Carabao Island Roaming Around Romblon

Carabao Island: Of Bumpy Boat Ride, Unspoiled Beach and Friendly Locals

Tuesday, May 28, 2013Ryan Mach

It was a lovely day. The sun's out. The sky's bright and clear. The sea was calm. What could possibly go wrong?

The boat ride from Sta. Fe in Tablas to Carabao Island doesn't take more than an hour. This I know too well because I've taken the same trip a year ago when I went to San Jose with a friend. The only difference was we took a passenger pump boat which was way bigger than we had this time. But otherwise, it was the same route and it was also summer.

[Leaving Sta. Fe]

Bumpy Boat Ride
[San Jose is clearly visible from Sta. Fe, the drop-off point to the island from Tablas]

Summer months generally mean calmer seas, ergo smooth boat ride. Well, to be fair the first half of the trip was relatively worry-free. I was actually thinking about removing the old and stuffy life vest that our boat guides asked us to don. As we were fast approaching San Jose, the waves became bigger and nastier. By this time, we were all pretty much absorbed in our own reveries so when the water came splashing we were kind of unnerved and slightly alarmed.
[A friend in a pensive mode]

This doesn't seem right, I thought to myself, heart beat racing. In the distance, the part where the boat was heading to, I could see the waves heaving. When I glanced at my friends, they looked rather unperturbed. Yeah, well, I'm a worry-wart. I safely tucked my camera inside my bag and pretended to look okay.

The closer we got to the shore of Said Beach, the nastier the waves had become. This time, the looks on my friends' face were unmistakable - it's the look of fear that I myself had been trying to hide. Lol. Since the boat didn't seem like it was going to dock anytime soon, I asked the boat guys how far we were from the wharf. They pointed the white sand visible in the distance. That we were actually a few meters from the shore offered me a false sense of comfort.
[This is how our boat would look like from afar, struggling]

[Port of Said at the far end of the beach]

Needless to say, it was a long and intense ride so it was such a relief when the boat had finally docked, albeit with great difficulty, near Said Beach.

Unspoiled Beach, Tourist-Free
Swinging by at Carabao Island was part the itinerary for Day 5 of our Romblon Backpacking Trip. Carabao Island was our second to the last stop, Boracay being the last destination. We decided to spend at least an hour or two in the beach because we needed to hurdle another boat ride to Boracay. I didn't want to think about the impending trip yet. I was sure it was going to be more intense.
After leaving our stuff inside the boat's safety compartment, we walked along the white sand beach of Said towards a section that had coconut trees grew and finer sand.
Save for a few kids who frolicked in the waves, there weren't other beach combers in the beach. Just like last time. This is what I liked most about the beaches in Carabao Island, you can have them to yourself.
There aren't cottages or huts in Said so we made do of the shade that a coconut tree jutting out to the sea provided. It didn't only provide shade from the sun, it also offered a perfect backdrop for photo-ops.

[Doing all sorts of poses we could think of]

I wanted to climb the tree to have a photo taken but a friend who was as eager as I was beat me to it. We ended up doing a trio shot. But I really wanted to have a solo shot so I asked the boys to come down for a moment. They seemed cool about it, I think they were, until they ran towards the water - perhaps to cool their heads off? Lol.
[Alone at last]

It was high tide when I last swam on this beach, and the water had almost reached the road, preventing me to see the shore. This time I had a better view of the shoreline. The sand was still as smooth and fine as I remembered it. It didn't matter that the waves were big. Swimming in Said was simply a delightful experience.

Friendly Locals, Lucky Kids

The boat men, there were two of them, asked us if they could take their lunch. They would be back in an hour. It was around 10:30AM when they left. After an hour, they arrived in the beach to find us waiting under the shade of palm trees near a neighborhood where a group of men was playing a pool game.
While waiting for the boat men, we talked to some local kids who were busy eating green mangoes. They giggled and teased each other. Such lucky kids to have a beautiful beach like Said.
Some of our peers looked for a store that sold refreshment. They were able to find mais con yelo. And a monkey teetered to a tree.

We all went near the boat when the boat men arrived but we didn't hop on board yet because they still had to remove the water stuck inside the boat. We were worried that our stuff got wet. Unfortunately, everything was dry.
We said goodbye to Carabao Island a few minutes before 12. As expected, the ride to Boracay was insane. But that's for the next blog post.

Interested to go to Carabao Island? Here's a travel guide.

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