This is the first part of a three-part (or four if I feel like it) travel series in Panay Island, Philippines. While majority of the trip was on the island of Boracay, we did some side trips to some of the majestic tourist attractions in Panay. For this part, we'll have Mararison Island in Culasi, Antique.
It was still 1:00 AM in the morning when we landed in Kalibo International Airport and we knew the bus would depart from the terminal in Kalibo at around 5:30 AM so we decided to take a few hours of sleep at the terminal. From the terminal, it would take about 3-4 hours to reach Culasi, Antique. It would be a good time to sleep along the way, but I can't help to watch the scenery along the way.
We arrived in Culasi at around 9:00 AM and had breakfast near the port. After a few arrangements with the bangka operator and with the local tourism office of Culasi, we departed the mainland through a bangka or motorboat.
Allow me to share our day tour in Mararison Island.
Since the island is just a few kilometers off-coast of Culasi, it only took about 20 minutes to reach Kawit Sandbar, the beach facing the mainland where motorboats dock.
Mararison Island or Malalison as known by travellers, is an S-shaped island located in west of Culasi, Antique. It's one of the premier beach destinations in the island of Panay, but it's beauty has been known just recently. Only when the super typhoon Haiyan devastated the area that the media noticed it's beauty. Since then, tourists often include the island in their itinerary as a side trip before or after Boracay Island.
There's a popular local legend as to how to island came to be, but I guess I will not include it here. Just search it on the internet if you're interested. Local guides generally tell this legend to any tourists so I'll just leave it to them once you visit the island.
Kawit Sandbar will greet you with its white and fine sand the moment you set your foot in the island. During low tide, the sandbar stretches up to 100 meters towards the mainland. The curvature of the sandbar changes depending on the strength and direction of the waves.
The surrounding waters of the island is known to be very clear and good for swimming. We arrived in the island at around 10:00 AM and it was a fine sunny day so we immediately explored what the island has to offer. We immediately noticed that the beach was very clean and well-maintained by the locals.
It can be observed that there are wave breakers installed in the deeper portions of the sea that surrounding the island. This means that the island is known to have big waves especially during monsoon or typhoon seasons. Those cement structures are necessary to dissipate the waves and minimize its impact upon reaching the shore.
More photos at Kawit Sandbar:
My friend, Kara, at Kawit Sandbar:
After settling down and negotiating with the local guides regarding our tour in the island, we immediately decided to go for a hike via Mararison Island Trail.
Mararison Island Trail is a hiking path that traverses the island from Kawit Sandbar to the other side. It will pass by the residential area and officially starts to go uphill from Talisay Beach.
The planted pine trees provided shade in the trail so even if the noon time sun was scorching hot, it was actually refreshing. Just be careful with your steps as its slippery especially when the ground is wet.
The uphill trek continued until Mararison Elementary School was reached. It's amazing to know that the school is located at the center of the island, while the houses are located at the beach.
From the school, the terrain started to change and the beauty of the island started to emerge. It was also near the school when we first saw pitcher plants. The island is home to pitcher plants and I was relieved to know that they're protected.
A few steps away from the school, the entirely of island can be seen. It was jaw-dropping! The green hills meet the majestic beaches. Nothing grows in the hills except grasses and pitcher plants so it very open.
Green Hills, White Beaches, Blue Sky, and Turquoise Sea:
We're not there yet! The ultimate destination is the viewpoint where you can see the 360-degree view of the whole island. It's on top of one of the highest hills in the island. As we were inching closer to the top, the view became more and more spectacular.
And then finally, we reached the peak!
Mararison Island Marine Sanctuary is such a beauty! From the white beaches surrounding the island to the off-road uphill slippery trail; from the critically-endangered pitcher plants to towering pine trees; from verdant green grasslands to abundant sea grass beds and coral fields, it can be viewed from the vantage point.
A solar-powered radio antenna is located at the highest point of the island which serves a marker where the 55 hectares of unspoiled beauty and grandeur is best to be marvelled.
There's still so much to explore in the island like the ricefield, cave, and beach on the west side of the island, but we didn't have the luxury of time. Besides, it was so hot because it was already high noon and we were already enjoying the view at the top. So we just take a lot of photos. Here are some of them:
Of course I didn't miss to pose for social media posts.
After the photoshoot, we immediately head back to the beach to go to our next destination. See you in the second part of this travel series!
[I really wanted to post in travelfeed.io, but I guess I'm more comfortable with the format here in Steemit. As a support, I set 5% of my rewards for this post to @travelfeed.]
Welcome to Kim's small corner in the Steem blockchain. He is a chemical engineer by profession, but a blogger by passion. He is a wanderlust and an adventure seeker. Join his quests as he visits secluded destinations, climbs mountains, tries new and exotic dishes, and explores his country and the rest of the world. Don't forget to upvote and resteem if you like his posts and follow to be updated with his journey.