of white sand. Station 2 is the busiest as always, and I think I’m the most familiar with Station 3 because we stayed between Station 2 and 3 during the last time I was here. There were still some things that are still there, but there were more new stuff than old.
I had my early dinner at Café Maruja while waiting for the sunset. I was planning to read a book while having meal, but I met someone who’s a balikbayan from San Francisco, so I chatted with him instead. I don’t exactly remember his name, but maybe John? I ordered an iced coffee and one of their huge burgers with taro chips. We are not going to talk about my bill because yes, their food is actually super expensive. I left almost right after the sunset and when I finished my meal, because I can’t really stay out after sundown since my hostel is far from the center of the island. I walked to the main road, where I flagged a tricycle going to City Mall again, and then I walked to my hostel. It was pretty much the same as when I first arrived.
I decided to hang out at the reception area because they have like an open area, with an amazing view of the mountains, and the other houses in the area. Also, the signal was not so good in the room so I spent time there so I could go online. LOL. I also chatted with this girl who has been staying in this hotel constantly, that she knows almost everyone in the hostel. I ended up chatting with her until around 11pm, before I went back to my room to sleep.
DAY 6: BORACAY
I woke up early because I finally wanted to actually spend some time at the beach. I had breakfast, and then walked to the beach. I love it, because it is so not crowded. It’s literally like having your own private beach without staying in some really fancy accommodation. The sand is not as fine as in the White Beach, so I guess that’s just the disadvantage. If you want to revel in white, fine beach, then just walk to Station 1 – it’s not that far. I looked for a spot near the rocks – this was a bit hidden, too – but some people pass through that area because it was on the way going to Station 1. I spent about 2 hours, just reading a book, sunbathing in the beginning until it got too hot and had to hide under the rocks. It was a really good spot though because when I left, this Caucasian woman on the other side asked me if I was leaving because she was going to transfer to my spot. It was a nice morning, that’s the type of vacation I want, just chill and relax.
When it got a bit too hot, I went back to the hostel because I also needed to check out at 11am. I had time to hang out at the terrace again and the view from there is also super amazing during the day. I checked out a few minutes before 11am, and left my bag there. I wanted to have brunch before leaving the island because I’m sure that I won’t have time to eat until I am back in Manila. I decided to eat at Diniwid Beach Restaurant because it was recommended by the receptionist. It’s right in front of the beach, too, so it was the perfect place for brunch and some reading.
I made a mistake with my order though because I ordered hot coffee at 11am! I wanted another iced coffee so I was surprised when my cup of coffee arrived. But it was fine, I drank it anyway while waiting for my food. Their kitchen opens at 11:30am for lunch, so I pre-ordered because I wanted to eat a rice meal, instead of just the breakfast stuff they had available then. My spot was really good, too, as it was facing the beach. I got to do some people watching as I sipped my coffee. It got a bit too hot though while I was eating so I had tried to eat faster. Haha.
I decided that I will leave the hostel at around 1pm, for my 4pm flight. I allotted an hour to travel to the airport but I know that it’s not going to take that long anyway since the departure area at the Caticlan Airport. It is a good thing though because what I thought was gonna be a quick check-in was not. I always do web check-in so I was expecting to go straight to boarding gate. But no, due to COVID-19 (this was in the middle of Feb, so it was not so crazy then) they needed to do temp check to everyone. I really don’t mind this, but I wish there was some sort of notice to get to the airport earlier since everyone will need to go to the counter. (I remember that a few days after this trip, news came out to get to the airport earlier for these types of checks. But at the time of this trip, there was no such notice yet.” Luckily, I decided to arrive early, or I would be really worried.
Another thing that pissed me off was that, our flight was a bit delayed – they announced it, but they still asked the passengers to board. We were on the bus that will take us to the plane for about an hour. I am not kidding. I was standing on the bus the entire time. I think that’s why I felt so tired during the Grab ride home. I literally slept the entire time. I had a shift that night and that power nap really helped. But it was then I decided that this will be the trip that I will go straight from a trip to work. I cannot keep doing that anymore. I am old. HAHA.
This is my list of expenses (food, insurance, and airfare excluded):