Carbin Reef: The hidden jewel of Negros

  • Wednesday, March 01, 2017

If you are the kind of person who loves nature and takes enjoyment in going the off –the-beaten track, then Carbin reef is a perfect beach getaway for you. 
Forget the fancy resorts and the hot and cold showers because this sand bar in the middle of Sagay Marine Reserve only has makeshift tents with bamboo benches but it the most amazing sand bar surrounded by rich marine biodiversity underneath its crystal clear waters.
We left Bacolod very early in the morning in order to avoid the traffic and get to Sagay before 8 am. Sagay City is located north of Negros about 82 kilometers away from Bacolod city around 2-3-hour drive by private car. I am not a total stranger in Sagay city having been to the place several times when I use to tag along with my parents who go there to attend mass in Vito church. They are are devotees of San Vicente Ferrer and every first Friday of the month, my parents would go there to attend mass and participate in religious rites “palapak”. After approximately an hour and a half, we arrived at Sagay city and went directly to Siobe’s house to pick up the meals we are going to bring in the island. We then changed into our swimming attire and then immediately travelled to Old Sagay Port which is the jump off point for Carbin Reef. 
Archie’s Notes:  There are no restaurants or stores in the island so make sure to bring your own meals and snacks before going there. And don’t forget to bring a lot of water too!

Although it was already start of the rainy season, we are lucky to have a sunny weather that day. From the old Sagay port, we took a chartered boat going to Carbin Reef. It took us around 30-45 minutes going to the island crossing the 200 hectare marine sanctuary where we were fortunate to enjoy calm waters that made us appreciate more the beauty of the marine life underneath it. And finally as we approach the island, its clear waters made it possible for us to have a peek of the rich marine life underwater. Oh yeah you guessed it right, I feel like jumping out already wanting to explore what lies beneath! Hehehe
After docking, we immediately went around to explore what this island has to offer. The sand is not as fine as that in Boracay Island because of the admixed corral rubbles, but it was still perfect for beach bummers craving for white sand and clear waters! The long strip of white sand perfectly compliments the shimmering blue waters of this marine sanctuary. The island is shaped like a tongue with a watch tower at the end of the island. Aside from the watch tower, infrastructure in the island is kept to a minimum with only five improvised cottages made from bamboo sticks with few tables and chairs provided for the visiting tourist. The tourists visiting the sand bar are limited to only 70 people per day to control overcrowding and improper waste disposal.  For me, it is the simplicity of the place and its natural vibe that makes this place extra special. How the local government was able to maintain the ecological balance and tourism in this place is highly commendable! It’s a perfect example of sustainable & responsible tourism!

Archie’s Notes: To guarantee your entrance to the island, you need to book ahead with local tourism office. Sagay tourism office limits the number of guest in the island for the safety of the guests and for the environment. With that being said, prior booking is a must.

Our photo ops and basking under the sun must have drained all of our energies that we then felt our stomachs growl! So we decided to delay our snorkeling and have our lunch first. Despite the limited number of cottages, this island is a perfect place for weekend picnics with family and friends. You need to bring your own food and water here but make sure you have a garbage bag to store your waste afterwards.

After that sumptuous meal prepared by Siobe’s house help, we immediately checked out the rich marine life in the waters surrounding Carbin reef. If you plan to snorkel around the coral reefs, you can book a guide at the registration office in Old Sagay. The fee also comes with snorkeling gears if you don’t have your own gears. We rode another boat that took us in the middle of the sea which according to our guide has the most number of giant clams. Wearing our floatation vest, snorkels and pair of flippers, we started exploring the area together with our guide who showed us the largest clams I’ve seen in my entire life! There are hundreds of giant clams found underwater of varying colors and sizes scattered all over the vast area of coral reefs. The corals look healthy judging from the number and variety of fishes you can spot around the area

Archie’s Notes: The current is very unpredictable when you’re in the middle of the sea so make sure youstay with your group even if you are a good swimmer.
We spent the entire afternoon on the tent chatting and went swimming on the beach as soon the sun’s heat was tolerable before we bid goodbye to this beautiful island. There are no fresh water source in the island so we decide to go back to the main island and rinse on Siobe’s house after.
It’s no wonder how Cabin Reef and the surrounding marine reserve of Sagay are slowly gaining popularity and becoming a prime eco-tourism destination in the country. The local government’s effort in continued conservation of the reefs and not merely taking advantage to profit from tourism is admirable.  With their present efforts to promote responsible tourism and sustainable livelihood for its people, I believe it’s safe to say that this hidden jewel of Sagay is here to stay for the future generation to see and enjoy.

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  1. Been there yesterday.. I really enjoy place and the crystal clear water... gonna post it on my blog soon @