Marinduque, being a heart-shaped island in the center of the Philippines, still has several small islands around it perfect for the usual summer activity of island hopping.
We had 2 choices of island groups to visit. There is the usual Tres Reyes Islands located in Pingan, Gasan named as such because they were three islands close to each other. The islands are individually named as Gaspar, Baltazar and Melchor. Only Gaspar island has a beach strip where you can dock and swim. During low tide, a sand bar also appears. There are also several diving spots in the area. Since we were not interested in snorkeling – we saw in Biyahe ni Drew that the dive spots were not that filled with fish and we were not that confident of our swimming skills – we decided to visit another group of islands.
There is another group of islands located in Sta. Cruz on the other side of Marinduque almost opposite the Tres Reyes Islands. There are also 3 islands but each island is bigger and you can actually dock in each one. They all have white sand beaches too!
We went to Buyabod Port to catch a boat to Maniwaya and Mongpong islands – our destination. We decided not to visit anymore the third island, which happens to be the nearest too – the Pulo Island.
You can usually get a boat that regularly travels to Maniwaya and Mongpong. The rate is P70 for the boat to Maniway and P20 landing fee. Since we wanted to take a tour around the islands and when we arrived the regular boat scheduled had already left, we rented a boat to take us around the islands for P2,500. The boat is huge and can accommodate 10-15 persons.
The trip to Mongpong, the farthest island took us around 40 minutes. Circling the entire island took another 30 minutes. Our stop over was the Ungab Beach where there was a nice rock formation.
You can also take a swim in the clear waters of the beach but since we were in a hurry we just took pictures. There were a lot of cool rock formations where you can take pictures of. You can just ask your boat to stop and they will happily oblige. The rock formation we choose was the most famous one – it’s part of promotional brochures for Marinduque. It was breathtaking to be so close to something magnificent – a true feat of nature!
The place was also good for snorkeling. If only we had gears and we were confident of our swimming skills, we would happily stop at any dive site and dive. The water was so clear you can see the bottom.
Our next stop was Maniwaya island. It took us around 20 minutes to reach it from Mongpong. Maniwaya is the middle island between Pulo (the nearest to coast) and Mongpong (the farthest). In Maniwaya, you can see a lot of white beach stretches. It was wonderful! You can land in one of the resorts and rent a cottage or you can select a secluded beach and just dive out and swim in the sea.
We saw several resorts – one of them the famous Residencia which had jet skis, banana boats and the like. We decided not to check in there because frankly, the beach area was so small since the resort’s edifice was built too close to shore. We decided to go around the tip and visit the next resort – Palo Maria. The resort was more open and welcoming without the fences that characterized the other resort. Plus, there was a lot of beach front area to enjoy! Sadly, we arrived close to noon time and the sand was so hot. It was a gamble on our end to swim in the water.
Maniwaya island can well become the next Boracay because of its pristine white sands. Even the beach had very clear water and swimming in it was simply wonderful. We forgot about the sun at all!
Our advice when going island hopping – make sure you come prepared in terms of food! When we went there, we only had knick knacks and what-not as our food. No one thought of actually preparing rice or viand or even loads of water prior to departure. Good thing the resort had some supplies left of canned goods and of course rice that they sold to us. Also, there were some fresh catch of balingkit (some type of snail) from a fisherman who happened to pass by. We bought some as well. We made do with our meager meal before finally heading inland to continue our exploration of Marinduque.
The sad thing with the islands is that it seems the government has lacked in implementing developmental guidelines. There were patches of beach front area which were obviously private properties and the owners decided to build houses right in front of the beach without even providing ample beach front. Some resorts also followed suit. I hope the government, this early on, can impose developmental guidelines in the area so that the development of resorts and residences in the islands would be more sustainable and Maniwaya won’t suffer the same fate as Boracay.
Beyond that, the islands were both amazing and captivating. We visited during high tide and we didn’t see the Palad Sand Bar. It is said that during low tide, the water in the sand bar is only up to 12 inches high. You can walk along the sand bar and see on either sides deep parts of the see with colorful fishes swimming through. During high tide, the sand bar is covered with water 30 inches high.
Another famous island in Marinduque, although costly to visit is the Elephant Island where Bellarocca Resort and Spa is located. It is the famed high-end resort whose rates are in dollars and only the rich and famous can afford to visit (well, unless you get a deal from a group buying site). The island does look like a Santorini from afar. It must be wonderful to experience what the resort has to offer but it has mixed reviews on the net. In any case, if you have money to burn, then why not spend it there?
Island hopping is never complete without some snorkeling or diving. It is something we wish we could have done. So if you are confident of your swimming and diving skills, go ahead and dive. Gears are available for rent and you can always inquire from your resort where you can rent some.
Marinduque is already a great island. Yet it is still surrounded with other beautiful islands. I would definitely go back there even if just to visit the same islands I went to or to explore the ones I haven’t visited yet.