BOAC, Marinduque – Every year, the island of Marinduque comes alive during Holy Week for the much awaited Moriones Lenten Rites. This folk-religious event features the Moriones, men and women in masks and costumes replicating the garb of biblical Roman soldiers.
But the rest of the year, it’s generally quiet, making it an ideal getaway for nature-lovers who want to enjoy a serene and laid-back island with natural attractions like beaches, islets and heritage sites minus the crowds.
Just in time for Holy Week and the summer season, Cebu Pacific Air has launched direct Manila-to-Marinduque flights, providing a faster alternative for tourists and residents to bus and sea travel, which can last from 7-9 hours depending on traffic and sea conditions.
For those planning their summer trips, here’s what you can do in this peaceful island province.
1. Watch the sunset from the country’s heart
Marinduque is known as the “Heart of the Philippines” because of its shape and location. The island happens to be the geographical center of the archipelago. It’s here in Balanacan where you can find the Luzon Datum of 1911, a stone marker that serves as the primary geodetic reference or central reference point for all maps and surveys made in the country.
Previously only reachable by a steep and grueling hike, a newly constructed tourism road has made the historically significant site, which is being developed as a pilgrimage destination, more accessible to all tourists. From the jump-off point, visitors just need to climb up 468 concrete steps to a view deck that provides a panoramic view of the Northern part of the island best viewed during sunset.
2. Chill out on uncrowded beaches
For beach bums, there are a number of white-sand beaches in the coastal town of Torrijos and Maniwaya Island, just off the coast of Santa Cruz on the eastern side of the island.
Poctoy White Beach in Torrijos is the prime destination on the mainland with a long stretch of white sand beach, crystal clear waters and a picturesque view of Mt. Malindig on the horizon. The public beach is popular with locals and tourists for camping and water sports like snorkeling and kayaking. An upscale beach resort is currently being built in the area to provide alternative accommodations to budget-friendly resorts and camping out in tents.
3. Loop the entire island on a sightseeing tour
With over 150 kilometers of fully paved circumferential road, Marinduque is a popular destination for cyclists and motorcycle riders who cross over via ferry to loop the entire island on road trips.
Because public transportation is still limited, those traveling by air who want a more comfortable option can book van tours with Dream Favor Travel and Tours. Destinations can be catered to suit guest’s interests.
Go on a cultural tour by visiting heritage houses, the Boac Cathedral, Biglang Awa Shrine and various handicrafts stores and souvenir shops. A notable church is Gasan Church, with its striking interiors featuring fan carvings (one of the town’s main products) and beams using polished coconut shells like mosaic tiles crafted by local artisans.
Nature lovers can visit a butterfly farm, take a dip in sulfuric springs of Malbog and enjoy scenic views of Tres Reyes Islands and Bellarocca Island Resort on Elephant Island.
Meanwhile, adventure-seekers may prefer to spend the day island-hopping, caving or hiking up Mt. Malindig, the highest peak on the island.
4. Sample authentic Marinduqueño cuisine
As an island-province, Marinduque is rich in fish and seafood. Must-tries include manakla, a small crustacean that looks like a cross between shrimps and baby lobsters, with just one claw, bigoy (red-eyed crabs) and dilis (anchovies).
Local delicacies include bibingkang Boac, panganan (fried “fingers” made from arrowroot flour) and Marinduque’s best uraro or arrowroot cookies, the best of which is produced by Rejano’s Bakery.
For the best Marinduqueño cuisine, be sure to dine at Casa de Don Emilio and Café Mamita located on the ground floor of the historic Boac Hotel, both of which serve local versions of Filipino favorites like kare-kare, sinigang, sizzling blue marlin and tanigue and bulalo.
5. Relax at Balar Hotel and Spa
Balar Hotel and Spa is the newest resort on the island. Opened just last November 2018, this five-month old establishment is located in the middle of lush greens fronting the beach of Balaring in Boac, a few minutes away from the airport.
The hotel’s intimate and cozy atmosphere promises comfort paired with local hospitality and warm service. Relax in the resort’s well-designed rooms, enjoy dessert and coffee at 10 Y.O, a modern café right in front of the hotel and enjoy a relaxing massage and spa service at night.