All you need to know about having a getaway on this off-the-grid island
The province of Sorsogon on the northernmost tip of the Bicol Peninsula in Luzon may not be as popular as its neighbor province Albay, but it has equally, if not more, beautiful destinations just waiting for the curious adventurer. Off the coast of the town of Castilla is the island of Malawmawan. One of the scattering of islands along the Sorsogon Bay, Malawamawan Island (also spelled Malaumauan) boasts of a tadpole-shaped stretch of pristine beach with ochre sands and turquoise waters.
The island is privately owned but tourists are permitted to visit. The water that surrounds the island is clear and, according to locals, is almost always calm – making it perfect for bathing. The light brown sands are pebbly, but the shore is clean and lined with coconut trees and palms. In just three hours, you can explore and go around the entire island. As of writing, entrance to the island is free.
Preparing for your visit
There are no resorts here. Only the caretaker, his wife, and a couple of Bantay-Dagat (coast guards) personnel live on the island in a small nipa hut. If you’re planning to stay the night, you can stay at the hut or you can pitch your own tent and sleep under the stars. Just make sure to bring enough food supplies, as there are no stores and no sources of fresh water on the island.
Make sure also to bring extra batteries for your gadgets, as there is no electricity, and even mobile reception is patchy at best.
Don’t forget to make arrangements with your boatmen to fetch you and bring you back to the mainland. If you’re only going for a day tour, you can wash up in the port where there are houses that are willing to let you use their restrooms. You can also stock up on supplies at the said port, as there are plenty of carinderia and sari-sari stores in the area.
From the Sorsogon town proper, ride a jeepney bound for Cumadcad. Fare is PhP30 per person and travel time to the public market where you should alight is about two hours.
From the Cumadcad market, there is a jeepney terminal bound to Macalaya – the barangay that serves as the jump-off point to the island. It’ll take you 45 minutes to arrive at said barangay, which is the last stop in the jeepney route. Fare is Php20.
Once in the barangay, walk to the port. There will be boatmen who’ll be able to take you to the island for PhP500 to PhP1000 two-way, depending on how many you are in the group. The boat ride takes about an hour.
TIP: If it’s a beautiful sunny day, ask your boatmen to take you to a side trip to the nearby Panumbagan Atoll – an uninhabited small island known for its beautiful sandbar.
By CELINE REYES
Photos by DENNIS MURILLO