Snorkeling around Mararison



Mararison is a very attractive and versatile little island that has lots to offer for the traveller who is in search of nature, peace and quiet. That versatility is already brought out by the name, since it can be written in many ways. The locals call it "Mararison" or "Mararisson" in their Kinaray-a dialect, but it is often spelled "Malalison". In any case, the half hour pump-boat trip there is already worth it. During this trip you can see beautiful corals and dark blue starfish in the crystal clear water as you peer over the side of the boat. In the distance, the white beaches are calling out to you.

Corals through crystal clear water
We prefer to ask a local fisherman to take us to the island with his own pumpboat. Most of them are happy to oblge for only a small fee and they stay around all day long or go fishing in the meantime while we explore the island. On the island itself there aren't any shops, so we must bring our own supplies. At the Culasi market they sell charcoal and meat for a barbecue, or you can buy ready made meals in one of the restaurants near the market. There's always plenty of choice: fish, meat, rice but also camote, a sweet potatoe and adobo, a spiced mix of vegetables and meat with various ingredients.

Arrival by pumpboat
Then the moment has come to climb into the pumpboat (with some difficulty!) and while the two-stroke single cylinder engine is happily doing its thing, you may already enjoy the splendid view. If you're the sensitive type (skin that is), it is best to select a boat equipped with a drape so you can sit in the shade. Because a sunburn is only to easy to get out here on the water, long sleeves and trousers are advisable, as well as a good hat. Somtimes, some fisherman are resting in the shade of a tree on the island, but most of the time, we are there by ourselves. The best time to visit is as early in the morning as possible because it isn't so hot yet and the tide is still high so that you can comfortably swim the 100m or so over the shallow part of the reef. In deeper parts it's only 10m deep at most, so snorkeling is a good option.

Barbecue in the shade
One can spent a good deal of time in the shade of a tree, but the alternative is a shady cliff or cave, whatever you prefer. You do need to carry a cooler or icebox for your drinks however because the sea is too warm to keep them cool. For lunch a barbecue along with a cold San Miquel beer is a great way to relax after underwater exploring trips. Over lunch you will find yourself discussing the various fish that you saw there.

There are various types of beach on the island. There is the rocky type which is of course not very comfortable for walking barefoot, but they do have the advantage of easy access to the coral reefs. So bring a pair of slippers or tsinelas for comfortably getting in to and out of the water. Then there are the sandy beaches, one of which we will see later.

View on one of thee coral sand beaches
With plenty of protection against sunburn we set out to explore the island. There are no footpaths, but goats have already paved the way for us here and there. Soon we are enjoying splendid views on one of the coral sand beaches and a bay. On the beach itself you can find many pieces of coral. Most pieces on the beach are eroded by the waves, but some pieces are quite beautiful. However, it is strongly forbidden to take coral with you so they are best enjoyed in their natural surroundings. The sand here is so white that the reflection of the sun hurts your eyes, so do take your sunglasses!

Antique coast in the direction of San Jose
Unfortunately, even a fabulous day such as this one must come to an end. One more time we say farewell to our fishy friends that live in and around the reef and that kept us company during our explorations. We gather our gear and board the pump boat once more. With the coast of Panay in view we enjoy the view on the reef as it glides passed underneath us until our skipper decides to start the engine which temporarily shatters the peace and quiet. We have still time, so we make a roudn trip around the island which we only saw from our view point before. In the meantime, a raincloud has drifted over Culasi and just before we land the raindrops fall on our skin. After a day basking in the sin, quite refreshing actually ...






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