The Awkward Traveler’s Guide to Carbin Reef

I was born and raised in Sagay, so I pretty much know how to get in and out of the place even with my eyes closed. This travel guide is mostly based on my experience.


Carbin Reef is part of the bigger Sagay Marine Reserve which also includes the lesser known Maca Reef. It is a protected area so the number of visitors are limited each day. Before heading directly to Sagay, it is advised that you make the reservations first by contacting the Sagay Tourism Office:

Their office’s phone number and email address are (034) 488-0649 and You might also want to contact them via their Facebook page:

The jump-off point is at the Old Sagay Port. From the Sagay City Bus Terminal, take a tricycle or a jeepney to go to Old Sagay. Fare is about P10/head. I’m not 100% sure about the fare because I just usually run from Sagay to Old Sagay. I’m not kidding.

From Bacolod City to Sagay City:

Sagay is very much accessible through Bacolod.

If you’re coming from the airport, take the shuttle van parked outside and tell the driver to drop you off at the Ceres North Terminal. Sometimes the drivers get confused on where the north or south is so make sure to mention that you’re going to Sagay. Fare is P150/head. If you’re a group of four or less, you might want to take the taxi instead at a rate of P500 for everyone.

If you’re coming from the BREDCO port, look for A jeepney that’s going to the Ceres North Terminal.  There are no regular jeepneys passing by the port, but usually during early trips, there is A jeepney that would take people to the North Terminal. Fair is around P20 to P25 (they ask for a bigger rate because as mentioned, there is no regular jeepney plying this route).

If you can’t find that jeepney, take a tricycle and ask them to take you anywhere in Lacson. They can take you directly to the North Terminal BUT they might ask you for a bigger rate, so just ask them to take you to Lacson St., and from there take a Bata-Libertad or Mandalagan-Libertad jeepney. The tricycle driver would usually ask for P30 (probably higher if you’re not a local so be ready to haggle) and minimum for the jeepney is P7 (subject to debate inside the jeepney so be ready to pay P8).

At the Ceres North Terminal, look for a two-stop bus going to Escalante. In a perfect world, the bus would only make two stops (Sagay and Escalante) but there will always be passengers that would alight before these cities (guilty here). Still, it is the preferred bus of Sagaynon commuters because most of the time, it is air-conditioned (they would sometimes use two-stop non-AC buses during peak seasons at a lower fare) and would take you directly to Sagay. Fare is P127. Travel time is around an hour and a half.

If you want to save P20 though and would like a longer ride, you can also take the non-AC non-two-stop buses going to San Carlos, Escalante or Minapasok. Fare is around P100 and travel time is around two and a half hours.

From Dumaguete City to Sagay City:

There are hourly Ceres buses going to Bacolod. But please ask any Ceres staff in the bus terminal to make sure that the bus is passing through Sagay. Most Bacolod-bound buses from Dumaguete pass through Mabinay or Don Salvador Benedicto, which are not the buses to take when you’re going to Sagay. If there are no buses passing through Sagay, just take a bus going to San Carlos, and from San Carlos, just take a bus going to Bacolod and again, please ask any staff around if the bus passes through Sagay. If the signboard indicates “via Escalante,” then that bus will pass through Sagay.

From Cebu City to Sagay City:

By plane:

Cebu Pacific has daily flights from Cebu to Bacolod, and vice versa. There is usually one flight in the morning and another flight in the afternoon. Fare for a one-way trip nowadays is around P800, so there’s not a lot of difference from the bus fare. You’ll have to consider, however, the distance of the airports from the city proper. Once you get to the Silay-Bacolod Airport, just follow the instructions above.

By bus/boat:

There are direct buses from Cebu to Bacolod. They’re all stationed at the North Bus Terminal. Please refer to this image for the schedule (current as of March 9, 2015):


If you’re only going to Sagay, take any bus passing through Tabuelan/Escalante or Toledo/San Carlos/Escalante. If you see Escalante on the signboard, then take that.

