Your Travel Guide: Carbin & Panal Reef

  • Monday, March 06, 2017

     Experience the amazing underwater charm of the country’s largest marine reserve in the Northern Negros. The Sagay Marine Reserve is 32,000 hectares protected marine area composed of small islets, sand bars and coral reefs that boast abundant marine biodiversity. Through the years the place has become a popular eco-tourism destination because of its beautiful sand bars and beaches that are perfect for weekend day trip among friends and family.

     I’ve come up with this article to help you plan your trip detailing the possible expenses you will incur. I also wrote a separate article on our experience in Sagay here and what you can expect during your travel there. You might also be interested to read my detailed travel guide to Apo Island in Negros Oriental which is also another protected marine reserve and one of the best diving spot not only in the country but also in the world. 

How to get there?

     Old Sagay port is the jump off point of Sagay Marine Reserve.  To get to Sagay City, you need to pass by Bacolod city where busses leave regularly bound for Sagay City.

From Manila, there are regular flights going to Bacolod City which is the capital of Negros Occidental. From Silay International airport, ride a van for 150 php per persons and alight in North Ceres bus terminal.

From Bacolod, take the bus bound for Sagay or Escalante in North Ceres Bus Terminal in Bacolod City. Travel time is around 2-3 hours. Regular bus fare is 170 php per person.

From Sagay City Bus terminal take a tricycle bound to Old Sagay Port and ask the driver to drop you off at Sagay Tourism Office. The fare is 25-30 php per person.

Getting a Ferry Boat to go around.

     Transportation in going around the marine reserve is pretty organized where all you need to do is just to register at the tourism office first and they will be the one to assign you a ferry from the Sagay Island Pumpboat Operators Cooperative. You may book your ferry ahead by calling the tourism office. The usual rate they charge for the entire boat going to Carbin reef is 1,200 PHP good for 10 people. You will need to add extra 300-500 PHP if you want to go to Panal Reef, Maca Reef and Suyac Mangrove Island.

Where to stay?

     There are limited numbers of makeshift cottages in Carbin Reef which can accommodate 10-15 persons in one cottage. Single tent is 300 PHP and double tent is 500 PHP. You will need to make reservations ahead through Sagay Tourism Office as there are only limited numbers of tourists that are allowed in the island per day. The place can only accommodate 70 persons on Carbin & Panal Reef and 100 persons on Suyac Island.

Archie’s Notes: If you’re on a tight budget and you don’t want to spend extra money for a cottage, you may stay in your boat instead. Also note that the tourism office does not allow overnight stay in all the reefs.

          As of July 2016, you will need to pay the following fees:
          Entrance fee/ admission
          Non-Residents – 100  PHP
          Residents – 30 PHP
          PWD/Senior Citizen – 82
          Children <12 – 40

What to do? Snorkeling!
     The real beauty of Carbin & Panal reef lies underneath it, so it’s definitely worth checking out by doing guided snorkeling. If you don’t have your own set snorkeling gears, you need not to worry because the Buhay Dagat Snorkeling Guides of Sagay Association have enough gears which you can borrow for a fee. 

     These are the rates of their snorkeling packages:
          Package for 2pax – 300 PHP which includes guide, snorkeling gears and snorkeling fee.
          Gears Only – 250
          Guide Only – 250

Archie’s Notes: According to our guide, only 15 persons are allowed to snorkel at the same time, so it’s best to book your snorkeling ahead of time.

For booking, please contact Sagay City Information & Tourism Office
Telephone number (034) 488.0649
In case of emergency : +63 999 318 2837 (Bantay Dagat Head) / +63 919 259 3489 (Rescue)

When is the best time to visit?

     Visiting Carbin reef & snorkeling around the reef is available all year round, but according to our guide the best months to go during dry season in the Philippines which is March to May. Other months cannot guarantee sunny weather but the marine biodiversity can still be appreciated even during monsoon season. 

What to bring?

     Since the place is only good for day trip, you don’t need a lot of stuff when going to Carbin reef. My list may vary depending on your needs but these are my essentials which I believe would be useful in the island:

     There are no restaurants or stores in the island so make sure you bring your own meals and snacks.

Swimming and Snorkeling essentials
     Rashguard and  board shorts or any swimming attire that dries fast
     aqua shoes or slippers to protect your foot from sharp stones or sea urchins
     mask and snorkel if you’re not comfortable renting gears that has been used by strangers

Protective gears against the sun harmful UV rays
    Sunblock, sunglasses and hats, sarong and towels

Personal needs
    Liters of drinking water, toiletries, medicines

    Portable speakers, waterproof camera

Garbage bags 
     Sagay Tourism office strictly implements garbage-in/ garbage-out policy so make sure you have 
     container to place your trash.

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  1. Nice posts! I wish my blog's as visitor-friendly as yours. haha

    1. Hi idol Shaun, Thanks for dropping by! Enjoyed browsing your blog too. =)

  2. Hi! Kaya ba ng one day ang carbin and panal reef?

    1. Absolutely. We did the two reef in one day, you can even do three of them for an extra fee- Panal, Carbin and Suyac.

  3. Magkano po ba yung sumakay sa pumpboat ?

    1. hi. You can check this post for rates

  4. Hi! just want to ask if you can do scuba diving there? and how much?

    1. Hi Rhea, the last time i inquired. Yes. they do offer snorkeling and scuba diving for a fee, provided youre a certified diver. For more info you can contact Tourism office at this number (034) 488.0649 or email them at Happy Travels