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Exploring Malalison Island Dec 2-3, 2016

Exploring Malalison Island

GPS waypoint: 11°24'51.9"N 122°01'13.9"E
Location: Malalison Island, Culasi (municipality), Antique (province), Philippines

Travel Itinerary
The travelers I talked to back at Kayak Inn were making a travel itinerary which mostly included a stay at Malalison Island. That's also the reason why I came to Culasi. After 3 days at the town proper, it was time to take the boat to check out the island.

Boat Snag
Off the bat, I was met with a snag. Despite being an emergent tourism destination, boats going to and from Malalison Island are chartered at P750/round-trip for up to 5 people. What if you're just a lone traveler? or 2? There is no regular passenger boat that waits to get full before leaving. You have to pay the full cost or be at the mercy of a group (who chartered a boat) to be tagged along - even if you are willing to pay your fair share (P150/pax). You are essentially a chance passenger - this leaves a disconcerting unease for the traveler. Even if they say yes, I would have to leave the island the same time they do. What if I want to stay longer? Furthermore, even if they say 'yes', the boatman said I would have to pay the boatman my share - not to the passengers who already forked the P750 (so, the boatman gets P750 + P150)!

If that were me facing a full P750, I would simply write-off Culasi and head-on to Tibiao. Malalison loses a guest and so do the hotel owners, the resto owners and boat people. Tibiao wins by default.

Mr. John Sumanting to the Rescue
I brought this pressing issue up when I spoke with Culasi's tourism officer, Mr. John Sumanting. He said there are ways around the issue. But then again, it was more like 'hacking' the system. With the problem in sharper focus, he assured me he will find a viable solution to the problem. The office intervened on my behalf to ride the boat. I was charged P100 by the boatman for the one-way trip (despite the P75 one-way tariff).

Exploring Malalison Island
up on the ridge hike to view the sunset

Submerged Sandbar
The sandbar of Malalison Island would have made the beach stunning. But in this time of year with the Amihan wind, it is submerged, making the beach...well, just a regular white-sand beach. With the onset of the Habagat wind, the sandbar forms again above the surface.

Aside from resorts offering lodging, homestays are also available at P500/room for up to 2 people - single travelers like me pay the full P500. Even on a weekday when the island was practically empty, I was still being charged P500 for a half-decent room - too rich for me, so I accepted the offer of Mario (tourism officer) to stay at the Barangay Hall.

Day Trippers
Most of the visitors to the island stay overnight or just for the day - multi-day visitors are uncommon as there isn't much to do. Day trippers have a lot of picnic huts to choose from, usually for P300 rental (summer, it's P500). A P200 guide (up to 5 pax) is mandatory to hike to the other end of the island. There are eateries or meals can be short-ordered with the homestay providers.

Daily Life
Electricity is available only from 6pm to 10pm - although that will soon change as there is a plan to install an undersea cable that will supply electricity to the island, 24/7. The island has drinking water from a spring source. Pipes are widely distributed within the village allowing 'drinking taps' on several spots. I drank from it and I was ok. There is a phone signal, with Globe being stronger. However, I didn't find any establishment providing wifi - not even the resorts.

Ridge Hike
I was in for a pleasant surprise on this one. With nothing else to do, I decided to hike to the west side of the island - from the map, it was just a short hike. But the hike took me up the rolling hills and down to the western tip of the island, to a fashionable resort, Enrique de Mararison (formerly Balay ni Enrique Resort). On the other side of a low hill was a shallow cave. From there, it was another hike up the peak along the ridge for a perfect sunset view with strong winds. This ridge hike with a sunset view is the main draw for Malalison Island.

Enrique de Mararison
On the island, it seems like only Enrique de Mararison and Blue Lagoon are the high-end contenders. I talked to its manager/owner Cap and we shared insight and challenges of Malalison's tourism. We agree on a lot of things. What I like about this place is that for a lone traveler like me, I can have a room there for as low as P300/night. It's a much nicer room than any of the homestays I've seen charging me P500! There is a lesson to be learned here. Guests from their Culasi resort can be shuttled directly to this resort by their pumpboat - a lot of convenience for the resort guest! These guys get it!

Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon is perhaps the most ambitious project on the island. It's been around just a year (just like Balay ni Enrique). Conversation with the owner revealed more development in the works - an infinity pool, more cottages, jet skis and perhaps even a dive shop. My thoughts? Wifi please!!!

Ending Thoughts
It is good that Malalison has a tourism infrastructure in place - for boats, lodging, guides and picnic huts, etc. But they need to have more equitable pricing if Malalison is to be a mainstream destination. Right now, it's just getting there, but it hasn't arrived - not yet. Their pricing practice remains their stumbling block. I am not sure if they realize that. They also need to accommodate the needs of the lone traveler, or two.

As a destination, Malalison Island offers something unique - a ridge hike to the top of the hill in windy conditions to view the sunset and the neighboring islands in a panoramic 360°. Boracay doesn't have that, even Apo Island's trek to the lighthouse doesn't have that.

