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