Article by Fe Esperanza Trampe & Photography by Carl Raymund Salazar
Summer is upon us and that means one thing: it’s time to hit the beach! On the question of which beach to hit, there’s already a default answer hanging above many of our heads: B-O-R-A-C-A-Y!
The world-famous white sand of Boracay Island
As much as Boracay Island is the summer capital of the Philippines, though, it does get crowded at times – or a lot, actually. So here’s our suggestion if what you’re looking for this summer is white sand, endless sun, and much, much more.
The island of Mararison
Head down a few hours south of Boracay, and feast on the beauty of the humble Mararison Island in Culasi, Antique. It’s a quaint little paradise that you can call your own for a day (or two!), and here are the sights you just have to check out when you arrive:
5 Sights to See on Mararison Island
Mararison Island’s very own sandbar
The locals call this glorious sandbar Kawit since most boats choose to dock on its shore. No matter the amount of traffic, Kawit still retains its beauty in rain or shine. It’s like an island on its own as the waters that border it go from shallow to deep real quick. Take a swim or just sit and relax. This is the best place on the island to do both. Let the wind blow your hair away and let the waves sing to your ears.
The hills of Mararison
The island of Mararison has been dubbed as the Batanes of Western Visayas because of the breathtaking views its hills have to offer. The highest peak is called Lantawan; and from there, you can see the entire island of Mararison continue on its day from beneath you. There are a number of other nameless hills that you can hop to-and-fro from there. You can circle all of them in less than an hour, and by the end of it you’ll surely sing, “The hills are alive…”
A view of the village and Culasi from Lantawan
Behind the main island of Mararison is another island that looks no more than an oversized rock. The locals call it Nablag after the Karay-a word bulag. No, it has nothing to do with being blind as the Tagalog word would connote. Bulag in their language means “to separate,” and that’s exactly what Nablag does: it separates from the main island of Mararison during the high tides, and connects with it once again when the tides are low.
2. Luyo and Gul-ob Beaches
Nablag as seen from Luyo Beach
In front of Nablag are two beaches that sit back-to-back. The first is Luyo Beach with its long stretch of gold sand. The second is Gul-ob Beach, which sits prettily by the sea. A private resort is sandwiched between these two beaches, but tourists are free to roam around either at no charge at all. You can wade in the water that separates Mararison and Nablag or peek through the cave hidden on the far end of Gul-ob Beach.
Gul-ob Beach’s very own cave
If you choose to stay in Mararison for the night, there’s one thing you should know: electricity only runs on the island from 6p.m. to 10:30p.m. It’s pitch-black after that, so the only lights on the island will be the moon and stars. Lie down on a beach towel on the sand of Kawit, or a picnic blanket on the grass of Lantawan, and gaze at all of the constellations you don’t usually get to see amidst the lights of the city.
A view of the night sky from the village
If you’re looking for a different kind of island experience, head on over to Mararison this summer. Just board a bus to Iloilo from either Kalibo or Caticlan, and ask to be dropped off at the town of Culasi in Antique. The town’s port is a stone’s throw away from the centerwhere you’ll find pump boats ready to take you to Mararison Island for as low as Php100. Just don’t forget to drop by the Tourist Information Center and pay the Terminal and Environmental Fees!
Mararison Island is a 15-minute boat ride from Culasi
Once you’re on Mararison, you’ll need a guide to show you around. The barangay provides guides whose rates start at around Php100, as well, depending on the number of people in your group. They’ll take you over and under everything there is to see on the island, and even share bits and pieces of what it’s like to live there.
The guides are all locals of the island
You can experience what it’s like to live there for yourself when it comes to choosing your accommodation. Take your pick among the numerous homes that offer home-stay services, or try the island’s only private resort, Enrique de Mararison.
The sunset from Kawit
Whether you’re after the sunrise or the sunset, the lazy heat of the day, or the cool breeze of the night, you’ll find that it’s all better on this gem of an island. Let the summer crowd swarm the white sand of Boracay. Keep the beaches and views of Mararison Island for yourself.