Mararison Island (Antique, PH)

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

1746614_13312672165403

It was in 2012 when I had the chance to first set foot in the province of Antique. I have always wanted to go try out Tibiao’s cauldron “kawa” bath. Little did I know that besides this famed bathing style, the province also has some best-kept secrets (no more). One of which is the scenic Mararison Island (others spell it Malalison).

1746614_13312672181829

Mararison or Malalison is a 55-hectare island off the shores of Culasi town. This hoop-looking island boasts off picturesque rolling hills (ala Batanes) and crystal clear waters rich in aquatic flora and fauna. The island also has few fisher huts and small rice fields inland. There are neither hotels, resorts nor restaurants, no electricity even. So if you wish to stay overnight, either bring your tent or maybe knock on the door of some locals who have opted to live on the island for its seclusion.

1746614_13312672182535

So what can one do in such a tiny island? Well there’s the island’s sandbar that is known to shift in shape depending on how strong the waves can get. Then there is the crystal-clear blue waters surrounding the island that is good for swimming, snorkelling, and even fishing. One can cross over a nearby islet called Nablag Rock and some small caves to be explored. My favourite part during my visit was the trek to in Tuyong-tuyong Hill (the highest hill in the island). Once you reach the top, you’ll get to see the magnificence of the entire island. The highest peak in the province of Antique, Mount Madjaas, serves as a stunning backdrop to the island. Everything is just lovely!

1746614_13312672214421

How to Reach Mararison Island:

From Manila, you can either fly to the following airports in Panay – Kalibo, Caticlan, Roxas and Iloilo with Caticlan and Kalibo airports being the nearest to Culasi town. Once you reach these airports, make your way to the  bus terminal and look for a bus bound for Antique (San Jose).

1746614_13312672204880

Ask to be dropped at Culasi town. Once in Culasi, walk your way to its boulevard or the market where outrigger/fisherman’s boats san be found. Negotiate with them. During our visit, we were able to hire a boat for only Php500. There were no registration fees whatsoever then. I have read some recent blogs that if you intend to visit Mararison now, one has to visit the town’s tourism office and register. One also has to obtain a Safety and Conduct Pass, pay the environmental fee (PhP10 for locals, PhP40 for foreigners) and a diving fee (PhP200) if you’re a diver before getting on a boat to Mararison Island.

The boat ride to Mararison Island is only around 20-30 minutes.

1746614_13312672143206

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust.

Nogas Island (Antique, Philippines)

Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.

– Jerry Seinfeld

Robert Frost’s poem about taking the road less traveled never fails to inspire me in choosing my travel destinations. It reminds me that, i­­nstead of quickening my way to famous sites (where sea of people flock), I can always explore some less-traveled places that have their own inimitable charms and vista.

So, together with my interest in exploring and experiencing more of the Philippines’islands, I opted to visit a not so frequented tiny island in the province of Antique called Nogas Island.

Jump-off - Sira-an Hotsprings
Jump-off – Sira-an Hotsprings
DSC_5383
Vista as you approach the island.

Nogas Island is an uninhabited marine sanctuary located at Anini-y, Antique Philippines. Since it is a protected area, visiting Nogas Island is regulated. The most prominent feature of the island is its frangipani (kalachuchi) lined walkway that leads to an old lighthouse. I find it amorous (and maybe, poignant at night). It’s very picturesque even if it was almost leaf-less. (I wonder how it would look like when it starts to bear flowers and all).

DSC_0032 DSC_0022

The island is also a good spot for bird lovers and botany aficionado as it holds various vines, wild trees and shrubs. One of which is the Banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis), believed to be over 100 years. Moreover, being a marine reserve, colourful corals and diverse underwater organisms can be found (so make sure to bring your snorkelling equipment).

DSC_5468
The picturesque frangipani-lined walkway leading to the lighthouse.
DSC_5453
The walk-way going to the sea…

There are no ‘tourist facilities’ in the entire island. So if you plan to stay there all day, make sure to bring all your needed amenities.

How to get To Nogas Island:

From Manila, take a flight going to Iloilo. Then from Iloilo, take a cab that will bring you to Oton Terminal where Ceres buses, going to San Jose (Antique) via Anini-y, are. One may also ride a van from the Molo terminal wherein the drop-off point is at Dao aka Tobias Fornier. At the crossroad to San Jose and Dao, wait for a jeepney with San Jose – Anini-y – Casay route. The fare should be around 35Php/person. Ask to be dropped by Sira-an Hot Spring Resort. Travel time is around 2 hours.

DSC_5414
The beach of Nogas Island.

Upon registration at Sira-an Hotspring, (where one needs to pay a P10 environmental fee), hire an outrigger boat that will bring you to the island. Nogas Island is just about 15-20 minutes boat ride. A medium size motorized boat can be rented for P500 and it can accommodate up to 10 persons. Also, a life vest is provided for safety.

DSC_0038

So there! A perfect getaway sans locals and few tourists bumming around…