Here are some of the things I didn’t expect to happen in this trip.
One. We were the only guests from our side of the island. Two. There’s such thing as the other side of the island. Three. The best spot to watch a sunset-slash-sunrise is on the highest mountain peak. Four. Dogs can be great tour guides- clingy too. Five. Pitcher Plants are real. Six. When in doubt, take a Balsa.
So, it was a trip I didn’t expect loving as much as I did. And, here’s why.
It was a good five hours from Molo Terminal to Culasi. There was a National Geographic documentary in the bus that kept me awake – most of the time.
Me and four good friends took a short tricycle ride to Unidos, a resort in the mainland. The stop served as lounge area for travelers to the island.
The five of us where already snuggled in the boat when a heavy rainfall trailed right behind us.
The sky split in rays of sunshine in front and heaps of raindrops behind. Being chased by rain clouds in the middle of the ocean was a bad-ass prologue for this trip. And I had no choice but to hang in there and enjoy it.
We passed the busy cottages and the famous sand bar on the side of the island facing Culasi and further headed out to Luyo Beach. (red bubble via Google Maps marks the spot)
It drizzled when we made our first steps on beach towards Enrique de Mararison. It was on the side facing away from the mainland. And it was so quiet that the waves gave only a little hum. The sound of our feet on the pebbly sand echoed as we tread closer to little hideaway.
As we got off the boat, Sir Enrique came to welcome us to our little cottage. Currently the resort has two family rooms for five to eight people (or even more) in each room. There are also options for groups less than five depending on the number of guests their accepting in a day.
For the five of us, a fee of 600 pesos each covered the fare for the boat, breakfast the next morning, this spacious room (the picture basically shows a quarter of the space inside), Luyo Beach, Gui-ob beach and Nablag Island all to ourselves, and a walk atop the hills just beside our cottage.
The cottages also have screened windows to prevent mosquitoes from kissing you in your sleep.
What’s even more rewarding of staying here is thought that all electrical appliances are wired to a renewable source of energy. Everything inside is solar powered including the fans and lights.
Tip: Bring a good power bank to charge your gadgets because there’s no outlet sockets. Look at the bright side, you’d get to help your side of the island to conserve energy.
- When in doubt, take the Balsa
The beach had a carpet of sea grass around Nablag Island. The water was so clear we only realized how deep it was until after we took a dip. We wanted to go farther out the open sea so Sir Enrique untied the little balsa from it’s anchor and gave us a little balsa ride.
It was sweet of Sir Enrique to give that little kick in our trip. He rowed the balsa himself, even pulled it at some point so we could get to take pictures on the rocks beside the shore.
White corals slash pebbles in Nablag Island.
- How I
almost died conquered my fear of heights
Right beside our cottage is a trail up to the rocky hills. I could already feel my stomach clench as we started to head up.
My arms were trembling when the photo above was taken. I just can’t let this chance pass. The edge was a sharp angle down and there was the sea right at the foot of the hill. Waves tossed on the rocks as the wind caught my hair so I looked up. And, being afraid ceased to bother me.
Fear never left. But with this view, I just didn’t mind anymore.
- Pitcher Plants and Sunsets
On the way up, a small bush caught my attention. I took a closer look at the curious find. I remembered swearing several times when I realized what it was. Some people can pass this little gem by and I however, had to take several photos of this photogenic Pitcher Plant.
Tired and out of breath, we unpacked our bag full of snacks on the highest peak of the island and waited for the sunset.
We walked back down just in time for dinner to this view. The coals were burning in embers of orange when we prepared our food. The people in the resort were even kind enough to help us in the process and we ended up sharing what we had with them.
It was an indeed the most serene place I’ve been. And so far, my favorite this summer.
I missed the sunrise for a bad case of allergies in the morning but a friend was kind enough to show it to me in a photo.
Now, to Gui-ob Beach. A little walk about five minutes or less lead us there. On the way there, we met our Tour Dog. He was very friendly, he walked with us all the way to the beach and even guarded our things.
Here he was leading us inside a cave just beside the shore.
We had the chance to snorkel around the rocks to see several schools of fish. There were see urchins, blue starfishes, brain corals, angel fish and a couple rainbow, white, black and yellow colored ones.
It was starting to reach lunch time and it was finally time to leave.
On the trip back to Culasi, I remembered reading an article in facebook about Malalison Island. It had a poster with the letter “L”s on Malalison scratched out. It was supposed to be “R” as written by the author: Mararison. And at first it didn’t made sense to me why it was so. I mean, what’s the difference? And only then when I get to visit the island that I understood.
It’s for people willing to experience authentic simple Antiquenio island living. It doesn’t really matter how we call it as long as we keep in mind that the island is not ours alone. It is shared, so one traveler from another can experience it as well. It’s also small island home of colorful birds, diverse aquatic animals and many pitcher plants up for a little love and care.
It was an honor to witness it in it’s raw beautiful form as well as ensuring that it lasts. It’s still young and is screaming for it to be protected at the same time experienced the best way we can.
After all it’s not some kind of island turned Resort Empire. It’s Mararison.
600 php/ person – Boat fare, cottage, breakfast
360 php/ person – Bus fare, back and forth
150-170/ person – additional snacks, drinks, dinner on day 1 and drinking water