Based on local folklore, the islands of Mararison along with Maniguin and Batbatan are siblings separated from their parents – Mount Madjaas and Mount Kanlaon – by their envious neighbor Mount Baloy. Seen from above, the three islands seem to be reaching out to their grieving mother Madjaas, Mararison is the closest and just within reach.
Just fifteen minutes boat ride from mainland Antique, Mararison Island (also called Malalison Island) is a small fishing village off the coast of the town of Culasi. But the tourism boom is quickly changing the way the island lives as locals turn to guides and households into homestays. Mararison Island agreeably embraced its new found fate.
With a land area of 55 hectares, the island is characterized by grassy rolling hills and white sandy beach on the eastern coast paving the way for the island to become a new tourism hotspot. During rainy season, the grassy hills resemble the rolling hills of Batanes. On dry months however, the place exudes a grassy summit of Mount Pulag feels. The grassy rolling hills are decorated with pitcher plants, quite amazing as this rare insect-eating plant is usually found in the forest but the rolling hills of Mararison Island seems like a farm!
A trek along the rolling hills takes around an hour and requires a local guide. The journey will take you to the western coast overlooking Nablag Islet, one of the best spots to see the sunset. Local guides are readily available P200 per guide for a group of one to ten persons.
More than the rolling hills, the white sand beach and its attached sandbar are the prime features of Mararison Island. The sandbar on its eastern tip emerges substantially during low tide and present only during summer and amihan or southeast monsoon season. This spot offers a panoramic view of sunrise on the backdrop of Mount Madjaas and mainland Antique.
The water surrounding the island was once devastated by illegal fishing but now slowly recovering. With the protection of the locals, give it five years or so and it will be teeming with marine life for scuba divers and snorkelers to enjoy.
But if there’s one thing that you will want to remember about the place, it is the Mararison Island Children’s Choir. Lovely kids with lovely voices singing songs from the island and for the island. These kids, aged four to eight years are under the supervision of Joeryl Amora, some of them were able to learn how to sing notes first than to write their names. They are faces of hope, of dreams… of the island.
Mararison… a small island full of wonders and surprises. Trek to Lantawan Peak, walk the grassy rolling hills, be amazed with its rich biodiversity, bask on its beaches, swim on its turquoise water, catch the sunrise and the sunset, be serenaded by the voices of its children. Oh, the simple pleasures of Mararison Island!
How to go to Mararison Island
From Kalibo or Caticlan, catch a bus to Culasi, travel time is at least two hours and fare is at least P110. At Culasi Port, boat can be hired for P750 (good for five, round trip).
Guide and Homestays
Guide fee P200 for a group of 1 to 10 persons. Homestays are available in the island for as low as P200 per person per night.