Mararison Island: Antique’s Little Batanes

Batanes is anyone’s dream destination. As the island re-opens for tourism, more people want to see the rolling hills, blue waters, and idyllic scenery in Batanes. But expensive plane tickets and long travel times are some reasons why people think twice about visiting the island. However, another island in Antique is gaining popularity for its similarity with Batanes. Enter Mararison Island.

In Panay, Mararison Island offers white-sand beaches and rolling hills with sweeping coastline views. It’s only a short boat ride away from Culasi in Antique. Despite its unspoiled scenery, it was only after Typhoon Haiyan hit that local media discovered the island.

A Little Background on Mararison Island

Mararison Island is part of the three islands west of Culasi in Antique. Based on the local legend, these three islands represent the three children of Madya-as and Canlaon. Because these kids are hard-headed and stubborn, the chief god Bulalakaw threw them to the sea until they turned into islands. As the youngest child, Mararison is positioned closest to the mainland.

Mararison Island is a 55-hectare island under the municipality of Culasi in the province of Antique. The unspoiled beauty of Mararison Island was like that of Boracay before the island’s commercial developments. 

Mararison or Malalison Island is primarily a fishing community. However, with the joint effort of local tourists and the local government in 2016 after Typhoon Yolanda, the island has further gained popularity as a must-visit tourist attraction in Culasi, Antique. As tourism boomed in Mararison, the government trained locals as tour guides and boatmen. In addition, households were transformed into homestays for visitors. 

Getting to Mararison Island

To reach Mararison Island, you should get to Culasi, Antique, first. Here are ways you can go to Culasi.

If you are going by air, you can book a flight at Philippine Airlines going to Antique. Once you touch down at San Jose Airport, you will have to travel two hours by land to reach Culasi. There are buses from Iloilo that go directly to Culasi or the one going to Pandan.

On the other hand, if you are coming from Kalibo or Caticlan, you can catch a bus directly headed to Culasi. The travel time is also around two hours.

Mararison Island’s Wonderful Offers

If you love the mountains, the beach, or both, you’ll surely enjoy your stay at Mararison Island. On one side, enjoy the island’s white sandbar, secluded coves, and crystal clear blue waters. You can swim on the beach and snorkel to see the teeming marine life on the island. Most beaches in Mararison Island have white sand beaches, and there are several rocky ones. But expect all the beaches here to be clean and free of human trash. In addition, they are perfect if you want to relax and enjoy privacy.

To get those Instagram-worthy photos, take the trek to Rolling Hills Viewpoint. It’s a relatively easy trail, but you’ll need to register and hire a tour guide. Along the way, you can find plenty of fascinating pitcher plants. The picture-perfect viewpoint is about half an hour away from the jump-off point. Marvel at the view of Mararison Island’s rolling hills, sandbar, lush vegetation, and beaches. It is also perfect for watching the sunset or sunrise!

Another thing you can do is visit the Nablag Islet adjacent to Mararison Island for a swim or a photo session.

Simple Life in Paradise

When you stay on Mararison Island, don’t expect a luxury vacation. Instead, expect to experience a simple yet satisfying life on an island. The island has a limited water supply, and a generator powers electricity. Accommodations on the island have generators, and you can use electricity when power is out for an extra fee. They can also provide you with rechargeable or solar-powered lamps you can use in the evening. 

That said, accommodations here are modest but comfortable. The food is fresh and affordable too. Cellular phone signals can be weak on certain parts of the island unless you are up in the hills. This is the perfect place for a detox if you want to detach yourself from your gadgets and social media. Take this opportunity to learn about Antique, its people, way of living, culture, and food. 

Photo from Culasi, Antique Website

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