It took an hour long plane ride, a 4-hour land travel, and a short 20 minute boat ride - quite a trip for some, but all worth it the moment I set foot on Mararison's beautiful shore.
What's in the name?
It seems that Mararison is not really meant to conform. Just 20 minutes away from the shores of Culasi, its white sand shoreline gleams in the sun - completely different from Culasi's gray shore and murky water.
The island life
There is a small fishing community in the island. When I asked our boat man, an ex-barangay captain, how many people lived there, he answered in a figure he is most familiar with: 400 voters
Fishing is still the primary livelihood, augmented by offering homestay accommodations to tourists during the summer season as there are no resorts in the island (at least as of now anyway).
The photo above shows Nanay Alma working on a net. She is one of the island's go to person when it comes to net repairs and she charges 150 pesos for a day's work. Its good business as nets would need repairs after every few weeks of use.
The island still shows signs of the havoc brought by the wrath of typhoon Yolanda as it was in the direct path of that super typhoon which claimed thousands of lives in Leyte. "We are resilient, we just have to rebuild and move on", one local proudly declared.
Its the best swimming spot and during the peak season it can get swamped with selfie-stick wielding tourists. Open cottages are nearby for day trippers.
The best time to go there is at high tide. Its the only time you'll have more of the shallow area. Confused? Its because the water abruptly goes deep just a few meters from the sand bar. Its only during high tide that water covers most of the flat area. During low tide, you get a dry sandbar and a chasm.
I probably spent more time here than on the beach. Its surreal and worlds apart from the beach below. Went up twice to one of the high peaks: on sunset and at 4AM the following morning to catch the sunset.
Related post: Mararison - the mini Batanes of Panay
Essentials to help you plan your trip to Mararison island
Contact InformationJohn Sumating
Culasi Tourism Office
(for boat and homestay)
You may also contact Mario via the tourism office to arrange for your boat transfer and accommodations in the island.
Getting thereTwo possible gateways: via Iloilo City and via Kalibo. I chose Iloilo because of the flight options and the possible sidetrips along the way. From Iloilo its 4 hours by van to Culasi (fare Php 200 pesos, van terminal is in Molo). From Kalibo its just 2 hours to Culasi.
From Culasi town proper, you can hire a boat to Mararison (Php 750 two way, some resorts in Culasi charges 1000-1500 per boat). Its best to ordinate with the local tourism office.
Tent and open cottages are available near the sand bar. I would recommend homestay as it will also help the locals directly. Homestay is usually 400 pesos per pax per night.