*This is part of my #ProjectNegrosOccidental series where I aim to visit all 32 towns and cities of Negros Occidental, my home province.
I was in second year high school when I last visited Carbin Reef, although I just live a few kilometers away. That was 15 years ago, before my brother was even born. Our entire batch went on a field trip to Carbin Reef. It was quite a memorable experience for all of us especially because we spent a night sleeping (or not sleeping) in the tower which had no walls. We didn’t have any tents so there was no camping that happened.
Back then, there was some paperwork to be done before we could even step on Carbin Reef. My teacher assigned me to do it and I took it willingly because that meant I could go home for a few days (I spent high school in Victorias). But it was my sister and mother who processed those papers and I took all the credit. Ha!
Anyway, I was supposed to be somewhere else during and after the Holy Week, but a few things came up so I decided to just go local. So Carbin Reef it was. I was planning to bring my parents with me, since this was just in Sagay after all, but they kept declining. Thankfully, my cousin Nang Irene and her sons were in Sagay for the Holy Week and gladly came along with their other relatives. Tito Moli, Nang Irene’s father, who helped us book this trip went with us too. I also persuaded my brother to come with us.
Initially, my plan was to do the trip on Black Saturday or Easter Sunday, but when Tito Moli inquired about it, Carbin Reef was already fully booked on those days, so we settled for Monday, April 6.
It was Ma’am Helen Cutillar of the Sagay Tourism Office who made the arrangements for us. Through her, we had a few freebies so we really appreciate that. Our family is very thankful.
I’m not sure if I can publish her mobile number, so I’ll just give you instead their office’s phone number and email address: (034) 488-0649 and firstname.lastname@example.org. You might also want to contact them via their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sagaycity.
They limit the number of people visiting Carbin Reef so you might want to make sure first that you have a reservation before going directly to Sagay.
We left our house at 8am and hired two tricycles for the nine of us to go to Brgy. Old Sagay. I usually run from our house to Old Sagay, and vice versa, and it seems near when I’m running it (it’s just 5 km from the city proper). But it seemed far when we rode the tricycle.
When we arrived at the port, we were directed to go to the office to make the necessary payments. We paid P1200 for the pumpboat and P20 each for the entrance fee (I think the fee is higher for non-residents of Sagay). The tent, which was supposed to be P300, was free, thanks to Ma’am Helen. Our snorkeling gear and guide also came free. Yipee! Payment for snorkeling, by the way, is P600 for every two people.
After our payment, Nang Irene and I tried to see if we could get into the nearby Museo Sang Bata sa Negros. There wasn’t exactly a gate, only an opening in the fence, so we weren’t sure if it was open. Then a woman came out from the museum so we just asked her how much the entrance fee was. We were told P50 for adults and P20 for children. Maybe we’ll visit next time.
Carbin Reef is just about a 15-minute boat ride away from the Old Sagay Port. While on the way there, I noticed another watchtower on the very far left of the horizon. I assumed it was Maca Reef, because that’s the only other reef I know in the area. But when I asked our pumpboat operators, they said it was Panal which can be accessed. Maca Reef was on the other side and could not be accessed for now. I forgot to ask how much it would cost if one would go to Panal, so I can only assume that it might just cost the same. We also saw the other islands of Sagay, which were Suyac and Molocaboc. We had wonderful memories of Molocaboc too. Ha!
The waters surrounding Carbin was immaculately clean. The Sagay City government and the Bantay Dagat people are doing a good job maintaining the area. According to Tito Moli, the place looked very different back then. Dynamite fishing was common in this sea.
And speaking of dynamite fishing, I remember it was such a big issue when I was in elementary. It is still an issue now but it’s not as talked about as it was back then. Call me naive, but I think people standing up against it worked.
We arrived in Carbin Reef around 9:15am. We had the perfect summer weather, but that also meant it was hot.
There were two other groups in Carbin when we arrived. We were told they only allow four groups each day but I saw five tents standing, or maybe that was four.
The tower wasn’t like it was used to. As you can see in the old picture above, it still had two storeys. Now what’s left is that small room on the side, which probably used to be the bathroom. The typhoon Yolanda might have done a lot of damage to it.
Sagay is just a few kilometers south of the midpoint between Bantayan, Cebu and Concepcion, Iloilo. The typhoon made landfall on both towns but the eye of the storm spared Sagay. The eye might have been visible had one been standing on Carbin Reef when it passed by. Not that it was a good idea even if it was really visible.
We took pictures first of the area right after settling into our cottage.
Then we hit the water! We were advised by the Bantay Dagat people to only swim in front of the cottages to be safe. That part of the beach was perfect for swimming especially if you’re not exactly a good swimmer. That side also offered a nice view of Negros and the mountains.
The kids, Ram and Rave, were really enjoying the beach so it was fun to watch them.
Then it was time for more pictures!
Tito Moli grilled pork chops for lunch. You don’t need to worry about having barbecue on the beach as they have a grill available for use for everyone. Nang Irene also brought chicken adobo. We were in charge of the rice and the drinks. We had an early lunch.
After lunch, we rested for a few minutes then we went back to the water.
Manong Ginny (or Jenny, he said he had a feminine name) then approached us to bring us our snorkeling gear and to tell us that we could just start snorkeling anytime. We had to go in pairs because there were only two life jackets. I paired up with Nang Irene.
The gear also included flippers which got me excited because I could finally wear a pair! I was once told that I could move faster in the water with these but I was also warned that it could pull me down. I had a life jacket anyway. My excitement later turned into regret when I was already in the water.
I had to walk backwards until it was deep enough for me to swim with the flippers on. And dang it was really heavy in the water. Moving my feet was five times the effort I would do when I run. But they say it always happens to first-timers.
Anyway, I had to hold hands with Nang Irene who also had to hold onto Nong Ginny with her other hand because we’re not exactly experienced snorkelers. When we got to the end of the snorkeling area, Nong Ginny pointed to us the many giant clams dotting the seafloor. It was amazing how big they were. He said these clams were brought here eight years ago when they were still young and had since then grew and proliferated. There were also plenty of fishes. Nong Ginny said that there were more fishes during low tide but they only do snorkeling during high tides to avoid damaging the corals.
I could only tell you what I saw since I don’t have a GoPro. I really need to get one.
When everyone who went snorkeling got back, we hit the water again. This whole time, Ram and Rave were just in the water. They were really having so much fun.
Because of the length of time we spent in the water, I was able to practice my swimming and even taught my brother the basics. I can teach swimming now! Ha!
The other group of visitors started leaving until it was only us left. We had Carbin Reef all to ourselves!
Around 2pm, we also started to prepare to leave. But of course, more pictures!
We got back to the Old Sagay Port around 2:30pm where we hailed two tricycles to take us back to Sagay City proper. We reached home around 2:45pm.
Carbin Reef is a nice place to take your friends or family for a summer outing. It’s beautiful and well kept. It’s a very good starting point for my #ProjectNegrosOccidental. Again, good job to the government of Sagay and thank you to Ms. Helen Cutillar of the Sagay Tourism Office.