Carabao – Philippines – To Boracay Island

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MARCH 2016:


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Carabao - Republic - Waterfront Huts I had been making my way through the Romblon Islands.

I had spent 8 nights on Tablas Island and another 8 nights on Carabao Island.

I, now, needed to head for Boracay Island to renew my Visa.


The ‘standard’ way to get from either Lanas Beach (west coast) or Hambil Beach (east coast) on Carabao Island to Boracay Island is to:

  • Catch a 6:00am ‘commuter’ pump boat from the (Hambil or Lanas) ferry port to Caticlan (mainland Panay) for PHP100
  • Pay a PHP100 Caticlan Port Tax and a PHP75 Boracay Island Environment Fee
  • Catch a boat from Caticlan to Boracay for PHP25
  • Catch a Tribike from the Boracay ferry port to your hotel (PHP100 to Station3 and PHP150 to Station1)
  • A total cost to Station 3 of PHP400 for a single person and PHP700 for a couple

I had gone ‘Around Carabao Island By Moto’ for a day with Rolando, a local Moto Driver. We had become friends.

The day after our Moto trip, Rolando came to my hotel to seek me out. He wanted me to go to his house and meet his children. He told me another way to get to Boracay: direct.

  • To go direct to Boracay you need to get to Lanas Beach. If you are in Hambil Beach, you will need to pay to get to Lanas: PHP100 for a single person on a Moto or PHP200 for a couple on a Tribike
  • Make your way south past the Lanas Village / Elementary School to the Lanas ferry terminal
  • The boat leaves for Boracay at 6:00am (be there by 5:30am)
  • The pump boat costs PHP50 and takes you to Station 1 (just in front of Starbucks Cafe)
  • The row boat out to the pump boat costs PHP5 / person
  • You can Tribike to a Station1 hotel for PHP30 and to a Station3 hotel for PHP60
  • A total cost to Station3 of PHP115 for a single person and PHP170 for a couple (add your cost of getting from Hambil Beach to Lanas Beach on top of this price if you need to)

This is an ‘in-the-know’ route which is best checked out the day before with the locals.

If you miss the 5:30-6:00am from the Lanas ferry terminal, walk another 100m metres south along the beach path. Here you will find several ‘Island Hopping’ boats anchored offshore. These boats go to Boracay every day to pick up tourists for their Island Hopping Trips.

Ask a few of the locals there and you can get on one of these boats. They leave at 6:30-7:00am and, also, cost PHP50 / person. They, also, drop you off at Station1 in front of the Starbucks Cafe.


The night before, Rolando had insisted on taking me to Lanas on his Moto – free of charge.

To thank him (and his cousin Alex), I bought them a few Red Horse. My mistake. At the end of the evening, he got his times wrong and arranged to pick me up at 6:00am (it should have been 5:15am).

We strapped my suitcase on one side of his Moto and I did a ‘girlie’ sidesaddle to counter-balance the weight on the other side.

It was quite a ‘scary’ ride and I didn’t feel very safe. My suggestion to GRANDPAckers: CATCH A TRIBIKE!

When we got to Lanas, and realised that we had missed the boat, Rolando took me to the Island Hopping Boats. He spoke to the locals and we waited until 7:00am.

A small row boat collected us from shore.

My suitcase sat at the front. I sat at the back. All of the crew and commuters stood in-between.

As we disembarked the row boat, people were paying PHP5. They asked me for PHP20. I paid it. I knew that I had just paid for 3 other people – but I didn’t mind – it was only PHP20 and they were doing me a favour.

The pump boat was underway by 7:10am and it took just 30 minutes to get to Station1.

You disembark into 1 foot of water and they carry your heavy bags to shore for you.

I saw the girl next to me go to pay her PHP50; the captain waved it away. When I went to pay, the captain asked for PHP100. I said PHP50. Sadly he agreed. I am convinced (in my mind) that he declined the girl’s PHP50 expecting to get her fare off of this ‘stupid foreigner’. Wrong.


I did my usual thing and pre-booked a hotel online. Boracay has to be the most expensive place in The Philippines.

I tried all of my usual sites: BOOKING.COM, AGODA.COM, ASIATRAVEL.COM… but the only hotels under PHP2000 / night were Dorms and Backpacker. Have a look at the sample prices, below. Don’t forget that with AGODA.COM there is (usually) a ‘hidden’ additional Hotel Tax of 12% and (sometimes) another ‘hidden’ additional Service Charge of 10%:

Please Note: I have started looking at ASIATRAVEL.COM now that I am in The Philippines; They are very good in this area of the world and I used them to book my hotel in Tablas Island (they were cheaper than AGODA.COM).

In the end, I booked the best place that I could find for under my target price of PHP1200 / night. The cheaper places tend to be in Station3.

Through HOSTELZ.COM I booked a Double Fan room at the Trafalgar Cottages with shared bathroom for PHP700 / night for 6 nights. As usual with Hostel sites, the price is listed as per person per night. My room was listed as PHP350 but I had to pay for 2 people to secure the room for just myself.

I was only in Boracay to renew my Visa – I was prepared to ‘rough it’ for a few days whilst I did so. Living to GRANDPAcking Standard was not why I was here – I already knew that this was not possible in Boracay.

I walked about 50m up an alleyway from the beach to the main road and flagged down a Tribike. The cost to my Station 3 hotel was PHP60; it took about 5 minutes and was less than 2kms away straight down the main road. Welcome to Boracay! Anywhere else, this Tribike ride would have cost PHP20!


The Tribike dropped me off outside of the Budget Mart 2 in front of a group of souvenir shops.

The Trafalgar is hard to find; you have to walk inside the souvenir shop complex to find the entrance. Once found, the grounds are quite pleasant and reasonably quiet.

It was 8:30am and the guy at check-in couldn’t have been friendlier.

He checked my booking. I paid for my room. He gave me the keys.

The room was available, so I could move straight in. Wonderful.

The room is exactly what I expected: simple.

The room is small but has a wardrobe to hang my clothes. Some of these ‘budget’ rooms (for less than PHP1000 / night) don’t even have that… you have to hang your clothes on the curtain rail!

There is mosquito mesh on the windows which allows you to leave your shutters open to let in the sea breeze.

The shared bathroom is functional and clean.

There is a second, separate toilet.

These facilities are shared by just 4 double rooms.

By 9:00am, I was unpacked and on the street looking for the Bureau Of Immigration.


From Carabao Island you can see Boracay Island a short distance across the water.

The ‘Caticlan Single Gateway’ to Boracay is a money making scheme. It allows officials to collect Terminal Fees and Environmental Fees. Given the very high prices in Boracay, you would have thought that what they need is already being collected through local taxes. Tourists are already paying enough.

Ask the friendly locals if you can catch one of the ‘direct’ pump boats from Lanas. For safety, ask in advance – don’t just turn up in the morning (you may be disappointed). If you can get one of the locals to support you, he will ‘open the door’ for you with a boat captain.

These pump boats are Island Hopping Boats and quite safe. If these boats can’t sail, nor can the commuter ferry.


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