--- TheLoneRider

Next stop: Igpasungaw Falls

en route to Malalison Island with 2 other travelers basking in the sun as we near Malalison Island Malalison Island in full view village life at Malalison Island
at Blue Lagoon and meeting the Big Boss pristine white sand at Blue Lagoon beach walk long stretch of white sand beach
Jackstone Beach with ex-barangay captain, Mario Fuenteblanca, who secured my lodging at the Barangay Hall view from a shaded hut coming upon Enrique de Mararison
Enrique de Mararison is newly built with more development on the way with Cap who makes sure things go right at Balay ni Enrique by the cave entrance stunning view from the hill of Enrique de Mararison
ridge hike solar panel for lights on the way back starting the ridge hike sweet single-track with a view
hilly contour view of the beach with Culasi mainland in the background Sirsasana on a hill sunset on the hill
sleeping at the barangay hall low tide exposing more sand morning walk by the sea expanse of the morning sand at low tide
Facebook Users

Reader Comments:

Charmaine LopezCharmaine Lopez
(Mar 19, 2017) My family is planning to visit Malalison Island this May, would you probably know the name of the owner of Blue Lagoon Resort? I saw their facebook page & contact nos. but kinda skeptical if this is truly their account. Hoping for your reply soon. Thank you so much.
At the time of my visit, their FB and website were still in the works. But I got their tel nos: 0919.552.0582 | 0995.105.1667 | 0928.668.0030 | 0906.508.0924 | 0919.599.348
-- TheLoneRider

Dulce CapadociaDulce
(Dec 12, 2016) I love it!!!! Who knew?

Alexander BangcayaAlex Philippines
Lyconet Americas
(Dec 12, 2016) Git my nephew owns that resort... The Blue Lagoon

Eric LavaEric Lava
(Dec 12, 2016) yes quite gorgeous

Dec 2-3, 2016

Google Map Culasi, Antique, Philippines

tourist attractions in Culasi, Antique tourist attractions
  • Malalison Island Malalison Island - white-sand beach and ridge hike on an island off the coast of Culasi town proper
  • Paya-Pang Batchoyan in Culasi, Antique Paya-Pang Batchoyan - authentic batchoy served in a coconut shell
  • Mount Madja-as in Culasi, Antique Mount Madja-as - guided climbs
hotels in Culasi, Antique lodging
  • LS Suites Hotel LS Suites Hotel - modern mid-priced hotel with central town location
    Alojado Street, Centro Poblacion, Culasi, Antique
    landline: 036.277.8089 / mobile: 0919.992.9574 / 0947.893.8239
    GPS: 11°25'30.5"N 122°03'21.8"E

Culasi Cost Index

(US$1 = PHP 49.73 as of Nov 30, 2016)
  • PHP 750/pax boat ride round-trip to Malalison Island from Culasi port for up to 5 pax

How to Get to Malalison Island from Boracay

  1. from Boracay, take a Ceres Bus bound for Iloilo. Get off at the Culasi Municipality
  2. at Culasi, walk it to the port and take a pumpboat for Malalison Island, P750/5 pax, roundtrip

Things to do, Places to go in Culasi

  • Malalison Island Malalison Island - white-sand beach and ridge hiking on an island off the coast of Culasi town proper
  • Paya-Pang Batchoyan in Culasi, Antique Paya-Pang Batchoyan - authentic batchoy served in a coconut shell
  • Mount Madja-as in Culasi, Antique Mount Madja-as - guided climbs

Suggested itinerary on the WEST coast of Panay Island from Boracay going south

  1. Boracay - most popular beach in the Philippines
  2. Malay - Nabaoy River, Pangihan Cave, Nagata Falls, Agnaga Falls, Naasug Point, Malay Ecological Park, Motag Living Museum
  3. Nabas - wind tubines, Hurom-Hurom Cold Springs
  4. Pandan - Malumpati Spring
  5. Libertad - Maanghit Cave, Ati Cave and Bungan-Bungan Spring
  6. Sebaste - Igpasungaw Waterfall
  7. Culasi - Malalison Island
  8. Tibiao - hot kawa-bath, white water river rafting, Bugtong Bato Waterfall, rice terraces, Tibiao Bakery, pottery, fish spa
  9. Anini-y - Nogas Island, scuba diving

Suggested itinerary on the EAST coast of Panay Island from Boracay going south

  1. Boracay - most popular beach in the Philippines
  2. Malay - Nabaoy River, Pangihan Cave, Nagata Falls, Agnaga Falls, Naasug Point, Malay Ecological Park, Motag Living Museum
  3. Nabas - wind tubines, Hurom-Hurom Cold Springs
  4. Kalibo - Bakhawan Eco-Park, Tigayon Hill
  5. Tambak - oysters
  6. Capiz - Roxas City
  7. Carles | Estancia - Gigantes Island Boat Tour, Lighthouse of Gigantes Island and Bakwitan Cave of Gigantes Island
  8. Iloilo - Batchoy Indulgence

Culasi, Antique Blogs by TheLoneRider

»» next Traveling story: Visiting Igpasungaw Waterfalls
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