Fare for the bus is P330 and you also have to pay around P180-P200 for the barge. Travel time is around 6-8 hours. Prepare for delays.

Another option, which is faster, is what we call the “cutting trip.” From Citilink, take a van going to Toledo. You may also take any Toledo-bound bus from the nearby South Bus Terminal, but the van is faster. The terminal for the passenger vans in Toledo is already near the port so you can just either walk or take a trisikad. Fare from Cebu to Toledo is P100.

You can then take a fastcraft or a barge going to San Carlos, Fare ranges from P180 for the barge (travel time: 2 hours) and around P220 for the fastcraft (travel time: 1 hour). Once you get to the San Carlos port, take a trisikad going to the bus terminal. Then take a Bacolod-bound bus that is passing through Sagay.

From Iloilo City to Sagay City:

Go to the Lapuz Port and choose between OceanJet, Weesam or SuperCat, all of which have daily trips to Bacolod. SuperCat has trips as early as 4:30am and as late as 8:10pm.

You may also take the RORO from the Dumangas port. I have never taken this route but I have been told that they have trips all throughout the day and fare is only about P70. These RORO ships also dock at the BREDCO Port in Bacolod. Once you get to the BREDCO Port, just follow the instructions above.

There are also boats from the Culasi port in Ajuy. These boats dock at the Victorias port. I do not have much information about this as well. But once you get to the Victorias port, take a tricycle to get you to Nona’s where you can wait for any Ceres bus going to Escalante, San Carlos or Minapasok. Don’t take the bus going to Cadiz.

From Manila to Bacolod City:

By plane:

Cebu Pacific, Tiger Airways and Philippine Airlines have several daily flights from Manila to Bacolod, and vice versa. Cebu Pacific Bacolod-bound flights are stationed at Terminal 3,  PAL Bacolod-bound flights are stationed at Terminal 2 and Tiger Airways Bacolod-bound flights are stationed at Terminal 4. When booking through Cebu Pacific, please take a look at the flight number – 5J is a Cebu Pacific flight while DG is a Tiger Airways flight.

Once you get to the Silay-Bacolod Airport, just follow the instructions above.

By boat:

2GO Travel has trips every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from Manila to Bacolod City. The ships are stationed at Pier 4 in Manila and they dock at the BREDCO Port in Bacolod. Travel time is around 20 hours.

Once you’re in the BREDCO Port, just follow the instructions above.

From Cagayan de Oro to Bacolod City:

2GO Travel has trips every Saturday at 11pm from Cagayan de Oro to Bacolod. Travel time is also around 20 hours. Once you’re in the BREDCO Port, just follow the instructions above

From Davao City to Bacolod City:

Cebu Pacific has direct flights from Davao to Bacolod every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Once you get to the Silay-Bacolod Airport, just follow the instructions above.


Balay Kauswagan is the most popular accommodation in Sagay. It is managed by the city government of Sagay. It is located in Brgy. Rizal which is just right outside the city proper but can be easily accessed by a tricycle. I haven’t been here for quite a while but I believe they have dorm rooms and private rooms available at reasonable prices.

For more information, please check

Lastly, if you happen to be in Sagay City, please make a comment here. If I won’t feel awkward, I’ll meet up. 🙂


7 thoughts on “The Awkward Traveler’s Guide to Carbin Reef”

  1. Hi Bong, thank you for writing this post. I found it informative as I plan to go to Carbin Reef tomorrow to do some snorkeling due to some last-minute changes in my schedule. If you would like to meet up later that afternoon and you don’t find it awkward, that would be great.


  2. Hi! Found myself following all the instructions here. Now at Carbin reef! How do I get back to Bacolod City after this? What time are the bus trips? Waaah hahaha


  3. Hi im from manila. And im planning on goin to carbin. No idea at all on how it will go kase wla na kong alam sa sagay. Do i really have to call bgo pmnta? Thanks


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