Philippines: Carabao Island
After a few days on the beautiful white beach in Boracay (mobbed with travelers!), we wanted a few days of quiet and leave the mobs of tourists to their booming music. We literally went on google maps, zoomed in on Boracay and looked for the next closest island to run away too. To the north of Boracay there is a sleepy little island, that no pokes at and is virtually untouched by the money and flashing lights in Boracay. The lovely little island of Carabao.
There are 2 or 3 guest houses on Carabao, and outside of the restaurant and bar inside the guest houses there is nowhere else to eat or drink! No motorbikes or bicycles to rent, no one selling you glasses or bracelets, nothing. No flock of locals picking your bags up and throwing them in their taxi- the people on the island are still so innocent to the money they can make off tourists. We found a guy and asked him if we could all pile in the back of his truck and hitch a ride to the other side of the island to explore.
WOW. The road slices through the middle of the island and passes through jungle, rice fields, and rolling hills. Untouched! We waltzed around the island walking along the coast as close as we could while exploring random beaches with a small mob of Filipino kids curiously following behind. They slowly moved in on us, quietly watching every move we made. No one haggled us to buy things, we walked all over looking for a bottle of water and couldn’t find a shop anywhere. The locals couldn’t be happier to see a group of foreigners exploring their island, everyone couldn’t wait to give us a friendly wave and hello.
We stayed at Ivy’s Vine Resort and as expected, had a really great time. It is right on the beach, and has the sweetest man renting and running the place for the next year. We felt welcomed and immediately at ease. We gathered drift wood for a big fire on the beach, and gawked at the stunning sunsets every single night. The sky was set on fire and played tricks on your eyes changing between different shades of pink, orange, and red.
We were lucky enough to find snorkel gear and explore the waters in front of the guest house. Star fish of every color, shape, and size laid peaceful on the sea floor undisturbed.
If you’re headed to Boracay I highly recommend a few days at Carabao to check out a different kind of Philippines lifestyle. I love a good party, but I also love peaceful beaches and curious locals who are indifferent to the money that can be made off tourists.
You can ask anyone selling boat and snorkel trips on Boracay to ferry you over to Carabao. From Boracay the ride to Carabao is around 40 minutes. There is also a bigger ferry that leaves from Caticlan, but if the weather permits and the swells aren’t too big a boat from Boracay is much easier and faster. On our return trip we actually booked the boat for a day of snorkeling. We didn’t have to pay for a return trip that way, spent the day snorkeling, and were dropped off at white beach in the afternoon. Two for one!