"Backpacking alone is one thing. But backpacking with a bunch of strangers can turn awesomely cray."
My weekend in Marinduque, one of the provinces that is often considered overseen and underrated, turned out by leaps and bounds, better than expected. I was quite apprehensive at first because out of the 15 people that will be going, I only knew one personally. But when the wanderlust in me kicked in, I knew I had to go and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made this summer.
After braving Friday traffic and grabbing dinner from a nearby Mcdonald’s, my friend and I arrived at the JAC Liner terminal in Cubao just in time to catch the 11pm trip bound to Lucena. While waiting for the bus, I already noticed the other backpackers in our group also waiting for the signal to board the bus. It was a relatively short ride going to Dalahican Port. When we got there, social smoking sessions began and small talks started budding among the backpackers. The 3-hour RORO ride paved the way for us to mingle, take pictures, add and follow each other’s social media accounts and take more pictures. I personally enjoyed the romantic ambience of watching the moon’s reflection in the ocean as it sets while waiting for the sun to paint the sky red as it rises on the other side of the horizon. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to witness the pod of dolphins that usually accompanies the ship as it approaches the island. When we arrived to Balanacan Port, we had to ride a jeepney going to Buyabod Port where the boat that will take us to the island was waiting. After another 3 hours of travel upon reaching Marinduque, we finally arrived in Maniwaya Island. Finally.
Bus (to Dalahican Port) – 4hours
RORO (to Balanacan Port) – 3 hours
Jeepney (to Buyabod Port) – 1 hour
Boat (to Maniwaya Island) – 1.5 hours
Total – Approx 9.5 hours
When we reached the island , I was literally in awe when I saw the view and the facade of Marikit-Na - the beach house where we will be staying. We were immediately welcomed with ice-cold fresh buko juice which totally hit the spot on a scorching noon after almost a day of traveling. When we stepped foot on the house, it was love at first sight. I was astounded by the shabby chic aesthetic of the house. I heard that the lumber used for the construction were harvested from within the forests of the island. Getting dibs on the rooms and the beds of a beautiful house was reminiscent of an episode of ANTM - when models get to choose who they bunk with and isolates and alliances were starting to get identified.
Each room was decorated with wall-mounted shelves complete with books and oriental figurines which gave a “cabin-in-the-woods” (not the movie) feel. Size was perfect for couples and groups alike. However, the only issue we had with the room was the privacy. Shower areas where somewhat exposed and didn't have doors. Couples and honeymooners with a little kink for these scenarios will definitely enjoy this more but since we’re now-almost-strangers traveling for the first time together, it became a bit of a problem. Good thing there was a common shower nearby that had a door (with no lock) that we could use. Main doors didn't have locks as well but since us backpackers and the managers were the only ones in the house, security didn't become an issue.
(Photo by Ron Montes)
Before hitting the beach, I decided to give myself a short tour of the house. The spacious attic can be used as additional sleeping quarters or simply just a place to lounge since it also offered two La-Z boy sofas facing the breathtaking view of the beach. The refectory was located on the ground floor which housed the dining area and the minibar (emphasis on minibar). Adjacent to this room is... wait for it... a home theatre that the guests can use at no extra cost – perfect place to stay while waiting for the peak of the heat outside to subside. Situated near the main kitchen and the refectory is the gazebo where we spent most of our time chitchatting about each other’s lives and whatnot.
At around 4pm we started heading off to a sandbar near the island. When we got there, it was barely high tide so a large portion of the sandbar was still very visible. After a few minutes, tides rolled in and the full splendor of the place emerged. From afar, it was as if we were walking atop the ocean. Although there were a few groups of photobombers ahead, it didn’t hinder us from taking a dozen more selfies and group shots to capture the stunning view of the sky and the ocean. We started heading back to the house after an hour or so and we made it in time to capture the mesmerizing sunset. Tide was low and the sun was burning orange as it slowly descended down the horizon. (Both sunrise and sunset are visible from where the beach house is located. Awesome!)
The night was spent mostly for socials and a whole lot of laughter. Since there were no establishments around, we simply enjoyed each other’s company and the booze that we brought in.
The next day, we went to the majestic Ungab Rock Formation and Palad Sandbar. Both really satisfied my craving for some underwater action and a whole lot of seaside nature tripping. Water was turquoise and crystalline which was just totally divine. Locals were really friendly and warm.
In order for us to stay a bit longer in the beach house, we ditched a few items in our itinerary. We opted to take a different route homebound. We took a boat ride going to a remote dock in Macalelon Quezon (and by remote, I mean I-didn’t-expect-to-have-a-dock-here remote). We had to go through roads and alleys in a residential area where our van going to the Grand Terminal in Lucena was waiting.
Boat Ride (going to Macalelon) – 1.5 hours
Van (going to the Grand Terminal, Lucena) – 2 hours
Bus (going to Cubao) – 4 hours
Total – 7.5 hours
This trip was definitely one of the most memorable I’ve had so far. I got to meet new friends and build new connections. But what I enjoyed most about this weekend escapade is the continuous flow of photos. For once, I was able to put my cameras down and just simply allow my camwhore buddies to get trigger happy in all the stops. A lot of the photos are definitely “post-worthy” and can give Nigel Barker a run for his money.
Maniwaya Island is a diamond-in-the-rough. It’s untouched qualities made the trip and the long hours of travel worth the effort. The nature-tripping experience was perfected with the top-of-the-line services and amenities provided by Marikit-Na Beach House. I will definitely go back to this island and there’s no other resort I’d rather be. (For reservations and other inquiries, check out their facebook fanpage here.)
Note: Our package is priced at Php 2850. I’m not really familiar with how it was broken down but I firmly believe that the trip was more than what I paid for. Meals are priced at Php 100 each and came in a family-style or single plate setup and served complete with soup and dessert. Everything was delicious and fresh. It was like eating in a native fine-dining restaurant with a very generous owner. Value for money, check.
(Some photos are grabbed from Paul Cagayan, Ojie Paloma, Christian Fainsan and Richard Garaniel. Thanks guys!)